Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate was originally a 3DS title but has since been released for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (7 months after launch), and since I’m talking about it, Steam (1 year after launch). It’s a middle title that fits between Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and the sequel Lords of Shadows 2.
There’s a lot of different Castlevanias out there, and unfortunately, Mirror of Fate is going to be compared to many of them, especially considering what the story involves. Any game in a franchise that has been around since the days of the NES will have a long lineage to live up to.
Of course, Mirror of Fate doesn’t do itself any favors. There are three playable characters, and they’re only the most famous characters in the franchise. Simon Belmont, from the original game, Trevor Belmont, from Castlevania 3, and Alucard, from the amazing Symphony of the Night.
As a series, Castlevania has had many forms. While the original games were 2D level base games, the series was one of the first to open up the castle, which is why the term Metroidvania had appeared. The latest Lords of the Shadow returned to a simple 3D level-based game. On handhelds Metroidvanias were popular, but any genre could be a Castlevania.
And I’m still not 100 percent which genre Mirror of Fate was aiming for. The developers say it’s not a Metroidvania and I agree. But it still has the player exploring a map, but it is a very linear adventure game in my opinion even with a larger map.
The problem is it seems like Mirror of Fate doesn’t know what it wants to be, and along with including such famous characters, this lack of direction feels like Mirror of Fate never was a fully formed idea and grasped for any identity.
The story in Mirror of Fate similarly feels like an afterthought, in cutscenes your main character talks to an unspeakable form, then reacts but most of the conversations here are one-sided or short. Again, we have three of the most famous vampire hunters in this franchise, the most important people, but nothing of value is said. No exploration of the character, just comments such as “Show me what I’m seeking”.
A couple of these characters do cross over and meet, but the biggest problem is the story appears so infrequently and so poorly that I struggled to even remember what my character was doing other than “trying to fight Dracula”.
I’m not using an unfair standard here. If Mirror of Fate discarded the story, I wouldn’t fault Mirror of Fate for no story, however by putting in cutscenes that are so poorly done and uninteresting, the player is going to watch them. I think they’re bad enough that I would actually recommend skipping the cutscenes as no story is better here. The game guides you in the right direction so there’s not a need for the story to tell you where to go. The story’s purpose is to tell you why you’re going there and does such a bad job of it that no reason is better.
Mirror of Fate’s biggest problem is that the combat in Mirror of Fate feels uninspired. This is basically set up like a hack and slash. Players can attack and tear through enemies. While enemies might block and throw attacks, players can easily move out of the way of attacks or block. There are special items, such as a rather weak looking ax or a holy water bottle “because it’s Castlevania.” but ultimately players can just focus on the jump, block/dodge button, and the two attack buttons and just spam some amount of each to get through most encounters. Even the bosses only require the player to learn their attacks before quickly beating them.
When players get to the end of Simon Belmont’s story and are given control of Alucard, the real horror strikes. Alucard handles and plays almost the same as Simon Belmont. He even uses a similar whip and has the same abilities to climb walls that Simon earned while having no story reason to have the same gear, at least not explained at this point. He does get different special items, but these are not major changes to the gameplay.
I gave this game 5 hours, I even fully explored Simon’s areas to find every item, but when the game switched to Alucard, I was done. I’ll be honest, I lasted twice as long as I would have. I wanted to believe that Mirror of Fate had some redeeming quality to it, but after playing a bunch of this game, I just can’t go on.
I’ve tried to stop pushing myself to finish games I know I’m not going to enjoy and Mirror of Fate has finally proven to me that I won’t enjoy the experience.
I originally blamed Mirror of Fate’s failure on being a 3DS game that was intended for smaller play sessions, and players on the go, but I’ve heard that the developers started with the HD version of Mirror of Fate, the one made available on console and PC, and then had to bring it to the 3DS. That floors me.
I don’t understand what Mirror of Fate was trying to be, but I also wonder if the studio who made Mirror of Fate actually knows themselves. It feels like they took a great franchise and tried to create a story with some of the most famous characters in the series and ultimately turned in what feels like a fan game.
The only good part of Mirror of Fate is that it helped me come to terms with Konami no longer making video games. I don’t want another Castelvania after this.
I give Mirror of Fate an arbitrary
This is just frighteningly bad for such a famous series.
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