The Complexities of Castlevania: SOTN – Traversal

December 1st, 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.]

When Igarashi’s team were drafting up Alucard’s (the player avatar) ability set, they drew upon the framework established over the course of earlier Castlevania titles. However, the developers also made some alterations and introduced new mechanics which give SOTN its own particular character. I’ve picked out a few details (both new inclusions and series staples) which speak to the way SOTN mechanics and mechanical properties shape the nature of traversal and movement.

High Jump SOTN

Dive Kick SOTN

Overall, we can see that the complexity added to Alucard’s repertoire of traversal mechanics both in terms of the number of mechanics and the complexity of each mechanic lead to more nuanced-driven gameplay. I would argue that very little of the nuance (probably only the extra hop in the double jump) has the ease of use and functional benefit to serve your average play in any meaningful way. (On the contrary, these nuances help buoy the SOTN speedrunning scene). The inclusion of these nuances as well as mechanics with particularly narrow functional purpose clutter SOTNs play experience with unviable options.