The Future of Castlevania

Anthony tries to predict where the Castlevania series will go next.

By Anthony Pershkin. Posted 03/14/2014 09:00 7 Comments     ShareThis

The Castlevania series has always been one of my all-time favorites, because it never stops evolving in one way or another. As the years go by, Castlevania absorbs elements from other games, while still maintaining its own original identity. On its long way the series has naturally had its share of ups and downs, but I actually see that as a positive thing. When I look at the rich history of Castlevania, I see a franchise that has tried different things, made mistakes, yet kept going. Like a real person, the series feels “alive” to me. And that’s quite funny, considering Castlevania is all about fighting dead things.

As the Lords of Shadow saga comes to an end, it’s time to think about the future. Personally, I rather enjoyed the whole Lords of Shadow series. I think those games deserve to have “Castlevania” name in their titles. Even Lords of Shadow 2, which is getting rather mixed reviews, is still a very well-made game. Even though there are a few designs missteps here and there, the overall package is still worth your time…but I digress. Castlevania is once again free to evolve into something else entirely. Which way will our great series go next? Here are some of my predictions.

Route A: Going bigger

Like it or not, Lords of Shadow is the most successful Castlevania game to date. Because of this, I believe it would be only natural to assume that Konami is going to continue moving in the same direction. Lords of Shadow was huge in every sense of the word. It had Robert Carlyle and Patrick Stewart, it had gameplay that mixed popular titles like Shadow of the Colossus and God of War, Hideo Kojima himself was involved in the project– it was a bomb ready to explode. I’m not sure which element exactly helped the game’s sales the most, but the overall result was a success. Now Lords of Shadow 2 is a really weird one, so I think the sales numbers will not be nearly as good. Still, if Konami considers the entire Lords of Shadow saga a success, then we’re going to see a successor to Gabriel’s epic journey in the near future.

The new game will probably not have any connection to the Lords of Shadow timeline. It might return to the world of the original series, but the possibility of that is really slim. MercurySteam is definitely not going to be making the new game, since I think Konami wants that team on a whole new project. Recently, Lords of Shadow producer Dave Cox showed interest in reviving Contra, so it might be working on that next. This time around I think Konami is going to give the next Castlevania game to a Japanese studio. And considering Konami’s recent collaboration with Platinum Games on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Castlevania might get a little bit crazy with its next installment. Besides, the original Castlevania on NES is Hideki Kamiya’s favorite action game. It seems perfect for him to handle the new game.

Route B: Going smaller

If Konami decides to get really experimental with its new game, it might as well go for something smaller. Considering how games like Strider and Bionic Commando Rearmed are doing pretty well, the new Castlevania may follow suit and go fully digital. As for the game itself, I would love to see the studio developing it to turn the entire concept on its head. Remember how the original NES trilogy had those title screens with film reel streaming along? The entire series at that point was a big love letter to horror movies. What if Konami returned to that idea and fully realized it? Imagine a game where the main protagonist is some kind of detective who’s trying to solve some mystery by watching old horror movies that go by the name of “Castlevania.” Each movie is like a separate level with its own monster at the end. And since the game is taking place inside the movies, it can do a lot of creative things with both the presentation and the gameplay. Imagine a Viewtiful Joe-like game about Castlevania.

The other thing Konami could do is change the genre of the next Castlevania (and I don’t mean make another slot machine game). The one genre the series has most closely resembled, and yet has never dipped its toes into, is survival horror. This could be a natural fit for the next Castlevania; after all, the series is already about ghouls, vampires, and all kinds of monsters. Plus, some games in the franchise are genuinely creepy and unsettling (like Super Castlevania IV). Why not take the horror aspect to the fullest? It might end up being very interesting.

Route C: Going back

I have to say, in my opinion this route is the most boring way Konami can go, but it’s the thing that many people crave– another Metroidvania. Now let me get this straight. Like everybody else, I love Symphony of the Night and I enjoy its numerous successors on Game Boy Advance and DS. My main problem with this idea is that I simply think we’ve had enough Metroidvanias. If we are to revisit this sub-genre again, I really hope Konami can make something a little bit different this time around. Konami should bring back the all-star team of Koji Igarashi, Michiru Yamane, and Ayami Kojima, but it should also concentrate on updating the formula in an exciting new way.

Koji Igarashi will be speaking at GDC 2014 about his experience making Metroidvania games throughout all these years. It seems like a perfect time, if not to announce a new game, to at least hint at it. So, if Igarashi is somehow involved in a new Metroidvania game, I say we can expect good news later this month.

Route D: Going anywhere

This route is currently empty, because it’s up to you, our dear readers, to come up with predictions on Castlevania’s future (and not because I couldn’t think of anything). Do you think that the next Castlevania should be a kart racer? Where do you see the series going from here? Let us know in the comments!

7 Responses to “The Future of Castlevania”

  • 849 points
    ejamer says...

    I’d love to see a Castlevania attempt at horror/survival-horror. The gothic nature has suggested that route but never really taken it very seriously.

    The other thing that I would love to see is a revisit of the ideas in Castlevania 2 – an open world to interact with, light RPG elements, lots of non-linear exploration between towns, in-game time is meaningful due to day/night cycles and (maybe) timed events that force you to react… They would have to decide what scale to try the game: either a massive 3D world or a smaller, more retro feel. But either way, it feels like this type of game could be done right with the hardware and experience available now.

    • 33 points
      Anthony Pershkin says...

      Castlevania with an open world sounds great. I also think it would be cool to see a non-traditional main character in the new game. We already played as Dracula in Lords of Shadow 2, so why not give us a new Belmont who also happens to be a monster at the same time. Like Frankenstein-Belmont or Werewolf-belmont (Hello, Cornell).

  • 745 points
    OG75 says...

    People tend to give Lords of Shadow a hard time because it’s a “God of War clone.” What a shallow observation. Having played God of War before Lords of Shadow didn’t diminish my enjoyment one bit, just like having played Super Mario 64 didn’t diminish my enjoyment of Banjo Kazooie back in the day. Is EVERY first person shooter nothing more than a Wolfenstein or Maze War clone?

    To me, Lords of Shadow is actually a brilliant vision of what a 3D version of Super Castlevania IV would be, complete with similar bosses and level progression as you approach the castle. Mercury Steam clearly understands, respects, and honors the spirit of Castlevania. I’m talking “pre Metroid-vania” days when Castlevania guaranteed one thing: you’d be a Belmont with a whip kicking all kinds of ass.

    While Lords of Shadow 2 may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think Mercury Steam has earned to right to flesh out their vision of Vania. People need to form their own opinions and not read 50 reviews before playing a game. I played through it and was barely annoyed by the stealth sections. But when I read some reviews AFTER my playthrough, I couldn’t believe the amount of whining and crying about these sections.

    Sorry I’m rambling. In short, I don’t have a prediction about what direction they take, but I’ve enjoyed almost every Castlevania game ever (not Judgement on Wii) so I can’t wait for some news!

    In the meantime, I wish Konami/Nintendo would release Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse on the Wii U’s virtual console.

    My biggest wish is that the series would “come home” to Nintendo.

    • 1570 points
      penduin says...

      I should give Lords of Shadow another shot. The demo gave me major God of War vibes, and the trouble there is I find GoW very tedious. Combo attacks do nothing for me and I can’t stand simon-says, press-x-now “gameplay”. But if there’s an actual Castlevania game underneath, I owe it a fair shake.

      I would actually most like to see Simon’s Quest meets Castlevania 64. Both had lots of great ideas but were sort of the series’ dark horses anyway. Refine the day/night and RPG mechanics, keep the fighting and weapons tight and simple, and see what kind of wonderful, horrible world can be brought to life by modern technology.

  • 3 points
    wayneok says...

    I think a new Castlevania should combine the aesthetics and dark atmosphere of Lords of shadow with a more classic feel. Ditch the GoW combo driven combat and replace it with a strike/hp type of system.

    If that sounds a lot like Dark Souls that’s because it’s exactly what I’m talking about.

    LoS did well to ditch the flat, compartmentalized level design of the ps2 3D metroidvania attempts but still falls into the trap of leaving the player to jump around unmolested for minutes at a time in between waves of “clear all the enemies in the room to unseal the exits” kinds of situation. Exploration and combat shouldn’t be segmented. In classic Castlevania if you want to make your way up a flight of stairs to a tower you have to battle your way there.

    Dark Souls did a great job of hinting at what a true 3D Castlevania should feel like. The main character would obviously be more agile and the combat slightly faster paced than DS… But keep the dramatic storyline and dark horror of LoS with classic game mechanics and I believe it would be a winner!

  • 745 points
    OG75 says...

    Koji Igarashi just announced he is leaving Konami (March 15th being his last day.)

    This definitely mixes things up, prediction-wise.

    Wonder if he’ll go to crowdfunding a Castlevania-type game just like Keiji Inafune did with Mega Man/Mighty No.9 when he left Capcom.

    Iga stated he wants to make the kids of games his fans want him to make.


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