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Romancelvania

Romancelvania

Castlevania as a dating sim? Okay, we can't say no to that.

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When you were playing Castlevania back in the 80's and 90's, did you think; "this would make a great dating simulation game?" You know, where you do what you do in Castlevania, but where there is the possibility of dating the medusa head that came flying towards you in a zig-zag motion. Anyone who has played the classic Castlevania games has probably thought that, right? Well, now you can make those dreams come true. The Deep End Games has made a mix of Castlevania and dating games in their Romancelvania, which can be played now on PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S.

Romancelvania starts with an introduction to Dracula, who can be either a man or a woman and, after being dumped by his or her partner, has been in a foul mood. His friend Death doesn't like this, so he starts a dating program, ala The Bachelor. Dracula is not too keen on the idea, but is persuaded anyway. He then has to choose between a whole bunch of men and women to decide who will be his Mina Harker. Dracula has to find these potential love interests in and around his castle. The only problem is that his old servants have turned their backs on him and are fighting against the blood-sucking vampire, even though they are quite undead themselves. It's super silly and crazy, and I found myself many times very ambivalent about whether I could accept the whole premise. The story is done in a mockumentary style, where the different characters talk directly to the camera about why they deserve to be chosen by Dracula, and then they also slander the other candidates as if it were a reality show. It's a very peculiar mix that takes away any seriousness you might have assumed a story about the world's most famous vampire might have had. I think you have to have a very particular taste to like the whole premise, and a good knowledge of reality TV is probably not too out of the question to enjoy all the tropes of the genre that Romancelvania pokes fun at.

Romancelvania
Romancelvania
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What I thought was probably the coolest thing about Romancelvania was the selection of candidates you could choose from. You unlock them along the way by finding them hidden around the levels, and when you do find them, they always have a quest for you. These suitors are very diverse, and there's something for everyone. I'll give you some examples. There is P.S. Elle who is a former witch who has been cursed to be a large pumpkin lady, with some huge legumes on her chest, and she is up for the worst. She is very direct and makes no secret of the fact that she wants Dracula's attention. You'll find her in the pumpkin patch, waiting at one end of the field to send Dracula down to the opposite end to finish off her ex. Do that and she's ready for the reality show of love and death. There's also Brocifer, who's a total dude with a six-pack and a bad-boy personality. If you're into elder gods, there's Lulu, a female version of Lovercraft's Cthulhu. She's blue and very strange, mostly because she's older than time itself and doesn't quite understand humanity. She's crazy about Dracula, though, so you convince her to join the reality show after a pretty weird boss fight. Just don't ask her age, trust me, it's a bad idea. It's so silly and the many contestants are sufficiently weird that they become quite interesting to get to know. I loved coming back to them after I had done one of their errands and being able to talk and flirt with them and hear about their very strange personalities.

The dialog is spot on, and the many characters are all drawn from different mythologies that they themselves are poking fun at. It's great to talk to and date these different individuals.

Around Dracula's castle you can find areas where you can invite these odd creatures on dates, where you can talk to them and gain more affection from them. This is important because all of a sudden you'll have to get rid of one, then two and more of them so that in the final round you have to choose between two as your future partner. It is very similar to the Bachelor program itself, and I actually had a hard time choosing who to get rid of, as I liked most of the women and men who were on the selection. Playing Romancelvania is a completely new experience for me, and it was refreshing to play a game that kind of turned the metroidvania formula on its head.

Romancelvania is at its core a metroidvania game, where you have to navigate your way through the levels, which eventually open up by finding secret paths, or defeating bosses that stand in the way of a new branch of the sometimes huge and confusing map. Therefore, it is also very strange that Romancelvania does not have a map, so you can orient yourself and see where you have been. The game is not as complicated as other Castlevania games, but you can easily get lost anyway, I myself am living proof of that. In particular, I missed being able to see a few areas due to lack of abilities, or just missing them. It was frustrating to run around in futile searches a lot of the time.

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Dracula starts the game with a whole bunch of powers that are taken from him at the beginning, which you then have to regain. If that sounds familiar, you're right. These abilities are now scattered throughout the actually quite varied levels, and it's great to find them, because then you know that there is another path that will open up for your bloodsucking bat-wannabe. I wish there was a map to make it easier to find these paths. However, they can be found if you look long enough in the monster-infested levels.

Romancelvania
Romancelvania

Romancelvania has a combat system very similar to Castlevania, so you get different weapons in the classic categories. There are swords, whips, axes, herds of bats and rats, and even bombs if you find them useful. These can be made better as you go along, just as you make Dracula stronger the more abilities you find. The combat system isn't innovative by any means, but it works as it should and it's fun to fight the many strange monsters, my favorite being a tuna on a unicycle, because why not. The music and graphics are also quite excellent, and the voice acting makes the wacky characters feel alive and entertaining to get to know.

I would definitely recommend Romancelvania if you like the genre and have a wry sense of humour, because it's all very silly. It's a fun mix of two genres that I haven't seen before, and it's great to experience this melting pot of different game design.

Romancelvania
08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Romancelvania

REVIEW. Written by Claus Larsen

Castlevania as a dating sim? Okay, we can't say no to that.



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