The Castlevania series has been releasing new material on a yearly basis since about 1986. Back in the day you were running into 2D bats and trolling a 6-level-long castle to battle Dracula but since that point the series has been hurtled at just about every major platform within the last two decades. It became a parody game in the early Nineties under the title Kid Dracula, it showed up on the Wii as a fighting game a year ago, and this year it comes out on Xbox 360 and PS3 as a 20-hour long 3D action-adventure with little real connection to the original canon.
You play Gabriel Belmont, the game's sulking hero. As a series reboot the relation to the original games begins with the Castlevania title and ends with Gabe's surname, adding him to the long list of Belmonts that have been chasing down evil since the '80s. Beyond a vague family-relation CLOS has been developed into a much darker title than its predecessors. Even the design of Gabriel goes down a medieval gothic route, giving the guy an Assassin's Creed frock and the pouting face of a svelte Morrissey.
And gently steering you toward the new gothic maturity is a premise involving Gabe's murdered wife whose soul has been trapped in oblivion. Your task is to defeat factions of the Lords of Shadow and collect pieces of the God Mask, an artefact that can be used to resurrect the dead. In this case your wife. So you move across a world-map killing wargs, lycans and trolls. They've already been spending their time attacking citizens and leagues of knights. Just walk into a new area and you'll stumble on at least three corpses, loot them and you'll get scrolls describing how they've died and tips on fighting incoming enemies.
It's all a slightly meatier variation on your standard light-versus darkness theme that continuously crops up in JRPGs. The introductory zone has you protecting civilians from incoming swarms of werewolves, learning basic button combo's that largely all end in an explosion of blood. You are part of the Brotherhood of Light, tasked to protect the innocent. So you swing your retractable Pyrokinetic whip and defeat bastard-dogs by whipping them into the air and slicing through them in a Guillotine finishing move. A warg will jump into town, an enormous Volvo-sized dog-thing, and you'll be left to impale it in the stomach with a log. That's Minute 12 of the game.
An hour later you'll stun a giant warthog and shuffle up onto its back, using it to ransack a troll village, controlling it so it gouges any trolls that get in the way. You'll finish that one off by strangling it with your whip. In fact, generally speaking, most things that you use as a mount you end up strangling to death. In terms of tone, that's one of the more obvious shifts toward darker material if we're still using the series to compare. But by this point you shouldn't be. CLOS tries to wipe the slate as clean as it can, and in reality owes more to any major action-adventure title of the last ten years than it does to two decades of Castlevania.
The fact that its gameplay is incredibly similar to God of War has been mentioned since in-game footage started making the rounds on the Internet. Combat largely just involves that retractable Pyrokinetic whip of yours that gets flung about based on various button combos. Compare that to Kratos' visually similar Chain blades and it looks like the CLOS devs took a bit of tracing paper and went to town. Hell, even ignoring the weapon, the game implements another feature that has more than a touch of GoW as you recharge special abilities, in this case light and shadow magic, based on building hits on foes in combat. Hit them while avoiding their attacks and they'll spill out magic orbs that you'll sweep up with the touch of a button.