Meaningful Movement: The Labyrinth and ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’ [Extended Abstract]

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This paper presents the castle in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as a structure that sets out a pattern of movement for the player-character that is similar to that experienced by the treader of a classical labyrinth. Specifically, this pattern is one of turning back on oneself and it always derives its meaning from the context in which it is performed. For example, the meaning of Theseus stalking the Cretan labyrinth in search of the Minotaur is different from the meaning of the Troia performed at the funeral games of Anchises in the Aeneid or of the dance of a medieval English turf maze treader. This is in spite of the fact that the actual pattern of movement is largely the same in all three cases. I argue here that the transfer of this pattern of movement to Symphony of the Night transforms its meaning once again. Couched in a conventional horror narrative that leans heavily on pop-Freudian motifs, the movement of the main character, the half-vampire Alucard, emerges as a text that writes his ambivalence in spatial terms. The architecture of game space, then, is understood as notes for a performance which derives its meaning in relation to some pre-scripted elements.