Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (2003)

by Ji-yeong
6 minutes read


Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: A Masterful Fusion of Metroidvania and RPG Elements

Released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is a beloved entry in the long-running Castlevania franchise. It seamlessly blends the classic Metroidvania formula with RPG elements, creating a captivating and addictive experience that captivated GBA owners and critics alike.

A Gothic Symphony Unfolds

Aria of Sorrow tells the tale of Soma Cruz, a high school student who finds himself drawn into the clutches of Dracula’s castle during a solar eclipse. As Soma ventures deeper into the castle’s labyrinthine depths, he discovers that he possesses the power to absorb the souls of the monsters he defeats. Each soul grants Soma a unique ability, ranging from elemental attacks to defensive buffs and traversal powers.

This soul-absorbing mechanic adds a compelling layer of strategy to the gameplay. Players must carefully consider which souls to equip, as each one offers different advantages and drawbacks. This system encourages experimentation and allows players to tailor Soma’s abilities to their preferred playstyle.

A Labyrinth of Enchanting Exploration

Aria of Sorrow’s castle is a sprawling and interconnected world, filled with hidden passages, secret rooms, and challenging puzzles. The Metroidvania structure encourages exploration and backtracking, as players acquire new abilities that allow them to access previously unreachable areas.

The castle’s diverse environments, from eerie dungeons to lush gardens and clock towers, are rendered with beautiful pixel art and atmospheric lighting. Each area is teeming with unique monsters and formidable bosses, ensuring that the journey is never dull.

RPG Elements Enhance the Adventure

In addition to its Metroidvania core, Aria of Sorrow incorporates RPG elements that enhance the gameplay experience. Soma levels up as he defeats enemies, gaining stat boosts and unlocking new abilities. He can also equip various weapons, armor, and accessories to further customize his stats and abilities.

The game features a robust inventory system, allowing players to manage their items, souls, and equipment. Soma can also purchase items and upgrades from merchants scattered throughout the castle, adding an additional layer of depth to the gameplay.

A Haunting and Memorable Soundtrack

Aria of Sorrow’s soundtrack is a haunting and memorable masterpiece, composed by Michiru Yamane. The music perfectly captures the game’s Gothic atmosphere, with its blend of orchestral arrangements, ethereal melodies, and driving rock tracks.

The boss battle themes are particularly noteworthy, each one tailored to the unique personality and abilities of the boss. These tracks heighten the intensity of the encounters and leave a lasting impression on the player.

Critical Acclaim and Legacy

Upon its release, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow received widespread critical acclaim, earning praise for its innovative gameplay, stunning visuals, and captivating soundtrack. It has consistently ranked among the best Game Boy Advance games ever made and is considered one of the finest entries in the Castlevania franchise.

Aria of Sorrow’s influence can be seen in numerous Metroidvania games that have come after it. Its unique blend of action, exploration, and RPG elements has become a hallmark of the genre. The game’s success also helped to revitalize the Castlevania franchise and paved the way for future installments.


Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is a timeless masterpiece that stands as one of the greatest Metroidvania games ever created. Its innovative gameplay, stunning visuals, haunting soundtrack, and immersive world have captivated players for nearly two decades. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the Castlevania franchise or a newcomer to Metroidvania games, Aria of Sorrow is an essential experience that will leave a lasting impression.

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