Castlevania is in a very weird place right now. There hasn't been a proper new entry since 2014's highly questionable Lords of Shadow 2, developed by Mercury Steam, while quite incredibly Konami has not developed a mainline entry in-house since 2010's Harmony of Despair (excluding a mobile title, Grimoire of Souls). Despite this drought, Castlevania is arguably more popular and beloved than ever, largely thanks to an excellent Netflix animated series and the determination of various indie developers that it shall not go gently into that good night.
There are games like Vampire Survivors that wear their love for Castlevania on both sleeves, where the lineage is clear even if it's not an official product, and then there's what's happening with the superb Dead Cells. Motion Twin's action-roguelike was similarly inspired by Castlevania in its elements, and such has been its success that (as first announced late last year) it's getting a major piece of DLC called Return to Castlevania.
The developers have now released a new trailer showcasing the DLC, and announced it will release March 6. If you've any love for Castlevania then this is going to hit all the right notes, and the explicit callback to Symphony of the Night's opening Dracula sequence is straight to my veins territory: This may be the closest thing we get to a great 2D Castlevania for some time.
"So what you saw there is about 5% of the content on offer," writes Motion Twin. "That should have been your first true glimpse of the boss fights as well, which we think look pretty damn good, if we do say so ourselves...
"You'll have hopefully recognised the iconic Vampire Killer track at the end: if you didn't then go listen to the old soundtracks right now! I'll remind you that we have 51 of the original Castlevania tracks in this DLC, with 12 reimagined by our resident musician Yoann 'Valmont' Laulan in his Dead Cells style."
I mean, it's shut up and take my money time over here. In the trailer we can see a whole bunch of Castlevania enemies and elements: werewolves, blood-suckers, and of course skeletons. The DLC is a self-contained adventure where you'll be sent off by Richter and Alucard with new monster-slaying gizmos and abilities, including iconic Castlevania bits like the throwing axe and the unbeatably named Vampire Killer. Alucard's sword is also shown off here, along with its teleporting ability, and players will face bosses including Dracula and Death across two new biomes.
It's just good to have something Castlevania to get excited about that isn't a cartoon. In other Dead Cells news, it's going to join the ranks of great indies that end up becoming a board game. It hasn't launched yet but there'll be a kickstarter soon enough for Dead Cells: The Rogue-Lite Board Game, though all there is at the moment is some lovely box art.