Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is the first 3D Castlevania after the ill-fated N64 games. When the game was announced, fans were concerned Lament of Innocence would repeat the “quality” of those games. Fortunately for many fans, Lament of Innocence is a massive improvement over the N64 games. It went on to receive mixed, but mostly positive, reviews.
Lament of Innocence is a good action game that takes cues from many popular games of its time. Many features of Lament of Innocence, such as the graphics, soundtrack, and gameplay, are all well done. Although, the level design and somewhat repetitive boss battles bring the game from “great” to “good.”
Lament of Innocence is the official “start” of the series
Lament of Innocence is a prequel and takes place at the beginning of the series’ canon. The story is a basic video game plot, and there are plot lines that don’t go anywhere, but the twist at the end is a phenomenal set-up for the series. If players can push through the awkward voice acting, it’s worth it.
Taking place during the Crusades, the game’s lengthy intro cutscenes, the game establishes Leon Belmont as its protagonist. Leon is a knight who has won many battles with his tactical leader, and friend, Mathias Cronqvist. There have been reports all across the land of monsters appearing, including a vampire. This vampire has abducted Leon’s fiancée Sara. Mathias, who is grieving over the death of his wife, urges Leon to go after the vampire. He ventures into the Forest of Eternal Night and into the castle owned by the vampire, Walter Bernhard.
Lament of Innocence is a flawed, but an overall good, experience
One game Lament of Innocence takes inspiration from is Devil May Cry. The action is not too platform heavy, but more reliant on stylish combat. Leon is armed with the Whip of Alchemy, given to him by the game’s shopkeeper Rinaldo Galdofi. He also can use various weapons, including the classic weapons of the series, like holy water. The combat is very action heavy and is a ton of fun. Thanks in part to the great control set up and responsiveness, chaining combos is not difficult at all.
Two interesting aspects of the combat: players will learn new and intricate combos as they progress the game. Instead of buying moves from an in-game store, it’s nice to see a game reward the player for doing so well. Items can be combined with crystals the game’s bosses drop. Combining the items with certain crystals will result in new attacks based on a particular item. For example, players can turn the holy water into a geyser.
There is a great variety of enemies and bosses. The classic skeleton and flea man enemies show up, but Leon has to fight man-eating plants, ghosts and gigantic suits of armor. Each boss fight is challenging and always has something new for the player. The gigantic parasite boss at the beginning is far different from the fight with the Madusa.
The soundtrack is not full of true songs, but rather atmospheric songs. It’s not every player’s cup of tea, but the songs work for each area. It is nice to hear some orchestral music, instead of electronic music.
Repetition goes hand-in-hand with Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
Lament of Innocence captures the spirit of Castlevania thanks to its graphics and creepy atmosphere. Walter’s castle has dozens of sections that make up for some great horror themed environments, like a untended garden or haunted theater.
Unfortunately, as creative as the stages’ premises are, the actual stages are quite boring. Save from some generally good platforming and puzzle solving in certain sections, nearly every room in each level looks the same. Rooms in the dungeon area all look like dungeons; rooms in the waterway area all look like waterways. It’s a shame since the ideas behind the levels are interesting enough and could be fleshed out into something truly horrifying.
The level design also makes the game feel like drudgery. Rooms will be locked off if Leon defeats all the enemies. The save points are also far apart, resulting in many “game overs.” This happens all too often and makes Lament of Innocence feel more like a sluggish dungeon crawler than a straight-up Castlevania game.
All things considered, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is a good game, even if it does seem like a chore at times. The gameplay itself is generally a lot of fun and the whole game looks great for the time. And the twist at the end is a fantastic one. Lament of Innocence is in no way a total package, but it is worth playing.