Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate Review

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was an amazing reboot of the classic Castlevania series that followed the many generations of the Belmont clan as they put an end to Dracula’s awakening. Since the old days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Konami released multiple Castlevania titles, each one adding a darker tone and depth into the series. In Lords of Shadow, Gabriel Belmont was sent by the Brotherhood of Light to defeat the Lord of Shadow and free the captured souls of those who could not move on. In the end though, Gabriel was cursed with immortality and becomes the vampire known as Dracula.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: MercurySteam
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: March 5th, 2013
MSRP:  $39.99 

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate takes place after the events of Lords of Shadow. The game is split into a prologue and three acts focusing on four different characters. The prologue focuses on Gabriel, a year before the events of Lords of Shadow, as he fights off evil using his Combat Cross. It’s revealed that Marie had a child unknown to Gabriel, and with the Mirror of Fate’s ability to show the fate of a person, the church takes and hides the child, since the child may be the only one who can stop Gabriel. Act 1 focuses on Simon Belmont, who is out for revenge for the murder of his parents when he was a child, Act II focuses on Alucard, who wishes to stop his father while act III focuses on Trevor Belmont leaving on his quest to return honor to the Belmont name.

castlevania-lords-of-shadow-mirror-of-fate-2I loved playing the previous Nintendo handheld Castlevania titles developed by Koji Igarashi. They all focused on a 2D anime-style gameplay and introduced us to some great characters, cool abilities, and open worlds. Mirror of Fate seems to draw inspiration from games like Symphony of the Night, Dawn of Sorrow and Order of Ecclessia. There’s a lot of heavy whipping action, as all the characters you play with are only equipped with a whip (it is the only main weapon you will have throughout the whole game). This isn’t really a problem, except for the fact is that all the characters share the same move set, which increases as you level them up…wait, what?

It’s pretty odd that Simon, Alucard and Trevor all share the same level gauge. They all have the same move sets with their whips and whatever level you finish Simon’s act, it carries over to Alucard and his carries over to Trevor…which is odd since the timeline for events are inconsistent. Each level unlocks a new move that can be used with all the characters. These moves revolve around mixing your attacks between the X and Y buttons. In the later half of the game, I found out that just holding the Y button proved to be the easiest way to beat the game. Since they’re all sharing the same weapon, that means that you won’t see Alucard with his mist and wolf form, Trevor with his light and dark powers, and Simon’s axe.

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Defeating enemies, bosses and finding scrolls of dead members of the brotherhood members all grant you experience, but the game has a level cap is 20, and there is a lack of action in the game. Enemies don’t always randomly spawn to stop you, and fights range from super easy to annoying. The good thing is that you don’t die but instead respawn at the last checkpoint including boss battles.

The game focuses on a system of tunnels. Your bottom screen functions as your map which can show you where you have explored and searchable areas. MercurySteam adds a marker option for your map, allowing you to leave yourself a note on where items are or where there’s a blocked path. It isn’t really needed in this game, since the lower map does that for you. Plus the game always tells you where your next checkpoint is.

The game is lacking in the enemy department. There are some areas where enemies will spawn once you go back, but there are times where you are jumping around the castle with no one around. While MercurySteam did take pieces of previous Castlevania titles to create something that was their own, it seemed to sometimes take away from the great job they did in Lords of Shadow. The problem with focusing on multiple characters in a game that roughly can be beaten in under 8 hours is that you don’t get enough time with each character. I would have loved to see a boss rush mode or some kind of various challenge missions to keep it going, but since the end of the battles also finish with a quick time event, there wouldn’t be a need for one.

Something MercurySteam did really well were the cutscenes in the game during important conversations. Instead of the 3D used in the gameplay, it features a more animated 2.5D style with voiced tracks although I wouldn’t have minded seeing the whole game in a similar style.

Final Verdict

Overall the game is well balanced, challenging and fun to play. I would have enjoyed playing as each character longer, but it is possible to go back and play as them again to collect any items you may have missed.

Grade: B-

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