Castlevania: Nocturne, the spawn of the impeccable Castlevania, does more than enough to carry its forebear’s name with pride. Based on yet more of the classic Konami games, Nocturne focuses on Richter Belmont – descendant of Trevor and Sypha – and a new band of heroes as they battle against vampire forces in revolution-era France. Richter, witness to his mother’s murder and suffering from a loss of magic, must lead the fight against a proclaimed vampire messiah.
As with its predecessor, Nocturne’s scintillating action is its greatest strength. Incredibly paced and choreographed battles, combined with some gorgeous character design, bring the series’ best scenes to life in thrilling, gripping fashion. The storyline is, aside from a gleeful return in the final episode, happy to operate almost entirely independent of Castlevania. There is no hanging into tailcoats here; Nocturne fleshes out detailed and contrasting characters whose complexity exceeds expectations, uprooting your expectations about where the story will go next. And while the characters might not quite live up to Castlevania’s magnetic charisma, the trademark Belmont sarcasm remains.
In Nocturne the French aristocracy and colonial oppressors all consist of vampires. It is also a show in which grief is inescapable for many central players, both human and vampire. Suitably for a series set during a time of revolution then, Nocturne is about turning personal and societal demons into dust in order to build a better present. It is a straightforward enough idea explored with heart and empathy via the plight of several characters. Combined with visceral, gory action and yet more top-tier direction from Sam and Adam Deats (among others), Castlevania: Nocturne is a triumph.
CASTLEVANIA: NOCTURNE is out now on Netflix