by Michael Moore
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is the first incarnation of the Castlevania series on the current series of consoles, and hopefully not the last.
After learning from their mistakes with the last two attempts at a 3D Castlevania, Konami had the developers of, the Playstation Classic, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night create this game, and it shows. Lament sometimes feels a lot like Symphony.
The basic plot of the game goes as follows, a vampire kidnaps Leon Belmont’s fiancée. Of course he must go rescue his fiancée, and that’s were we begin. The story continues after you defeat each boss. The story is told through little cut scenes, that are usual conversations between Leon and Rinaldo, who has been commissioned by the vampire Lord to help warriors who come to kill him. The cut scenes are well aren’t bad, but the longer ones can get kind of boring. The voice acting is very good.
The game is entirely played in the castle. Like Symphony the castle is made up of different areas, each with its own enemies and theme, but unlike Symphony you don’t have free reign through the castle. In the main floor of the castle is a teleport room that teleports you to one of the five levels. After the first level you can go in whatever order you want to finish the levels. It’s a nice way of doing it since you can explore the castle as you see fit, but the whole teleporting thing makes it feel like you really aren’t in a castle.
The graphics in Lament are top notch. All the levels are eerie, and dark to keep you in the mood of the game. Although each room tends to look the same after a while, it kind of serves a purpose since if one thing is out of place it could lead to a secret item or something. All of the enemies look great, epically with the game’s special effects. The bosses are particularly well done.
The game play is very deep for an action/platform game. You pick up accessories, equipment, and different weapons which you can equip like you would in an RPG. There are also the classic sub weapons like the knife, axe, and holy water. Equipping orbs that you get from defeating bosses can enhance each of these items. The orbs are a nice touch since they allow a lot of variety with the sub weapons, and also make some of the weaker sub weapons very powerful when combined with the right orb. There is also a new guard feature that allows you to defend against attacks. The guard was a great addition to this game, since I can’t imagine getting through the game without it, but at times it seems too good.
There is also of course the classic whip. As you go through the game and defeat enemies you gain experience, with the experience you level up like in an RPG. When you level up you can learn new attacks for your whip. These attacks allow you to create combos that will inflict massive damage on you enemies. They are especially helpful for bosses.
All the bosses seem kind of daunting at first, but all of them are pretty easy. Most of them, up until the last few bosses, you can beat the first time you fight them. All you need to do to beat the bosses is discover their pattern and weakness, and then keep hitting it with your whip. The boss battles are challenging until you find the weakness, once that happens the battles seem to drag out a bit too long. The bosses do tend to add a new attack or two once they get near death, but the attacks aren’t usually too hard to quickly pick up on.
Overall I really did enjoy this game, although compared to Symphony of the Night its an ok game. It’s a good first step for Konami into making Castlevania games in 3D (not counting those two N64 games,) but honestly there is just something about Castlevania that makes it almost have to be a 2D game. I really wish the game had been longer, its really rather short. Although you’ll probably spend a long time searching for all the games secrets like I am. I recommend any fans of the series to pick this one up because they will definitely enjoy it. If you’ve never played the series, this is a good start, but go get Symphony of the Night after you finish this one… if you can find a copy of it.