As befits one of the very best games ever made, Castlevania – Symphony of the Night features numerous methods for doing away with your opponents. Should you find that your equipment isn’t doing its job, and indeed your current selection of Sub Weapon isn’t exactly the most useful, then you can turn your gaze towards Alucard’s small selection of magical spells, which are available to you at any point in time, assuming the combination is known and current MP allows. Like many of the systems in SOTN however, all things are not created equally, so today we’re going to sort the wheat from the chaff in Alucard’s modest spellbook.
- Whilst active, blood hitting Alucard will heal him for 8 HP.
It’s worth noting that pretty much any spell in SOTN can be useful, however when you take everything into consideration – button combination, damage potential, usefulness – then Dark Metamorphosis just doesn’t work out at all. Healing yourself for a paltry 8 HP whenever you hit an enemy that splatters blood is thematic for sure, but in practical terms it just doesn’t happen enough, and said enemies never last long enough for it to be worth it. Plus, given a few levels of growth, Soul Steal outclasses it in every situation, regardless of MP cost.
- Releases four homing spirits that damage enemies.
We know what you’re thinking; how could this writer consider the stronger of the spirit spells to be worse? Well this all comes down to the cast time. Any spell that requires a ‘hold’ period within it’s combination is always going to be more of a novelty than anything of real use. Yes, you can use this early on to deal some great damage, but is this really much better than the base Summon Spirit? Is it worth holding yourself in place for two seconds or so, to summon spirits that might not reach the opponent? Given that they all hit, and given that Alucard isn’t in imminent danger, it’s not a bad spell to use, but it’s awkward and unreliable in the majority of cases.
- Sword Familiar will deal big damage across the entire screen.
It’s no coincidence that yet another spell requiring a hold period in its combination isn’t high on our list. Sword Brothers has by far the most awkward button combination, practically requiring that you stay still for 3 or so seconds, which is an age in any action game, never mind a Castlevania. Yes, it can do good damage and yes, the Sword Familiar is very good, but by the time you’re done casting this thing, Alucard could have swiped 3-4 times with a weapon, stopped to brew a tea and drained the health of every enemy on the screen. Alright so only two of those are true, but regardless this is an awkward spell that really serves no purpose. Novel and interesting animation, but very limited in usefulness.
- Wolf form charges forward, damaging anything in its way.
Key to our consideration of Wolf Charge, and indeed the entire reason why it’s so high up in our estimations, is that the charge animation will transition into a full run. When the wolf form is running at full speed, it’ll pass through and damage any enemy in its way, and it’ll traverse flat environments tremendously fast. The damage isn’t great and it’s fairly situational, but you’d be surprised how many long corridors exist in SOTN, plenty of which are too long to consider using the bat’s Wing Smash multiple times. Plus, it’s quite satisfying to watch enemies fall over in quick succession whilst using this.
- Summons a single homing spirit to damage a nearby enemy.
As noted earlier, we consider the smaller and weaker ‘spirit’ spell to be vastly superior to that of the Tetra version, and most of our reasoning comes down to the spell combination. It’s super easy to complete, doesn’t require any hold period and importantly, costs barely anything from an MP perspective. You’ll likely only use this in the very early game, during which MP costs will actually be a bit of a pain, especially when the introduction can significantly impact the total amount you have available. This is an easy way to deal some additional damage, and it’s worth firing off a few times when bosses like Slogra et al, decide to take themselves out of your usual range. Outside of the early game it’ll see very little use, but because it’s easy to cast and pretty functional in this section, we consider it pretty valuable overall.
- After a period of invulnerability, fire off three powerful fireballs.
Speaking of the early game, one of the easiest and best ways to deal a large amount of damage is to use the Hellfire spell. Key to its power is the first portion of the spell, which renders Alucard both invisible and invulnerable to damage for a short period, after which he will mimic Dracula and fire off three fireballs, all of which can hit a singlet target for a good amount of damage. Throughout the entirety of the first castle this is a great way to stay safe and deal big chunks of damage, and it’s especially useful against larger enemies that guarantee all three fireballs will hit. You’ll outscale it of course, especially when you pick up some better weapons on your journey, but that invulnerability really cannot be understated. Commit the easy combination to memory and you’ll be surprised how often it can get you out of a sticky situation.
- Bat form charges forward, damaging anything in its path.
In terms of pure damage, and indeed any form of dealing with enemies whatsoever, Wing Smash is really not worth your time. When it comes to traversing the environment however, it’s unparalleled in Symphony of the Night. Being able to float in bat form, then charge your way across entire screens at a time is absolutely priceless here, especially when the game tends to feature a great deal of backtracking to unlock rooms, secrets etc. Plus, once you learn the trick of combining it with the Leap Stone’s downward strike and Bat form (press down and jump after using up your second jump, then immediately press Bat form), you’ll find that vast swathes of the map are traversed in super short time. It might sound simple, but once you start using this trick and the WIng Smash combined, you’ll never walk anywhere ever again.
- Strike every enemy on screen, dealing damage 8 times and stealing health.
Speaking of not going back; once you begin to use Soul Steal and have an MP total to support it, you’ll likely never use any other offensive spell in your arsenal. Being able to damage everything on the screen whilst stealing their health verges on being completely broken, and the fact that you can do this as soon as you have enough MP makes it all the more powerful. If you’re in any situation where your health is low, or an enemy cannot be reached, or you just want to clear an entire room in one go, this is the spell you should turn to. The amount that it heals isn’t likely to outdo a good meal, but the fact that it can kill entire screens worth of enemies is absolutely incredible. Struggling with the Shield Rod room? Soul Steal. Belzebub giving you trouble? Soul Steal. Clock Tower enemies being annoying and hiding behind level furniture? You get the point. It’s the best spell in the game by far, and you should use and abuse it as much as you possibly can.
Categories: Castlevania - Symphony of the Night