Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is the fifth such game of the series to utilize a nonlinear play-method indicative of the RPG-adventure. The castle, this time, is broken up into twelve separate areas, with a thirteenth area, the Chaotic Realm, existing within its own dimension and thus its own map. Below is the best possible listing of the order in which you'll navigate the castle.

     
 
Castle Corridor
 

Your adventure begins here, in the extended entrance area of the castle. The initial portion of the area is where Mina is waiting; you can visit this room again and again to receive her messages from Genya, or you can buy goods from Hammer when he later sets up shop here. After you pass the usual hall areas, populated by zombies, skeletons, and a pool of mermen, the first boss will make its presence felt. Beyond that, there are many more halls, stretching far across the castle, that must be passed in order to reach the next area; most of them feature inaccessible vertical entryways. Once you have most of your abilities, this area will serve as the castle's most useful connector.

         

Lesser Enemies: Zombie, Bat, Merman, Skeleton, Axe Armor, Skull Archer, Siren, Blue Crow, Buer, White Dragon, Skeleton Knight, Zombie Soldier, Ghost, Peeping Eye, Killer Doll, Tiny Devil, Rock Armor, Killer Fish, Zombie Officer and Catoblepas
Boss: Creaking Skull
Music Track: Castle Corridor
     

     
 
The Chapel
 

After passing through the many halls of the corridor, you'll meet Graham and then enter into the chapel. It's mostly downward through the roomy chapel--with its broken stairways, ghostly habitants, and stain-glass window displays--but you can stop at the first vertical chamber, a bell tower, for some potions. In order to work your way to the upper portions of some of these rooms, you'll have to rely on your Guardian soul power. No matter which path you take, you'll wind up in the same place, where the boss looks to block your progress.

         

Lesser Enemies: Ghost, Axe Armor, Bone Pillar, Giant Ghost, Tiny Devil, Skeleton Knight, Durga, Bat, Rock Armor, Une, Skeleton, Quezlcoatl, Ghost Dancer, Gargoyle, White Dragon, Winged Skeleton, Zombie Officer and Fleaman
Boss: Manticore
Music Track: Chapel
     

     
 
The Study
 

The defeat of the manticore will allow you entry into the study, a den that contains its own library and rooms lined with sculptures and other valuable works. Some of the more equipped foes await here, like arachnes, minotaurs and the ectoplasm that looks to drain away your magic power through a curse. Like you did in the chapel, you'll be working downward as you attempt to find the boss who guards the soul flame that will allow you to pull off double jumps. Also, it's here where you'll find the first of the ancient books. The only other way to reach the study is through the forbidden area, which holds a switch that lowers a blockade between the two.

         

Lesser Enemies: Durga, Tiny Devil, Student Witch, Giant Ghost, Winged Skeleton, Evil Butcher, Bone Pillar, Fleaman, Arachne, Ectoplasm, Catoblepas, Rock Armor, Skull Archer, Buer and Minotaur
Boss: Great Armor
Music Track: Study
     

     
 
Dance Hall
 

From the study, you'll go back through the chapel, all the way across the castle via the corridor, and up to the dance hall using your double jump. The dance hall is an extravagantly decorated theater area, with many item-holding chandeliers and portraits. The storage rooms surrounding the maze-like stage area are packed with a big selection of lesser enemies, including masters of range like the four-armed durgas, bouncy quezlcoatls, and the boss-turned-lesser-enemy Creaking Skull. Once you've located the boss at the bottom of this area, you'll receive the slide move, which will give you more accessibility.

         

Lesser Enemies: Arachne, Waiter Skeleton, Zombie Officer, Durga, Minotaur, Catoblepas, Mimic, White Dragon, Ghost Dancer, Quezlcoatl, Skeleton Knight, Killer Doll, Nemesis, Fleaman, Bone Pillar, Creaking Skull, Wooden Golem, Winged Skeleton, Evil Butcher and Tsuchinoko
Boss: Big Golem
Music Track: Dance Hall
     

     
 
Inner Quarters
 

Using the slide move, you can pass through a minotaur-filled passage in the dance hall to reach here, the living room area of the castle. This heavily furnitured and polished area is home to the castle's undead servants, all skilled in combat; even your reflection in mirrors will be a danger. Chronomage, a white rabbit, will prevent you from passing through a sky walkway that leads to a tower where another ancient book lies; you'll want to come back here later, before fighting Graham, to collect this. For now, you'll want to get past the boss and into the uppermost tower of the quarters, which holds the the Undine soul that lets you walk on water.

         

Lesser Enemies: Persephone, Durga, Nemesis, Chronomage, Lightning Doll, Imp, Arc Demon, Witch, Valkyrie, Disc Armor, Curly, Kyoma Demon, Student Witch and Killer Doll
Boss: Headhunter
Music Track: Inner Quarters
     

     
 
Floating Garden
 

Having found the undine soul, you can now return to the castle corridor's waterway, just past where you fought the Creaking Skull, and reach here. You'll be in a large garden, featuring another fountain. The garden's attic-like rooms, which are all strangely connected, mysteriously branch off to map sections all around the castle. What you'll want to do is concentrate on working upward from the garden entrance, taking its first left exit, passing through the enemy-packed rooms, and making it to the Clock Tower. Later on, you can return to this area to open a sealed door that stands between you and the best ending.

         

Lesser Enemies: Cockatrice, Dead Warrior, Red Crow, Imp, Gorgon, Werewolf, Disc Armor, Golem, Manticore, Devil, Altair, Ripper, Kicker Skeleton, Bone Pillar and Mandragora
Boss: Julius Belmont
Music Track: Floating Garden
     

     
 
Clock Tower
 

The clock tower is what you'd expect by now: A maze of vertical chambers that are all crammed with large gears, swinging pendulums, an endless supply of Medusa heads and spike traps; killer dolls and harpies will make sure that climbing is even more difficult. The lower half of the tower is blocked off by water, which you'll need the Skula soul to navigate through; this item is being guarded by the boss atop the tower. Once you collect Skula, you can escape back to the castle corridor, where you now need to be, through the bottom of the tower rather than retreating back through the Floating Garden.

         

Lesser Enemies: Bomber Armor, Medusa Head, Needles, Lightning Doll, Valkyrie, Gremlin, Harpy, Devil, Siren, Great Armor, Disc Armor and Golem
Boss: Death
Music Track: Clock Tower
     

     
 
Underground Reservoir
 

The entrance to the reservoir is near the castle entrance. Since it's mostly an underwater area, you'll have to have found the Skula soul to navigate. The reservoir, the castle's water supply and drainage system, stretches well across the whole bottom portion of the castle, with a lot of deadly sea life, dreary alcoves, its own ferry ride and long caves reminiscent of the underground areas of past games. The most important thing you'll find here is the third of the three ancient books. The reservoir branches into the forbidden area, which lies on the other side of an impenetrable waterfall, and into the arena. For now, though, you'll want to work your way downward, where you'll foil Graham Jones' plans to vanquish Yoko Belnades and enter into the cemetery.

         

Lesser Enemies: Tiny Devil, Bat, Skeleton, Killer Fish, Merman, Needles, Man-Eater, Cagnazzo, Ukoback, Giant Worm, Nightmare, Une, Slime, Mandragora, Arc Demon, Medusa Head, Dead Crusader, Triton, Fish Head, Imp, Flesh Golem, Une, Big Golem, Disc Armor, Gorgon, Sky Fish, Poison Worm, Gargoyle and Dryad
Boss: None
Music Track: Underground Reservoir
     

     
 
Underground Cemetery
 

The cemetery is virtually an extension of the reservoir, but it's important to come here if you seek the best ending. While not heavily populated by enemies, you'll find some of the more twisted demons lurking about. Once you pass through the gate, you'll see many mummified humans escaping from their tombs and marching toward a force that beckons them. Upon following them, you'll find out just what that is. After fighting this boss creature, you'll find the Galamoth soul, which will allow you to fend off Chronomage back in the Inner Quarters and receive that last ancient book.

         

Lesser Enemies: Werejaguar, Biphron, Flame Demon, Cagnazzo, Ripper and Alura Une
Boss: Legion
Music Track: Underground Cemetery
     

     
 
The Arena
 

The arena is not far from the cemetery's entrance. This area is best described as a combination of the Colosseum from Symphony and the Battle Arena from Circle of the Moon. So you can expect a medieval setting and some of the more battle-hardened enemies. The bottom portion of the arena holds a challenge: Three horizontal chambers where to escape you must clear all of the obstacles contained within them; each chamber holds a prize at the end if you can clear the area or solve the puzzle. Just to the left of the third such chamber is the boss, who guards the Giant Bat relic that allows you to fly.

         

Lesser Enemies: Gargoyle, Beam Skeleton, Dead Crusader, Killer Mantle, Skull Millione, Gladiator, Weretiger, Bael, Giant Skeleton, Succubus, Lilith, Red Minotaur, Lubicant, Erinys, Medusa Head and Arc Demon
Boss: Balore
Music Track: The Arena
     

     
 
Forbidden Area
 

Once you combine the Devil (or Curly) soul with the Undine soul, you can pass through the waterfall in the Underground Reservoir and enter into here, the Forbidden Area. The latter part of this area rests beneath a ghost ship, requiring the Skula soul. While nothing of great importance rests here, you can find some of the more advanced swords and add onto your total percentage for filling in the rooms; you can also find an escape route back into the study. Bring along a lot of potions if you plan to come here at a low level, because the barrage of enemies contained within the narrow passages will hastily destroy you.

         

Lesser Enemies: Dryad, Mudman, Werejaguar, Gargoyle, Alura Une, Poison Worm, Harpy, Killer Fish, Fish Head, Cagnazzo, Flame Demon and Mimic
Boss: None
Music Track: Forbidden Area
     

     
 
Top Floor
 

The top floor of the castle is where the evil flames of Hell burn the brightest. It's here that you'll collect the Hippogryph relic, which will allow you to super jump; combined with the Giant Bat relic, there will be no area that you can't reach. Quite simply, the path to the throne room is maze containing combinations of the game's most annoying lesser enemies. You'll want to enter into the castle keep by staying to the right; otherwise, you'll wind up below the keep's stairway, where red minotaurs roost. When you reach the throne room, you'll find out just what Graham is up to; depending on your actions up to this point, you'll either receive a bad ending or continue the quest.

         

Lesser Enemies: Gargoyle, Erinys, Succubus, Final Guard, Lubicant, Stolas, Basilik, Bael, Iron Golem and Red Minotaur
Boss: Graham Jones
Music Track: Top Floor
     

     
 
Chaotic Realm
 

After Graham's defeat, Genya will direct Soma (Dracula) to the place where only he can go. That's here, the sealed realm beyond the Floating Garden; after defeating Julius Belmont, you will gain access. The Chaotic Realm is the outer region of the spiritual world that Dracula calls home. The drab realm is hardly its own area--rather, the unmapped realm is a combination of many of the rooms found in the previous twelve areas. While most of these rooms contain the same enemies they did back then, others have been afforded the presence of double the amount or more powerful types. A final watery chamber will bring you to the game's last save room and the gate to the final boss.

         

Lesser Enemies: Lubicant, Iron Golem, Beam Skeleton, Dead Crusader, Gladiator, Basilik, Giant Skeleton, Erinys, Alastor, Slime, Mimic, Demon Lord, Triton, Fish Head, Succubus, Final Guard, Medusa Head, Shadow Knight, Stolas and Red Minotaur
Boss: Chaos and Chaos (2)
Music Track: Chaotic Realm
     

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