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Review Castlevania:Lament of Innocence (ps2)

genre: hack and slash, action/adventure

This is the game that actually made me interested in the Castlevania Universe. Long before I did try out the earlier 2D titles but it was back when I lacked the patience to play those hardcore platforming games.The first time I played Lament of Innocence was after renting it together with some other titles. And remember not being able to pay it the attention it deserved because of time constraints. Also I played it right after Devil May Cry and it felt a little bland compared to that masterpiece. Which is why I did not bother with the title again. Until the day it peeked my interest after seeing a review on Youtube.

One of the first things that caught my attention was the soundtrack. It's very good. Most of the tunes give the game a gothic ambiance or make the game feel epic. For me a soundtrack is a good motivator to stay interested in a game even when the gameplay is not that good or exciting. Luckily for me the gameplay is very good also. Once you get used to the mechanics, might take a little more than a few hours to get into it will be rewarding. Trick is to learn some of the combos since it does pay off in combination with evading and guarding. You unlock these combos while fighting your enemies. Of course you can also rely on the sub weapons which can be upgraded only it costs hearts and you might run out of them when you need it the most. During the game you will receive or find several useful and necessary upgrades for your whip, sub weapons, health and magic. But Leon himself doesn't level up. He doesn't become stronger. Which makes you rely on your skill of controlling him effectively and offering the challenge later in the game. It makes beating your enemies much more satisfying. Now there have been some criticism towards the design of the environments, the compulsory backtracking and some awkward platforming. It can seem dull and repetitive at first but once you realize the way the game is set up it will become a relative issue. The castle is divided into several sections with a central hub. These sections are thankfully not that large and it will be fun to see the difference in slaying your enemies once your weapons become stronger. Also there are magical tickets (transports you to Rinaldo's shop) and memorial tickets (transports you to your registered save point) which will save considerable backtracking. Some of the platforming can indeed be frustrating especially some of the sections where it is timed but needed to advance. Using your whip to jump may seem complicated however it comes down to a little patience and timing. Brings me to money and buying items. Items are pretty expensive especially the special ones. And since you are going to need them a lot you have to earn a lot of money. It will require you to grind like crazy. There is a trick to overcome that problem. I am not sure if it is intentional or really a glitch that is overlooked. But if you ask me it seems like one that is made on purpose to help out the ones who would want to. It's a duplicating item trick for which you can find instructions in faq's and walkthroughs. In my opinion it is not exactly cheating since even with some of the special items you are only  allowed a pre set amount of those items. Defeating bosses still will require skill.

Overall I think Castlevania:Lament of Innocence is an underrated title especially when all the fun elements from older games in the franchise are present. That sort of received an updated treatment and is more reminiscent of the Devil May Cry mechanics. The plot might not be impressive in the way it is told. But it is definitely not one to be overlooked since it is an origin story that should be interesting to all Castlevania fans. How bad can a game be when it makes you want to play more of the games in the franchise if previously that someone had no interest to do so.

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