Do you remember Castlevania? Early iterations had the side-scrolling, platforming feel that many games thereafter were based on. Now, fast-forward to 2013, and we’re seeing the newest entry into the long-running franchise, but this time in the hands of MercurySteam once more. Keeping with the lore and well established classic gameplay from the 2D era, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate has all the ingredients of a classic Castlevania and more to keep the fans from the 2D happy while throwing in heart-pounding sequences to capture the attention of those who joined the party with 2010′s Lords Of Shadow.
Mirror of Fate starts you off in the shoes of Gabriel Belmont – who’s the starring character in Lords of Shadow. Gabriel’s stint is short-lived as soon after we fast forward into the shoes of Castlevania’s Simon Belmont, many years after the events of Lords of Shadow. We meet Simon on a quest to avenge the man he believes is responsible for his father’s death. From here on out the story takes on three distinct perspectives at various points, all revolving around the drive to kill Lord Dracula. Naturally the story draws parallels to the story arc of Castlevania titles, but Mirror of Fate manages to condense three stories into one title – which creates one huge handheld slice of knowledge for any fan.
During your time with MoF you’ll take control of three classic Castlevania characters Simon Belmont; Dracula’s dhampir son, Alucard; and Trevor Belmont . Each character has a main weapon to attack with, which has a strong and light attack, and a magic move to utilise too. This is then backed by a very well-structured combo system – although it’s hard to really find much use for it beyond mashing the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ buttons or breaking an enemy’s defence now and again.
Turning your attention to the 3DS’ bottom screen shows you your current level and XP progress, which inches up as you kill enemies and discover enlightening hidden scrolls on dead bodies. Each character also shares their XP bar as the game progresses, meaning everyone essentially levels up, to the cap at level 18, together. You’ll also share weapon upgrades – such as increase in projectile weaponry capacity.
In each of the three acts, MoF holds new secrets each time as you journey through Dracula’s Castle with a different character. Each time you’ll confront different enemies and discover new treasures – that is if you’re willing to go off the beaten path to find them. It’s also worth being on the lookout for enemies to add to your bestiary and dead bodies with a purple glow – which contain the previously mentioned scrolls.
There are a few minor faults that tarnish this otherwise perfect shot at the handheld market. Puzzles are few and far between, especially compared to other franchise entries. But other than slightly disappointing some fans with a combat heavier approach, it’s not much more than a small dent in the armor. It’s also comparatively easy for the series, providing some challenges in the form of platforming sections and boss fights. But due to the games length, which took around ten hours to best, these are spikes along the way.
Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow-Mirror of Fate’s title isn’t the only big about it as it offers an amazing depth that fans of the franchise can enjoy. The story is as gripping as the series has ever been on consoles, and all within the palm of your hand. The decision to portray important moments via graphically stylish scenes that are reminiscent of XIII is very welcome and its utilization of 3D is better than any 3DS title before it. Its music is as captivating as ever, encapsulating the games feel at every moment. MercurySteam has stepped out of the console and into the world of handheld. Proving they can make another quality title in Lords of Shadow 2, it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here – and even more interesting as it leaves my appetite thirsty for more Castlevania.
Audio/Visual – 5/5: Sounds of every smash and cut are nicely strewn together and the musical choice is superb for every occasion.
Gameplay – 4/5: Simple pick-up-and-play fun. May be too simple for Lords of Shadow fans as the existing combo system is largely throwaway.
Innovation – 5/5: A fully realized and beautiful rendition of Castlevania is a must have for fans of the franchise and 3DS owners alike.
Value – 5/5: Replay value in treasures to find and a base game of around 10+ hours is nothing to scoff at for a handheld.
Final Score: 4.5/5
- Anthony reviewed Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate on Nintendo 3DS -