Screenshot: Castlevania: Simon’s Destiny

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A modder by the name of Andrea Gori recently released a really neat fan game that reimagines the original Castlevania as a first-person shooter, and I’ve been chipping away at it over the last few days. Called Castlevania: Simon’s Destiny, it was built using a freely available version of the old-school Doom engine, so it looks and plays a lot like that indisputable classic. But instead of pumping shotgun shells into Pinky Demons and Imps, you’re running around whipping skeletons and tossing holy water at zombies. Some of the sprites for monsters and castle decorations look like they’ve even been pulled straight from later Castlevanias (likely Rondo Of Blood or Symphony Of The Night), and Gori put together a solid soundtrack of fan remixes to score the action.

I’m only a few levels in, but it quickly displays some clever design choices Gori made in converting a traditional platformer into a first-person shooter. Those are frameworks that don’t always gel well together, but Simon’s Destiny tweaks classic Castlevania elements and makes them work in this new context. For starters, the jumps are pretty generous, with platforms being large enough that even the added weirdness of hopping around in first person doesn’t hamper you too badly. Gori also seems to have reconsidered the utility of sub-weapons. Letting monsters get close enough to whip is a surefire way to get killed quickly, so instead of saving up your hearts to blow on a boss fight, it pays to handle many situations from afar by tossing out knives and crosses.

My favorite touch might actually be Gori’s handling of Castlevania’s most despised enemy: the Medusa Heads. They now come in oscillating hordes of three or more to cover the extra 3-D space, and Gori uses them as obstacles to dodge in isolated timing challenges along narrow hallways or platforms. When you think about it, it’s not very different from how they’re employed in the original game, but seeing those heads bobbing slowly toward your face illuminates their pattern in a completely different way.

You can download Simon’s Destiny here. You’re going to need a copy of the program GZDOOM to run it, and you can get that here. Just one quick bit of advice: This thing is brutally difficult, so take advantage of the fact that you can save whenever you want. You’re going to be glad you did.