Grabbing some powerful souls is, in our opinion, the best version of a Castlevania collect-a-thon. Some games have spells, relics or equipment, but nothing comes close to hunting down enemies and learning their skills. Given that there’s a huge amount of them to gather in Aria of Sorrow, there are some filler spells and skills that really aren’t worth it, so today we’re going to draw your attention to those that we consider to be the absolute best available in the game. If you’ve read our early and late game articles then a fair few will be familiar, but we’ve rounded out the overall selection with some essential choices, and a few that might surprise.
- Grants health regeneration whilst stationary.
To fully understand the useful nature of the Giant Worm soul, you must first remove your Ego. We all like to think that we can sweep and swoop around a Castlevania map, slaying enemies and gathering loot like a veritable speedrunner all day long. In reality things are never really that simple, and you’ll likely find yourself in a sticky situation once in a while. The worst of these is when you’re exploring a new zone, and you find yourself in between dangerous zones and far too far away from a save room. Enter the Giant Worm soul; put yourself somewhere safe and let your character regenerate their health. It’s not pretty, but this soul has occasionally saved our behind, so it’s worth a mention alongside even the most powerful of offensive souls.
- Regular attacks steal +5 HP.
Speaking of health regeneration, our next choice is that of the Succubus, which will regenerate 5HP every time you hit an enemy with a normal attack. This is quite similar to the Giant Worm soul above, but a little more active, and ideally suited for healing you up when there are a lot of weak enemies present. Think of it more as a ‘sustain’ tool that can be used to keep your health high in awkward zones. Medusa Heads are a great example of this, because you’re likely to kill quite a lot of them in their zones, but there’s also hazards like spikes all over the place, so having a constant health return is very handy.
- Fires an enchanted arrow after a short animation delay.
The best way to explain the Skull Archer soul, and indeed our next two choices, are that of straight line attacks that are useful from range. This makes them ideal for attacking enemies with wide ranging attacks, a lot of which are bosses. The Skull Archer is firmly in the early game camp, because it’ll be out-scaled by better options after a short while, however when you’re taking down awkward large enemies and bosses in the early game, this is a great way to deal damage whilst staying safe.
- Throws a sword across the screen in a straight line.
Perhaps you’ve taken advantage of the Skull Archer soul, but want something that feels a little meatier in terms of damage? Look no further than the Durga soul. Yes, it’s from those annoying multi-limbed enemies that like to occupy the exact location on which you’d like to jump, usually a set of stairs, but if you can bring yourself to killing quite a few of them, you should get your hands on their soul. It is rather simple, because you essentially just fling a straight sword at the opponent, but it’s powerful and again, comes in very handy against targets that you’d rather keep at a distance.
- Summons a horse to charge across the screen.
Our final choice in the trio of straight liners is Nightmare, which for us is essentially the ultimate version of this particular type of soul. If you weren’t exactly impressed with a tiny bow and arrow or a simple long sword, then surely a glowing monstrous horse will do the job, right? There’s not a great deal to describe about this, apart from the fact that it deals a very high amount of damage, can be thrown in midair and, as ever, flies across the screen in a straight line. By the time it’s unlocked you might consider yourself an expert, no longer requiring such distance covering attacks, but it’s always worth keeping something on hand, just in case.
- Releases two offensive ghostly wisps.
Moving on from our straight attack options, we now come to what we like to call the ‘spell’ type attacks. These form more of a traditional spell caster type of soul, and we’re starting with the most basic of them, the Ghost. We’ll admit, there’s a great deal of nostalgia here for Symphony of the Night, but they’re undeniably useful, especially when enemies occupy a different zone on the same screen. If there’s impassable terrain between you and the opponent, the two summoned ghosts will ignore it and attack them anyway. They’re not quite as clever as their SOTN brethren, and you’ll be lucky if both ever hit the same target, but they can be useful nonetheless.
- Fires lightning from your fingertips. Can hit twice.
Technically unlocked before the Ghost soul, the Lightning Doll is our next spell choice. Not only is this soul very useful in the early game, particularly versus some awkward bosses, but it retains its power throughout the mid game, out-damaging a great deal of other souls for a significant portion of the game. You will eventually find better, particularly our next two choices, but a long range double hitting lightning strike is hard to top for quite a while. Just don’t get us started with its drop rate..
- Long range, powerful magical sword attack.
Should you happen upon the Valkyrie soul rather than having to farm for it, you’ll probably notice a significant jump in damage. As you can see, activating this soul will see a massive Valkyrie slash a sword upwards in front of you, dealing massive amounts of damage as it does so. If you’re progressing through the game at a normal pace, this will feel like a big upgrade in attacking soul damage, and whilst it’s expensive for a midpoint in the game, it’s worth pulling it out against some tougher enemies.
- Fires a massive fiery rock. Can hit more than once.
Our penultimate ‘spell-like’ soul is the Demon Lord, which is essentially a carbon copy of the spell that Dracula himself would cast in previous titles in the series. No doubt you will be used to seeing the Demon type enemies by the time you get this, and will likely agree with us that they’re nothing to fear, so grabbing this as you progress into the latter third of the game is highly recommended. The meteors summoned will persist through their first instance of damage, allowing them to damage an enemy more than once, assuming they survive the first…
- A massive axe swipes across the screen.
Alright, so the last of our ‘spell’ souls doesn’t actually look much like a spell, rather it looks like a ginormous axe swinging around the screen. Such things are true, however its usage does feel more like a spell than anything else, so we’ve lumped it in with the rest. Additionally, much like other spell types, it deals absolutely massive damage at a huge cost, so you’ll have to think before using it. It’s also worth noting that the Red Minotaur itself can be a pain to defeat, especially in the amount required to get this soul to drop, so do yourself a favour and grab one of our later recommendations, the Killer Mantle. This will defeat the Red Minotaur in one hit, making your life a good deal easier!
- Allows the player to literally stop still in midair.
Alright, so this is probably the most niche of recommendations that we could have chosen for the list, but it makes such a huge difference that it’s worth mentioning. The Medusa Head soul is relatively unspectacular, but because it actually entirely halts you in midair rather than letting you float downwards, it’s a great tool for dodging screen-wide attacks in the early game. One particularly pertinent example of this is the Death boss, for which this soul is ideal. Dodging his dashes can be problematic, especially for new players, but this one little soul makes the whole fight a lot, lot easier.
- Turns damage taken into money, $5 for every 1HP.
When Hammer, the shopkeeper, takes up residence at the entrance to the castle, you’ll suddenly become aware of how much, or rather how little money you have in your pockets. You’ll also note that he has some very attractive item and equipment prospects in his menu, which will lead you to the same question that many players reach at this point: How do I make enough money to buy all of those shiny things? By far the best option for this is to grab yourself the Mimic soul. By taking damage with this active, you’ll be able to amass a great deal of cash in a very short time. Spikes in particular make this an easy prospect, because they’ll deal flat amounts of damage no matter your defence rating or level.
- Switches the HP and MP of the target.
We noted earlier, when talking about the Red Minotaur soul, that you could slay one of them in a single hit with the Killer Mantle, which just so happens to be our next recommendation! No doubt you’ll have attempted to use this when it’s first available, and probably found that it felt useless, however it’s ideal for taking down some very key opponents. You may happen to find yourself up against some very high defence, ‘robot’ like enemies at certain points, which you may want to try this out on, but beware that it’s not always a good idea to do so – some opponents secretly have a huge MP pool and you could end up granting them more HP than they started with!
- Grants a continuous dash whilst held. Can be used in midair.
We are aware that this recommendation is one that requires you to almost best the true ending of Aria of Sorrow, but we feel that it deserves a slot either way. In fact, we’d argue that this should have been available earlier than this, because by the time you have it, there’s likely little need to fly around the castle at high speeds. Two reasons remain then; this finally makes Soma feel like a truly overpowered protagonist, akin to the bat charge in SOTN, and it makes hunting for any missing souls a great deal quicker. Furthermore, if you’re looking to super power up your Headhunter soul, you can use this to blast through very weak enemies, because it does a small amount of damage whilst you dash.
- Summon a sword familiar to fight alongside you.
Alright, so we’re guilty of heading right to the end game again, but who doesn’t want a sword familiar that follows you around? It costs barely any MP and you get a spinning sword that deals a good amount of damage. At our final level range, which was in the 70s somewhere, it was dealing 200+ damage whenever it touched an enemy, making it a powerful ally in almost any encounter. We’ve even seen it make a mockery of the true final boss, thanks to its hilariously huge hitbox making it hit everything in sight. It’s worth noting that it can be rather tempramental, sometimes sitting around doing nothing whilst there are enemies on the screen, but it’s great fun to use regardless, even if it does make you pine for the Sword familiar from SOTN…
- Increases stats. Scales with amount of Souls gathered.
Anyone familiar with this soul will no doubt have expected it to feature here, after all in a game that features a collection mechanic, a soul that rises in power depending on the size of the collection is always going to do well. What the game does not tell you however, is that the Headhunter soul will also rise in power depending on the amount of each soul that you have. What seems like a fairly basic passive buff to five stats can turn into an absolutely huge increase of +33 to each. This makes it more powerful than any piece of equipment, and you’ll likely turn it on and never remove it, at least once it’s fully powered up. Oh and, yes it does count when you get more than the possible 9 stack of any one soul.
- Strength raises as HP decreases.
Right at the start of this article, when we were talking about passive ways to restore your health, we noted that players often feel like they’re too good for such things. Well, thanks to the Lubicant soul, you now have a chance to prove it. Generally speaking, Castlevania players want some level of difficulty in their title, otherwise it’d be a benign platformer with little to no tension, but increasing your power at low health absolutely takes this to the next level. Use of this soul will grant you the most power possible, at least to your damage, more even than a fully powered up Headhunter soul. If you’re feeling up to it, land yourself on some spikes, let some low level enemies hit you down to 1HP and show the game just how good you are.
- Throw a knife that deals damage 6 times.
We’ll finish our list of 18 with possibly our favourite soul in the entire game, the Ripper soul, which will likely need a little explaining. To the untrained eye it seems like a rather simple throwing dagger, however you should pay attention to what happens when it hits certain targets. Should you throw this at an enemy that is capable of bleeding, and even some that don’t, it’ll stick into their hitbox and deal damage 6 times in a row. You might think that this is just a little dagger that offers a small damage over time component, but you might be surprised to find out that against some targets, this will deal more damage than a hit of the strongest weapons in the game, Claimh Solais and Scythe included. Used in conjunction with a strong weapon then, will give you a recipe for huge damage on an applicable target.
Categories: Castlevania - Aria of Sorrow