Determining and indeed ranking the sub weapons in Symphony of the Night is a strange proposition. Aside from the Cross, all of these can be found dotted around the both castles, and they’re often positioned well enough to assist in upcoming encounters, like the Axe prior to the first main boss duo. If you’re anything like us however, you’ll find your absolute favourite and keep it in your possession for as long as possible, to the point where you’ll curse finding another accidentally and do the reverse walk of shame to pick up the one previously possessed. What we have below then, is essentially a list of our favourites along with our very personal reasons for exactly why.
- Fires a laser that rebounds on walls, damaging foes en route.
Likely our least used and in our opinion the worst sub weapon is the Rebound Stone. There is potential of course, especially in some very tight spaces, but it’s really not reliable enough to be a ‘keeper’. For the majority of SOTN you will find yourself in pretty large rooms and spaces, and even the smaller sections will feature some strange angles that aren’t conducive to dealing big damage with rebounds. It’s novel and perhaps a little fun at first, but really not worth keeping in your sub slot at all. At least something like the Axe or Knife is predictable and useful in most situations. This is neither and as such, by far our least used sub weapon.
- Throws ashes on the ground, damaging enemies that pass over them.
Technically speaking the Bibuti Ashes, often known as Bibhuti or Vibhuti, functions somewhat similar to the Holy Water, which you’ll find a great deal higher up our list. Having the enemy walk over the ashes that it throws isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all plenty of opponents like to move around, however the amount of damage that they deal is nowhere near big enough. Plus the absolute worst point of all is that the arrangement of ashes is random, so you’re essentially throwing out a chance of dealing a small amount of damage. Further still, the ashes have literally no height at all, so they have no chance of catching an enemy hitbox that exists away from the ground at all. All in all, not a great choice and right up there with the rebound stone for least used subs in SOTN as a whole.
- Throws a quick knife in a straight line across the screen.
You know, it’s so hard to rank the simple knife sub weapon. What can be said about a simply throwing knife, that just flies across the screen and does a small amount of damage? In fact, throughout the entirety of SOTN, which we’ve played through countless times over the years, we’ve used it exclusively in the early portion of the game and never looked at it again. For that particular portion, in which you want to get through long corridors of annoying enemies quickly en route to the library, it’s a great choice. Outside of this well… It’s only here because there are worse options, put it that way. It’s regular, normal, workmanlike and unspectacular, but it’s better than the Rebound Stone and Bibhuti Ashes. That’s about it.
- A holy book spins around Alucard, damaging enemies it touches.
Were this Harmony of Dissonance, we’d be singing the praises of a rotating Holy Book sub weapon, but unfortunately this particular iteration isn’t fantastic at all. It doesn’t deal much damage, lasts a small amount of time and outside of a few edge cases, really isn’t that useful. Said edge cases however, like taking care of pesky Medusa Heads in the Clock Tower, or hilariously dealing great damage to bosses that you can stand near, it actually functions pretty well. The former in particular is a situation in which it’s pretty unrivalled, outside of blasting the entire screen with our next choice, so this pulls it ahead of those below for us. Still not a top performer, but great for a few niche situations.
- Alucard performs the major Cross spell, damaging the entire screen.
Were we to describe the Cross sub weapon in one word, it’d have to be ‘meh’. Using a sub weapon that deals big damage to the entire screen is normally a good thing in a Castlevania title, and we’ll admit that it functions as a great last resort here in SOTN, however this particular game is actually, secretly chocked full of full screen items that do the same or better. By the time the late game rolls around, in which damage really starts to matter, you’ll have access to things like Power of Sire and such, that perform much better by removing the lengthy and unnecessary animation. It’s thematic of course and it’s cool to use a few times, but even the intro fight gives you a better option overall, and which Alucard it’s no different. Fun and relatively powerful early on then, but not worth keeping your hands on as the game progresses.
- A small tether fires across the screen, which will link to and shock an enemy with lightning. Holding the button will continuously damage whilst draining hearts.
To give a short explanation of the Aguen skill, it’s a way to trade your supply of hearts for a good amount of damage in the early and mid game. This is actually pretty beneficial for taking down some difficult enemies and bosses, mainly because it has some very good overall damage total potential, however it is a very expensive option from a heart perspective and it has very limited uses against normal enemies. Outside of the first two options in our list, the Aguen is probably our least used of all in SOTN, which is almost entirely down to its costs. For a truly great sub weapon you want something that has good damage potential and smaller costs, of which this only has the former. Novel and powerful in a vacuum then, but limited long term usage will hamper it, and it’s also up there with the Cross as one of the hardest to locate outside of the glass case room.
- Throws an Axe in an arc, up and forwards.
Much like the Knife sub noted earlier, it’s hard to really go too in depth with the Axe sub. Alucard will simply throw an Axe in an arc motion to deal damage. This sounds relatively simple, however it’s worth noting that it will continue to deal damage as it travels, hitting multiple targets and continuing onwards regardless. Not only does this make it useful for certain bosses, the first of which is faced directly after it’s found in the early game, but it’s also great for targeting regular enemies otherwise out of reach. It’s unspectacular of course, but we do find ourselves using this more than those lower on this list, which is actually pretty impressive for such a simple attack. Don’t expect to keep it on hand in the late game, far from it, but it’ll do well for most of the first castle as Alucard is finding his gear and generally powering up.
- Stops time for most enemies whilst Alucard can move. May slow some bosses.
Being able to stop time in SOTN is essentially a get out of jail free card, and such things are pretty valuable in Castlevania titles. We’re not about to suggest that this particular title is hard, especially compared to some other games in the series, but it can be tricky in places and it’s here that the Stopwatch will shine. Getting yourself time to escape awkward situations, or just enough time to breath versus some difficult bosses, can truly make the difference here. We’ve found it to be particularly useful at the start of the second castle, where you’ll find yourself going up against bosses with new attacks, higher health and you’ll be facing them with a relatively under equipped Alucard. Getting a few more attacks in or just enough time to chug some potions is always appreciated, and we’ll often find ourselves floating around the castle with this constantly on hand. Well, unless we want to demolish anything on the ground…
- Creates a flame on the floor in front of Alucard, damaging enemies.
In which case, we’ll use the Holy Water. In fact, in almost all cases we’ll use the Holy Water in SOTN. This thing is tremendously powerful, to the point where it’ll single handedly be able to take care of quite a few bosses in the game. There is the obvious caveat that they’ll need to be on the ground, but you’d be surprised just how many remain there or at the very least spend a good amount of time on a surface of sorts. The best example of this is Cerberus, which will spend its time darting back and forth on the ground, ideally positioning itself to be destroyed by some well timed Holy Water applications. It’s cheap too, so you can spam throwing quite a few down, and its flame will often ensure that it clips hitboxes of opponents that simply approach it. This is by far our favourite sub weapon in the game, and if we’re not using the Stopwatch for some utility, there’s a 99% chance that we’ll have this thing stuck to our sub option, waiting for some unsuspecting ground-dwellers to approach.
Categories: Castlevania - Symphony of the Night