Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)

by Ji-yeong
7 minutes read


With its groundbreaking approach to game design, ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’ stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the Castlevania series and the metroidvania genre. Its legacy continues to inspire game developers and delight players with its rich narrative, challenging gameplay, and atmospheric world.


Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a landmark title in the Castlevania series, introducing a significant shift in gameplay and narrative direction. It combined the series’ classic platforming elements with an open-ended world, laying the groundwork for future ‘metroidvania’ titles.


Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, released in 1997, is an action role-playing game developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Directed by Toru Hagihara, with Koji Igarashi as assistant director, the game serves as a direct sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. Set four years after the events of its predecessor, it introduces players to Dracula’s dhampir son, Alucard, who awakens from his slumber to explore Dracula’s castle, which mysteriously resurfaces after Richter Belmont’s disappearance.

In 1792, Richter Belmont confronts the undying Count Dracula, who has been revived by the dark priest Shaft and the wickedness of people who yearn for his return. After a grueling battle, Richter manages to defeat the evil vampire lord. However, five years later, Richter inexplicably disappears, leaving no trace behind.

Enter Alucard, the half-human, half-vampire son of Dracula. Alucard, who previously appeared in Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, emerges as the protagonist. His mission: to explore the newly resurrected Dracula’s castle and uncover the truth behind Richter’s vanishing act. The castle, a sprawling and interconnected labyrinth, holds secrets, dangers, and supernatural foes.

Symphony of the Night marks a significant departure from previous Castlevania titles. It reintroduces exploration, nonlinear level design, and role-playing elements that were first experimented with in Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Alucard’s journey involves traversing the castle’s various chambers, battling enemies, and collecting weapons and abilities hidden within its depths.

Alucard’s primary objective is to defeat an entity named Shaft, who manipulates Richter Belmont and claims lordship over the castle. Shaft remains invisible until Alucard acquires a specific item during gameplay. Once defeated, the game takes an unexpected turn.

After Shaft’s defeat, players unlock the second portion of the game: the Inverted Castle. This upside-down version of the original castle introduces new enemies, bosses, and challenges. Alucard must navigate this eerie mirror image of the castle to uncover its secrets and confront the true source of evil.

Symphony of the Night initially sold poorly but gradually gained popularity through word-of-mouth. It became a sleeper hit, developing a cult following and selling over 700,000 units in the United States and Japan. Critics widely acclaim the game, praising its gameplay innovations, atmospheric design, visuals, and haunting soundtrack. It is also considered a pioneer of the Metroidvania genre, alongside Super Metroid, inspiring numerous exploration-based action-adventure games.

The game’s influence extends beyond its own release. Many subsequent mainline entries in the Castlevania series adopt its gameplay model, cementing Symphony of the Night as a timeless classic in video game history.


Key characters include Alucard, the game’s protagonist, with his unique vampiric abilities; Richter Belmont, the legendary vampire hunter from ‘Rondo of Blood’ who mysteriously disappears; and Maria Renard, a powerful ally who assists Alucard in his quest.


‘Symphony of the Night’ offers a blend of action, adventure, and RPG elements. Players explore Dracula’s castle, which is filled with hidden areas, traps, and puzzles. Combat involves a mix of swordplay, magic, and the use of special items, with a heavy emphasis on player skill and strategy.


‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’ remains a masterpiece of game design, its influence seen in countless games that followed. Its seamless blend of genres, compelling story, and intricate world design have earned it a place in the pantheon of classic video games.

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