Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate Review (Nintendo 3DS)

Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate Art
Continuing the vampire hunting Saga that started on the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 console, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow makes its way on the Nintendo 3DS for the first time.

The game starts with a dramatic prologue from The first Lords of Shadow game. You first take control of Gabriel Belmont in an interactive and cinematic fashion. Eventually, you'll get a taste of how the game plays, acting as your introduction to the gameplay.

Mirror Of Fate takes place 25 years after the events of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. After Gabriel, you'll take control of Simon Belmont next, but you'll eventually be able to play with other characters as well.

Gabriel, Trevor, Simon and Alucard makes for four of the playable characters in the game. Each character have their own unique abilities such as Alucard's ability to transform into a bat or wolf. The levels that you'll play are tailored to these abilities.

The combat system is uniform to all characters. The combo and aerial combo system is definitely a fresh take on the (Castlevania) franchise. It just seem to fit the genre and the nature of the Belmonts as powerful vampire hunters.

If you expect to see any resemblance to the past Castlevania games such as Symphony of the Night, you are bound to get a major disappointment because the game feels totally different. Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate has a few resemblance like the looks of the enemies and the characters of course, but it has more like Trine 2 mixed with Torchlight (these are PC games) feel in it. It's definitely not the 2D Castlevania I know.

There seems to be more puzzle in this game than ever before compared to any side-scrolling Castlevania games we've played. Unlike Symphony of the Night, the RPG elements in this game are weak, save for the experience points that you have to earn in order to level up and unlock skills.

Skills are different from abilities as these are things that the Belmonts can do with their whips (wait, that didn't sound nice, did it?). Skills are special attacks that further increase damage on your opponents and this is shared among all the characters that you'll play in the game.

Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate does give a fresh new take on the platforming elements of the game though. Once you have acquired the combat cross, you'll be able to grab on things and swing between platforms to your heart's content. The heroes can also now grab on platform edges, which feels a bit like Uncharted.

The levels are wide and detailed most of the time. But you'll be touching on the same areas that each character visit from time to time. It's good to know how they tried to do this, as if seeing how things happened from a different perspective.

Enemies are smart and each give a different set of challenge. It's hard to just force your way through by just mashing buttons, you need to keep a strategic fight.

The boss fights are no joke. They are not as terrifying as with the traditional Castlevania series (Igavania as they call them) but it takes few tries to beat them. It's fun to watch the interactive and cinematic parts of the fight where you need to press a sequence of buttons according to timing (think Shenmue or God of War). You could die a few times before finally figuring out how to defeat a boss, but thankfully the game has a checkpoint system, mostly every cutscene, and resumes from that point.

In some parts of the game, the graphics look great, especially in 3D. We find it hard to play in 3D all of the time though as some battles can be very intense and we end up having double vision. We find most part of the game to be meticulously crafted, especially when you just stand still and observe (and no wonder the game looked good in screenshots). The problem is that the frame rate severely affects the overall feel of the game. It feels slow, and it hurts the eyes.

The cel-shaded cutscenes are really nice, except that it often alienates the feel of the game once you're back in control because the in-game graphics is different.

The music is one of the most disappointing aspects of this game. As I'm writing this review, I find it hard to remember a single music track in the game. If there's one, that's because the same sound track is used over and over again (I think during fight scenes). Gone are the days when you'd be tempted to play the Castlevania black disc.

Mirror of Fate generally uses the physical buttons, just as it probably should have. The touchscreen is saved for the menus, but even the menus can be navigated using physical controls, which is good.

The Verdict

To sum it up, we were not very happy with this game. But we will recommend that you buy it, just because it's Castlevania. After a while, the game feels tiring to the point of me just wanting to play Mario Kart 7. Save for the cutscenes, the game is generally boring.

The unstable framerate largely affects the experience. The characters have too many similarities that their unique traits are almost negligible. The first few hours are ok but you'll eventually know that this isn't the Castlevania you'll want to play over and over again, right before it's cut into your heart.

Rating for Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate
Fun Factor:
Game Info:Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Mercury Steam
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: 03/05/2013
Price: $39.99 (Buy It)
Rating: M (Mature)
No. of players: 1
Online: No
The Good
  • A good fresh take on the story
  • Wonderful cutscenes
  • Puzzles that challenge your mind, but doesn't frustrate much
  • Battle system requires skill
  • Wide and vast environments
  • Good 3D effect
  • Checkpoint system (auto-save) helps you say "never say never"
The Bad
  • Game runs on a very bad framerate, more noticeable on some characters
  • Gameplay eventually becomes boring because all characters share the same skills
  • Boring soundtrack
  • The after-game bonuses are things that you should care very little about
This review was based on the North American retail version and played on Nintendo 3DS XL.

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