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This entry in the Castlevania series might not be the newest one, but it might be the best. After playing it on three different consoles and getting all the different endings, I can safely say that Symphony of the Night is a masterpiece that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone that can get their hands on it.
This game alone accounts for the second half of the video game genre known as Metroidvania, which usually entails a large interconnected map on a 2D plane that opens up as you get more abilities and grow stronger. Games like Hollow Knight, Ori and the Blind Forest and Dead Cells are a few more modern examples. The basic satisfaction comes from returning to enemies that initially gave you trouble, and once you’ve grown stronger, beating them in a single hit, or careening across the screen with the movement abilities you’ve gained, allowing you to get to places you couldn’t access before.
Symphony of the Night is not amazing just for its gameplay however. As the title suggests, the game boasts one of the best soundtracks in video game history. Despite how frequently you revisit the same place, not a single theme gets annoying over time, nor is a single track subpar compared to others.
As if that was not enough, this game also has the most gorgeous sprites, artwork and animation I have ever seen. The amount of hours that must have gone into designing and animating every single enemy and movement in the game is astounding, and enemies very rarely repeat. Ayami Kojima’s art is the cherry on top.
The game is best when played blind, though playing another game in the series or watching the hit Netflix show might make the little winks and nods towards the rest of the series more enjoyable. The only real problem I can see with Symphony of the Night is that it was first released on the PlayStation 1 in 1997, and as such, has some quirks that were common in that era. The game might be on the difficult end for those inexperienced with Metroidvanias, but it is still available as a digital download on most consoles. If you can, I would suggest getting the original version, as some consoles like the PSP and the PS4 have a different version with redone voice acting. One could argue that this is an improvement, but it lacks the charm of the 90s voice acting that made the cutscenes so great to watch.
Originally Published on bandersnatch.ca