In comparison to the castles seen in recent titles, Dracula's castle is in Portrait of Ruin more compact and rather manageable, the heroes able to move about a large portion of it from game's start. Where Portrait makes up the difference is in the area of paintings--nine magically cordoned-off areas each with its own theme. The game's true restriction is in regard to these paintings, which will be accessed over time. In covering the layout, I'll be separating areas into two categories: Castle Areas and Paintings.

 

Castle Areas

     
 
Entrance
 

After splitting with Vincent Dorin at the outset, the duo of Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin will leave the dark forest and enter into the castle via its drawbridge. Somewhat indicative of its past incarnations, traveled through will be pillared halls with above them rooms lined with familiar-looking curtained windows. In one particularly long room, the duo will have to break through cracked pillars that block the path forward, a task made more urgent by the appearance of the Behemoth, which will bulldoze through the rubble and chase them all the way until (for now) relieving them of its presence. With the help of pushable statue, the duo will enter into a large chandeliered enclave where they'll meet Wind and reunite with Vincent, who opens shop in the very next room. Completion of Wind's early tests will gain the duo access to the first painting--the City of Haze, where they'll earn the Acrobat Cube. After returning, they can use said cube to reach the area's end and settle the score with the Behemoth. The duo can later pass through the top portion of the Entrance, the almost skeletal remains of the previous chapels, for easier access to the Great Stairway. They can also return here at any time to complete more of Wind's quests, one of those final granting them access to a hidden painting, the Nest of Evil, which resides in this very area.

         

Lesser Enemies: Zombie, Bat, Skeleton, Axe Armor, Slinger, Invisible Man, Larva, Spittle Bone, Great Armor, Flying Skull, Lilith and Hill Guard
Boss: Behemoth
Music Track: Invitation of a Crazed Moon
Vincent's Shop Track: A Small Prayer
     

     
 
Buried Chamber
 

Their path upward is blocked, the duo will have to head down to the Buried Chamber--the castle's cavernous dungeon and torture area, its iron-barred cells and chain-link devices serving as the warning of a mission failed. In arcing their way back their way back up to original level, the duo will pass through the castle's fishman-inhabited sewage system and then more of same dungeon-style caverns before exiting into the Great Stairway. In the end, the repetitive Buried Chamber, while home to some hidden rooms and special items, is mainly positioned to test the attrition of early-level heroes and is more your obligatory connector area.

         

Lesser Enemies: Bat, Mud Man, Merman, Une, Skull Archer, Frozen Shade, Invisible Man, Golem, Slime and Dragon Zombie
Boss: None
Music Track: Silent Prison
     

     
 
Great Stairway
 

The Great Stairway is the castle's largest piece of real-estate and has to it separate sections. You'll emerge from the Buried Chamber into a collection of marble corridors; heading left is at this point an endeavor fruitless, so the heroes will be forced straightforward right, through more corridors until their trek is interrupted by the area's boss. Continuing right thereafter, the duo will explore a goldmine that contains the game's second portrait. After exiting the portrait, Push Cube, in hand, the duo will want to explore the middle portion of the area--its namesake, two overly large rooms comprised of a giant stone stairway. For now, they'll want to head northwest of the stairway's first half, up to its towers and gargoyle-lined balconies, to find yet another painting: The Nation of Fools. Upon returning, they'll be ready to exit the area, which requires using the Push Cube to force open a metal door that blocks gap leading to the door.

         

Lesser Enemies: Skull Archer, Ukoback, Persephone, Mimic, Larva, Lerajie, Great Armor, Catoblepas, Crossbow Armor, Lilith, Skeleton Flail, Skeleton Gunman, Hill Guard, Skelerang and Glasya Labolas
Boss: Keremet
Music Track: Jail of Jewels
     

     
 
Tower of Death
 

They'll arrive at the Tower of Death, an area combining elements of a clock tower and reservoir. For now, they'll head through some generic halls and their outskirts, whose fenced-in courtyard is domain to the fiery Stella. After her defeat, they can head west and using a cog collected back in the Nation of Fools set in motion two gears whose motion will open the way forward. Following is long room (a drainage system) featuring a puzzle that requires both characters to mount motorcycles and ride simultaneously high and low, switching control between them to counter any associated dangers. The ride will earn them entry into a tall branching tower with its own rotating lift, which will carry them up to the next painting--the Forest of Doom. Its navigation will earn the Toad Morph, which Charlotte can use to assume for herself or Jonathan toad form and access the right side of the Clock Tower, whose left side will for now continue to be blocked by a wall of flames. The clock tower has the expected perils: Two dimensions of spinning gears of all sizes, rotating and crumbling platforms, spike pits, and, of course, Medusa Heads. Waiting atop the tower is Death, who will flee when unable to best the heroes. Moving forward, the tower's elevator system (which comprises its whole left side) will grant them access to the Master's Keep in addition to the breaching of the earlier wall of flame.

         

Lesser Enemies: Crossbow Armor, Skeleton Flail, Skeleton Gunman, Imp, Harpy, Medusa Head, Gaibon, Slogra, Flying Armor and Killer Doll
Boss: (1) Stella, (2) Death
Music Track: The Gears Go Awry
     

     
 
Master's Keep
 

The Master's Keep is accessed directly from said elevator system's lower exit or from the Tower of Death's watery lift tower, which both lead to the area's bottom--an open passage, the foreboding clouds whistling as they pass around the architecture, and bridge decorated by a series of arches. Consider it map-filling fodder and take the Tower of Death elevator's upper exit, which leads to the Master's Keep chapel and general place of worship (apparently for this who obsess over Death) and artistic exhibition. In pushing upward through a collection of similar-looking corridors, the heroic duo will meet with the opposing team of Stella and Loretta, whose defeat will advance the story; now as allies, the sisters will now (a) unlock the way to the game's final four paintings and (b) incarnate for Jonathan the Whip's Memory, a boss whose defeat will allow him to use a fully powered Vampire Killer. After vanquishing the four final paintings' guardians, the duo can challenge Brauner and then gain further access to the Throne Room, which for now is blocked off by a dark force.

         

Lesser Enemies: Razor Bat, Wyvern, Malachi, Spin Devil, Succubus, Flame Demon, Dead Crusader, Final Guard and Ruler's Sword
Boss: (1) Stella and Loretta, (2) Whip's
Memory
, (3) Brauner
Music Track: Gaze Up at the Darkness
     

     
 
Throne Room
 

The Throne Room, simply put, is Portrait of Ruin's castle keep with clock-tower top as viewed from a distance. As expected, the rather small castle area's construction is that of a long staircase leading to the Count's throne room, where the final battle will commence. Littered about the platforms above the stairway are a few meter-up symbols, and the money contained within the candles stair-wide will also serve well to boost your value and your inventory via expensive weapons in Vincent's shop. The area is completely void of minor enemy, in the usual eerie touch, but found will be the now-obligatory secret room one room over from the stairway's top.

         

Lesser Enemies: None
Boss: Dracula and Death
Music Track: Overture
     

 

Paintings

     
 
City of Haze
 

The City of Haze, the game's first isolated realm encroached via painting, is as its name suggests an abandoned city left filled with fog and in the dust by previous invading forces. In storming the city, its large buildings intimidating to the sight, the duo will early on pass in and out of convenience stores, eateries, bakeries and all other types of markets before heading down to the city's subway system, where an excessively long tunnel will be traveled by a mine car whose habitant will have to smash through barriers while speeding along. The tunnel exits into a large church, decorated by the usual tapestries, plaques, stain-glass windows, giant organs, ceremonial beds, and other holy objects. The church's entrance offers high and low paths. The top path is blocked by a carriage, so the pair will be forced to work around from below, which will carry them back up to an encounter with the painting's boss guard; its defeat will open the way to the church's upper exit, which leads out to where the heroes will find the Push Cube, which they can use to push away said carriage and gain quick access to a warp point.

         

Lesser Enemies: Zombie, Bat, Skeleton, Axe Armor, Death Mask, Zacchino, Student Witch, Slinger, Mini Devil, Forneus, Peeping Eye, Skull Bartender, Andras and Wight
Boss: Dullahan
Music Track: Victorian Fear
     

     
 
Sandy Grave
 

The heroes will access the painting housing the Sandy Grave from the Great Stairway's right portion (the goldmines, specifically). The Sandy Grave is actually a pyramid, its sandy entryway littered with Mummies and the dangerous Sand Worm. The Egyptian-themed pyramid has the expected visuals (large stone structures, hieroglyphics, stone sphinxes, and tribute pieces to such luminaries as Cleopatra and King Tut) and some nasty traps, which include crushing spike beds, falling-and-retracting spiked logs and giant rolling boulders. The triangular haunt has from its entrance three paths: The top path as of yet inaccessible to mere double jumpers, a useless bottom path, and the more desired straightforward middle path, which the heroes should take en route to the pyramid's top, where the boss is waiting. After its defeat, the heroes will head west and drop down through a series of large rooms, each piled with considerable dangers, and grab hold of the strength glove, which will help them access the Tower of Death.

         

Lesser Enemies: Mummy, Devil Wheel, Skeleton, Sand Worm, Ghost, Red Skeleton, Dragon Zombie, Armor Knight, Ectoplasm, Bone Pillar, Fleaman, Mimic, Flying Skull, White Dragon, Amphisbaena, Elgiza, Great Ghost, Crossbow Armor and Corpseweed
Boss: Astarte
Music Track: Hail from the Past
     

     
 
Nation of Fools
 

The Nation of Fools, accessed from the Great Stairway's right portion, is in a matter of words weirdness personified, a combined cursed town and a veritable circus of perils. The area's shape mostly square, you'll start at its bottom and work your way up by taking a left or right path (coming back to travel the other only if you're in it for map completing and the collection of all meter-up symbols). What accounts for the area's weirdness is that each room is an isolated exercise in madness featuring decayed building structures turned sideways and upside-down and to match gravity changes that see enemies treading on and hugging the walls and ceilings; the problem, for the heroes, is that said gravity doesn't effect them, making travel highly unpredictable. Complicating matters--besides the annoying enemies like Armor Knights, Slimes, and Fleamen--are dangers such as swinging scythes and large rotating wheels populated by flaming skull heads (of course both positioned in tight-squeezing places). The craziness culminates area's center, where the heroes will battle the Nation of Fool's equally tortured boss.

         

Lesser Enemies: Lerajie, Armor Knight, Spittle Bone, Fleaman, Slime, Killer Clown, Coppelia, Hanged Bones, White Dragon, Devil Wheel, Harpy and Medusa Head
Boss: Legion
Music Track: Chaotic Playground
     

     
 
Forest of Doom
 

The Forest of Doom, found on the Tower of Death's left side, is your advertised woodland shrouded by spooky sunset. The early action takes place in a abandoned college campus--two such facilities featuring classrooms, dormitories, and bell towers, all said overrun by evil forces (insects, witches and cursed beings) who teach the heroes nothing of value. After clearing the first building, the duo will trek through more forest, a graveyard, entailed, before entering the second building. They'll work their to its center, a courtyard, and push away a headstone to descend into a dimly lit mine flooded with frogs. They'll emerge finally to more forest and into a swamp subsisted upon by the painting's boss guardian; its defeat will net the heroes the Toad Morph, which they can use to access the Tower of Death's right side.

         

Lesser Enemies: Frog, Killer Bee, Bee Hive, Killer Doll, Student Witch, Lilith, Harpy, Corpseweed, Skelerang, Blue Crow, Moldy Corpse, Dogether, Tombstone, Treant, Red Axe Armor, Maneating Plant, Malachi and Witch
Boss: Dagon
Music Track: The Hidden Curse
     

     
 
Dark Academy
 

The Dark Academy, like the following three paintings, is located in the Master's Keep, its completion necessary to the unlocking of Brauner's studio. And like all of its kind, it as a realm exist as a sort-of inverse version of a previous version. The Academy, then, is our more troublesome Forest of Doom. The starting leg of the forest, which is under constant assault by a ceaseless thunderstorm, leads into the academy, a learning institute of ill-intent filled with unkempt classrooms, out-of-control escalators, and other oddities. The academy comprises just about the entirety of the area; its innards whip around and around, packed with considerably powerful and status-affecting minor enemies, and finally culminates in a demonic laboratory whose chief experiment is ready to pounce on outsiders.

         

Lesser Enemies: Ghoul, Mandragora, Black Crow, Wakwak Tree, Dragonfly, Fleaman, Imp, Heavy Armor, Toad, Minotaur, Malphas, Final Guard, Ruler's Sword, Witch, Lightkeeper, Old Axe Armor, Dead Warrior, Aliorumnas, Alura Une, Demon Head, Lesser Demon and Vapula
Boss: The Creature
Music Track: Crucifix Held Close
     

     
 
13th Street
 

13th Street in following is our twisted version of the City of Haze. The journey begins in a train station and long subway, where progress forward threatens to be thwarted by a speeding train, which can only be halted by the combined might of two pushy heroes. They'll from here exit into a convenience store and then as in previous sequence in and out of bakeries and eateries and then finally into a church, which is simply more of the same. The church exits out into the open, where a vicious boss is charged for battle. There really isn't anything here you haven't seen; the chief danger, compared to the City of Haze, is (besides the natural increase in challenge) the presence of powerful knights, who are often packed into rooms many at a time, and more in the way of status-inducing foes.

         

Lesser Enemies: Ghoul, Ghoul King, Buster Armor, Dead Warrior, Red Axe Armor, Skeleton Blaze, Heavy Armor, Malphas, Amalaric Sniper, Aliorumnas, Lightkeeper, Nyx, Mothman, Ripper, Ghost Dancer, Vapula and Demon
Boss: Werewolf
Music Track: Iron Blue Intention
     

     
 
Burnt Paradise
 

The Burnt Paradise is the Nation of Fools' rounder but equally wacky cousin. This time starting from the top, the heroes can choose to travel either left or right (like last time bothering to tread the other path only for the purposes of map-filling and item-collecting). The setup is familiar in that you'll be tossed into situations where buildings lay sideways and upside-down while enemies trek along surfaces in natural deference, unaffected by gravity. The most pressing problem is that much more potent (and of worse case status-affecting) versions of previous minor enemies (like Tanjelly and Vice Beetle) are lurking; too, littering the area are dangers like swinging scythes and rotating wheels adorned by flaming skull heads. Like its cousin symmetrical, you'll find on either path six rooms of madness separated by three torturous vertical shafts that are likely home to special items. Arriving at its bottom portion, the heroes will soon stumble upon the boss guardian who wishes to make them permanent residents.

         

Lesser Enemies: Armor Knight, Medusa Head, Guillotiner, Skeleton Tree, Buster Armor, Old Axe Armor, Gorgon, Jack O'Bones, Tanjelly, Dead Warrior, Vice Beetle, Minotaur, Yorick, Ripper and DoubleAxe Armor
Boss: Medusa
Music Track: Behind the Gaze
     

     
 
Forgotten City
 

The Forgotten City is counterpart to the Sandy Grave, and it is home to a pyramid. Starting from the area's very top, the sandy outskirts, the heroes will head west, an army of Mummies the opposition, and through the defeat of a Poison Worm uncover a bed of quicksand whose pull will sink the heroes into the pyramid. Not surprisingly, the entire structure is adorned with familiar decorations like the previously seen stone sculptures (and one new in the form of the Alef Bird), the hieroglyphics and such, and it features the same traps, like the retracting spike logs and giant rolling boulders. The heroes will from the left side navigate down into the pyramid's sandy burial ground and back up to its midsection, where the boss is entombed. The Forgotten City is the least imaginative of the four inverse areas while of challenge derivative to its counterpart (read: the most simple of the four).

         

Lesser Enemies: Mummy, Devil Wheel, Poison Worm, Dodo, Laura, Fleaman, Ghost, Red Skeleton, Ectoplasm, Elgiza, Flame Demon, Armored Fleaman, Old Axe Armor, Quetzalcoatl, Gorgon, Jack O'Bones, Tanjelly, Lightkeeper, Demon Head and Lesser Demon
Boss: Mummy Man
Music Track: Sandfall
Second Track: In Search of the Secret Spell
     

     
 
Nest of Evil
 

The Nest of Evil, unlocked as part of the clearing of one of Wind's later quests, is a secret painting that holds to the heroes' mission no real relevance. It's purely an extra, made directly of the mold of Circle of the Moon's Battle Arena. As such, heroes so bold will take on the game's greatest challenge, which entails the clearing of the area's seven legs; the initial six legs each feature six rooms populated by randomly paired minor enemies (many exclusive to the nest) and then an equally exclusive boss (all ripped directly from Dawn of Sorrow and Symphony of the Night). After each boss' defeat is a warp room offering the very welcome and recommended option of retreating to the area's (for now) only available save room. The clearing of the initial six legs opens up one final, an obstruction-less gateway to the area's main boss. While the Nest of Evil's completion isn't necessary, doing so will earn the heroes the Greatest Five Dual Crash in addition to enemy-list filling and experience-gaining.

         

Lesser Enemies: Dead Warrior, Quetzalcoatl, Demon, Bone Ark, Lightkeeper, Mothman, Minotaur, Final Guard, Jack O'Bones, Buster Armor, Dragonfly, Heavy Armor, Ruler's Sword, Dogether, Skeleton Blaze, Cave Troll, Armored Fleaman, Guillotiner, Iron Golem, Lesser Demon, Skeleton Farmer, Alastor, Yorick, Demon Head, Gold Skeleton, DoubleAxe Armor, Amducias, Vice Beetle, The Creature, Nyx, Ripper, Vapula, Old Axe Armor, Wyvern and Malphas
Boss: (1) Balore, (2) Gergoth, (3) Zephyr, (4)
Aguni, (5) Abaddon, (6) Fake Trevor, Fake
Grant and Fake Sypha
, (7) Doppelganger
Music Track: Troubled Times
     

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