Return to Castlevania DLC’ Is a Beautiful Love Letter to Konami’s Iconic Series


It’s secure to say Konami doesn’t have a fantastic status. Within the mid-2010s, the once-loved Japanese gaming big controversially pivoted away from console video games to give attention to pachinko, gyms, slot machines, and cell gaming. As such, beloved franchises like Metallic Gear, Silent Hill, and Castlevania have gone with out a new entry for years.

Silent Hill just lately received a shot within the arm with the affirmation of the Silent Hill 2 remake on PlayStation 5 and a number of other different Silent Hill titles, however there aren’t any indicators of life from both Metallic Gear or Castlevania (we take the perennial rumors of them being unveiled at E3 with an enormous pinch of salt). Whereas a brand new Castlevania title continues to be a pipe dream, we now have the subsequent neatest thing.

Movement Twin’s Useless Cells has been an indie success story because it was launched to rave critiques in 2018. The roguelike Metroidvania has since been ported to simply about each trendy platform, delivering a tough-as-nails however supremely addictive platforming expertise by which you discover spooky environments, accumulate highly effective weapons, and go toe-to-toe with tough bosses. You die (so much…), however steadily develop extra highly effective and are capable of slowly push additional into the sport.

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The builders dubbed Castlevania “one of many greatest, if not THE greatest, inspirations behind Useless Cells” and now, after in some way convincing Konami to provide them the license, we’ve the Return to Castlevania DLC. And, as a seasoned Castlevania fan, listening to these tunes, seeing these characters, and squaring off towards Dracula with the Vampire Killer whip in hand introduced (bloody) tears to my eyes.

At this level, it’s value mentioning that previous to getting my evaluation code I’d by no means performed Useless Cells, and leaping straight into the DLC of a recreation with as fearsome a status as this had me nervous. Would I even be capable to entry it with out taking part in via a considerable slice of the sport?

There’s excellent news and dangerous information. The excellent news is that it’s an easy course of to unlock Return of Castlevania from a recent save. After reloading the opening jail space and stumbling throughout the reassuring determine of Richter Belmont, you’ll be able to shortly proceed to the ‘Citadel Outskirts’. An unbelievable remix of ‘Vampire Killer’ kicks in, and also you’re free to whomp skeletons, bash mermen, and usually immerse your self in all issues Castlevania.

Dead Cells - Return to Castlevania DLC
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The dangerous information is that reaching the DLC’s true finish and combating Dracula is a bit more concerned. Attending to Drac’s fortress for the primary time is simple sufficient, although when approaching his throne room, you’re dragged right down to a troublesome boss battle with one other collection staple. Beat him, and Alucard informs you that you just’ll must get to the ‘true’ Dracula’s Citadel through Useless Cells‘ Clock Tower. This implies battling your manner via six Useless Cells biomes and taking out two very tough bosses earlier than you even get a sniff at the actual ending.

It was a bit dispiriting to lastly attain this tougher model of Dracula’s Citadel, solely to immediately die to a boss and be despatched all the best way again to the beginning of the sport to strive once more. However at the least Useless Cells is an entire bunch of enjoyable, and by the point you’ve unlocked just a few upgrades and know the degrees, it’s not an excessive amount of of a trouble. Plus, whereas the voyage there was a bit irritating, dealing with down a splendidly realized multi-stage Dracula boss battle (with massive shades of Symphony of the Night time) was a dream come true.

That had me grinning like an fool, however the DLC’s “Richter Mode” actually goes above and past. This places you within the sandals of Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night time‘s lead Belmont, delivering a linear Castlevania stage with mechanics far more harking back to Konami’s video games than Useless Cells. An apparent effort has been poured into this transient mode, so it’s confounding that it’s so onerous to unlock.

Dead Cells - Return to Castlevania DLC
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You’ll must painstakingly attain the ‘true’ Dracula’s fortress, get hold of and free Richter, begin a brand new run, battle your manner again to that room via these six biomes, and solely then do you lastly get the possibility to crack that whip. Plus “Richter Mode” is simply a single self-contained stage and, so far as I might inform, you’ll be able to’t take his cool motion and battle mechanics out into the remainder of the sport.

It was round this level that I lastly delved into Useless Cells‘ accessibility choices, which allow you to decrease issues like harm acquired and enemy well being, and add checkpoints on dying, making issues go by so much quicker. So, should you don’t care about Useless Cells and simply need to get pleasure from a visit down Castlevania reminiscence lane, simply swap the sport to ‘Simple Mode’ and soak within the sights and sounds with out worrying {that a} swipe from a random enemy will finish your run.

Nonetheless, that is such an completed DLC, I’d have crawled via damaged glass to play it, so studying how one can play a recreation pretty much as good as Useless Cells wasn’t too massive an ask. Each inch of it’s full of consideration to element, from Easter Eggs to previous heroes like Sypha Belnades, a room containing the (fortunately inert) pile-of-corpses Legion boss, a nod to Rondo of Blood’s horse-drawn carriage opening sequence, and, inevitably, a tribute to Symphony of the Night time‘s infamous Richter/Dracula change.

Dead Cells - Return to Castlevania DLC
through Movement Twin

Past that, there’s a swathe of unlockable costumes (letting you gown up as Richter, Alucard, Sypha, Dying, and Dracula), unlockable Castlevania-themed powers, and a number of other cool new toys ripped from the franchise’s lengthy historical past. Simply hook it to my veins!

With the current Silent Hill bulletins, Konami has confirmed that they’re prepared to let third-party builders work on their most iconic IPs. After taking part in via Return to Castlevania, this seems like a job utility from Movement Twin to greenlight a full revival of the franchise, with “Richter Mode” serving as a vertical slice demo of what they could obtain.

I say give Movement Twin the rights and switch them unfastened in Transylvania. Return to Castlevania is a dream come true for any Castlevania fan and a heartfelt love letter to one in every of gaming’s biggest franchises.

This evaluation relies on the PC model of the sport. A replica was offered to us by Movement Twin.

Useless Cells – Return to Castlevania DLC

I can not think about a finer tribute to ‘Castlevania’ than this unbelievable DLC. Simply accessible to new ‘Useless Cells’ gamers and brimming with content material, this left us hoping that Konami will flip Movement Twin unfastened on a model new whip-cracking, Drac-smashing journey.