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Dracula is dead! Symphony of the Night can be challenging at times, but compared to something like Order of Ecclesia, it’s still pretty easy. You feel kinda cheap using the Shield Rod + Alucard Shield combo to defeat some of the harder bosses, though.
What is so interesting about Symphony of the Night? Why is it still such a great experience that it’s worth going through? The game really shines with its content. There are so many bosses, enemies, items, weapons, and locations that you’re just curious to see what’s around the next corner. Granted, you’ll never use even half of the items that are handed to you and half of the bosses are a bit of a joke, but if they weren’t there, the game wouldn’t have the same impact. The gameplay isn’t carefully crafted by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s enough of interesting content to keep you going for 11 hours.
So, does quantity over quality work? The content in Symphony of the Night isn’t really low quality. It’s just badly balanced. The art of the game is breathtaking and the enemies you encounter are often clever and interesting. The amount of secrets helps, too. When you know all the breakable walls, spell combos, combinations of items, and tactics to beat certain bosses, it’s a fun feeling.
What’s the takeaway for a modern roguelite project? You can’t compete with the quality of hand-crafted levels and challenges that game such as the first Castlevania or something like Super Mario Bros. 3 offers. One clever way to keep players hooked is to craft enough differing content and offer them challenges in form of secrets. Have the game offer more than is immediately obvious at a surface level. Hand out easy secrets to the players so that they’ll know there might be something else cool hidden in there. Don’t let the sense of intrigue die off. That can take some careful planning, too, but it’s really a tradeoff. You have to perfect something.