The Belmont’s destiny is a fun one.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate is the second chapter in the Lords of Shadow trilogy. Mirror of Fate is an exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS and offers a chapter in the story that takes place after the first Lords of Shadow, and before Lords of Shadow 2. Mirror of Fate takes place 25 years after the events in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. In the game you play as three different characters: Simon Belmont, Trevor Belmont, and Alucard.
All three characters play differently from one another other than that they all use whips for primary weapons. The game contains basic mobility options such as jumping, double jumping, dashing, and dodging for all three characters. Each character also has different powers that will unlock as you progress through the game. The weapons that you can unlock through the game are also great throwbacks to the character’s origins.
Mirror of Fate’s length is fairly reasonable in my opinion. Going through the game, not trying hard to unlock and find everything, took me roughly eight and a half hours to complete. To go through and finish collecting everything in order to unlock the post game bonus scene took me another two hours. At ten and a half hours I feel that not only for a portable game, but for a game in general, the length is worth the $39.99 price tag.
Mirror of Fate is the first game that I have ever played from beginning to end with the 3D enabled on the Nintendo 3DS. I actually feel that the game wouldn’t be nearly as aesthetically pleasing with the 3D off. Certain platforming sections really require you to be able to gauge the distance at which a platform is in the background so that you may time your jumps correctly. It also brought the backgrounds to life, and gave you a sense of scale for the castle in comparison to the background on exterior locations. I felt that although the 3D was implemented in a very simple manner, I think that it was very well executed compared to most other 3DS titles.
Those that have played the first Lords of Shadow are already aware of the quality of Oscar Araujo’s soundtrack. Mirror of Fate does not fail to deliver another fantastic score from Oscar. I played the game on both a pair of good headphones and some external speakers to maximize the epicness of the soundtrack. The 3DS speakers are still good enough to enjoy the music on, but for the best experience I highly recommend playing on some headphones or speakers. The voice work in the game is also very good when it appears. There isn’t as much voice work as the previous Lords of Shadow game, but the dialogue that does appear is delivered well. Robert Carlyle as always gives a great performance in his role of Gabriel Belmont. The only complaint that I have as far as voice work is concerned is that it felt like there was a chunk missing during the opening cinematic to the game. It features mainly gestures, sound effects, and a small amount of crying. It really felt like there were lines written for that sequence that may have been removed for some reason. That is the only cutscene in the game that I felt seemed awkward.
The format of the game is a lot more in line with Castlevania III. It’s not quite as linear as say Castlevania I or Super Castlevania IV, but it’s not quite in the “Metroidvania” style either. You still can and will venture backwards to areas that you have already explored in order to collect collectibles and such. However, you mainly will be returning to previous sections of the castle as different characters. From there you will explore sections that you had not seen as the previous character. Overall, it’s in-between the styles of “Metroidvania” and traditional stage based Castlevania games. For this reason I was reminded of Castlevania III’s format. The leveling system of the game is extremely shallow. Basically, you just play through the game and combos and skills will unlock as you are completing the game. Unlike the previous installment there isn’t any pick and choose as to what abilities you may want to acquire or work towards next. I felt that this issue was far from a deal breaker, or even major gripe with the game, but I can see how some people may be disappointed with the lackluster leveling system.
The combat system is also very fun and simple, but can be rather complex if you want it to be. On the lower difficulties you can get away with “button mashing” your way through most of the game. However, on harder difficulties you really need to be aware of what combo, skill, counter, or dodge you are going to perform based on your enemy(s). Coming from a background in fighting games, I found one particular element added into the game very intriguing, Quick Rising. If you tap the B button when you are knocked down you will Quick Rise similar to how you would in certain fighting games. This seems very small, but on harder difficulties there are battles where getting hit more than a few times equals death. This means that you really need to get your patterns down perfectly. During one particular boss battle I realized that if I happened to get knocked down at a certain point, I could quick rise to avoid a meaty attack that would hit me while I was getting up if I used the tradition knockdown recovery method. On the flip side, there were times where if I got knocked down and stayed down, this appeared to be my only salvation to particularly bad situations that a boss may have put me in. Overall, I felt that this was a subtle but smart implementation into the game.
Boss battles in this game are still epic like the previous Lords of Shadow game. There is one particular boss fight that made me completely forget I was even on a portable device. It also featured the single best use of 3D the system has ever had. There is still context sensitive aspects in certain battles, but overall they are very simple and function well. Even on the hardest difficulty the context sensitive sections are still easy to perform.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate is a great addition to the Castlevania franchise. With excellent graphics and use of 3D, a fantastic score, a very fun and interesting story mode, great voice work, decent length, and the return of my personal favorite character, Simon Belmont, Mirror of Fate is easily one of the best 3DS titles to date. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate is a great game that I can see myself playing over and over again like I still do with Super Castlevania IV twenty-two years after it came out. It definitely is one of the best titles on the 3DS, and has released at a great time in the 3DS’s life. With games like Fire Emblem: Awakening, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon also on the way, right now is the best time to own a 3DS.