Castlevania Puzzle: Encore Of The Night in review – Who Let Dracula Out Again?

One thing that’s both good and bad about mobile platforms is that they encourage developers to take franchises in whole new directions.  Doom Resurrection is an on-rails shooter, Wolfenstein was turned into an RPG, and now we have Encore Of The Night (EOTN), a Castlevania adventure with a big twist.  The problem is that, unlike the first two I mentioned, this one feels out of place.  It’s not necessarily a bad game, but it just doesn’t resonate with the charm that is the Castlevania series.  I’m trying really hard to get into it, but so far it’s more of a chore than a joy to play.

I really don’t know much about Symphony Of The Night, which I believe this is a derivative of, but in EOTN you play Alucard, son of Dracula.  Apparently he’s got a bit of daddy envy, because even he is out to slay the main blood sucking man.  As is customary in the series you do this by traversing the halls of Castelvania, the legendary home of the legendary undead master.  Along the way you’ll fight creatures and collect all manner of goodies to help you on your quest.  The problem is that on the whole the castle feels empty.  Other than some connecting hallways, I can’t think of too many rooms in any given Castlevania adventure that didn’t have something to fight in them.  In EOTN there are quite a number of vacant rooms.

Then there’s the combat.  In EOTN you’ll take on one creature at a time, and combat is executed via a game that’s a combination of match 3 and Tetris.  In a way this mechanic is somewhat interesting, as it puts a new twist on things.  I like the fact that certain colors give you bonuses depending on which affinities (fire, lightning, holy, shadow and water) you’ve decided to increase as you level up.  I also like the fact that some blocks are inert, which means they have to be activated by an adjacent match before they can be used in a match themselves.  You can even cause inert blocks to appear on your opponent’s playing field.  These are just some of the basics of combat, which is actually quite complex.

The thing is, despite the deep nature of the combat, I think I like the combat in Puzzle Quest much better, which is probably the closest comparison to this game.  Furthermore, one of the selling points of the Castlevania franchise has always been the often difficult and usually compelling combat as clear multiple creatures from every room.  You lose all of that here, and the replacement isn’t nearly as enticing.  And, while the controls during combat are decent, the small playing field facilities making more frequent mistakes in placing blocks than one might like.

Graphically this is honestly one of the weakest installments I’ve seen, short of maybe the original Gameboy or NES iterations.  The characters look pixilated, the rooms on the map are so zoomed out that any possible detail is lost, and even the lines connecting rooms that you can move to are somewhat lazy in appearance.  About the only thing that really shines in this department are the bust shots of the characters used for dialog sequences.

The sound effects are okay, though I do miss the various monster and weapon noises that are usually associated with combat in Castlevania.  The voice of Alucard is decent, but we need to hear more from him.  The best part of the audio is the music, which is actually quite well written.  I even like the battle music, even though it’s a more heavy metal type instrumental.

I think Konami’s biggest mistake was making this a Castlevania game.  If it had employed the same mechanics, but with a different (and upgraded) visual scheme and a story that started its own franchise I might be inclined to spend more time with it.  Unfortunately, when I play a Castlevania game I want the Castlevania experience, and it just wasn’t there in Encore Of The Night.  I think this is the first time I’ve ever felt like I was forcing myself to play a Castlevania game, and that’s just not cool.

App Summary
Title: Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the NightDeveloper: Konami Digital Entertainment
Reviewed Ver:1.0.10Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$1.99App Size:22.7 MB
  • good puzzle engine
  • intriguing concept
  • awesome music
  • didn’t feel like Castlevania
  • lackluster graphics
  • small playing pieces during combat

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