Castlevania is one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time. The series has spanned decades, numerous consoles and generations, and countless different iterations. Despite the different iterations, one thing remains relatively consistent – the quality of the games themselves. Few Castlevania games have received poor reviews, and many (if not most) have received fantastic ones.
We’re here to explore what are generally considered to be the best of the best when it comes to Castlevania. And really, it’s quite a neck and neck race.
These are the ten best games in the Castlevania series, according to Metacritic.
10 Castlevania 64 – 78
Castlevania 64 was released for, you guessed it, the Nintendo 64 back in 1999. Serving as an extended version of Legacy of Darkness, it was the first game in the Castlevania series to utilize 3D, and it allowed players to choose between one of two protagonists – Carrie Fernandez and Reinhardt Schneider. 78 certainly isn’t a fantastic score or anything, and it was often criticized for its monotonous and shallow gameplay. That said, the 3D was more than impressive enough to buoy the shallow gameplay, and it left an indelible mark on the franchise.
9 Castlevania: Lament Of Innocence – 79
Coming in just above Castlevania 64 is Lament of Innocence, the first installment for the PlayStation 2. This game was notable for its M rating, as it was the first game in the series to feature the rating, proving that the games were moving in a more adult and mature direction. Some people were peeved that the RPG elements were removed, leaving behind a pretty basic action game, but the sense of exploration, fun gameplay, incredible bosses, and moody atmosphere was more than enough to make up for its exclusion. It’s an action classic.
8 Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow – 85
Making a major jump into the 80s is Lords of Shadow. This game was released in 2010 and served as a reboot of the entire Castlevania series. To be honest, we’re surprised it took this long! Produced by Hideo Kojima, the game saw you controlling Gabriel Belmont as he attempted to resurrect his wife. While some general players and critics bemoaned the changes to the typical Castlevania formula, many others praised its atmosphere, impeccable presentation and production values, and updated gameplay. Welcome to the 2010s, Castlevania!
7 Castlevania: Order Of Ecclesia – 85
Tied with Lords of Shadow is Order of Ecclesia, the final installment of the series that was released for the Nintendo DS. It was also the final Castlevania title that Koji Igarashi produced, but it served as a wonderful bow. The game contained some truly outstanding production values, which included fantastic graphics and chilling music. It also contained some difficult but very rewarding gameplay, a mature version of the traditional Castlevania mechanics. It’s not only one of the greatest Castlevania games, but one of the greatest games ever released for the DS.
6 Castlevania: Portrait Of Ruin – 85
Coming in with yet another score of 85 is another DS release – Portrait of Ruin. Portrait of Ruin was released in 2006 and contained a number of firsts for the classic series. Not only was it the first game to contain English voice overs, but it was also the first game to contain cooperative multiplayer through Nintendo Wi-Fi. While some critics complained of its lack of originality and progress, they mostly agreed that it was nevertheless a very fun and respectable entry in the Castlevania series. Why fix it if it ain’t broke, ya know?
5 Castlevania: Harmony Of Dissonance – 87
Breaking the seemingly endless 85 streak is Harmony of Dissonance. This game is a bit older than the others, having been released back in 2002 for the Game Boy Advance. Remember that? The game had you play as Juste Belmont, the grandson of iconic character Simon Belmont. Despite selling particularly poorly, Harmony of Dissonance still received hugely positive reviews, with many critics singling out the classic gameplay, stunning visuals, and atmosphere. That said, retrospective reviews have been less kind, and it is now regarded as one of the weaker entries of the series.
4 Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow – 89
With Dawn of Sorrow, we return to the DS. In fact, Dawn of Sorrow was the first Castlevania game to be released for the handheld console, emerging in North America in October of 2005. It served as a wonderful introduction to the console, and it contained all the traditional Castlevania gameplay we had grown to love throughout the years. Not only that, but the game perfected on the formula, offering stellar controls, fantastic production values, and an efficiently streamlined approach. By this point, the formula had well and truly been perfected.
3 Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon – 91
Breaching the elusive 90s is Circle of the Moon. This game served as a launch title for the Game Boy Advance in 2001, and what a launch title it was. It impeccably proved the technological prowess of the handheld console (well, technological for its time, anyway), complete with lush graphics and butter smooth animations, which were a major leap for the time. Remember OG Game Boy animations? Bleh. It was often compared to Symphony of the Night, and that is high praise, indeed. It really doesn’t get much better than Circle of the Moon. Well, it gets a LITTLE better…
2 Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow – 91
Circle of the Moon served as a brilliant launch title for the Game Boy Advance. Aria of Sorrow served as a monumental bookend. Really, when it comes to Castlevania, few games are as good, polished, and iconic as the Game Boy Advance era. While some people began to grow sick of the Symphony of the Night clones, others favorably compared this game to it, with some even calling it the greatest Castlevania title since its release. Production values, gameplay, level design, bosses – all were magnificent, and all served as a stellar send-off to Castlevania‘s greatest era.
1 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night – 93
And finally we come to the masterpiece that is Symphony of the Night. This game is typically regarded not only as the greatest Castlevania game, but one of the greatest video games of all time. With this release, everything that made Castlevania such a success came together in a magical way, including the music, level design, atmosphere, bosses, characters, gameplay…really, anything. Even to this day, the Castlevania series has struggled, and failed, to top Symphony of the Night. Look no further for the quintessential Castlevania experience.