Pipe Dreams: Castlevania By From Software

Have you ever found yourself thinking what a game could be like if it were developed by someone else? Here at The Game Bolt, we are always thinking of how different game series can be improved by outsourcing development to somewhere else. Last week we took a look at what a Batman game directed by Hideo Kojima could’ve been like. Today we’ll be discussing another potential match made in heaven: Castlevania developed by From Software.

The Castlevania series has been dormant for too long. We haven’t seen a new entry since the underwhelming Lords of Shadow 2 over two years ago. With the Lords of Shadows series, Castlevania was in danger of stagnating and losing its identity, the shift towards action neglecting the series’ roots in exploration. Both Castlevania and the Metroid games served to define a genre: the Metroidvania. These were exploration based action-platformers that locked areas of the game away unless you had the right power-up or item at your disposal. Atmosphere and world design were as key to the experience as the brilliant gameplay.

castlevania-by-from-software-image-twoYou’d want to discover new areas, just to see more of the game in the older Castlevania entries. Backtracking never felt like a chore in these games either, as more of the world opened itself up to you. The feeling of going back to a room you thought you knew well, only to find that it contains secrets now open to you was amazing. The Lords of Shadow games largely lost this experience. This was a shame, especially since Konami decided to stop releasing classic-style Castlevania games, instead focussing solely on the Lords of Shadow series.

The Lords of Shadow games did however bring the series back into 3D with some success. First off, they all looked great. These games played well with the sense of scale, with towering bosses just a few of the obstacles you had to overcome. The combat in the games was largely great too. Despite feeling closer to something like Devil May Cry than Castlevania, these games showed promise, but lacked the magic formula of past Castlevania entries. We’d love a new Castlevania here at The Game Bolt, with a return to the classic gameplay we all know and love with a modern twist. Enter From Software.

From Software seem like the perfect fit for a new Castlevania game, either in 2D or 3D. Their approach to game development borrows from some of what made the earlier Castlevania titles so interesting. From Software games for example are incredibly atmospheric. With Bloodborne, From Software really nailed the Gothic look, which the Castlevania series is famous for. In their games, you get the feeling of hopelessness and are made constantly on edge by the fact that there could be an enemy lurking around any corner. The challenge however, mixes incredibly well with the slightly foreboding atmosphere: two aspects that are rife in Castlevania games.

castlevania-from-software-image-oneCastlevania games are difficult, From Software titles are difficult. Both share challenging enemies with attack patterns that you must learn if you are to progress in the game. Castlevania games have fantastic boss-battles, often employing screen-filling enemies that can take a lot of whipping. From Software’s titles contain awesome boss-battles too, often with incredibly creepy and daunting design. A perfect fit for Castlevania. From Software’s artists would be able to go to town on world and enemy design, creating something incredible, memorable and atmospheric in the process. Konami better be reading this…

Castlevania is a franchise known for its lore. Characters have complicated backstories that you often play through in different games. From Software doesn’t develop characters to this extent, instead offering you a blank canvas that you can imprint your own design onto and choosing your own play-style. Castlevania games employ character arcs and other forms of traditional storytelling, whereas games like Dark Souls unfurl their stories via the people you meet and the items you find. The two different approaches might seem at odds, but if From Software got hold of the Castlevania license, it would be great if they somehow combined the two approaches. Seeing From Software’s take on the Belmont family tree would be very interesting and could be rather unique.

castlevania-by-from-software-image-threeWhere a Castlevania game developed by From Software would truly shine, however, would be in its gameplay. Both Castlevania and From Software titles promote exploration, finding shortcuts and unlocking new areas in order to find new items and different enemies. A combination of the two play-styles could be an effortless transition for fans of both due to the similarities, but it is in the differences that could allow something magnificent. Imagine a Dark Souls death system in a Castlevania game. It would work wonderfully and could fit into the series’ lore perfectly well.

The benefit of this system is that it would work just as well in 2D as it does in 3D. Castlevania’s history is firmly rooted in 2D, with its 3D outings proving to be the black sheep of Dracula’s family. While From Software’s work in 2D is limited they could easily develop a Castlevania game in either dimension. Both styles have their merits, but we’d personally like to see them tackle a 3D Castlevania game. The combat in Dark Souls and Bloodborne is often cited as some of the best  out there. If they could take their experience from that and apply it to a 3D Castlevania, something very exciting could come to fruition. The Lords of Shadow games often left people wanting more, promising much, but delivering little.

A Castlevania developed by From Software could easily deliver on those promises, giving more in the process. It’s certainly an exciting proposition, and one we would love to see. It would provide Castlevania with a fresh start, either in 2D or 3D with brilliant combat, an incredible atmosphere and a fantastic use of the series’ deep lore. We really hope you’re reading this, Konami and From Software. Make it happen!