A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
There are no messages in this gothic action game. You play as a character named Alucard (and others) who is the half-human/half-vampire son of Dracula himself. You must fight enemies looking to destroy you, but the fantasy premise in neither positive nor negative.
Positive Role Models
Unless you're very familiar with the Castlevania series, there's little known about the characters you play as, which is primarily Alucard (son of Dracula), as well as others you can unlock, such as Charlotte, Shanoa, Maria, Simon Belmont, Richter Belmont and more. While Alucard is a half-vampire, he also is half human, and is neither evil or good. On one hand, he fights back against demons and other threats, but on the other hand, he relies heavily on violence to complete his tasks.
This fantasy game doesn't offer a lot of diversity other than male and female characters to play as, whom are all Caucasian or Asian. You don't encounter many other human-like characters.
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Ease of Play
Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls starts with a tutorial to teach the mechanics of movement and combat. For the iPhone and iPad versions you can use your fingertip on the touchscreen. but a wireless controller is also supported, and required for the Apple TV and Mac versions of this Apple Arcade game. For the most part, the game's easy to learn and control but amps up in its difficulty over time. If you're a younger or novice gamer, you can use pre-configured controls, like automatic attacks, but you can toggle this on and off.
Violence & Scariness
Combat is one of the key gameplay elements in Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls. Depending on the character you play as, you'll use upgradeable swords, chains/whips, magic blasts and more, to defeat enemies. There isn't any blood or gore, but there's a ton of fighting. You will face off against mostly supernatural challengers, like skeletons, demons, and giant bats and wolves.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some artwork of the female characters show them in revealing outfits, such as low-cut blouses or short skirts.
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Products & Purchases
As an Apple Arcade game, there are no in-game purchases or ads allowed. Konami says "usage data" may be collected from your game, "but it is not linked to your identity." This is the latest Castlevania game, which is a long-running action franchise that has spawned multiple games.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls is an action adventure game exclusive to Apple Arcade. This is the latest chapter in the long-running Castlevania franchise, which has covered multiple games across a wide number of systems. The game is focused on action and fantasy violence, which plays a huge role in combat during play. As the son of Dracula (and other characters), you'll use swords, whips and magic attacks to destroy supernatural enemies like giant beasts, demons and skeletons. There's no blood or gore shown. Some female characters are shown to be wearing low-cut blouses or short skirts.
Is It Any Good?
Only major fans of this gothic franchise will likely get a kick out of this refreshed mobile game packed with lore. But Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls really doesn't offer anything new in this genre, and there's quite a bit of repetition here in the side-scrolling action. It attempts to offer a lot of depth in upgrade abilities, bonus missions and challenge modes, but eventually falls flat and gives you very little reason to log in day after day (even though there are "login" bonus rewards). After you go through a load-out screen, of sorts, you're thrown into the action and move through mostly small-ish 3-5-minute levels (not large set pieces) to remain alive (including traps), avoid hits by enemies, and so on. It's easier to use a controller (yes, even on an iPhone and iPad) but even touchscreen controls grow familiar after a while. Seasonal play, which is broken up into various levels with quests related to those stages, don't break this monotony. Players can complete a quest, making progress while facing tougher enemies. Adding even more of a challenge is the fact that you can't change equipment once you've begun a challenge (and your characters' hit points and magic points carry over into the next quest). That makes collecting special coins to exchange for new weapons, items, or skins more important.
Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls isn't a bad game -- and the developers had a lot of work to do to change it from a microtransaction-centric game to a platform that doesn't allow for that. They also had to balance the need to still grow the characters you play as, work to get as much gear as possible, and keep giving you a reason to return. If you're a fan of the series or have some nostalgia associated it, and you're already an Apple Arcade subscriber, go ahead and spend an hour with this game to see if it's gratifying enough for you. But it's certainly not worth buying a subscription for, with better action games and experiences on Apple Arcade to be found.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.