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If you’ve never played the older Castlevania games, this collection is for you. If you have, you know what to expect.
There’s a reason Castlevania is frequently cited as one of the greatest video game franchises of all time. Many of the horror-heavy adventures released before the turn of the century laid the foundation for the future of an entire genre. With a resurgence in the series’ popularity, Konami has turned out a pair of the most popular entries in a single package on the PlayStation 4. But while Castlevania: Requiem offers the opportunity to play through some of the most famous games ever made, it includes little else.
Castlevania is having a moment: There’s a new Netflix anime, Simon and Richter Belmont’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and a spiritual successor to boot. But the actual future of new games is a big question mark. The series moved away from its roots a long time ago, and many titles inspired by games like Symphony of the Night have carried that particular torch.
With that said, it’s encouraging to see such an investment into these beloved adventures in 2018. Requiem includes Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night—the first appearance of both games on the PS4. These titles may have a great reputation, but it is safe to assume this could be the first time many players are picking them up.
If so, they are getting the full experience. Both games control in excellent fashion, with their immaculate soundtracks kept intact and little visual modification. Requiem is housed in a letterboxed window, as to preserve proper presentation. Players can tweak the size of said screen and add aging effects like scan lines in the options menu.
But, that’s about it. Castlevania: Requiem is hardly a collection as much as it is a bundle. The main menu is a lazy screen slapped together offering the choice between the two titles. From there, you’re handed what are essentially emulations of the most recent version of each game.
As players make their way through ominous castles, they tackle frightening monsters and challenging bosses. Rondo of Blood stars Richter Belmont, while Alucard, the spawn of Dracula, is playable in Symphony of the Night. Both titles control similarly, side-scrolling through different chambers and finding powerful new weapons.
Requiem does nothing to alter the experience of classic Castlevania, which may please purists. But even so, there’s no reason to indulge this collection other than owning them on another platform. The package comes with a trophy list, featuring a Platinum and some solid puns, but no additional features. Other legacy collections have grown creative with modes that mix mechanics together or pay homage to the storied history of the franchise.
Preserving classic games has proven to be more problematic than it should. Retro gaming fans often hoard consoles and cartridges for fear they’ll eventually go obsolete. Backwards compatibility is becoming less common on modern systems, and publishers like Nintendo are growing more reticent about making their catalogs available digitally. Even Rondo of Blood’s history is tied to the fear that it would never be released outside of Japan.
So to see a game like Symphony of the Night available for any PS4 owners is a positive. Requiem launches at $20, far from an offensive asking price. There’s no denying that anyone remotely interested in action games should check out Castlevania at some point. It’s just a shame to see some of the greatest games ever made shipped out in such a shoddy manner.
Castlevania: Requiem is available now for PlayStation 4. This review was written based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.
AJ Moser is a Brooklyn-based reporter who focuses on video games, movies, and internet culture. His work has appeared in Paste Magazine, Game Informer, and Big Spaceship.