It feels a little unfair to be reviewing Castlevania: Order of Shadows today.
Released initially for the US back in 2007, it’s taken three long years for the title to reach UK shores. Three years that have seen two better Castlevania mobile titles released and a hundred other excellent action games from other developers.
Yet, here it is, poking around with a whip on some UK networks as a new release.Whip it
It has a very Castlevania-esque storyline, if nothing else. You take control of Desmond Belmont, latest inheritor of the famous whip, as he tries to take down a secretive order intent on resurrecting the Dark Lord.
To do this, Desmond must jump awkwardly, walk very slowly, and take almost a full year to swing his whip at enemies, constantly taking damage and generally being the worst mobile protagonist I’ve seen for a very long time.
There’s an RPG element working in the background but it never takes off in the same way as in the other Castlevania titles because - take a deep breath - there’s no map.Slide
No map? Why would that have any effect on the RPG elements?
Well, without a map Order of Shadows almost exclusively trundles from left to right, missing out one of the vital factors that make all Castlevania titles so enjoyable to play – exploration.
With the exploration and RPG elements consigned to the scrap heap, there’s just the awkward and flimsy combat to prop the gameplay up, not helped by a slide-back move that seems to propel Desmond into the next room, rather than quickly jink away from attacks.Run away
The enemies are from the Castlevania stable – Zombies, Ghosts, Fleamen – but they look dreadful, with washed out colours and barely-there animation.
There’s still a strange satisfaction in unlocking new moves, and the bosses aren’t too bad, even if Desmond is rubbish at avoiding pretty much anything that the undead throw at him due to his glacial movement speed.
Dracula and the fiction inspired by Bram Stoker’s creation may remain timeless, but Order of Shadows should be left in the coffin.