Remember when vampires were in?, remember when vampires games were some of the most iconic of a generation? Remember when games were as tough as century-old boots? Migami Games does!.
Wallachia: Reign of Dracula is the latest title from Migami Games, published by Storybird Studios and Pixelheart. The crew behind it should give you an idea of what to expect but allow me to sum it up with one word, “ContraVania”.
You’re thrust into the role of Elcin Floarea and given the small task of defeating Vlad the Impaler or as you may know him Dracula, nary a Belmont in sight!.
There is a little bit of story here but this is inspired by the older horror games such as Castlevania 1, Splatterhouse & Master of Darkness. Outside of the intro and very small tutorial section, it’s just Elcin, her sword/bow/magic, and legions of enemies to dispatch, human and monster alike.
Graphically Wallachia looks like a very late in life 16-bit title, between Mega Drive and Saturn. It’s colourful and detailed where it needs to be and manages to pull off pixel horror. The bosses are fantastically done too and the game animates so buttery smooth. Just look at the artwork! The game is a visual treat for the eyes, especially for oldies like me who love the 16 bit “golden era”.
The music here is top-notch, it mixes the classic feel of the setting with that engaging arcade beat meaning hearing the tracks over and over again (and you will) doesn’t irritate but instead motivate. There is also a bit of voice acting here, while it’s not exactly dialogue-heavy you do have the vocal talents of everyone’s favourite female android (robot?) Kira Buckland.
So what exactly is “ContraVania” well Wallachia managed to fuse the classic Castlevania aesthetic style with the run and gun gameplay of Contra, plus a little smattering of Shinobi for good measure.
Nowadays when you see “Vania” under genre you automatically assume it’s going to be a sprawling adventure, backtracking, puzzles, and upgrading. Wallachia on the other hand is 7 stages of pure run and gun, only replace the gun with a bow and you know what you’re dealing with.
You have a sword for close encounters & magic attacks which are usually saved for bosses or tough predicaments. You have 8-way directional shooting, several shot types, lots of platforming to do, and boss patterns to learn. Wallachia is as old school as the main antagonist in the best way.
When I say Wallachia is tough, I mean it’s tough. It never feels unfair and it won’t take you too long to learn the stages and bosses then you can try and finish the game with no deaths. There is also a Bloodstained unlockable to entice players, on paper, it’s not a long game but is very replayable and most importantly fun every single time.
The only real knock on the title is the menus feel a little barren and the level select which was patched in felt a little haphazard, hopefully, this is looked at for the Switch release as these are rather deceptive in regards to the quality of the game.
Wallachia is one of my pick up and play titles, I know I can put it on for even 15 minutes and have fun, put the game down and come back another day. It reminds me so much of how enjoyable the classic horror titles I mentioned are and it’s amazing to see Migami Games were inspired by the classic Castlevania titles and not Metroid-like style the series became. Certainly for fans of classic arcade-style games, it will quite easily seduce you and sink its teeth into your neck!
A perfect slice of 16 bit run and gun goodness, horror fans and contra fans should be delighted!. Fantastic title you should really sink your teeth into!