Before I even begin, prior to playing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate game, my only other experiences with Castlevania was back in the 90’s when I played the classic Castlevania 64 and then Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. Carrie Fernandez and Reinhardt Schneider are still two of the best protagonists I ever played, but Mirror of Fate is nothing like those games, but before I go down the rabbit hole on that one, first up is the story.
Mirror of Fate is a game’s story divided into four parts, which also means we have four protagonists to play as throughout the full game. First it begins with Gabriel Belmont, the iconic character from Lords of Shadow, a man who feels betrayed and has lost his faith. With evil on the horizon, he leaves his wife in a bid to stop the Daemon Lord, not knowing his wife was pregnant and would give birth to Trevor Belmont (another playable character and the protagonist during Act III.) With the prologue over, the story comes to Simon Belmont, Trevor’s son and a six year old boy whose parents were murdered at the hands of Dracula and those who serve him. Lucky to be alive, he is found by the mountain people who take him in and raise him as one of them, but in the years that passed, he never forgot what happened to his family.
Driven by the desire for vengeance, he trained hard and soon became a warrior truly gifted in battle and even though he was always an outcast among the mountain people, soon to be feared for his strong will and stubborn attitude. Around his neck he wore a fragment of mirror his father gave him back when he was a young boy and now feeling as ready as he will ever be, he returns to his home land, ready to avenge his family and bring an end to the one they called the Dragon.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate is the 3DS sequel to the 2010 Castlevania spin-off reboot Lords of Shadow, which shortly after it’s Nintendo release in 2013, a HD version was also released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It features four playable characters in the order of Gabriel Belmont, Simon Belmont, Alucard (aka Dracula’s son, aka Trevor Belmont decades after he died at the end of Act III and is also Dracula spelt backwards,) and Trevor Belmont. Each one’s story takes place at different times, (Gabriel’s being the earliest,) but both Simon’s and Alucard’s tale actually take place on the very same night and often has the two running into each other before a joint final battle with the Belmont elder, Gabriel who is the iconic Dracula and overall villain in this platform styled, 2D action adventure game.
But just how does it look, play and compare to the other Castlevania games we’ve all seen? Well honestly, it seems to be a game with an identity crisis, as it’s almost like it’s trying to look like a much more modern version of the very first game that started the series, yet at the same time trying to be a Lords of Shadow game. But in all its trying it failed, the story is recycled, the characters weren’t utilized to their full capacity and the game just tried too hard to be something else it never tried to just be itself.
Worse yet is the fact that despite being divided into four parts, with all sorts of collectibles waiting to be found, (such as readable scrolls that give experience points and Bestiary cards.) Then there’s new sub-weapons that there’s no point getting used to because just as soon as you finish one Act, you will have to find more sub-weapons for your next character, which are different to the ones you had first. In fact the same could be said about the characters you play. There’s no real point getting used to them and their attacks and skills, because within a few hours, your time with them is over and it’s on to the next character. I myself put just under 14 hours into this game, not because I got bored of it, but because that’s how long it took me to complete the game in Normal mode, getting 100% game competition, without turning to the internet to guide me. And sure I’ve now unlocked Hardcore mode and am considering giving that a go, but I’m in no rush to do that just yet.
One good aspect about heading into the next Act, or starting a new game after beating it already, is all your experience points are carried over, allowing you to keep your skills and current level, although that being said, this game it is far too easy too easy to level up. The ironic fact about the leveling up system though is the fact you’re exploring a castle, with individual map-screens for each area you’re in, where the forces of evil dwell, but there’s really not a whole lot of villains in your path. Sure there are battles where you can go on to face off against quite a few foes at the same time, but then there’s so many long pauses between fights and then there’s the boss fights. You don’t have to worry about beating them in the one go, as the battles are broken up into different set parts, so provided you made it to the next one, should you die, you’ll start off at the next part you reached, with a decent amount of life and magic to sustain you through to battle finish, or until you reach the next segment.
Worse yet, the puzzles we seen here, is nothing new and solvable within mere minutes, even the harder ones that take place during Alucard’s story. This is an adventure just jam-packed with hand-holding all the way through, so with that thought in mind, it’s time for my Pros & Cons:
- It does a great job of looking like the original game given a modern graphical touch.
- Plenty of character variety which includes weapons, magic and vampire attributes.
- Implemented auto-saving, which saves your progress almost every minute of gameplay, so you can play on the go and pick up where you left off at every opportunity.
- Scottish actor Robert Carlyle is the voice talent behind Dracula.
- The 3D aspect to the game did add to the graphics.
- The game lacks true character and its own voice.
- The boss battles are too easy and lack the true challenge as seen in earlier titles. Only during Hard and Hardcore mode do they start to get difficult.
- Replay value is really quite low. I can think of at least 7 3DS games on my shelf I’m more likely to play first before I even consider Mirror of Fate.
- Robert Carlyle is actually a pretty good actor, (he was the villain in a Bond movie,) it’s just a shame that there were very few cut-scenes involving him and the ones that were there, didn’t exactly give him a long enough monologue to display his range.
- Prologue or not, Gabriel’s story should have been longer, giving us more of a chance to play as him and see more of his story unfold.
Is it better than the DS title Symphony of the Night, very few would argue yes, but as much as I did want to enjoy this game, I feel my biased loved for the N64 titles has led me to be constantly comparing it to the 3D adventure greatness those games possessed. But don’t get me wrong, Mirror of Fate is a good game, especially for those new to Castlevania, just like the first game was for gamers when it came out in 1986, a few three decades previously, but it isn’t a great game. In light of that, I feel I have no other choice but to give it a low 7.1/10.0 slain Hunchbacks. This isn’t a game I would positively recommend to others, but should you see it in a bargain bin or just available at a low affordable cost, and wanting to try something different, then who am I to stop you?
But as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of my own and it is encouraged for you to make your own.