White haired pretty boys, whips and leather... it's Castlevania alright.
You play as Hector, one of Dracula's two Devil Forgemasters, a being that can bring demon constructs into life and control them at will. Hector had previously betrayed Dracula and cause his downfall at the hands Trevor Belmont, but the other Forgemaster, Isaac, holds a grudge against him. Dracula also left a parting gift, his curse, causing chaos and strife amongst townspeople. Hector now ventures forth, seeking to beat Isaac to a pulp and unknowingly come face to face with Dracula's curse. It's not the most intriguing of tales, but I felt enamored by Hector, his plight and his dialogue. Characters speak in a faux Ye Olde English with hints of Shakeaspeare, which sounds all kinds of badass. The supporting cast is interesting enough, both in looks and personalities, and Trevor Belmont had never looked this badass before.
The exploration aspect also leaves something to be desired, while exploration is encouraged in the form of diverse rewards of varying degrees of worth, the world of Curse of Darkness is rather... boring. The game quickly falls into a rut of 'Walk through the hallway killing everything in your way to enter the circled/squared arena-type room, kill everything there and enter the next enemy-ridden hallway. Rinse and repeat'. It can get pretty repetitive, and the different areas are not all that different from one another, so there's not a whole lot of visual variety to keep things looking fresh, eventually every hallway will start feeling like every other hallway you've already been through,
Another improvement upon Lament of Innocence is the huge variety of weapons types that Hectore can acquire. There're swords, axes, spears, knuckles and 'special' varieties, each with their own combos. Not only that, even among types there're sub-types, like one handed or two handed swords and then rapier type blades that behave entirely different from each other. Not only that, some special weapons have a few unique strong attacks, and some have unique effects, like slashing kanji out of thin air, and sometimes, even longer weak attack strings. There're a ton of weapons, and they each reflect on the character model.
Then we have the Innocent Devils, the monsters you can summon to aid you in battle. They're smart enough to be left to their own devices, but you can switch to a more manual mode in which they'll only use basic attacks unless you tell them to use a specific special attack. Keep in mind that Inoccent Devils run on hearts, which double as both their HP and currency for their special attacks. Running out of hearts, which can be replenished by gathering them from enemy drops, will temporarily leave the Innocent Devil unusable until you gather a certain amount. You can have about 7-8 of them with you at a time, but can only summon 1.
In what is a Metroidvania staple, finishing the game lets you play as a bonus character, Trevor Belmont in this case. As is to be expected, Trevor gets no story, no cut-scenes and loses the ability to use items or level up. Trevor, however, is more of a glass cannon, while you can find items that will raise his stats, Trevor's base stats are already rather high, so he will make short work of enemies... as long as he doesn't get hit, since he'll never be able to take as much damage as Hector, and even if he could, he can't recover lost health by using items. Not only that, Trevor has his own unique way of playing, Hector can't replicate his whip-based style, and since Trevor can't use IDs... he gets Castlevania's traditional sub-weapon ensemble: The knives, the axes, the holy water, the cross and the stop-watch, alongside each respective 'Weapon Crash' for massive damage.
7.0 out of 10