The second chapter in the Lords of Shadow saga has finally arrived on consoles. Originally released on the 3DS back in March, this side-scrolling affair feels more akin to the previous entries, before Mercury Steam took over the franchise. Now console owners can experience this previously handheld-only entry, and get the story that fills in some burning questions about Gabriel and his dealings with the Lords of Shadow.
It is impossible for me to discuss this game without venturing into spoiler territory for the original Lords of Shadow. So be warned, I will hold nothing back in regards to that particular game. Mirror of Fate opens up explaining how Gabriel fathered a child before the events of Lords of Shadow. He never knew about this child, and eventually he grew up to be a vampire hunter himself. The game begins not with Gabriel’s son Trevor, but Trevor’s son Simon. Yes THAT Simon Belmont.
The game is broken down into three chapters, each featuring a different character and twist on the mythos. I will refrain from spoiling any piece of this tale, but rest assured there are some revelations as surprising as discovering that Gabriel in fact becomes Dracula.
This is classic Castlevania. Mirror of Fate is the closest to the acclaimed 2D portable titles as Konami has put out to date. The gated game play made famous by the series is in full effect, and switching between characters for each chapter really adds a nice change of pace. I loved seeing the stories, and how they intertwined with each other.
Combat is simple, but effective. Just like Lords of Shadow, characters have two main attack buttons mapped to the face buttons. One is horizontal, the other vertical. Holding down buttons and stringing them together performs combos. Dodging is performed by holding down the left trigger and tapping a direction; the left trigger also serves as the block/parry button. Throughout the adventure collecting XP levels up the three characters, thus unlocking new combos. I wish it had been more front and center when new moves were unlocked, as it felt kind of stashed away behind the scenes.
Traversing the game will also unlock new items that open up new areas to explore. Much like classic Castlevania game play, there are sections where I could see items and areas, but did not yet have the item to go there. I like how I could bring up the map to make notes on where these items were, so I could back later once I had the proper tools.
Transferring Mirror of Fate to a console has been a seamless transition. The entire game still has a blocky look to it after being blown up to HD standards, but the art style keeps it from being a wreck. Controls have also transitioned well outside of jumping and movement feeling a bit stiff, which likely comes from going to a more dynamic controller. Everything is intact though, for better or worse. Nothing has really been added to the mix outside of the included Lords of Shadow 2 demo, which makes this an interesting proposition for the price.
The only major change I found between the 3DS and HD versions is the removal of excessive quick-time events. Anyone who played the original handheld version was likely sick of mashing the A button over and over to progress a cut scene. This has been toned down significantly in the HD version. Now cut scenes play out normally, while boss fights spend less time forcing players to match prompts, and letting the combat speak for itself.
On one hand, Mirror of Fate HD is a steal. Considering this game was worth my time and money on the 3DS and now they have removed the annoying quick-time events in cut scenes and it is $25 cheaper on consoles, feels wrong. On the other hand I have already smashed through the castle and conquered evil, so why am I double-dipping? These are the only concerns when considering a purchase here. If you have already been down this road, there is really nothing here to warrant a second play, however if you haven’t played the second entry in the Lords of Shadow narrative, this is the one to get.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.