Review

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD Review

  • Game release: March 5, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

I am your father.

The second chapter in the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow saga, the 3DS's Mirror of Fate, brought the series closer to its roots than it has been in years. Side-scrolling action made a comeback, with a small amount of Symphony of the Night-style exploration in tow, but it also maintained the combo-driven combat established in the first Lords of Shadow game. The combination of the best elements from different corners of the series worked well, and the reimagining of the connection between the Belmont family of vampire hunters and Dracula provided an interesting if somewhat predictable twist. Unfortunately, a small number of design choices got in the way of the good stuff, but in porting Mirror of Fate to consoles, Konami had a chance to finally fix those failings. Mirror of Fate goes further than the expected visual upgrades, making small improvements that lead to a much more enjoyable experience.

The story in Mirror of Fate picks up after the conclusion of the first Lords of Shadow and follows the paths of three characters: Simon Belmont, his father Trevor Belmont, and Alucard. Each of their stories is told separately, but these threads weave together by the end of the game. Unfortunately, due to the heavy hints laid out in the beginning, the intended element of surprise ultimately falls flat.

Plot aside, Mirror of Fate is a straightforward affair with few innovative constructs, but what is there feels tight. With your map and its handy objective icon, you navigate the halls of Dracula's castle, fending off zombies, seething, skull-headed rat-dogs, and undead knights, with an occasional challenging boss fight along the way. It isn't tricky to maneuver through the castle, but a plethora of platforming sections keep things interesting. The character's whip-like Combat Cross let's them grapple and swing from chandeliers and broken bits of castle, then flow into hand-over-hand climbing sections where you have to leap over chasms before pulling yourself up to solid ground. The orchestration of these sections present a reasonable challenge, but more importantly, you feel like you're exploring the depths and heights of Dracula's castle, rather than sticking to plain paths laid by hallways and staircases.

The three-character setup is an interesting method for storytelling, but it also allows for a bit of variety in play styles. That's not to say the Belmonts and Alucard are wildly different from one another, but each comes with a slightly different repertoire of movement and attack abilities. Regardless of the character in question, the game's combat system makes it easy to string together a series of direct and area attacks, well-timed blocks that can stun enemies, and evasive maneuvers. Thanks to the tight, responsive controls, it's easy to mash your way to victory, but every encounter provides opportunities to demonstrate mastery over the nuanced timing and complex commands.

None of this has changed for the Mirror of Fate HD update, where the most obvious changes are in the visuals. It's not immediately apparent which textures or models are old, but what's here shines on a larger, clearer display. Mercury Steam's beautifully twisted gothic designs for Mirror of Fate finally get the presentation they deserve, and though the in-game models appear rough around the edges compared to console-native games, Mirror of Fate HD's presentation is surprisingly strong.

What is a man but a happy pile of secrets? Wait, is that right?

Interestingly, the graphical boost isn't the only difference between versions of Mirror of Fate. Least of all, the controls have been loosened a bit, allowing you to use the D-pad to control your character. Beyond this, the most important change is the removal of the vast majority of quick-time events. When I reviewed Mirror of Fate the first time around, I lamented the fact that the game constantly shoved in quick-time events. Want to open a treasure chest? Get ready to tap the A button a dozen times. Ready to deal the final blow to a difficult boss? Prepare for a series of button presses that can't be missed. In both scenarios, you've proven your abilities and shouldn't be subjected to laborious inputs for the mere sake of it. In most instances, quick-time events have been removed from Mirror of Fate HD in favor of allowing the action or cutscene to progress without further input.

These are small changes, but the latter has far-reaching implications on the game at large. I no longer view Mirror of Fate as a good Castlevania game plagued by annoying design issues. Now, in the case of the HD port, the positives rise to the surface rather than the negatives, and Mirror of Fate finally feels like a great addition to the series. It has the most intriguing story in any Castlevania game to date, even if it is a bit predictable, and the emphasis on combat above exploration is a fair trade, primarily because the combo system is so fluid and sports a good amount of depth. Mirror of Fate on the 3DS may not have been the side-scrolling, vampire-hunting adventure that we all hoped it would be, but with its heightened presentation and revamped mechanics, Mirror of Fate HD is a big step in the right direction.

The Good
Classic 2D gameplay and combo-heavy combat work well together
Stages are attractive and offer a variety of challenges to overcome
The plot bravely defies the series' history
The Bad
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
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About the Author

Peter's a glutton for Castlevania games and despiser of superfluous quick-time events. After completing the 3DS version, he played eight hours of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD on the Xbox 360 for this review.

Discussion

31 comments
HinoRei
HinoRei

Just to mention... I was possessed by curiosity and played the Japanese version of Symphony of the Night to see if that famous line in the prologue was what Dracula said "originally" in Japanese. Answer: Well, no. Does it matter? Well, no... but it was amusing to find out. The famous English line is good on its own after all. 

etryus
etryus

This game in pretty awesome, haven't felt that in a long long time. A gift from Konami for Castlevania old & new school players.

Krusher26
Krusher26

I just finished this game on the Xbox 360 and watched the final 2 cinematic scenes.  All I can say is that my mind was just blown in a way that a video game has never done before....and I have beaten over 150 games.  Dang... 

VintAge68
VintAge68

Played the demo on the PS3 and liked it so I might be getting the full version, too; but above all I'm looking forward to LoS 2 next year }:€

Deingerous
Deingerous

Yep defo purchase for me :) can't wait for LOS 2

juiceair
juiceair

I guess Hell froze over.  Gamespot finally reviewed a game and had nothing bad to say for once.

Vodoo
Vodoo

The review neglected to mention that if you buy this game, you get a Lords of Shadow 2 demo. To me this is great news because I REALLY liked Lords of Shadow. I thought it was very well done. 

I see many of you Castlevania aficionados didn't like LoS. I'M guessing that it wasn't a good "Castlevania" game. But even if it didn't fit in the universe correctly, it was a good game on its own merit. I'm looking forward to LoS 2 and can't wait to check out the demo. 

OneStrong2
OneStrong2

The combat looks fun and engaging, but the graphics look severely dated. Is this a port?

SillySkeleton
SillySkeleton

I was surprised to see this for $25 on my PS store. I haven't seen the 3DS version for anything less than $40 since its release. Nintendo is completely whack with its game pricing. I'll gladly pick up this superior version for cheaper on console.

SecularSage
SecularSage

My question is, "how will someone who hated Lords of Shadow" enjoy this game?

Because I really, really disliked that one's take on Castlevania. It was grafted into the continuity much in the way DmC has been grafted into that series's continuity, and in both cases, the reboot isn't nearly as good as the originals.

Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night are the bookends to the two great styles of the series; everything else (64, Legacy of Darkness, Lament of Innocence, Curse of Darkness, Judgment) has been a mediocre or outright terrible experiment with 3D. Some might argue that Simon's Quest / Order of Ecclesia mark the third great style; I can go along with that, though I think Simon's Quest is a hard game to love or Order of Ecclesia was more of a Castlevania-themed sidestory than a core game.

Mirror of Fate looked like garbage to me on the 3DS. Is it going to be a game I'll love or hate if I can't stand LoS?

SHERVIN999
SHERVIN999

why they don't Port this game for Vita ?

zyxahn
zyxahn

OK now give us a 3DS remake of Symphony of the Night.  Or even Circle of the Moon( I think that's what it was called, the first on that came out on the release of the GBA, would work too.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

gamespot is done with games that's why. They're really big on magazine style layouts over a scrolling screen. 8/10  +decent layout choices, + colorful presentation, +information is written in an entertaining fashion. - particularly ugly people, - distinct lack of direction

Thegamer16
Thegamer16

Inb44, why wasn't this game given a 10!!??! 

There is nothing in the minus section!!?? 

WTF!!!

:)

MateykoSlam
MateykoSlam

Inb4 the "NOTHING IN THE BAD SECTION? THEN ITS A 10" comments

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

@Vodoo the demo is awesome, i had so much fun with it. i never played the first LoS, but I immediately went to ebay and bought a copy after playing the demo!

Whakamole5
Whakamole5

@SecularSage Agree 100%. I think I love you. I'm a huge fan of the series but I've really hated most if not all of the 3D attempts. It's not that I don't think it can't be done, I just have yet to see one that captures the tone of the originals. 

So the question still stands, would someone who hated LoS enjoy this?

mrcrazygenio
mrcrazygenio

@SecularSageNo you will never enjoy this game, if you loved the metroidvania series more that the classic solid action then no dont buy this game, and the 3ds does not look like garbage, maybe 3ds games looks awful in yutube, but in 3ds screen looks great because 3ds screen can handle 480p resolution correctly, so for me i only see a better bloom and textures but i prefer the 3ds version because it has a oustanding 3d effect

AK_the_Twilight
AK_the_Twilight

@zyxahn Symphony of the Night, Circle of the Moon or Aria of Sorrow remake. Instant awesome.

GameYakuza
GameYakuza

@Iranazi @inso-maniac jerks who think it's funny to imply the game is ugly, without realizing the ps2 comparison is actually high praise

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate More Info

  • First Released
    • 3DS
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Initially set 25 years after the events of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate will reveal the story of Gabriel's descendants, as they battle their own destiny in each era only to discover their true, shocking fate.
    7.3
    Average User RatingOut of 198 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate
    Developed by:
    Mercury Steam
    Published by:
    Konami, Konami Mobile & Online, Inc.
    Genres:
    Adventure, Action, 3D, Open-World
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence