Review: ‘Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate’
Does this Castlevania ‘Mirror’ the greats, or is it a mere ‘Shadow’ of its former self?on April 4, 2013 at 8:00 am
When this newest entry in the “Castlevania” series was announced, I was a little confused. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Was this an attempt to capture the 8 and 16-bit magic from older titles in the series or was it another “Metroidvania”? Considering that it was 2D, I figured it just HAD to be one of those two. Turns out, to find the answer, all I needed to do was look to its title.
Taking place years after “Lords of Shadow”, “Mirror of Fate” has you playing as three different protagonists and their attempts to stop Gabriel Belmont after he embraced the darkness and became Dracula. You play as his son, Trevor, his grandson, Simon, and also Alucard as they all make their attempts at taking down the Dark Lord himself.
There is a story, and it’s actually not bad, but there isn’t MUCH of a story, so I’ll refrain from going any deeper into it because some of the choices MercurySteam has made with their reimagining of the franchise are actually pretty interesting. Though, the whole “Mirror of Fate” aspect isn’t really necessary and doesn’t add anything to the tale.
Getting to the more important stuff, let me talk about the gameplay.
See, going into this game, I was expecting one of those two classic “Castlevania” formulas that I mentioned before. It is neither of those. In fact, this is actually a 2D version of “Lords of Shadow”. At first, I thought, “Why did they feel it was necessary to give us a 2D version of this?” After all, I found “Lords of Shadow” to be serviceable and to have a few really killer moments, but the action felt shallow and other parts of the game were merely copied from more famous games in the genre. After playing it, I can say the combat system introduced in “Lords of Shadow” actually works better in 2D and has been slightly refined in this entry.
My biggest issue with “Lords of Shadow” was that learning new attacks never really seemed to matter and enemies never got stunned by your hits. This is fixed in “Mirror of Fate”. Late-game combos can be especially devastating and enemies will actually enter into a stunned state when hit. However, when I say late-game combos, I mean late. The early combos you get don’t make much of a difference. You’ll find yourself spamming the same basic combos over and over for most of the game.
“Oh, but don’t you play as different characters?”
Yup, sure do, but don’t get your hopes up thinking they fighting differently, because they don’t. They all use a whip and they all have the exact same attacks. They even share levels. As you finish one act, you roll right into the next at the exact same level with the exact same moves. Though, the characters do differ in some ways.
Sub-weapons are still prevalent in this game, but each character only has access to two, and they are different from each other. Simon gets the iconic axe and holy water and Alucard gets control of bats and the stopwatch. Trevor gets less familiar items in the form of a boomerang and an… electric bomb.
The most interesting items are the ones that help your explore the environment and gain access to new areas. Simon gets aid in the form of helpful spirits he can summon, Trevor controls the powers of light and dark, and Alucard, of course, can shapeshift.
These new things used in exploration actually become the most interesting part of the game. They’re used in relatively interesting ways and going back to find areas can be fun… except, most of the time, it isn’t.