French studio Migami Video games made a reputation for itself with glorious Castlevania fan video games like The Lecarde Chronicles 1 and 2, however fan video games don’t maintain the lights on or put meals on the desk, so the workforce has understandably embraced industrial ambitions with Wallachia: Reign of Dracula. One would possibly count on that, given Migami’s pedigree and the presence of a sure world-famous literary vampire, that this might be a Castlevania-type sport with the serial numbers filed off. However in follow, it’s truly fairly completely different, notably being that the heroine, Elcin, wields a bow and arrow as her primary weapon. It leads to a sport that feels extra like a traditional run-and-gun akin to Contra or Rolling Thunder, with a tiny little bit of Shinobi blended in for good measure.
Elcin is sort of versatile along with her bow and might shoot in eight instructions, however she additionally wields a sword, which isn’t solely helpful for close-quarters fight however will also be used to slice enemy projectiles in mid-air. Particular arrows with restricted ammunition might be discovered as nicely, embrace piercing arrows, explosives, and three-way projectiles. Arrows will also be charged by holding down the assault button for extra highly effective blows.
Elcin can be accompanied by the spirits of 4 helpers, whose talents might be chosen at any time and activated once you’ve collected sufficient orbs. The white wolf Silviu blazes throughout the display whereas Radu fires a flare that assaults all the things on the display. Providing completely different utilities, Christian can grant momentary invincibility whereas Konstantin can strengthen your arrows. Slightly than floating candles or orbs, power-ups are dropped by useful birds that routinely fly on the high of the display, requiring that you just pay cautious consideration to them and shoot them precisely so you possibly can seize their goodies. Enemies repeatedly drop gadgets too, encouraging you to slaughter as a lot of them as potential.
Whereas many fashionable indie retro throwbacks attempt to provide some concessions to the participant by making the problem stage extra manageable, Wallachia: Reign of Dracula has little persistence for such issues. It’s very a lot patterned after 8 and 16-bit model motion video games, full with checkpoints and restricted lives. There is a simple mode, however in traditional Konami model, you possibly can solely play partway by the sport earlier than being requested to problem a tougher mode.
There are limitless continues, plus you possibly can soar to any stage you’ve been to when beginning the sport, primarily permitting you to save lots of your progress, so it’s not completely hardcore – but it surely’s undoubtedly a sport that expects you to play, and die, and replay, a number of instances till you’ve memorized the extent layouts and boss patterns, and developed adequate methods to beat them. A lot of the sport is comparatively beneficiant with this, with even handed checkpoints and quick ranges, although the final two turn out to be fairly a bit much less forgiving. Elcin can take 4 hits by default, so that you’ve received extra room for error than in your common Contra sport.
For probably the most half, Wallachia: Reign of Dracula performs very nicely, providing full management over your character’s jumps and double jumps, and a button that retains Elcin in place when you goal in any route (although there’s no technique to strafe). A couple of management quirks manifest; there’s a slide transfer that’s executed by urgent down and soar, which is straightforward to make use of by accident, and ally particular assaults can’t be used when ducking, for some motive. There’s additionally an occasional glitch the place Elcin shoots out blanks when firing a stream of arrows. It’s uncommon sufficient that it’s not an enormous drawback, however it’s noticeable.
The issue, nonetheless, does comprise some kinks repeatedly seen in traditional 2D motion video games. The ally particular assaults are vastly overpowered, and so they’re simply probably the most preferrred technique to cheese bosses. Should you’ve managed to play the stage during with out dying, you then possible have sufficient orbs to easily overwhelm the end-of-level guardian. In the meantime, should you die in the course of the boss battle, your whole ammo is depleted, making it fairly a bit tougher, albeit not not possible. Many power-ups, notably those that improve your weapons, disappear once you get hit, one thing that limits their usefulness.
The visuals in Wallachia: Reign of Dracula are very similar to Migami Video games’ different titles, using increased decision pixel artwork than most different retro video games. A pleasant contact is that the sport relies extra on the historic Vlad Tepes than Bram Stoker’s literary creation (and the various film monsters it impressed) that are typically featured in Castlevania video games. A lot of the fodder enemies are human troopers, and harder foes embrace catapults, cavalrymen, and wood tanks. There’s even a boss struggle that’s simply towards a small clock tower. That’s to not say there aren’t any supernatural enemies, although – it’s simple to neglect that “Dracul” means “dragon”, which is the shape the villain takes for the ultimate boss struggle. A few of the battlefields are additionally crammed with fallen troopers skewered on stakes, the horrific pastime that earned the true Vlad Tepes his notorious repute.
The soundtrack is great as nicely, with music that’s catchy in the identical manner as traditional Castlevania tunes whereas nonetheless carrying their very own distinctive id. Wallachia: Reign of Dracula additionally takes its story fairly significantly, hiring high title Kira Buckland (2B from NieR: Automata) because the voice of Elcin, with Robert Belgrade (the unique voice of Alucard from Castlevania: Symphony of the Evening) showing as Radu. That’s fairly a little bit of effort put into it, contemplating that the plot is generally just a few bits of dialogue interspersed within the ranges and a few interstage narration. It is a disgrace, then, than the static paintings which accompanies the cutscenes appears so primitive.
At seven levels, Wallachia: Reign of Dracula isn’t too lengthy, and whereas the problem could seem excessive at first, it’s nonetheless one thing that may be conquered with some tenacity. A tough issue mode is obtainable, in addition to a number of “challenges” for performing top-level feats, like beating a stage with out getting hit. The sport additionally retains information of finest instances, making it candidate for pace runs. There’s even an unlockable costume permitting Elcin to decorate up as Miriam from Bloodstained.
It could be extra old-school than different comparable video games, however Wallachia: Reign of Dracula nonetheless presents rewarding motion, skilful stage design, and a few glorious music. With Konami seemingly content material to sleep on its widespread Castlevania sequence in the meanwhile – exterior of smartphone video games, in fact – this (alongside the likes of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and its sequel) could be as shut as we’re more likely to get to a brand-new “old-school” Castlevania outing on Swap. It is a good job, then, that Migami Video games is aware of Konami’s franchise so nicely that it has created a very convincing imitation – however one which has sufficient concepts of its personal to face out from its inspiration.
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