Having the ability to to actually create builds is rather unusual in a Castlevania game. Sure, you can focus your attention on certain items, or perhaps deliberately challenge yourself by exclusively using sub weapons or such, however being able to directly influence statistics in Aria of Sorrow does open it up to some interesting different build options. Now, the most popular thing to do in this game is simply deal as much damage as possible, which lets you focus on using your evasion and skill to survive whilst maximising one singular stat, being ATK. However, what if you were to attempt to build Soma like a tank, prioritising your DEF and CON stats as much as possible? Can it work and, more importantly, is it actually worth it?
- Eversing / Demon’s Mail
- Ancient Belt
- Claimh Solais / Burtgang
We’ll start with the most simple aspects of a defensive build, which is the equipment. We say this because the best equipment for a defence focused build is very similar to that of an attacking build, mainly because the very best items tend to buff both rather than one. There are a few differences, like picking up things like the Eversing or Demon’s Mail rather than the main Dracula items, and the Ancient Belt is superior due to the additional CON rating, but otherwise it’s fairly simple.
Unfortunately you’re very limited when it comes to weaponry. An obvious choice is the Claimh Solais, which grants you both increased CON and DEF, which combine to be by far the best choice from a defensive perspective. Outside of this the only other choice is the Burtgang, which gives a small boost to both CON and DEF. This is unfortunately very weak too, so you’ll essentially have to wait for the Claimh Solais itself before you find the equipment portion of the build to be truly complete. Thankfully there’s a great deal of Souls that will help you cover the gap in the meantime…
- Giant Ghost (shield)
- Iron Golem (no flinch, tiny damage taken)
- Basilisk (huge def gain for huge str loss)
- Dead Crusader (+16 CON, translates to 8 DEF)
Here there are a tremendous amount of defensive choices, from passive stat boosts to damage ignoring, active souls. A lot of these can be found in the early game too, like the Basilisk Soul that sacrifices ATK for DEF, however it’s worth noting that these do come with the general downfall that your damage will suffer, which means that making progress will be a good deal more difficult. Much like the equipment noted above, you’re probably better off waiting until you’ve at least reached the start of the late game.
We’ve listed a few of our overall favourite options above. The Iron Golem Soul is hilarious, because you’ll essentially take little to no damage whilst being completely immune to knockback, which often means that you can swing your weapon more often and technically deal more damage. Giant Ghost is similar, but requires the consistent usage of a small amount of MP and doesn’t afford the knockback immunity. Finally, if you’re just looking for a passive boost to your survivability, the Dead Crusader Soul is a good choice, because the CON and DEF boost combine to make you much more durable.
So, combining both equipment and Souls to make Soma as defensive as possible, is it worthwhile? On balance we’d have to say that yes, it is actually worthwhile. By the time the late game has been traversed, you’ll likely have good enough weaponry to ensure that you deal a good amount of damage no matter what, especially if you’ve picked up any that have the Holy status on them. This essentially frees you up to focus on defence, and having taken on some of the hardest hitters in the game, they really do work.
You can get even more creative if you want, by combining some of these souls with health restoring versions, to create a truly immovable object that constantly heals. If you’re struggling with some of the late game bosses, you can certainly take on some of these options and find your life made a great deal easier. Even for those of us that consider ourselves seasoned Castlevania veterans, making a build like this is just plain fun. Hell, you could even consider using some of these alongside the Lubicant Soul, which will make you deal a massive amount of damage when you’re at low health, and what better way to feel safe at a low level of health than with a huge amount of defence? It’s a tribute to Aria of Sorrow that its systems are malleable enough to allow this creativity. In fact, we’re fairly certain that a fully magical, weaponless build could work well…
…Hold my goblet.
Categories: Castlevania - Aria of Sorrow