Another great 2D Castlevania, but this time in Nintendo DS.
Dawn of Sorrow takes place a year after Aria of Sorrow for the GBA. Again you play as Soma Cruz, who has the potential to be the next Dark Lord but he refused to do so. This time an evil cult is searching a way to resurrect Dracula and in this they intend to use Soma. Of course the story is much more complicated than that consisting many different characters, but I don’t want to spoil them for you.
Graphics are once again great and there are some pseudo 3D effects like when different parts in the background move differently when Soma walks by. Use of colors is rich and every area looks different from one another. Music is the highlight of Dawn of Sorrow and when you beat the game with its best ending you’ll unlock Sound Mode, which allows you to listen all 28 songs and 190 sound effects used in Dawn of Sorrow.
Two new additions include a constantly visible map on the upper screen, which really helps you to navigate through the enormous castle. Other addition is the ability to draw magic symbols and break ice blocks with the stylus. In order to defeat a boss you need to seal it away by drawing a symbol using the touch screen. This can be a pain, but when you practice the symbol a few times before entering a fight it shouldn’t be huge problem. The use of touch screen brings some variety into the gameplay, but still it doesn’t fit in that well.
Gameplay in general is familiar, but also tried and true. Killing monsters help Soma to gain new levels of experience, sometimes enemies drop their souls for Soma to use and this time you can also upgrade your many different weapons by using the souls you’ve gathered. All of this means that there is a lot of stuff to find and collect. Dawn of Sorrow really encourages you to explore and collect as many items as you can. There’s always something new to find.
Although the castle is large there are a lot of rooms to save your progress and many warp rooms help you to move from one part to another very quickly. These things make sure that the player will not get frustrated.
Boss fights are many, epic and graphically excellent with bright colors. Unfortunately if you just have a level high enough and a few life potions to use they don’t usually pose much of a challenge.
Aside from a few shouts there is no voice acting in Dawn of Sorrow and the whole story is told with a text. It’s classical, but in the future I’d like to see characters speaking to each other.
There are three different endings and you can see them all in succession. For me it took over 14 hours to get the best ending and I think it was worth it simply because of the different bonus extras it unlocked.