Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Released in 2004, Aria of Sorrow is the third Castlevania title for the Gameboy Advance. It follows Soma Cruz and his journey through Dracula's Castle.

I'm nowhere near completing this game, but I've had to restart my playthrough twice due to a cfw scare on my 3ds. I made it up to the Death Boss on my first play, and just now passed that point again (this fight took me WAY too long to defeat, but we rise). So I think that's well enough time to form an opinion on it

And The opinion is...

gif of soma defeating an Axe Armor. His weapon is a sword lodged in a giant stone.

That this game is fun! Challenging, yes for sure. But that's where the joy comes from.

Aria of Sorrow is the first Castlevania game that I have fully sat and delved into (i played bits of the NES title), and I finally, realized why Metroidvanias are named what they are. The Castle's layout remind me much of Metroid Fusion... just without the dormant fear of a clone hunting you down. There's lots of backtracking, as you encounter many entrances and paths inaccessible until you gain a particular ability.

gif of Soma defeating skeleton knight in Aria of Sorrow and gaining it's ability: a 4pt boost to strength

One of my favorite things about Aria of Sorrow is how you gain abilities: by killing enemies. Growth in the offensive standpoint is directly linked to whether or not you like to grind out a room or if you like to speed through them. It also guarantees that no major boss battle is for naught, as you gain a new ability (and a nice health/mind boost) each time you successfully defeat them. Whether or not the new powerup is entirely worth it is up for you to decide.