Skeleton Appreciation Month has been, gone and shuffled back off to its grave, but I figure we can afford to extend the spooky festivities just a little while longer, especially with gems like this having snuck out in the final hours of October.
Castlevania: Simon’s Destiny was released on Halloween day, and is a genuinely impressive fan-game, remaking the entirety of the original NES game in first-person perspective, all built on the open-source (and increasingly flexible) GZDoom engine. Well worth a play, if you feel you could do with a little more Dracula in your life.
While relatively short (six levels, mirroring the NES original), an immense amount of love and attention has been poured into Simon’s Destiny. Every environment, monster and boss from the original game is present and correct, and one detail I found especially charming was the difficulty settings – named after phases of the moon – are reflected in-game with the skybox displaying your choice every time you look to the sky.
Don’t worry about the trailer looking a bit dark. Something went a bit awry encoding it.
As with the NES original, Simon’s Destiny is no walk in the park. Unless you don’t mind dying and retrying (all part of the experience, really), I very highly recommend saving regularly. Also, don’t go picking Blood Moon difficulty until your second playthrough – you are absolutely not prepared for the heaps of new monster types that mode adds. Even on the lower settings, enemies are highly damaging and health pickups are few and far between, often hidden in strange places. Remember: Wall-meat is the best meat.
In case you were worried: The horrible, sadistic sine-wave-flying medusa heads are present and correct and placed in such a way to ruin every jump you ever hope to make across a perilous chasm. Yes, you’ll have to do some first-person platforming (this is a Castlevania remake, after all), but the targets to land on are all generously sized. The real challenge is not getting knocked off by horrible bone-lobbing skeletons once you’re on a ledge. It’s a remarkably authentic adaptation.
Those who keep up with the Doom modding scene might recognise the name Andrea Gori, aka Batandy. His past creations include the Doom: The Golden Souls series, which mash up classic Doom demon-slaying violence and the whimsical charms of Super Mario 64. It would seem that he’s developed a little bit of a thing for re-envisioning console classics in first-person, and I can’t wait to see The Golden Souls 2 complete.