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Castlevania: Mirror of Fate doesn’t suck (blood)

Tuesday, 5th March 2013 08:40 GMT By Dave Cook

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate reviews have begun. VG247′s Dave Cook discusses why it’s another solid entry to the hand-held series.

Castlevania: Mirror of Fate

Castlevania: Mirror of Fate is set 25 years after Lords of Shadow, Mercury Steam’s series reboot.

The plot follows Simon Belmont, Alucard and Trevor Belmont as they attempt to slay Gabriel, who has since descended into darkness as Dracula.

There are two endings. The true ending is achieved by earning 100% completion and sets up the events of Lords of Shadow 2, out later this year.

You can check out a big batch of Mirror of Fate gameplay and cinematic trailers here. They show Simon, Trevor and Alucard in action.

Mercury Steam is a brave studio. Not only did it succeed in rebooting one of the most championed franchises in videogame history, it did so with style. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow may have stumbled at a few points, but it was considered by many to be a great success. The developer hasn’t stopped there.

Each of Konami’s ‘Metroidvania’ titles has received immense critical praise, so there was real pressure on Mercury Steam to deliver something that lived up to that legacy. Mirror of Fate is the end result, and while it falls short of being the best handheld Castlevania to date, it can be considered a solid entry to the series.

I went hands on with Mirror of Fate’s first three hours a few weeks ago, and I explained why it felt like a proper Castlevania experience. My opinion hasn’t changed much after completing the full game as it still feels faithful to the brand. But my enthusiasm has dipped slightly.

It’s a technical marvel, squeezing a lot of juice out of the 3DS to create intricate settings and some of the best 3D effects I’ve seen on Nintendo’s system to date. The 2.5D perspective works wonderfully as hazards fly into your face and the camera switches to third-person for added impact. The visual trickery on show is impressive.

Beneath the gloss you still have all the typical Castlevania staples. There’s a neat whip-based battle mechanic full of light and heavy whip combos, parries and dodge rolls. At moments it almost feels like God of War in its execution, thanks to QTEs, executions and a similar take on platforming.

You can also throw projectiles into the mix, including series staples such as the axe, hourglass and exploding bottle. Each character also has two magical abilities, such as Alucard’s stronger wolf form, or a pair of offensive and defensive spirits that follow Simon around.

Most interesting is Trevor’s light and dark magic, which is similar to Dante’s angel and demon forms in DmC: Devil May Cry. It’s simple really – if you see a blue enemy, you need to use dark magic to hurt it, and if they’re red, you need to use light magic. Its an interesting idea, but it’s never fleshed out enough, like most of the game’s progressive elements.

The best example comes near the end of the game where one of the characters unlocks new boots that give him the ability to sprint and jump over wide gaps. You only use these to cross two gaps and then the game is finished. Similarly, Trevor’s light and dark magic is only mandatory in one puzzle, and during a boss fight. The narrative is part of the problem.

Mirror of Fate’s plot is broken down into three chapters, one for each character. While your experience and whip combos carry across all characters, their gear and magic don’t, meaning you lose them once the story progresses.

For example, once you’ve completed Simon’s act you can’t play as him again, meaning you lose his spirits, axe and bottle weapons. It really feels like each character only just gets going with a full repertoire of abilities when there’s little left to do with them. Before you know it, their segment is over.

These abilities can also be used to open blocked pathways, similar to previous ‘Metroidvania’ games, but you can never explore the entire world at once, as each of the three characters are cordoned off to their own area of the castle. Compared to the almost open-world nature of say, Symphony of the Night, this feels slightly stunted.

Although I genuinely feel that more could have been done in giving these mechanics and the world more depth, the content on offer remains thoroughly enjoyable. The action is superb and the boss fights will really test gamers with their complex attack patterns and punishing blows.

Alucard’s section in particular is a real trial, as the difficulty seemed to spike horribly. There’s also one particular boss that had me in a pretty foul mood by the 15th time he killed me, but in a world where games like Assassin’s Creed 3 coddle you silly, I welcomed the challenge.

Special mention must go to Óscar Araujo’s harrowing soundtrack. I usually find it trivial to mention game music unless it really does add to the experience, but as all staunch Castlevania fans know, the series is home to some stunning arrangements. Mirror of Fate is no different.

While I’ve dropped a few negative points in this article, Castlevania fans shouldn’t think twice about picking up Mirror of Fate. If you’re one of those 3DS fans waiting for something good to play, then this should be viewed as essential playing. Everyone else can decide for themselves.

It’s simply one of the best games on the format, even if it does fall short of other Castlevania games out there. Mercury Steam has proven that it has the chops to make something brilliant out of a console openly ridiculed for its lack of horsepower. The studios’ growing proficiency bodes well for Lords of Shadow 2 later this year.

Disclosure: To assist in writing this article, Nintendo issued Dave with a download code for Castlevania: Mirror of Fate. It was so big he was forced to delete Paper Mario: Sticker Star from his SD card. He’s currently in mourning.

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20 Comments

  1. Lengendaryboss

    I feel for some reason this game isn’t going to sell well considering the fact the 3DS is more of a causal portable than a hardcore portable and it isn’t ruling outside its hometurf. Great Read Dave i hope you get better over Paper Mario :)

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 Thanks for reading mate :) I’ll try to get over it ;)

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Greek God

    I also predict weak sales for MiF because a lot of Fans are turned off by it because its no “Igavania”
    I love the Igavania games but i also enjoyed LoS a lot so ill be getting this one too but ill wait for a price drop first.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 yeah it’s not perfect, as I said above, but it still gets a lot of things right. It felt short to me though, despite being around 8 hours. Symphony of the Night was huge by comparison.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Greek God

    Yeah i play currently Symphony of the Night on my Vita and its my first time playing that game too :D Im past Death now and kinda lost, the castle is huge lol.
    I really like it though a ton of stuff to collect/find.
    Good Bosses,music ect.

    I wish MiF had atleast a level up system with attributes but oh well :/

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Gheritt White

    INSTA-GET! Can’t bloody wait!!!

    #6 2 years ago
  7. SameeR_Fisher

    Great read Dave, one point in your comments though, the game is 8hrs ?!, damn, Dave Cox said it will be 15hrs at least or something.

    well I hope CLOS.2 is as long or even longer than CLOS.1, the length is really one of the reasons why I loved CLOS.1, though Cox also said they are going for a tighter experience, so it may end up being shorter than CLOS.1 which is a bad thing in my book, damn I am getting nervous.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @7 Yeah I burned trough it at 84% completion in two nights. I was a bit disappointed.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Bashtee

    I actually enjoy reading here. Unlike Kotaku. Also, 8 hours is really fast for a portable game :/

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @9 Compared to how long I played Symphony of the Night and Dawn of Sorrow for. I seriously put about 30-40 hours into Dawn of Sorrow to get the full completion stat. it takes a very long time.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. SameeR_Fisher

    well I really REALLY hope CLOS.2 is way longer than 15hrs.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Gnosis

    Wow, 8 hours is really short. I was a bit disappointed by Crisis Core and the 12 hours it took to complete it, but 8? No, not for 45€.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. daveonline

    Wanna see something really screwed up with IGN?

    IGN Spain 9.0
    http://es.ign.com/review/5950/analisis-castlevania-lords-of-shadow-mirror-of-fate-3DS-konami/2

    IGN Germany 8.0
    http://de.ign.com/review/18051/test-zu-castlevania-lords-of-shadow-mirror-of-fate

    Why are the scores from the same site but different regions MASSIVELY different?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Clupula

    I’ll pick it up if it ever comes out on console.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. DorianRey

    DAVE sorry but you can put your C.O.C.K in your LIER Mouth, the game is NOT 8 hours, Is 20 hours atleast and is a very good game whit awasome 3D efects, Action, good music and stuff very enjoyable, and they make good work on this game, i play Lord of Shadow for the play 3 and is like God of War… So i Stop playing it for that reason… But this is not like that game, the true is a Damn Good Game, so dont miss out ;), and i hope they realease Mirror of fate 2 because i will be wait for !

    #15 1 year ago
  16. Lengendaryboss

    @15 So much for politeness.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. zinc

    ^ You figured he was being impolite? I honestly had trouble understanding that? Seeing as how a *lier* is someone who waits in ambush, or is a place in Belgium…

    And god knows what C.O.C.K. Is a acronym for…?

    Cheery Opinion Choosing Kinship?

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Dave Cook

    @15 I finished it in two nights. Don’t ever call me a liar again please.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Lengendaryboss

    @17 I am not sure if your being serious or a smart-ass. We know what he meant by “C.O.C.K.” and we know he meant liar instead of “lier”. This is the internet where english and grammar clearly don’t matter.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. zinc

    Well so much for trying a bit of grammar Nazi comedy :-/

    #20 1 year ago

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