Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ė Mirror of Fate (3DS) Review
Posted by Adam Larck on 04.10.2013
See what Lords of Shadow can do on a handheld inside.
Title: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ė Mirror of Fate
Rated: M for Mature
The western reboot of the Castlevania series has definitely been a polarizing experience.
There are two distinct sides of the fence players of Lords of Shadow stand on. They either love the reboot and what it did or hate everything about the new style. Personally, I really enjoyed the last entry and await both the next title and awaited the 3DS version.
After playing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ė Mirror of Fate, a mouthful in itself, I think Iíll keep waiting for the console version.
MoF appeared as if it would appease both generations of Castlevania fans: those that love the 2D style of the game but also those that liked the reboot. The 2D style is nice, but seems to have lost a lot of the flair that really captivated me with the handheld GBA titles.
The game is broken down into three acts, one for Simon, Alucard and Trevor. It all takes place in the same castle, but at different points in history as Trevor tries to kill his father, and as Alucard and Simon try to kill Dracula.
A main problem I think I had with the game compared to past handheld titles was the combat. Itís not that the combat was bad, but it seemed to have a lot similar ties to the latest console iteration, not the previous 2D titles that the game imitates. Fights seem more like button mashers to clear out various enemies that keep coming towards you, not based on skill.
The other problem I noticed is that quite a few areas are segmented with battles. Sometimes, youíll wander to an area and your progress will be blocked by some form of gates until you beat some enemies. Youíll then move forward after beating those enemies and have the same thing happen again a few rooms later, with boss battles thrown in here and there. The boss battles also feature some QTEs to take on as well.
It could be argued that fights are needed to help level your character up, who changes throughout the game. However, the leveling just unlocks new moves, which normally arenít needed besides just pounding away with the Combat Cross. It seems like another opportunity was missed here with the leveling system.
Each character also gets various sub-weapons to use, like the axe or stopwatch, but I often found it easier just to hammer away at enemies with the main weapon, pausing now and then to do a QTE execution.
Another disappointment compared to past titles is the lack of exploration of the castle. Unlike previous titles where great weapons or armor could be found, backtracking to get to a previously blocked place gives beast cards to view or upgrades to health and magic, which, while handy, isnít needed. Also, the game doesnít feature near as many quick travel chambers as previous entries, really making you question if the backtracking is worth it.
Also gone from previous entries is the difficulty level. MoF almost questions if youíve ever played a game before, giving you tutorials on stuff throughout the game even when youíve done the moves before. Checkpoints are also abundant, even giving them to you in the middle of a boss battle.
However, this isnít to say the game is a bad game. When played without comparison to past titles, it would be a good action title for the handheld. However, because it has the Castlevania moniker raises it to a different level to be compared to.
Outside of the complaints listed above, the game offers some solid controls as you platform around and some interesting skill uses, such as the shield that can block any damage received at the cost of magic, as well as letting you walk through poisoned water.
The game is also one of the most technically impressive games on the 3DS as far as graphics go. Both in 2D and 3D, the game looks great and really makes the 3D mechanics actually seem worthwhile. Just as impressive as walking through the castle are seeing the cutscenes that are sprinkled throughout the game. They feature a cel-shaded look that actually may have been great to have throughout the entire game, not just the cutscenes.
Another strong point the game features is the sound. The music is solid, and the voice acting in the game is great as well, even if the Belmonts sound like theyíre from another part of Europe entirely.
Platforming is solid.
Graphics look great in 2D and 3D.
Sound is well done.
Fairly linear for a Castlevania game.
Combat got repetitive quickly.
The fun of past 2D titles in the series isnít captured.
As I stated above, itís not that Mirror of Fate is a bad game. In fact, by itself, it's a good title. However, compared to past 2D Castlevania titles, itís just average. 3DS owners may want to check it out to see how good games can look on the handheld, while Castlevania fans may just want to see the continuation of the last entry to the next game. However, Castlevania fans that are looking for the next great 2D entry may want to go back to a previous title instead.
The 3D graphics really show off what the system can do, and even without the 3D it looks great.
Parts of the game are good, but key Castlevania parts like exploration and combat are sorely lacking.
The music and voice acting are solid, but some characters just seem a bit off compared to their origin.
After you beat the game and see how the first and second Lords of Shadow are tied together, I really havenít seen much of a reason to revisit this castle. However, the game will take a bit to go through.
Some parts of the game I really enjoyed. However, other parts dragged down the overall Castlevania experience.