The Castlevania series is no stranger to Nintendo portable systems. The three Nintendo DS games: Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia were all wonderful adventures that stuck to the traditional Castlevania formula. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate is, in many ways, a different beast. It’s a 2D, side scrolling adventure game that focuses on heavy combos and exploration.
Mirror of Fate takes place 26 years after the events of Castlevania Lords of Shadow (PS3, 360). Trevor Belmont is determined to defeat his father, Gabriel Belmont, who is Dracula. While the game mostly focuses on Trevor’s journey, different acts tell the story through the eyes of Simon Belmont and Alucard. The plot of the story is entertaining and the way each of the characters’ events are sequenced is creative. After playing through this it’s hard not to get excited for Lords of Shadow 2.
Since Mirror of Fate is set in the Lords of Shadow universe it doesn’t play like a traditional Castlevania game. There is a bigger emphasis on chaining combos together in order to kill enemies. It’s similar to what you would see in a God of War game only in a 2D space. Tearing apart zombies and werewolves and other mythical creatures is rewarding. Unleashing magic, items and combat moves flows together well but unfortunately between all four characters there isn’t enough variation in the combat moves. There is an abundance of quick time events. Some of which feel forced and misplaced. Stopping in the middle of a boss fight to mash on a button when prompted will somewhat mess up the flow of the fight. This isn’t an overly horrible thing though since the majority of the quick time events work well and are, for the most part, useful.
The puzzles are really light-hearted and don’t require a lot of thinking to complete. Thankfully exploration plays a big role in Mirror of Fate. As you progress through the game you’ll access more abilities and summons which will allow you to reach more locations in Dracula’s Castle. There is a level up system but it’s not fleshed out. Unlike previous Castlevania games leveling up doesn’t boost any of the characters’ stats which makes the whole concept feel lifeless.
At times controlling the character can be bothersome. The character movements are inconsistent and, at times, can feel clunky. Plus there were occasions where my button presses were unresponsive causing me to either be damaged by enemies or by hazards in the environment. These problems didn’t occur often, but when they did they were very noticeable.
Mirror of Fate is probably one of the most accessible Castlevania games I’ve ever played. There’s an ample amount of checkpoints spread throughout the castle, so if you happen to die you’ll continue not far from where you left off. Boss fights are charming but, by no means, are they as punishing as other Castlevania games. This has a lot to do with the fact that the checkpoint system is implemented during those encounters as well.
The presentation is definitely something that stands out in Mirror of Fate. The game features stereoscopic 3D that makes the 3D effects look impressive. The 3D on the set pieces gives a surprising amount of depth to them.
Visually, Dracula’s Castle is everything you would expect it to be. It’s dark, gothic and excellently detailed with a variety of locations. The cut scenes are easy on the eyes and offer a distinct cell shaded comic book feel to them. The soundtrack is striking as well. The music is both emotional and eerie. This complements the atmosphere and definitely sets the tone for the game.
It takes a good 8 to 10 hours to see everything the story has to offer. After completing the game you can go back and pick up the remaining collectibles that are available. The collectibles consists of scrolls, which are usually attached to skeleton bones scattered throughout the castle, and pages from the enemy bestiary. None of these collectibles are hard to find since the map at the bottom of the screen displays all of them. There are also health and upgrade chests to find in the world.
Overall Konami and MercurySteam did a good job translating a Castlevania Lords of Shadow game onto the Nintendo 3DS. Despite a few shortcomings with the controls, Mirror of Fate is enjoyable. The presentation and lore definitely makes this a welcomed game in the series.
Score: 8 / 10
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate was developed by MercurySteam and published by Konami for Nintendo 3DS on March 5th. A retail copy of the game was provided to us by Konami for reviewing purposes.