Game Review: Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Fate
Finally, we have a MetroidVania-style game for the 3DS. Even though I would have anticipated Nintendo releasing a new installment of their own franchise first, we instead get a sequel to MercurySteam’s 2010 console title, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Unfortunately, while that game proved pretty enjoyable, this 3DS followup provides nothing but aggravation and disappointment.
Lords of Shadow is not the same Castlevania that most of us grew up with. It’s a reboot of the series that twists the story of the Belmont clan in some interesting ways, and Mirror of Fate casts the player as three members of the Belmont family: Simon, Trevor, and the half-spawn Alucard. It has an interesting story told in beautiful cutscenes – but that is the only thing that kept me playing through to the end.
Much of the frustration derives from the multiple character set-up. You are given one character to play as, move through the castle, obtain new weapons and abilities; then the chapter ends and you begin as a new character to repeat the same process over again. Do that three times over, and fill it with combat that becomes repetitive after the first few hours, and what you’re left with is a joyless mess of a game.
Each character has basic attacks that are very much the same. They do have unlockable magic abilities that help them stand out from the others, but you are simply not given enough time with them, and it’s almost a sense of loss when they go away. All three characters have a combat cross that acts as a whip with your normal and heavy attacks. They feel weighty and deal a great amount of enemy damage, and it’s what you will be using most of your time.
Secondary attacks are good to use against smaller foes but are almost useless against bigger enemies and bosses, so if you insist on playing this stick with the combat cross as it’s the best weapon in the game. Criminally, boss encounters are boring, come completely out of nowhere with no back-story whatsoever, and are generally easy due to the game’s forgiving checkpoint system.
On the graphics front, Mirror of Fate has some gorgeous backdrops which shine with the 3D turned on. This is the best that the castle has ever looked in a side-scrolling Castlevania game: light and shadow play well together in the environment, and at times there are some interesting things that happen in the background. Sadly, while characters and enemies look nice when the camera is pulled out, when it pans back in during quick-time events the character models look very polygonal – like they’ve been warped in from the N64 era.
There are three things I enjoyed while playing Mirror of Fate: how good it looked on a handheld, the music (which is your standard Castlevania fare), and the in-game collectibles. Hidden around the environments are small piles of bones that each have a scroll attached to them. They are all cleverly written – usually offering gameplay tips – and they vary from sad to occasionally very funny (pay close attention when Alucard is moving through what looks like sewage pipes).
However, these fine points can’t make up for the colossal disappointment this game turns out to be. Going in I wanted to like Mirror of Fate, but the further I got the more my aggravation built, all the way to the game’s dismal finale.
There is one question I would ask MercurySteam, and that is: why the hell does a vampire have the ability to turn into a wolf? It’s about as bad as making an emo-vampire sparkle in the sun. If you really want to play Castlevania on your 3DS, then play the classic DS games of yesteryear and not this garbage.
FMV Rating: *1/2