Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate was released earlier in the year on the Nintendo 3DS and was generally well received. Now this little nugget has been re-imaged in HD for home consoles, and I must admit, the final product is much better than I anticipated.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate takes place in between the events of the original Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and the upcoming sequel Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. Unlike the first Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate HD returns to its Castlevanian heritage adopting that familiar side-scrolling action game play the series has grown famous for.
Platform: Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network (Reviewed)
Release: (XBL) October 25th 2013, (PSN) October 29th 2013
Fortunately for newcomers to the long lineage of Castlevania titles, Mirror of Fate HD isn’t nearly as unforgiving as the punishingly difficult Castlevania III and Super Castlevania IV. It serves as a perfect title to get acquainted with the series’ protagonists and their vampiric plight.
Mirror of Fate HD starts out a little cliché as Gabriel bids farewell to his wife, before venturing into the domain of demonic beings, waging a war against the creatures that stalk the night. Players learn the basic attacks, moves and counter manoeuvres before Gabriel is overwhelmed by the evil he initially set out to destroy.
Fast-forward to the future where we now take control of Gabriel’s grandson, Simon Belmont. After witnessing the murder of his mother at the hands of Dracula’s army of darkness, it’s now up to Simon to finish off what his ancestors started.
Mirror of Fate HD won’t please Castlevania purists as it is technically presented in 2.5D view, rather than the traditional 2D scrolling of fan-favourites like Symphony of the Night. I enjoyed MercurySteam use of a slightly skewed perspective, particularly given how visually gorgeous the graphics are for a downloadable title.
Part of this can be attributed to developers MercurySteam designing the original Mirror of Fate in high quality and down-scaling it for the 3DS so you could say that Mirror of Fate HD is how the game was suppose to have looked all along.
Capturing the atmosphere and sinister feel is an accompanying soundtrack that suitably ties everything together nicely. The switch to the big screen puts the orchestral score on to a grand scale that simply works. Cut scenes are all voice-acted with sound effects layered on top, creating an illusion of a mysterious world shrouded in darkness.
Retaining the play style of past Castlevania titles, you’ll be forging paths, uncovering new abilities and backtracking your way on to the right direction in the process. It’s a much more linear experience compared with the complexity of some past map designs but still enjoyable due to how well the game controls, in particular the climbing aspect.
You’ll be in the vampire hunting shoes of Simon, Alucard and Trevor throughout the 10-odd hour expedition and despite their personalities and back-story, all three play remarkably the same, with the exception of a few varying moves. It would have been nice to have more variety in game play, but at least their differing perspectives offer some insight into the events as they play out.
Battling against the classics of titles long past, Mirror of Fate HD has an almost impossible bar to achieve and despite how well put together the game is, it just falls short when compared with the franchise precursor titles. Easing the difficulty is a double-edge sword as it garners new fans that would have struggled with the steep difficulty level, but also removes the challenge or overwhelming satisfaction of finally overcoming a stage, or discovering the path you were meant to take all along. For an added challenge, there is a Boss Rush and New Game Plus mode available, adding longevity and value for money.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD is worth taking a look at as it is a fairly polished and well produced entry to the series. Lords of Shadow helped to re-invigorate Castlevania and perhaps Mirror of Fate HD isn’t going to define the genre, but it does present a new vision and makes a welcome inclusion to the long-running lore.
8.0 – Great. An enjoyable experience, fans and newcomers of the genre will be entertained. Any noticeable flaws are largely outweighed by the positives.