A new Castlevania game has arrived on the 3DS and it continues the story from the 2010 adventure, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Subtitled, “Mirror of Fate” the continuation of the Lords of Shadow story starts out with us learning that Gabriel Belmont’s wife has given birth to a son, Trevor. Events transpire where Trevor eventually goes to kill his father and Trevor’s own son, Simon, wants to discover what has happened to his family. If that is a bit confusing to you then you aren’t alone. The game is split into three acts and within each act you play as a different character. This allows you to see parts of the game from different viewpoints and different angles. It also allows you to revisit certain segments to perform tasks you were unable to do before. There are going to be some people who dislike the fact that certain assets get reused. Generally speaking I didn’t have too much problem with that because even if I was revisiting an area my newfound abilities would help to make it seem like it was new.
The combat system in Mirror of Fate is similar to what was found in the original Lords of Shadow game. For those who haven’t played either title the combat is very God of War-esque. You have your two melee buttons on the 3DS as well as the other buttons being utilized in QTEs and for basic acts such as jumping. One really useful feature of this game is the ability to write notes and pin them to the map. If you are in a room where there is a treasure you can’t get to yet you can write a note to yourself utilizing the 3DS touch screen and then attach it to the map. Later on when you return to that area you’ll notice a small icon where you left it on the map. Touching that will bring up the note you wrote to yourself earlier and will remind you that there is something you missed during your previous trip. It is a handy system for those who might want to try and find everything in the game as well as do everything the game has to offer.
Depending on your play style you will find new items or new abilities on a fairly regular basis. In my experience I would find something new around every hour or so, maybe a little less. These new abilities (or whatever you find) are instrumental to you progressing in the game. One of my favorite abilities is found fairly early on where you can summon a spirit and have them shoot any enemies that come near you. The spirit is of course attached to your magic so once your magic meter is on empty you will be out of luck until you get more. Later on you get another ability where you can manipulate time. You will come across many different puzzles and figuring out how to use the new abilities is part of the fun.
Mirror of Fate features some really interesting boss fights and becoming accustomed to playing defense will save you just as much as being an offensive machine. You need to know when to back off in combat by rolling out of the way at the opportune moment and then striking while your enemy has their guard down. If you simply rush in without strategizing then you are going to find yourself in trouble with some of the tougher enemies, including boss fights. As you progress through the levels you want to keep an eye out for scrolls that were written by previous warriors before they died. Paying attention to what is said on these scrolls can help give you a clue about what you might be about to face or maybe even help point you in the correct direction for a puzzle. One scroll even has a really nice Mario reference in it that made me chuckle.
Once you get to a certain part in the game you will also begin opening fast travel gates. This will allow you to get to different areas much quicker and in some instances might take you to some new areas. The check point system in this game works pretty well too and you will probably need to use it during some of the boss fights. There are times when it can definitely get difficult and having properly placed checkpoints is always a good thing. For someone who really wants a touch challenge a New Game+ option becomes available to you after you initially beat the game.
This is of course a 3DS title and that means you can play the game in 3D. MercurySteam and Konami have done a great job here making the 3D really pop on the screen. The 3D works on many different levels such as helping to figure out which areas you can and can’t access, having some environments stretch off into the distance and more. It really does help to immerse you into the experience even more and gives the graphics some nice depth.
This game is by no means perfect and one of the weaker areas is the audio. The dialogue and voices you hear don’t sound as good as they should. It is almost like a “tinny” sound. There also seems to be something off about the cinematics. Perhaps it was just me but I also felt there were times when this title had a bit of an identity crisis. At times they were teasing you that it would be a Metroidvania title but then there were other times where it relied much more on action and combat. If they had gone down the Metroidvania road completely I might have enjoyed it a bit more. As it was I enjoyed my time with the game but there seemed to be something missing to make it truly great.
Overall Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate is a solid title. It has a good amount of action and I enjoyed the journey the development team took me on. There are going to be some that might be put off by some of the difficulty. There might even be some that don’t like some of the reused assets as I mentioned above. I didn’t have any problems with that and I thought this was a solid Castlevania game for the 3DS. There will likely be other 3DS titles I enjoy more but fans of action/adventure games should definitely give this one a chance. If nothing else I am definitely curious to see how the events of Mirror of Fate affect the upcoming Lords of Shadow 2 on the consoles.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network