Set in the year 2036, the newest title in the series continues the storyline that first emerged in the critically acclaimed Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow for the GBA. While the new 2D side scrolling action game will contain all the classic gameplay that fans of the series have come to expect, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow will also incorporate innovative gameplay elements that take full advantage of the portable system's powerful new technology.
Taking place a year after Aria of Sorrow, the game's protagonist – Soma Cruz – finds himself at the center of a mysterious cult's plan to resurrect their evil lord and master Dracula. To save himself and protect the lives of those he loves, Soma must infiltrate the enemy's home base, a towering replica of Dracula's castle that is teaming with monstrous creatures. Players' abilities develop as they collect items and gather experience points by defeating a multitude of gruesome enemies.
In their quest to defeat enemies, players will utilize original gameplay concepts that leverage the Nintendo DS' touch screen technology. One example is Dawn of Sorrow's "Magic Seal" system. By using the stylus directly on the screen, players must connect a series of symbols in the proper order to unlock an enchanted opening and disperse their enemy's magic into it when they are weakened. The touch screen technology will also be used to destroy "Crystal Blocks." This ability will allow players to access unreachable areas as well as eliminate obstacles. The Nintendo DS' dual screens also allow game information to be readily displayed. During gameplay, the top screen of the Nintendo DS will display an environment map, as well as information on player status, enemy vulnerability, and acquired power-ups.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow introduces a multitude of new characters into the Castlevania lore. These characters include Celia Fortner, Dario Bossi, and Dmitrii Blinov. Celia is a shadow priest that exercises great magical power and is the founder of a mysterious cult that will stop at nothing to orchestrate the second coming of the "Evil Lord." Dario Bossi is one of Dracula's potential successors. He has the ability to manipulate fire, a power he absorbed from Dracula during the time of his last resurrection. Dario's fiery personality and impulsive tendencies push him to immediate action. Dmitrii Blinov is the other potential successor to Dracula's rein. He has the power to duplicate magical powers and displays an outward impression of rashness and irresponsibility, but make no mistake, Dmitrii is prepared to take any measures necessary to accomplish his goals.
Also aiding players in their battle against dark forces are "Tactical Souls." Players can collect the souls of their fallen enemies to gain powerful new attacks and skills. There are numerous varieties of "Tactical Souls" that allow the player to use different power-ups against the deadliest of enemies. Examples of "Tactical Souls" are "Bullet Souls" and "Guardian Souls." "Bullet Souls" consume magic points while unleashing bursts of magic attacks. "Guardian Souls" consume magic as they create defensive shields or form "helper" demons that the player can control.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow takes advantage of the Nintendo DS' wireless connection, letting players exchange and/or trade acquired souls to enhance their characters' strength. An incredibly moving musical score, visually stunning graphics and imaginative special effects round out this uniquely innovative gaming experience.