I took a break from working on the game earlier today to play some Castlevania. I hadn't played any of the metroidvanias for a while, so I figured I'd play through the first area of one of them for some inspiration. Of all of them, I've played Ecclesia the least, so I went with that.
What did I learn? Well..
First off, the tilesets in this game are absolutely beautiful. Even in enclosed areas, they tend to use larger parallax backgrounds, and they all look awesome. They basically have at least 2-3 different backgrounds for both horizontal and vertical type rooms, with vertical layouts having tower-esque backgrounds, making the environments feel very natural.
Other than that?
At least in the first area, the level design is... practically non-existent. More so than I remembered. The rooms all felt the same, with very few of them being anything more than a hallway with enemies randomly scattered everywhere. You'd be hard pressed to distinguish one room from the others if not for different combinations of enemies.
I mean, maybe it was just to ease players into combat, and there's more complicated layouts later? Because otherwise it's just..a bad first area. In most games, the first level is what most people remember the most. But usually that memory isn't "big flat surface".
I'll have to play the rest of it, and see how it changes throughout the rest of the game.