Every year or so, a game emerges here on Newgrounds that goes beyond what is expected of flash games or even free games in general. Those flash games are pretty much the only reason I even visit Newgrounds at all. This is that game. This is the game that made me glad that I still visit Newgrounds to find new games to play.
DISCLAIMER: I know very little about Castlevania. All I know is the attack delay, level design, and graphics.
Graphics are clearly inspired by the early Castlevania games. I can't say much, since I wasn't around during the era of early video games, but I will say that it is very fitting to the overall concept of the game.
The gameplay is superb and has a LOT of depth. (But not without its flaws. more on that later)
Much like Castlevania, the delay on your weapon forces you to time your attacks and actually think about how to approach a challenge, an aspect that is essential to beating the game. The chain gives the game more depth than I think people realize it does. It gives new ways to move through the level, and as a result, makes the world feel real and physical. The terrain is designed so that it compliments the complexity of the chain. Traversing through a level actually requires thought and analysis of the world around you, which also in turn, helps feels the world feel even more physical.
Music is fine. Nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done. I will say that when a song has ambiance be its main priority, it does a solid job of it.
The level design is well thought out and thorough, and in my opinion, is my favourite aspect of the game. Enemies will despawn and respawn if not killed. This allows players not only to fall back to reassess situations, but also forces players to complete tasks from start to finish and not cheap out the game.
For example, let's say that your fighting an iron maiden (The knight that throws axes overhead), and you get a couple of hit, but you're dangerously low on blood. So, you go back to an area that has leftover blood for you to refill on, and you go back to continue fighting. Except, the enemy respawned, so any damage you did beforehand is negated. This forces you to actually fight enemies fairly and intelligently, and makes it that much more satisfying when you do killed them all the way.
Not only that, since enemies only spawn when the player is near enough to them, it gives the player a chance to analyze the situation and act accordingly. For example, an enemy will spawn facing away from the player, giving them a chance to either 1) Wait for a more opportune time to attack, or 2) Go for the kill while you still have the chance.
The level design legitimately makes you fee
Stuff like this is what I wish other platformers did with their level design, and really makes me wish
The rising difficulty as the game progresses is also very well done and respectful to the player. It's not so superficial that it's just adding more enemies and having platforms be smaller as the levels go on. It increases its difficulty by forcing you to combine and perfect techniques that the game teaches you. This makes the game feel like it legitimately cares about the player's growth, rather than just being there solely to kill time.
But this game definitely isn't without fault. I'm sure many of you are frustrated with the slippery landings of the player, I am too, and is one of 2 main reason why I couldn't be bothered to finish the game in one night. I understand having planning and difficulty be a major part of the game, but when a perfectly executed jump and chain ends up being fruitless just because you landed a little too close to the edge of a block, it feels unfair, like the game is trying to extend its playtime by increasing the death count.
The second flaw I have with the game is how there is NO invincibility buffer. This is ESPECIALLY a problem with enemies that shoot multiple damaging entities. If you mess up just once with these enemies, you can lose all 3 of your bloods, or even flat out die if you're in an unfortunate enough position. This makes it very frustrating and tempting to just leave and forget the game. I'm not sure if it was intentional to omit the invincibility buffer, as a design choice to punish players for mistakes, but losing almost everything you have because of a half-second mistiming seems too severe of a punishment.
Are these flaws enough to make the game not worth playing? In my opinion, absolutely not. Even with these imperfections, this game is one of the best I've played in a good long while, and I'm very glad that I didn't skimp out on it when its flaws became apparent. If you're someone who checks the reviews before playing the game, I say play it. Definitely play it.
My rating average = (6.7/10)
Any number above 6.7 means it's better than I expected it to be. Likewise for any number below 6.7.
Level and Game Design = (9.4/10)
Music = (7/10)
Gameplay = (8.8/10)
Graphics = (Rating irrelevant, since its a homage to another game)