Review: Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow

DS Review

It's a strange story about Konami's Castlevania games. Many gamers turn away from this dark-looking 'cult-game' despising it as utter trash not suitable for them. Most of the previous Castlevania handheld games though, are rated as the best action-adventure games available. With this franchise entering the DS age it's time to overcome your fear for this dark series. Really, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow deserves it.

The story of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow follows Soma Cruz, who appeared to be Dracula's reincarnation in the last GBA game, Aria of Sorrow. A cult group needs him to resurrect Dracula. Soma Cruz gets curious about this group and decides to track them down into their enormous castle. This is where the game takes place. It's not hard for beginners of the series to get involved in this story. The adventure begins with a short introduction which basically tells you everything you need to know. Gamers who want to know more about the immense history can check the library option in the menu. Story-telling in Dawn of Sorrow is done by dialogues between different characters. No long blah blah's, but simple straight to the point conversations.

Castlevania remains a traditional 2D side scroller. Just like in handheld and classic Metroid games you collect upgrades, like the double jump. These let you reach other regions you couldn't access before. The player is free to explore the castle. You can head wherever you want, though as you can imagine going from place to place in a huge castle involves some backtracking which isn't everyone's preferred kind of play. The gameplay uses analogue buttons to control, which works quite well. There are a few touch screen controls though which I'll come to later.

Sound and graphics of Castlevania: DoS are really top-notch. Soma Cruz looks amazingly good. His jacket flies in the wind and in cold areas his breath turns into damp mist. Backgrounds are hand-drawn and therefore highly impressive and the soundtrack of the game is another sublime factor. It all fits perfectly together. Top class!

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow on the DS doesn't differ greatly from his predecessor on the GBA: Aria of Sorrow however. The soul collection system for example is still intact. When you defeat an enemy, sometimes you get to collect their soul. This enables the player to use abilities from opponents. This system also serves as an extra collection option, because you can trade souls with other Castlevania players. Using these souls works very satisfyingly. While some of them only let you summon a beast, others let you transform into them. It's quite an awesome sight when Soma Cruz turns into a gigantic monster. Too bad the mana meter gets drained so fast by doing this…


Of course, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow makes use of the unique DS functions. (Notice the subtle reference to the DS in the subtitle) The upper screen of the DS shows the map (or your personal data).While this sounds like a useless feature, it sure isn't. In fact it is quite essential for the adventurer. The castle you visit is so huge with so many different rooms to visit it's easy to get lost. Being able to constantly look at the map helps you find your way. The good thing is you don't have to pause your game each time you want to look where you're at. The touch screen also makes it easy to navigate through the menus. Handy, but not necessary.

That brings us to tell about the biggest touch screen feature in the game, an annoying but also charming one. Let me introduce you to 'the seal system'. When fighting against end bosses, you can only give them the last push by 'sealing' him. This is done by drawing only the correct seal for this boss on the touch screen. If you fail, your fight continues. You can imagine how annoying it is when you're in the middle of a fight with a though opponent, when you suddenly have to search for your stylus to draw this special sign. Just as you think: 'oh my God, I've done it' the fight continues. You drew the wrong seal, gutted.

Do you already feel the anger in your toes? Well, I felt it a couple of times while battling with the bosses, which I suppose is actually a good thing, who likes easy bosses anyway? And it gets your adrenalin pumping when you know its coming to the crunch. It pulls you into the game, making your hands shake when it's time to show your drawing skills. Great stuff.

Castlevania games are famous for their difficulty. While this game provides a good challenge, (it's hard to defeat an enemy on the first encounter) it isn't unfairly hard. When you die it's your fault, not the games. The time it takes to complete the regular adventure is about ten to twelve hours. It depends on your impatience to rush the game. After this adventure you can do it all over again on hard mode. Doing it all over again can be great fun with all the different routes to take.

Another aspect that lengthens the lifespan alot are the different endings. There are good and bad endings. You can manage to see the ending credits after exploring only 60 percent of the castle, but it's better to go and seek out the rest of the enormous castle to get the most out of it, to go look inside all the little nooks and crannies in places. This sure is irresistible because the game lets you keep wondering what great danger still lurks in those unvisited deep chambers.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a classic game. Entering a big castle, defeating monsters, and killing giant bosses. We did it all before, but it rarely was as fun as in this game. If you think you're up for an adventure on your DS which you can't put down, buy Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. You won't be sorry. And, the DS is well lit so no more old GBA tilting towards the light problems, yey!

N-Europe Final Verdict

One great worked out adventure. Castlevania fans shouldn't have to doubt. Other gamers shouldn't either.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Map overview
Different endings


Bit short if you dont explore.

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