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Review

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate Review

  • First Released Mar 5, 2013
    released
  • Reviewed Mar 5, 2013
  • 3DS

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate is riddled with minor flaws, but it stays aloft thanks to its enjoyable mix of combat and platforming.

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate stirs up conflicting emotions. On the one hand, it's a good action game that draws you into the depths of Dracula's castle with its beautifully tormented gothic design. Equally pleasing are the flexible and responsive controls that bring the exciting combat system to life. Apart from these highlights, however, Mirror of Fate struggles with a handful of issues. Prevalent quick-time events, and the often mundane situations that call for them, often feel unwarranted. The story, despite its good points, concludes with a twist that can be seen coming from a mile away. At the end of the day, demon slaying and clever platforming are the biggest reasons to stick until the lukewarm conclusion. Thankfully, the tight and entertaining gameplay prevents the experience from slipping into mediocrity.

You play as three different characters as you fight your way through hordes of enemies in search of Dracula. The prologue recaps a part of Gabriel Belmont's story from the original Lords of Shadow, and then you set out as his grandson, the crimson-clad Simon Belmont. Once Simon arrives at Dracula's throne, the game switches perspectives, putting you in the shoes of the mysterious Alucard, and eventually Trevor Belmont, Simon's father. The start of each act cascades back in time, leading up to the events of the act before it.

Despite its predictability, the story puts an interesting twist on the tale of the fabled Belmont clan. Traditionally, generations of Belmonts have faced off against Dracula in a never-ending battle to save humanity, with very little character development along the way. Mirror of Fate boldly reverses this trend, completely rewriting the Belmonts' history in the process. The notion of telling the story in reverse is as promising as it is unorthodox, but it needs to be handled delicately to work. By revealing big clues early in the game, Mirror of Fate fails to do so. Granted, the details of the plot are interesting, connecting characters in unprecedented ways that upset pre-Lords of Shadow lore, but these surprises, intended for the end of the game, are apparent too early into your adventure.

Every character possesses different skills and secondary items, but they all wield a whip of sorts. With their trusty lashes, they can conquer pretty much anything. Secondary items and magic are somewhat underutilized, and you're only forced to use them on rare occasions. Your primary weapon is often the most effective tool in battle, and like any good battle system, some attacks are better than others for a particular enemy-type. Discovering the right formula for a quick, painless kill is challenging, but the reward of impressive displays of might and speed are worth the time it takes to get it right.

Some funhouse this turned out to be.
Some funhouse this turned out to be.

Your weapon is quite useful outside of combat, too, aiding your progress into the castle depths. When grappling across chasms, or rappelling down walls, you need a keen sense of spatial awareness and timing to keep your footing and health in check. Fending off monsters while navigating precarious platforms builds tension, and they are the best moments Mirror of Fate has to offer, but since time is the only element at risk due to an overabundance of checkpoints and a generous revival scheme, the game lacks the invigorating urgency that the threat of death can deliver.

When you aren't confronted with throngs of enemies or tricky platforming sections, you might struggle with some of the environmental puzzles strewn throughout the castle. While it may seem like arranging mirrors to direct a laser around a series of twists and turns isn't the most logical way of powering on a contraption from the middle-ages, it's a mildly challenging diversion and a welcome change of pace. The few puzzles in the game are generally well designed, but they primarily task you with finding the appropriate arrangement for a series of objects. They're enjoyable, if fairly simple in their execution.

Throughout the course of each chapter, you spend a good amount of time developing your character's skill set and learning the particulars of each attack. Developing your grasp of combat mechanics is a fulfilling journey, but the prevalence of quick-time events repeatedly deflates the value of this progress. This is most obvious during boss fights, which demand precision and quick reflexes. The problem is that every boss battle concludes with a multipart quick-time event, and failing to hit the right timing simply resets the cinematic to the last successful input. Performing complex finishing moves with one or two well-timed button presses feels like a cop-out after mastering the tricky techniques and quick reflexes required during the heat of actual, not pseudo-cinematic, combat.

The grumpy daemon lord has a serious bone to pick with the Belmonts.
The grumpy daemon lord has a serious bone to pick with the Belmonts.

Mirror of Fate is best when it separates interactivity and passive entertainment, so the fact that it hurts itself by blurring the two so frequently is a major disappointment. Worse than that, there are numerous occurrences of a particular door in the later half of the game that can only be open by enduring repetitive, button-mashing quick-time events, and that's after you've acquired the skill that's supposed to enable you to open the door to begin with. Quite annoyingly, any treasure chests you find require the same rapid button presses to open.

With the return to 2D, there's a renewed attention to exploration and discovery. There aren't any fake walls or turkey roasts hidden away in bricks (barrels are a different story), but there are a fair amount of tempting opportunities lying in wait. Most hidden passages are easy to spot, and the handy map-notation tool makes returning to explore suspect locations a mostly simple affair. Unfortunately, the rewards fail to impress, and since there's very little variety to what you discover, the sense of wonder soon fades. You might discover a health or magic upgrade, or perhaps a new entry for your bestiary, but that's about it. It takes time to get used to the game's compartmentalized, as opposed to singular, map, but it's not too hard to navigate when the time comes to backtrack for secrets. The element of exploration is a nice nod to the past, but Mirror of Fate fails to match the joy of discovery found in previous Castlevanias.

All told, Mirror of Fate is a fun and occasionally challenging action game with successful elements and an unfortunate, but small, selection of poor design choices. By taking liberties with the series' lore, it opens the door for an exciting conclusion to the Lords of Shadow timeline. Had some of the inconsistencies in gameplay been ironed out, the experience would have felt much more cohesive, but as it stands, Mirror of Fate is a good, but not great, addition to the historic Castlevania series.

Back To Top
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
Quick-time events are abundant and feel out of place
The fear of death is softened by constant, automatic checkpoints
The story is predictable
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate

About the Author

Peter is Managing Editor at GameSpot, and when he's not covering the latest games, he's desperately trying to recapture
163 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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hamidbutt30

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some one tell me how about this game like caslevania los?????????

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scatterbrain007

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Edited By scatterbrain007

They really need to go back to sprites with the platformer interations. It may be a good game, but it just looks too grainy and ugly for my tastes.

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Detriiment

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Quite a disappointment. This game had so much potential. It's decent as a stand-alone platformer, but I really don't feel it is good enough to be considered a game in the Castlevania franchise.

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EpicGilgamesh

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I would like another Castlevania game with Soma Cruz. Alucard is just like Leon from RE. They make a mediocre game from either franchise, slap their poster boy in it-and then expect the money to roll in.

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Dark_Metamorphosis

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Ugh, this looks truly awful. Thank you Konami and Mercury Steam for ruining my favorite series. God this video review was hard to watch.

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Metronoid

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Castlevania is no more under Mercury Steam, I will never buy another game, shame, where´s the exploration? Shame , even Metroid is suffering from this generation of "only" action games, for the brain less masses.

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deactivated-57be1a3a68c8e

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Like this game quite a bit. Should finish it up tonight. I think the bashing comes from those expecting Metroidvania. I didn't care much for Ecclesia, so this was refreshing. I'd take another 2D game sure, but not complaining about this great game just because it's not a clone of what has come before.

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Dark_Metamorphosis

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@dlmcamaross Order of Ecclesia sucked

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gokuofheaven

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Are developers just scared to try 2D sprites? Or, are they going by what they "think" consumers would rather want based on the hardware capabilities. Mercury Steam is a very talented studio but sales will speak for itself. I will get this when it hits the bargain bin.

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xaxbxab

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Im suprised they went with only 2 belmonts and alucard. castlevania 3 had four characters and only one was a belmont. though i guess the gameplay of simon and trev arent similar. other than that i agree with the reviewer the game is good. But lords of shadow 2 will kick ass. If IGA does come back, he has expectations to live up to (especially in the 3D Castlevanias)

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Lightsyde

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I wanted to play as Alucard in the game but from this vid his appearance is minimal and short.

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davidbrasil

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Who had the idea of the change ATK DEF INT MEN LUK for COMBOS desserve the troph: The stupid of the year.

Lovely KONAMI, give back my RPG.

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DredWulf

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Edited By DredWulf

@davidbrasil First and Foremost Castlevania even SOTN was never an RPG really it was an action platformer that didn't have stats. SOTN started the stat trend and it was really kinda pointless as your gear was what really determined everything.

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davidbrasil

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Edited By davidbrasil

@DredWulf SONT was never RPG? Do you know what is a RPG?

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3v1LR0n1N

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Edited By 3v1LR0n1N

@davidbrasil @DredWulf based on modern definitions of a video game RPG.. yes symphony of the night is an RPG

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davidbrasil

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@DredWulf Friend,you played theoriginalRPG, thattable?
Their decisionsinfluence the development,ie..

IfI want toleave thecurrent screenonly to returnagainand facethe same monstersthat andmydecision,willmake the game moreboring andmy characterdevelopedmore.

Mydecision, myproblem.This isRPG;Freedom.

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fedetaco

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Edited By fedetaco

Well if this game got a 7 with those graphics, I may think that on Ps3 or 360 can get a 8, Right???

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Yomigaeru

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Quite frankly, it sounds like a fair review.

To be honest, what I'm interested in most from Mirror of Fate is the plot that will undoubtedly lead into Lords of Shadow 2. And from what I hear, they are interesting enough to warrant a playthrough. The lore of this new continuity is the biggest selling point for me, after all.

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deactivated-57cf9022f01ee

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i myself am a long time Castlevania fan,been interested in mirror of fate now for a while,IGN gave it a good bashing but Gamespot thinks its good enough, seems like a hate love thing going on for the lords of shadow series,i enjoyed the demo and look forward to playing this and LOS2,dont really see what all the fuss is about,i like god of war and Castlevania doesnt bother me how they implemented the elements,it is what it is

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MAILER_DAEMON

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Edited By MAILER_DAEMON

Between the demo and the reviews, I have zero interest in this game. Never thought that would happen with a portable Castlevania, but here it is. Thank you, David Cox & Mercury Steam for killing one of my favorite game series.

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Kyrylo

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@MAILER_DAEMON I think it's to soon talking about "killed" franchise. LoS is gonna end with LoS2, so where franchise goes after that is a good question.

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rush86

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@MAILER_DAEMON they didnt kill anything.Its a very good game and fun. Why dont u actually play the game first instead of just blabbering nonsense

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mininudu

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Edited By mininudu

Another "God of War" game. I'll pass this.

I want more games like Ecclesia, the Best portable Castlevania game.


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Antraxx_Argadi

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@mininudu That would be Belmont's Revenge :P. Also I thought Dawn of Sorrow was better than Ecclesia

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Yomigaeru

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@Antraxx_Argadi @mininudu I thought Ecclesia was better, but the best handheld game in my opinion is Dracula X Chronicles. It combined the original Rondo of Blood, a 3D remake, and Symphony of the Night into one package. The aforementioned games could easily be considered among the best in the series.

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KadeStorm

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@Yomigaeru @Antraxx_Argadi @mininudu Yeah, the most disappointing thing about Dracula X -- just in my opinion -- was the 3D aspect. It was good, but I think the PSP could've done better. The DS games did a better job given how much more they exploited from the system hardware. It would've been great had they recreated those titles with the kind of 3D quality that was put into Mirror of Fate: proper shadows, better effects, more 3D interactivity. Etc.

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baxwam

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Oh well Guess I'm queing up for Bravery Default any time Square Enix

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zyxahn

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Good a better review score then the IGN one. It looks good and controls good. God of War is the most recent game that I played with this type of combat so that's what it feels like while being in 2-D. I'll keep it then. If this review had been a 3 or something then no. That's why I like the video reviews because you can hear whether the reviewer is excited about the game or not. So many games and platforms for them reviews come in handy way more then they used to for me. Good job.

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Antraxx_Argadi

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@zyxahn Metacritic is a better way to get an idea of the overall quality of the game. I believe I read through every one of the 15 first reviews for the game, and the consensus is that it's a good but not great game. Having played up to Alucard's part I can give a B. There are some pacing problems and I really do tire of the QTEs (although the crankshaft ones feel natural enough)

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alenth

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Edited By alenth

Does this game last 20 hours as mercury steam stated the last year? or is another marketing lie?

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CRAPCOM1926

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Edited By CRAPCOM1926

@alenth Fo what i heard 9 HOURS 100%. Thats what the people who has beat it say. 9 hours with all the secrets is not good enough ><

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Antraxx_Argadi

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@alenth Depends how much the player decides to backtrack for the optional upgrades. In my opinion though part of the fun of finding the upgrades is finding the hidden spots where they lie. The journey is more rewarding than the destination in terms of the secrets. Honestly some of these secret areas could be straight from Metroid, and I felt like some of the environments are perfect for the Morphball.


I also recommend playing it on Hard mode if you're an experienced LoS player.

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The3rdGracchus

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Edited By The3rdGracchus

Platforming is cool, but combat is not what I want from a Castlevania (at least not in the form present in the demo on the eShop). Exploration, secrets and smart level design are what really bring a Castlevania game to life. Gonna pass on this one until it hits the bargain bin, I think.

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Poncho_Hachacha

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@The3rdGracchus I haven't had the chance to play it myself, but that's the feeling that I got from what I've seen of it.

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WolfGrey

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Meh, doesn't seem all that great.

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Antraxx_Argadi

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@WolfGrey It's a sequel to LoS so if you didn't like that this probably won't change your mind.

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KaSeRRoR

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Edited By KaSeRRoR

I wish there was a hand-held with better graphics... Next time Gadget... NEXT TIIIIME!

>=)

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setuwa

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@KaSeRRoR And I wish people will stop posting troll comments. Graphics dont mean a damn thing its all about the gameplay

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate More Info

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  • First Released Mar 5, 2013
    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 Rating219 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate
    Developed by:
    Mercury Steam
    Published by:
    Konami
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Action
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence