Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls recently soft launched in Canada. I took a look at the game and here are my thoughts and first impressions about the game!
Konami released a Castlevania mobile game?! Imagine how surprised I was when I found out that they did a mobile game and not a pachinko machine. I've played the game for a bit, and here are my thoughts and first impressions on it!
The gameplay is pretty faithful to the original franchise, with a decent cast of familiar characters including Alucard, Simon, Maria. It's kind of a bummer that Soma is not in the game yet, considering he's in the Title Screen and also a very well liked character. However, he's probably on the way soon.
The controls are also pretty smooth and comfortable to use, the only gripe I have with the controls is not having a dedicated attack button. There's only buttons for slide, special ability and jump. Attacking is done by tapping the right side of the screen. I would have much preferred having an attack button, as it is pretty easy to fat finger another command whilst you are trying to attack. A huge plus to this game is that you're able to use a controller to play, though, and it works amazingly; you wouldn't have the same complaints as I did. You'll really feel like you're back in your childhood, sitting in front of the TV playing Castlevania on home console all over again.
Besides the usual main weapon, you have a wide variety of other tools. This includes iconic sub weapons such as the Holy Water for Alucard, or the Axe for Simon. These are part of the"4-Flick System" as I would call it. Left, Down and Right flicks are your main and sub weapon skills, which don't use any resources but have a lengthy cooldown. Whereas your up flick is your sub weapon skill which uses Mana but has no cooldown. The flicking system is usable, but you might accidentally flick into another command, which is why I really recommend using a controller for the best experience possible.
There's quite a bit of other modes available aside from the usual campaign stages. Campaign stages in this game are designed to be short, each map usually takes about 3-5 minutes. The stages tend to have the same few designs as you'll expect from a Castlevania game, mostly indoors in Dracula's Castle, or foresty biomes; not going to complain as it fits with the theme.
There's 3 different types of daily missions in the game, known as Trials, separated into Enhance, Training, and Treasure. And as the name describes, they respectively give equipment enhancement potions, EXP, and also gold. I'll briefly go through the 3 missions below.
Enhance has the player try to eliminate as many enemies as possible, while trying to go up an elevator. Enemies will spawn on the stationary platforms on the left and right side, and also on the elevator itself. Kill as many as possible while still riding the elevator to the top. And if you fall off and are unable to get back onto it, you'll fail the mission.
Training has the player try to kill as many enemies as possible while taking the least hits possible in a minute. This was especially difficult for me cause I kept getting hit, and how the scoring system works is that the amount of points you lose stacks additively. I felt it was quite punishing but it may just be me being bad at the game so early on.
And the last one, Treasure, has an angry behemoth chasing the player, while they try to collect coins and reach the end of the stage. There are few enemy spawns around just to annoy the player and slow them down, as well as holes to fall into. Fortunately, you don't die from dropping into the holes, the game will just respawn you near where you died. This is my favourite one out of the 3 cause its a break from all the farming and killing, this is just plain old Castlevania platforming at its finest.
The game also has the Skip function, where you can automatically skip a stage and get the rewards from it after you complete the 3 missions for that stage. However, there is a limit of being able to skip 50 times a day, which is quite a bit considering the amount of stamina you regenerate. Daily missions are also skippable, once you've attained S Rank in the respective difficulty.
Bounty Hunt is the most interesting feature in the game. It's the game's pseudo PvP system. The game matches you with 3 other random players, and throws everyone into a large room: the objective is to kill as many enemies as possible, every man for himself. There is a set amount of monsters left which is indicated at the bottom of the screen. The game does not immediately spawn all the enemies, instead there's a set amount of enemies that will spawn. Only when the first batch is killed will there be a new enemies spawned. As the map is pretty big, you'll have to make use of the "Enlarge Map" function or it will be really difficult to see where the enemies are, or will spawn at. When it's down to the last few enemies, the higher tier enemies will spawn at a central location, and you'll have to fight it out against everyone to get the killing blow. There's also a ladder system in this mode so I would imagine it being really calculating and chaotic in the higher echelons.
I really like this mode, it's a very creative way to do "PvP" in a Castlevania game without losing too much of the dungeon crawling, creature hunting aspect. It might feel a bit P2W, since if the other players have better gear, they generally will hit a lot harder and thus makes it way easier for them to steal your kills.
There's a ladder system for Bounty Hunt as well, so the higher you climb, the more rewards you get, and at the end of the season, you'll receive rewards based off the rank you were at before the season ended. This will most likely be the main source of gems in the late game. But the amount of gems per season you'll get for a mid-tier player doesn't seem like too much, but I'm not sure of how the season reset works and whether the rewards "stack" (For example, if I'm Bronze 3, I'm not sure whether I'll get Bronze 5-3 rewards or only just Bronze 3 rewards). Because if it doesn't stack, the amount of gems you get from end of season rewards might only net you 1 or so summon.
There's a few weapon upgrade systems, nothing really out of the ordinary here. I'll briefly go through it but they are all the normal upgrade mechanics available in most games.
Upgrade is pretty much just the normal 'throw exp potions into the weapon to level', Enchant is the done by farming the souls of the required monsters, and limit breaking is done by farming the parchments of said weapon in certain maps. Limit breaking is the most important and end game part of the whole upgrade mechanic, as it's the one that will increase your item's max level and also give additional stats. A pretty nice QoL thing they did was that you're able to just click onto the soul orbs/parchments and the game will tell you the available maps to farm, and also has a "Go To" button so you don't have to go around the world map to find that particular stage. You can even skip-farm them without leaving the weapon upgrade screen.
The cooler upgrade system that's in the game is the Skill Tree. Each character has their own unique skill trees that allow them to learn new moves, unlock special skills and also increase the potency of said skills. These skill upgrades uses AP and/or a special resource called Record Fragment that is unique to each character. AP is gained simply by levelling the character up, whereas I'm not too sure where to get Record Fragments; the only times I got them were from completing milestone missions, or by exchanging bounty points.
Equipment is also craftable by having 100 parchments of that item. It's the same shard systems you'll find in other gacha games as well. Nothing much to say here.
This is the part I find the most iffy about the game. Its gacha is split into 3 different categories. And just like how the gacha pool is split apart, people's opinion on this is also divided. Some might think it's better that the gacha pool is more concentrated so the player is able to gacha just for whatever equipment they need, be it Weapon, sub weapon, or armour. Whereas others feel it's better to mix the whole pool together, as a good character would need all the different equipment parts anyway.
Personally, I like the focused equipment gacha. I feel that in the long run, when your characters are geared up, you'll know which part of your character is lacking and having a smaller and focused pool will definitely feel better to roll in.
Rates are as follows, 6% for a SSR is pretty generous considering the gem flow at the moment seems pretty decent. I haven't played far enough into the game to know how much gems you earn late game, but for the early - mid game it's okay. There's also the free single pull everyday, and you're able to choose which equipment gacha of out the 3 you want to use the pull on. Would have liked it if they made a free single pull each for all 3 pools, but that seems to be asking for too much.
The gold shop features some pretty sweet stuff. There are character skins, albeit recolours, available for 500k gold each, most of which are based on lore references (Simon gets a Richter skin). Which is pretty obtainable after playing for awhile and fortunately, there isn't any stat bonuses tied into these skins as well. There is also skill upgrade materials and exp potions available, and even stickers which you're able to use in Co Op play.
The bounty points shop offers about the same items as the gold shop, but there's also special weapons available for each character for 50k bounty points. It is something to work towards and would most likely be the first thing you'll spend your bounty points on.
There is an event market, but currently the game is still in soft launch as of this review, so there's no events out now, thus the shop is still closed. I'll update this portion when the game is officially out and there are events running.
Oh my god the music is so good, it's Castlevania OSTs in their full glory. I remember playing the 3rd stage in this game, I turned on the sound, and boom. Bloody Tears was playing. Play the next stage, Simon's theme, the iconic Vampire Killer, comes on. Yup the soundtracks in this game contain the OG Castlevania OSTs. You'll know how good these are if you ever played Castlevania before, if not, now's the time to turn the volume up and enjoy.
Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls is a really charming sidescrolling action game available for Android and iOS. It adds a whole new side to the Castlevania franchise in a positive light.With a good cast of characters from a wide variety of Castlevania games, mass amount of equipment to play around with, different gamemodes available, and the game being constantly updated for the time being, makes this game a must try, especially since there aren't many games of this genre in the market at the moment.
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If you're interested in more Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls content, check out these other articles we've written on the game!