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Review - DOOM - Castlevania Simon's Destiny MOD - The first Castlevania FPS ever made is great!


Rows of flying medusa heads enter through a broken window in the castle!

Batandy did it again! After The Golden Souls, now he made another great mod called Castlevania - Simon's Destiny! It's creepy, atmospheric, hard as nails, and although it's based on the first ever made Castlevania(1986) on Nes, it feels much more like playing Super Castlevania IV (Super Nintendo, 1991) in a first person view!

There is a little problem though... Can we call this a mod, since it doesn't use ANY of the Doom assets?
I mean, this time, you don't even need to own the original Doom ".pk3" files to run it, it's a completely stand alone high-quality fangame!πŸ˜πŸ‘


(The game isn't as dark as in the trailer, don't worry!)


FIRST THINGS FIRST

Once again, I'm adding a little guide for people who have trouble running it.
I said the game is stand-alone, but you still need to use a launcher like Gzdoom though!

 - 1) Create a folder. You can name it however you want, but let's say "Doom - Castlevania".
 - 2) Download the latest version of Gzdoom here. (x86 or x64)
 - 3) Extract Gzdoom archive in the folder you just created.
 - 4) Create a "mods" folder inside "Doom - Castlevania" folder.
 - 5) Download Castlevania: Simon's Destiny v1.2 here.
 - 6) Drop "Castlevania.ipk3" inside the mods folder.
 - 7) Open the "gzdoom.ini"(for me, it's "gzdoom-Lily.ini") file in the main folder and add thIS line after [Global.Autoload] (easy to find, no need to scroll down!) =>

Path=mods/Castlevania.ipk3


 - 8) Launch the game with gzdoom.exe!
 - 9) Contact me or leave a comment if it doesn't work!😁

(this time I didn't use Beautiful Doom because it doesn't change anything in the game)

a skeleton is throwing his own bones at the player!
The skeleton looks like he's playing baseball with me. Except, throwing his own bones. Bone AppΓ©tit!

Some Gzdoom Options I recommend(most are completely optional, except the render mode):

- Player setup => Always Run => ON
It seems very fast at first compared to modern sluggish FPS, but you get used to it.
- Customize Controls => Secondary Fire => Mouse 2
Unless you like to jump with mouse 2 (I prefer space myself), I think it's very convenient for this particular mod.
- Mouse Controls => Always Mouselook => ON
Personally, I ALWAYS have this on in every mod, but I know it's really recommended for this mod, because of the flying enemies. πŸ˜‰
- Set Video Mode => Render Mode => OpenGL-Accelerated
ALL of the other modes will bring your PC to its knees, baby. Although the "Doom Software Renderer" has it charms...
- Display Options => OpenGL Renderer => Textures Options => Texture Filter Mode => NONE
Okay, this one depends on your taste though. I just hate anything trying to smooth roughly my beloved pixels! lol
- Display Options => OpenGL Renderer => Lens Distortion Effect => ON
Again, a matter of taste. Personally, I'm addicted.
- Display Options => OpenGL Renderer => Sector Light Mode => Doom
I keep changing this all the time, because every mod seems to work better with a different setting.

By the way, can anybody recommend me a nice CRT shader to use with Gzdoom, assuming it's possible? (I don't find much information about it online, but I'd like to recreate my old CRT screen feeling! lol)

the introduction screen of Castlevania Simon's Destiny, right before the game starts. We can see Simon Belmont from the back, facing the castle entrance.
2017...
the introduction screen of Super Castlevania IV, right before the game starts. We can see Simon Belmont from the back, facing the castle entrance.
...1991! This is the first level introduction screen in Super Castlevania IV on Super Nintendo!



SIMON IS BACK!

Like in the first game, Castlevania - Simon's Destiny puts you in control of Simon Belmont as you travel through Count Dracula's castle, which raises from depths of hell every 100 years. 
You'll battle numerous bosses along the way, including Frankenstein's monster, a pair of Mummy Men, the Phantom Bat, Queen Medusa, the Grim Reaper, and Count Dracula himsel!

The game features 6 levels like in the original game(a bit on the short side), and they have been re-imagined and adapted to a FPS environment, and I've got to say it's one of the most impressive uses of the Doom engine(or what's left of it lol) I've ever seen.
They made a totally new game that looks and feels just like Castlevania.

the first enemy the player encounters in the castle entrance is a bat!
The first enemy you meet, a bat! And unfortunately also one of the most annoying ones, and you'll encounter them a bit everywhere in the entire game.

The modders also accomplished an impressive work on the bestiary, since most of the monsters from the original game seem to be present, but this time you'll finally enjoy looking at them from a new angle. 
Indeed, you'll find ourselves in front of them and no longer aside, which will feel a bit strange when you first meet your fireballs-spitting dragon skulls.


Two fire-spitting dragon skulls come out of the walls
The dragon skulls feel tougher than their console counterparts, and you'll have trouble killing them in a few hits only!
You can really feel the passion that went into making every detail of the six levels you will be whipping your way through as "Castlevania-like" as possible!

Unfortunately, maybe it's actually TOO much like Castlevania...
You're going to understand soon.


GAMEPLAY - CASTLEVANIARDCORE


a funny-looking guy is hanged by the feet from the ceiling
"How're they hanging?"  "Very funny, asshole, get lost."

Okay, I guess I don't need to tell you the usual?
Controls are very basic, like good old FPS of the 90s.
- Movement Keys (Forward, Backward, Strafe Left, Strafe Right)
- Primary Fire
- Secondary Fire (the magical attacks)
- Jump
- Crouch (never had to use it once in this mod though)
- Use (use it to open doors)

- QUICKSAVE Key (I nearly destroyed that key while playingπŸ˜…)

(Just my opinion, but my favorite FPS have no more keys than this, and I wish EVERY FPS was like this. This is perfect. I don't mean FPS/RPG like Deus Ex though, just regular classic FPS.)
 
the second level, looking like some very humid and dark flooded caves
Note: I had a very weird bug in the second level. The walls were transparent when I used OpenGL, so I had to switch to other renderers to make the walls solid. Is this just me?


Now, why did I quicksave every 3 seconds?
Well, this game is MUCH more difficult than Golden Souls!!!
Actually, I'm starting to see why I had a few nightmares after playing this game.
It's because of the whip... It reminded me again of.. Hmm? Slavery? No no, something much worse than that! YOUNG INDIANA JONES, the Megadrive game.(hope this video link still works at the time you read this!)

I always mention that game because it has the worst gameplay ever seen, I think.

Well, don't worry, Simon's Destiny is NOT like that at all!
But it's still VERY difficult, especially when you have to kill little enemies with your VERY short-ranged whip.(bats especially, and also these annoying midgets jumping around.)
Again, I want to emphasize how incredibly short the whip is, and I'm surprised nobody ever mentioned it in the forums.

It really shocked me the first time I played.
You'll have to be VERY close to your enemies to be able to hit them! 
Please developer, is there a way to make the range longer?

On a side note, you'll also be able to "upgrade" your whip 2 times, but...
I didn't feel any differences, and according to what I heard from other players, it was the same for them.πŸ€”

The player found a piece of breakable wall, which hides a chicken, which will heal him!
VERY IMPORTANT TIP! See how the column on the left is dark? This is because you can break it, and inside, you'll find some chicken which will heal you. You'll also find breakable walls here and there. Meat is EXTREMELY rare in this game, so look out for those walls!

Like in the Castlevania games, you also have a secondary attack, which can be a magical item, throwing knives, a stopwatch, etc!

TIP!
OVERUSE the secondary attacks, because most of them cost only one heart, whatever difficulty level you play! When I first played the game, I made the mistake of wanting to avoid using it, but it makes the game much easier.

My favorite is the holy cross, which seems almost overpowered, and saved me against a few bosses!
It's a bit hard to hit little enemies with the throwing knives. The holy water is quite useful though!

Note!
Like in the original Castlevania, when you pick up an item, it'll replace the old one.
So be careful and think twice before picking something! 

THE COSPLAYERS (click on thumbnails to see them in HD)
1st boss - Phantom Bat
BATMAN
This cosplayer went as far as making his costume fly in the air.
Very impressive.
Too bad he flew away before the awards ceremony.
2nd Boss - Frankenstein
FRANKENDUMB
Unfortunately for him, this contestant used a very flammable costume and turned himself into a genuine frankenfurter before even being able to parade.
3rd Boss - Queen Medusa
MEDUSA CLINTON
Incredible. Her countless lying snake heads managed to get 30% of fake votes. We had to disqualify her though, as she tried to start a war between participants from Russia and USA.
4th Boss - Mummy Man (twins)
THOMSON & THOMPSON
Unacceptable. 
They just wrapped themselves with used toilet paper and pretended to be mummies.
Disqualified.

5th Boss - Grim Reaper
DEATH ITSELF
When he told me "I'm Death", I said "it's ok, I'll speak louder."
Then he said "don't mock me, or you'll face grim reaper-cussions". 
6th Boss - Dracula
TIM CURRY 1st FORM
"I'm just a sweet transvestite from transsexual transylvania".
...........
NEXT.
6th Boss - 2nd Form - Spirit of Dracula
2nd FORM
Help me write a caption for this one!πŸ˜…
6th Boss - 3rd Form
3rd FORM
And this one!πŸ˜…
 
Although you don't have "ammo" in this game, you do have to collect hearts in order to "refill" your secondary attacks!
You can break MANY things, like statues, torches, candles, vases, etc!
Most of them will give you just ONE heart though...

It can be a bit tiresome to whip all of these tiny candles!
It respects the original game system, but it would have been a good idea to put way less candles, and the few we can break would contain bigger hearts. Just my idea!
Having to increase our hearts one by one is a bit tedious.



Endlessly spawning flying medusa heads over a broken bridge.
Nooo not the flying Iron Maiden's Eddie heads! Run tooo the hiiiiiills!  By the way, keep in mind that many enemies have a strong knockback effect, and these heads from hell will make you miss platforms and fall to your death more than once. (like in the original game, again!) You've been warned!

Okay, I already complained about the short-ranged whip(you get used to it, it's not that terrible), but the BOSSES are insanely hard, and you miss even more having a better weapon. 
Even the very first one (the giant bat) took me several tries to succeed, even with max health.
They just take a very long time to kill, but more importantly, most of the bosses have the ability to shoot very fast-moving projectiles at you, whether they're magical attacks, knives, or fire, you'll have BIG trouble avoiding them!!

Bosses are really the only thing I dislike in this game.
They're very well-made, but simply too frustrating. 
I was so relieved every time I beat one!
You're the one being whipped hard in this game, believe me!

All I can tell you is that you WILL die against bosses no matter what.
So just accept it, learn their patterns, and try again! 
A monster is burning because the player threw holy water at him.
Burn, Baby, Burn! Oh yeah, try to play with Disco music sometimes, it's a nice change from the dark atmosphere. πŸ˜…

But!
Like a guy was saying in a Doom forum, "The various ways I've died also pay homage to the source material: Boned by skeletons, knocked down pits by Medusa heads, pecked by birds, missed jumps, and more."
And I couldn't agree more. The game is a real success about recreating the original feeling in a 3D FPS game. Bravo, developers!πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘
You die, but with a nostalgic happy grin on your face. lol
 
A very foggy level, with dangerous knights
Simon's Destiny might be the most atmospheric Doom "mod" I ever played.

Finally, you'll also get your share of vicious platforming areas, with conveyor belts and collapsing bridges. It's not as extreme as the almost constant platforming of The Golden Souls though, and surprisingly feel better, maybe because it's necessary and usually rewards you with a KEY!
(By the way... Is it just me, or the stopwatch item doesn't stop the conveyor belts? It would have made sense.)

What else to say?
Despite a few complaints, this game is astonishing on every level you can imagine.
I had almost as much fun as with the very recent Amid Evil. (in development!)
Can't believe it's free. Well, Konami owns the rights, after all. (right? lol) 

The last level features risky platforming with conveyor belts over a bottomless pit!
Conveyor belts! Yaaaaay.... Oh yeah, and over a bottomless pit, of course.

GRAPHICS - MAGNIFICENT AND ATMOSPHERIC

Is it just me(I know, I always say this), or very well-made pixel art(I'm talking about the textures) can actually look as convincing and immersive as photo-realistic 3D?
I don't know, it's hard to describe my feelings.
 
A very creepy yet beautiful room lighted by lots of candles and chandeliers, with dead men hanging from the ceiling
This area alone feels more atmospheric and gorgeous than any "AAA" FPS I played since the last decade.(did I just use the word "gorgeous" when some horribly flayed bodies are hanging from the ceiling?πŸ˜…)

I'm not saying this game is photo-realistic by any stretch... But its style just gives it life, and the intelligent lighting helps creating unique scenes which I find even more glorious than what I would see in modern 3D FPS/RPGs like Skyrim.
No need for HD textures and complicated shaders!
I don't know, I guess I'm just a "retro extremist", but there's something that just makes me feel extremely good about this style.
Aw man, nostalgia got me! Send help! 

 
The player is facing a beautiful fountain decorated with an angel statue, surrounded with candles
I can tell you, it has been a pleasure to take screenshots of this game. Most of them can even be used as wallpapers. If only my Chernobyl radioactive whip+3 wasn't glowing like crazy! lol


Again, like I said, the color palette seems quite inspired by Super Castlevania IV, which helps a LOT, definitely. Back then, the fact that palettes were limited forced developers to create simpler harmonies of colors and it worked wonders.
Nowadays, without this limitation, many artists who don't master the art of coloring end up making something too complex and incoherent. (which is why I prefer indie games, which usually use more old-school techniques)
Here, the whole thing holds together perfectly.
Just look at my screenshots. The art direction of this game is superb.

The Doom engine is STILL the best engine for FPS games in 2018.
Well, let's say Gzdoom to be more precise. lol


Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention...
All of this glory in less than 70mb. 

An eagle carrying and throwing midgets at the player
Is that an eagle carrying Willow? Oh no! Hang in there, Peck! I'm coming to save you!

 
MUSIC & SOUNDS - THE EPIC LEGENDARY CASTLEVANIA MELODIES SOUND AS GOOD AS EVER

The recognizable timeless Castlevania melodies are so GODLY that I don't dare to comment on this.
I'm not worthy! lol  
You think I exaggerate? Fine, listen to this! =>


By the way, I have the two Dracula Battle(from Perfect Selection) CDs and all of the tracks sound as great as this one, I highly recommend them!

Believe it or not, the sound effects are actually pretty bad.
I don't care that much and it didn't affect my gameplay at all, but still...
For example, what's with the weird broken sound of torches when you break them?
When I say torches, I mean these things =>

the player breaks a torch to get a heart.


Or maybe it's just me? A bad sound setting in Gzdoom?
Also, the whip sound is way too harsh and since you use it all the time, it might annoy you eventually. 
I wish the developer just used the sounds from Super Castlevania IV instead.
(Maybe he did? But I didn't recognize them at all.)

One nice touch though: I'm pretty sure that the wolf howling sound comes from Resident Evil! (well, maybe it was used in many games back then, anyway... Lots of developers used "stock sound effects" CDs!)
Edit: I actually found it on "Zero-G - Datafile Vol. 1"(sorry, can't listen to it online!), track 35, at 0:22!
I'm pretty sure that's the same howl.
Oh you can hear the howl in this video at 0:15, and also realize that Seinfeld show too used these stock sounds. ha ha =>


One thing about the music though!
Since I'm such a nostalgic freak, and Batandy knows that we freaks are legion(mwa ha ha tremble!), he gave us the possibility to use Super Castlevania IV OST instead!!
You can download it there:  Simon's Destiny MOD
And I consider it's even better, although much more eerie and atmospheric, which is PERFECT for this mod!

You want to please me? Hmm? No no, put your pants back on!πŸ™„ I was going to say, listen to the whole Super Castlevania IV ost, if you don't know it. You'll feel more cultured afterwards.πŸ˜… =>




MY FINAL SCORE
Total score - Lily Ferrari - Castlevania Simon's Destiny
I don't even know if it's good or not. lol But I tried to break as many things as I could and collect lots of money! Try to beat me! (something tells me it'll be easy though)
 πŸ˜‚


RATING BOX

Artwork of Castlevania - Simon's Destiny

(VERSION TESTED: 1.2)

Publisher:
/

Developer:

Release Date: 31 October, 2017

Genre: FPS

1 PLAYER 

Difficulty: Hard

GRAPHICS: 97%
This score seem to be very high, especially if you're part of the younger crowd who prefers photorealistic FPS. But if you don't care about that and like just pure ART, then you'll understand.
MUSIC: 95%
Whether you just use the remixed OST in the base game or choose the Super Castlevania IV OST, your ears will thank you. I never knew that dying wouldn't feel frustrating as long as I can listen to some beautiful melodies. lol
SOUNDS: 62%
Surprisingly bad, and some of the sounds even seem unedited, ending abruptly, or having noise and artifacts.(and no, not for nostalgic purposes)
The few monsters voices are good though, and some of them even impressive.
(where does the "death" boss voice comes from?)
GAMEPLAY: 83%
Whipping around can be satisfying once you get used to it, platforming is balanced(no pun), game is short but diverse, exploring is rewarding, but...
It would be a way higher score if it wasn't for these horribly annoying bosses!
OVERALL RATING: 86%
I feel very bad not giving a higher score to this incredible piece of art. Like "The Golden Souls", I consider that this too is a must-have. No other Doom mod ever managed to create such atmosphere.
Awesome in each and every conceivable way.
That's the way re-imaginings or remakes should be!

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