Wallachia: Reign of Dracula (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 19.12.2020

Review for Wallachia: Reign of Dracula on Nintendo Switch

Facts: one can't just write an article about Wallachia: Reign of Dracula, without mentioning Konami's famous vampire-whipping series, Castlevania. This action game by the French developer Migami Games, doesn't hide the fact that it is a love letter to it, and, more specifically, to its more old-school, SNES era flavour. From the outside, it looks as it if it has everything Castlevania fans need to quench their thirst, in practise, however…

Wallachia: Reign of Dracula follows Elcin, a young bow-wielder, as she returns home only to see her family slaughtered by the forces of Dracula - the real Dracula, mind you; the Romanian Prince of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler. This results in this being a setting that, despite the existence of some fictional elements, is a more realistic take on the whole Dracula thingy, with the "bestiary" being composed mainly of soldiers and animals. A bit more effort has been given in the storytelling front, as well, with a bunch of fully-voiced cut-scenes that use simple, but well-drawn still images - but, in all honesty, few will care. No one should come here for the plot.

Screenshot for Wallachia: Reign of Dracula on Nintendo Switch

The only thing one needs to know is that this is basically a homage to pre-Symphony of the Night Castlevania - with a little bit of Contra thrown in for good measure. Elcin has a sword that can take care of foes that come too close, but she is mainly an archer, and one who can shoot her arrows quite fast, at eight different directions, and with her quiver never emptying, therefore, this plays a lot like a shooter - a quite challenging one, as enemies come from all directions, with many of them holding a bow of their own. Good thing that the heroine can also use the orbs that they drop upon dying, in order to cast one of her magic spells.

These abilities include a wolf that attacks whatever is in front of her, a spreading blast, and even temporary invincibility. Want more? Special (but not infinite) arrows can be found, making Elcin even more capable of bringing the opposition down. Be careful, though. Once all health points are lost, she goes back to her default self. In fact, she even loses some of the boosts she can obtain if she gets hit mid-game, but thankfully this isn't a one-hit-and-you-are-dead experience.

Screenshot for Wallachia: Reign of Dracula on Nintendo Switch

While not the most good-looking title, this certainly scratches that 16-bit era itch, with levels that are pleasantly bleak, and quite varied, despite being somewhat forgettable, and with some pretty neat sprites, which tend to move a little rigidly, possibly due because this wants to look as… early-SNES/Mega Drive as possible. The OST is pretty cool too, as it also manages to feel like something from the era it pays homage to. Add to that the fast and challenging, Contra-meets-Castlevania gameplay, and you got yourself a recipe for endless hours of fun. Or do you? Unfortunately, it turns out that this isn't the case, as an assortment of issues keeps this from being the indie gem that it could be. In other words, yes, this is hard-as-nails - but there's a thing that separates good hard-as-nails from bad, and that's quality design.

Screenshot for Wallachia: Reign of Dracula on Nintendo Switch

The aforementioned Contra was definitely a challenging, NES-hard experience, but it was also a well-made product. Wallachia: Reign of Dracula, on the other hand, turns out to be one more retro-inspired game thrown into the pile (and a pretty generic one at that), which, as usual, feels like it came out of a late '80s arcade cabinet, but not in a good way. The main reason is Elcin's lack of versatility. Oh, sure, she controls alright, and her movement is generally fast, but her leaps are actually pretty disappointing, which coupled with the bad hitboxes, and very, very large enemy sprites (especially bosses), leads to plenty of frustration from not being able to avoid incoming damage - or not being able to see it when arrows blend into the background.

It turns out that another way this is faithful to old-school gaming is how checkpoints and death are handled. More specifically, losing once sends the heroine back to the beginning of the area she was currently exploring (and sometimes way back), and losing all lives sends her back to the start of a stage. Why is that a problem? Apart from having infinite continues, this is, after all, a game that sticks to its roots, correct? Well, as mentioned before, this lacks the polish of the equally - and more - challenging classics it pays tribute to. Thus, while by no means an impossible to beat title, Wallachia: Reign of Dracula is hard to recommend even to those who love crushing difficulty, as it simply isn't that fun.

Screenshot for Wallachia: Reign of Dracula on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Despite this being far from a rushed indie piece of junk, like the hundreds that are plaguing the Switch library, Wallachia: Reign of Dracula is unfortunately one more retro-inspired game that fails at what matters the most. A love letter to SNES-style Castlevania, sprinkled with a little bit of Contra's fast-paced action, this should be something great. Sadly, due to some issues, like the way the main character moves, and how unfair some parts of the whole thing can feel, it soon gets from mildly-interesting, to downright annoying.

Developer

Migami Games

Publisher

No Gravity Games

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
hinchjoie

There are 1 members online at the moment.