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Review: Toziuha Night: Dracula’s Revenge (PC)By Ofisil At 22.09.2022 19:33

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Unlike Blazing Chrome, which was heavily influenced by Konami’s Contra, but in the end was its own thing, Toziuha Night: Dracula’s Revenge can easily be considered a slightly altered clone of Castlevania. The similarities are such that a publisher like Nintendo would already be outside Danny Garay’s house, Cease and Desist in hand. Okay, so the protagonist is a woman named Xandria, and not a dude named Belmont… but, come on! She is wielding a whip (an iron one), and slashes bats, skeletons, ghouls, demonic armour, fire-spewing skulls, and so on, and her goal is to find Dracula and kick his vampiric behinds. This looks, sounds, feels, smells, tastes, and plays like a Castlevania game - and in case you haven’t figured it out already that’s a compliment.

Yes, this suffers greatly when it comes to originality, as it brings almost nothing new to the table. The only "big" difference, if you can call it one, is that it throws a heavier focus on the story, which revolves around the heroine's Order of the Iron Alchemists, and their battle against vampires. Told in a visual novel-style manner via simple character portraits, it's a decent story, with some nice surprises along the way, but the writing is of mediocre quality (and in need of some proofreading) and is thus easily skippable. In the end, this is all about the action. Walk to the right, hit enemies with the whip, hit torches to drop mana which can be used with throwable secondary weapons, avoid traps and endless pits, and then fight a boss. This is Castlevania 101. Including the challenge on offer.

One thing must be made clear here. This is not for those who have been pampered by the modern gaming scene. Unlike many retro-inspired indies, this isn't old-school-ish, but old-school, period. It's NES hard, at its purest form, unforgiving even towards those who grew up with such games. The high challenge is the result of two things. First of all, progress is saved each time you complete a one of the three segments of a level, with no additional checkpoints mid-level, and with bosses sending you back to the beginning of the last segment. After completing a chapter players will be able to go straight back to it, but even with that "convenience" you still need to survive the onslaught that awaits you - which leads to the second reason why this is hard, which is how this takes a page too many from Castlevania.

Xandria, like her distant third cousin Simon Belmont, moves slow, and can only use her whip to hit in a straight line. Even worse, you can't control her mid-air, and like in Castlevania, most deaths won't come from your health meter reaching zero, but by Xandria falling into a pit because a simple bat touched her. This can be extremely annoying, maybe even more than Konami's classic, as enemies tend to be a bit faster, are somewhat more numerous, and hurt you through touch - which is extra irritating. It takes a while to get used to all that, especially the jumping thingy. Mastering the controls won't turn this into a walk in the park, however. This was clearly made for those who like a challenge. The rest are advised to either try the semi-hidden casual mode, which even lets you hit in various directions, or avoid the game altogether.

The good news is that this is actually a fun ride. For starters, while it suffers in terms of variety, with only a bunch of enemies, and almost nothing new after one reaches the middle of the journey, Toziuha Night: Dracula's Revenge actually uses its few resources in a very good way, offering a plethora of different scenarios and challenges. Essentially you will be fighting the same handful of monsters over and over, yet their placement in the level will make it all feel fresh. The bosses are a treat too, especially the last two, but they further emphasise the fact that this wasn't made for those who don't enjoy humiliation. The game even has a death counter in order to constantly remind you of failure.

Whether you like the high challenge or not, the stiff movement can definitely be a pain, and it would be much better if Xandria controlled a bit more like the Castlevania protagonists of the 16-bit or 32-bit era. There are a few other issues, like traps that blend with the background, levels that last a bit longer that they should, and the fact that the game is probably way too simple mechanically - again, its commitment to being a Castlevania clone is a blessing and a curse. As a whole, however, it leans more towards the fun side of the scale. Hopefully, the upcoming Order of the Alchemists, which will be a metroidvania, will built upon the strong foundation laid by this rough indie gem.

One final note about Toziuha Night: Dracula's Revenge is that it looks great - not so much when it comes to the sprites, which are nice and all, as its the backgrounds the ones that steal the show. Again, there's nothing new to see here, as this continues to copy Castlevania, but from the introductory "forest" of impaled soldiers, and the moonlit Transylvanian lands, to the murky caverns, and imposing rooms and corridors of Dracula's castle, this is very pleasant on the eyes. The music is quite good as well, although it lacks that extra catchiness of classics like Bloody Tears and Vampire Killer. Then again, who can even hope to get close to such perfection…

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[i]Toziuha Night: Dracula's Revenge[/i] tried to be almost identical to its inspiration, and as a result it feels like playing [i]Castlevania[/i] all over again, rather than a brand new game, and the fact that it has the same, archaic, super-stiff controls will annoy those who don't have the patience to go back to the distant '80s. Having said that, if willing to endure the high difficulty on offer, an if ok with something that's relatively simple, you'll discover one of the finest indie-crafted 2D action-platformers of the year.

7

/10

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