Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries is an unofficial addition to the Castlevania series; while this game is a hack of the original Castlevania game, it features a new story with new game elements that make it stand alone from the original game. The game adds a new story to the classic world of Castlevania which should satisfy most series fans.
It was co-developed by the infamous Dr. Mario and Optomon; Dr. Mario has worked on a variety of ROM hacks so this game has come from an experienced development team and has been built from the ground up with new content for players to explore. The game was completed and made available for download in 2007 however some leaked versions of the game do exist online which are incomplete.
While the game is based on the original game, it features a whole new story with a new protagonist named Armund who has gone to explore the Castle of Count Orlox, a powerful vampire.
In 1777, the baby Armund was abandoned on a merchant ship with a mysterious crest and his name; the crew of the ship raised the boy as one of them and Armund quickly became one of the greatest sailors the crew had ever seen but this wasn't enough for him. He longed to know what happened to his family and when he met an old man in Serbia, Armud knew he had to investigate the possibility that he was from the DeNasty clan who defeated Dracula.
Unsurprisingly, the quest takes Armund into the mountains of Romania where he's told that he may find the answers he seeks inside the Castle of Count Orlox, a vampire who was a servant to Dracula.
The plot slowly fills out as the game progresses and there's a nice introductory cutscene at the start of the game which plot enthusiasts should enjoy. It fits the classic story for the Castlevania series nicely and works well as an addition to the series.
Despite Chorus of Mysteries being a ROM hack, the game feels like a new experience and is something that most fans of the series will both enjoy and respect the developer for. It follows the classic genre elements of combat and platforming however, it places more emphases on the combat aspect of the gameplay. Along with these elements, the game keeps the control system seen in the original game where the player is able to run and jump just like in the original Castlevania game. It shouldn't be surprising then that the developers also opted to keep the same delayed combat system which makes combat difficult and frustrating.
The side-scrolling game is formed from a range of platforms which players can use to complete each level; these platforms can be jumped to and are used to progress through the levels in the game. Some enemies can be avoided by using platforms while others will follow the direction of the player and continue to attack. In addition to platforms, most levels feature stairs which the player can use whenever they wish and provide access to new areas of the level.
As to be expected from a Castlevania ROM hack, there are plenty of power-ups to collect throughout the game; there are also a wide number of secondary weapons to collect throughout the game which can be necessary to defeat specific bosses in a slightly easier fashion. Most of these weapons will be familiar to those who have played the original Castlevania game and its sequels but there are also a few new weapons in the game for players to collect and use.
There are only five levels in the game however each level is a decent length and is filled with enemies; needing to repeat levels raises the playtime quite a bit for the game but it can become quite repetitive at times. The variation in enemies is nice as it helps stop the game from becoming repetitive for the most part but there is little reprise from the constant combat which can become tiring.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that this ROM hack also follows the traditional combat mechanics seen in the original game; players have a single primary weapon throughout the game which is a new mechanic to the series. Armund wields a special blade whip which has a delayed attack time and requires the player to stand still while using it.
The blade itself can be frustrating at the start of the game and it's steep learning curve can make the early levels of the game feel impossible; learning how to use the blade whip does make the game much easier however.
In addition to the blade whip, there are a variety of secondary weapons available throughout the game which are collected as pick-ups; each weapon is unique and some of them have a limited use which forces players to use them more strategically.
There are a large number of different enemies that roam the levels of Chorus of Mysteries; each level contains different enemies for players to defeat or avoid. Each enemy in the game uses different attacks and reacts to the player differently which makes it important to be able to identify each one. Most enemies in the game will be familiar to players of the official Castlevania games however, this ROM hack also contains several new enemies such as Thornweed and Panthers.
Players can expect to face new bosses for almost all levels including the final boss of the game; each boss is unique and has their own patterns for players to learn. While the boss battles are certainly difficult, they feel very rewarding which works for a fairly good balance.
The original Castlevania games are known for their difficulty and this ROM hack certainly lives up to the name; players are given a new primary weapon in this game which uses a form of delayed attack. As a result, combat can be very frustrating throughout the game but the addition of secondary weapons makes the game slightly easier at points. The delayed attack does take quite a bit of getting used to and places heavy emphasis on skill meaning it does become easier as the game progresses.
While using the weapon certainly becomes easier, the game constantly throws enemies at the player and managing them can be very difficult for the first few hours of the game; there are a large number of different enemies for players to deal with as the game progresses which become increasingly more powerful. Dealing with the enemies can be frustrating to begin with especially when using the primary weapon however, this begins to be come more varied as the game progresses.
Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries keeps the classic high difficulty through the combat which makes for an entertaining or frustrating experience; this can be a good or bad thing depending on the player and how many times they're willing to repeat a level.
Graphics & Audio
While most ROM hacks just re-use the original graphics, the developers of Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries have added their own sprites and have sought to merge them with the classic graphics; it results in a game looks like an original Castlevania series while keeping it fresh.
The main character, Armund, features a new sprite to the original character which blends nicely with the world while making it obvious that this is a new character; this is potentially one of the 'biggest' additions to the graphics in this game. There are also a range of new sprites for the new enemies that have been introduced in this game, they fit the style well but experienced Castlevania fans may be able to pick them out.
The new graphics suit the world very well and feel like a natural part of the gameplay experience; fans of the original game should be able to both enjoy and appreciate the ROM hack for this.
Unlike other fan-made games, it also features original music in the game which fits the atmosphere of the game nicely; while most of the music is great, some of it does seem a little out of place in sections and it's much more obvious that the piece of audio was fan created. Those less experienced with he series shouldn't notice the new music as they blend so well it's almost unnoticeable.
The developers have done a good job with this aspect of the game and all players should be able to enjoy the pixel graphics and the atmospheric music that work together nicely to build a great gameplay experience.
While the completed game is free from bugs and glitches, there are older versions of this game floating around the internet which may contain various issues. All versions of the game should be completable without major issues but some of the older games have some graphical glitches that could be annoying to deal with.
Older versions of Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries may also lack gameplay elements depending on what version the game is; the version on the official website for the ROM hack is the completed version and all Repro versions of this game are also the completed one.
Castlevania: Chorus of Mysteries feels close to the original game while adding its own unique flair to make this game stand out; the story may seem a little fanfiction-esque at times but it suits the dark fantasy themes of the series.
The gameplay itself could easily be confused for an official game despite it featuring new levels, enemies and bosses. It looks and feels similar to the original Castlevania game however there are enough differences to keep it fresh and interesting. Fans of the series should feel right at home with this game however, newcomers who have never played the original game may struggle with the difficulty.
Combat in this game is a blend of engaging and frustrating; the delayed attack results in a steep learning curve that could be be too much for some players to deal with. This does become easier as the game progresses but getting to this point can be very frustrating.
Overall, this is a great game for fans of the series who are looking for a new Castlevania game to sink some time into; it has a lot of nice features that easily makes this one of the better ROM hacks available for this series.
- Follows the traditional gameplay of the original game
- Great level design
- Fun bosses
- Great graphics and audio
- High difficulty level
- Combat can be very frustrating during the early game