Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror Of Fate Hands-On Impressions

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was a difficult title to make a decision on for a lot of people. It carried the famous name older than so many other franchises out there, but carried none of the same traditional Castlevania gameplay with it. Although there was occasional puzzle solving, there was no exploration. Although there were fantastical creatures, there was a more action-focused combat system instead of the traditional style. Although there were familiar characters and themes, and Dracula himself did exist in the game (technically,) there were just as many new elements.

But it was awesome. And we’re getting more.

In addition to a new, true console sequel in the form of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, we’re also getting a portable title, in Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate.

I admit, I was one of the skeptics when I heard they were releasing two separate, new Lords of Shadow games. Even more so when I learned the freakin’ long title of the 3DS game. And although none of us can speak for how the console sequel will be, the portable game is shaping up to be fantastic, and a great fix for those who wanted a new 2D Castlevania game.

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a real, 2D Castlevania game. Aside from Harmony of Despair (which doesn’t count, seriously,) it’s been since the excellent Order of Ecclesia on the DS in 2008.

Mirror of Fate borrows elements from both “styles” of Castlevania games. The game is on a 2D plane, but rendered in full 3D. There’s a true map similar to the older games, which means plenty of backtracking and exploring new areas of the castle, but the combat is still fast paced and features perks from the more recent games, like activating dark magic in order to do more damage to enemies for a limited time, and mixing light and heavy attacks in order to form combos. Same thing for the light quick-time events involved in boss fights.

Also returning from the more recent games are the enhanced platforming techniques. Swinging from hanging points using your whip, climbing up walls and hookshotting ledges are all things borrowed from the recent games.

Oh, and the soundtrack was fantastic. I’m pretty sure I heard an updated version of Bloody Tears. Definitely a Castlevania staple.

The demo, sadly, was quite short, and didn’t offer a lot of insight in terms of what characters will show up, what time period the game takes place in or anything. Although, it was just enough to whet the appetite of those old-school gamers who want just a bit of the modern times.

It certainly looks like Konami and MercurySteam are bringing in the best of both worlds, and I cannot wait to see more in the future.