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3DS  header logo

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate

For: 3DS

Temple of Doom: Hat of Destiny - Thingy of Whatsit

Product: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate | Publisher: Konami | Format: 3DS | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate 3DS, thumbnail 1
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate can often feel like a greatest hits collection of favourite Castlevania moments.

It's got the side-scrolling thrills of the debut adventures, the open exploration of the DS games, and - most prominently - the spirited hack-and-slash combat of the most recent entry, Lords of Shadow.

That bouncy God of War-style brawling might be off-putting to series veterans, but take it from us: it's not just mindless button-mashing. There's real nuance and depth to the combat system.

You can block, dodge, and counter incoming attacks. You can fight in the air and on the ground. You can force your way through an enemy's shield, or pull bad guys off their feet.

Mirror of Fate also has a sizeable list of combos, which all happen to be deeply satisfying to unleash. Plus, they're doled out slowly across the adventure so you're not overwhelmed from the get go.

Like a boss

And while the every day encounters with skeletons, harpies, and mermen are fun, the boss fights are even better.

These are imaginative, multi-part puzzles that are a real joy to solve. In fact, these are some of the best boss fights I've come across since Resident Evil 4.

They're challenging, and they force you to get involved. When you get hit, it hurts. You can't chance your way through these fights with a few good hits - you need to learn your opponent's attacks, and dodge or counter every one.

Look around you

Mirror of Fate is not a true Metroid-style adventure, like Symphony of the Night, or any of the DS and GBA games.

For one, there's no single interconnected map. You'll change whip-wielding hero throughout the story, which sends you to a new part of the castle, and with no access to the previous areas.

But it's not an entirely linear adventure, either. You can always traipse right back to the beginning of the current map, and there's good reason to do so.

In true Castlevania style, you'll come across secrets you can't yet reach with your current skillset, and it's only when you get a new ability - the wall-jump, say, or the grapple whip - that you can go back and grab them.

But it never feels like true exploration. Maybe it's the fact that there's a room-by-room tally of found treasure on the map, or the fact that the individual map parts for each act of the game are quite small.

Whatever the case, it feels more like backtracking, checklist-finishing busywork than real discovery. It's a case of taking a few moments off the main game to go back and simply pick up all the health, magic, and ammunition chests you missed the first time around.

The third dimension

One thing we must note - the 3D effect is truly outstanding, making Castlevania one of the best examples of the technology on the system.

The castle looks like a tiny diorama. Certain corridors peel off into the distance, and things happening in the far off background - like a ghostly apparition, dragging his chains through the library - make the place come alive.

But other parts of the presentation are less successful. The voice work is disappointing, the art-style is kind of dour, and the music - all gothic wails and monk chants - sounds more Skyrim than anything else.

Whatever happened to the toe-tapping electro-organ theme from Castlevania games of yore?

Whip it

Mirror of Fate is a hugely enjoyable game. It's got that boisterous knockabout combat, some hugely satisfying boss battles, and offers a big chunk of game for your money (it will take about ten hours to finish up).

But with its mishandled exploration and gloomy atmosphere, Mirror of Fate falls short of being the best Castlevania game.
 
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 5 March 2013
A huge thrill-a-minute adventure, with satisfying combat, and big boss fights. Just don't expect the old Metroidvania formula
 
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