The Complexities of Castlevania: SOTN – Space, Time, and Enemy Design

December 20th, 2017


[When developing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, director Koji Igarashi wanted to make a game which would “overturn player’s ideas about Castlevania, yet also feel like a Castlevania game”. In pursuing this vision, his team made SOTN’s game system much more complex, incorporating RPG systems and a wide variety of nuanced player actions. This series of articles will examine how these additions shape SOTN’s core gameplay of moving through space to dodge and attack enemies.]

As established over earlier articles, SOTN’s combat is the deepest and most dynamic aspect of the game. Out of a few simple, intuitive rule sets, the core dynamics of space, timing, and gravity facilitate complex and varied gameplay. However, these elements can only do so much. As SOTN demonstrates, enemy and level design shape the nature of time and space within each level challenge.


Zombie – These enemies spawn from the ground and walk towards Alucard. They function as short timers which prompt a reaction out of the player.


Bone Scimitar – Skeletons that walk towards Alucard and then shuffle back and forth just outside his range. Once Alucard enters their range, they swing. The swing is slow enough that the player can counter by attacking first. Alternatively, they can take advantage of the cool down between attacks.


Bloody Zombie – These foot soldiers quickly walk towards Alucard and strike with a dagger. They’re similar to Bone Schitmars, but require faster reflexes to counter the quicker attack.


Gorgon – The Gorgon is a slow-moving, horse-like creature that walks along the ground and breathes grey, petrifying fire when Alucard is in close range. The saddle on its back is helpful when jumping over the enemy. Otherwise, they’re identical to the prior two enemies: attack first or dodge.