A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate
Version – 3DS eShop download
ESRB Rating: ‘M’ – Mature
Release Date: 3/5/2013
Obtained – Review copy courtesy of Konami
Castlevania is one of those long standing series since the NES days. There’s been a Castlevania game on each main generation of hardware. I’ve played the NES games long ago, but that’s as far as it goes. What really caught my attention was that it was an exploring type of game that is in 2D similar to the original game. Will this game be an exciting challenge against Dracula, or will it make you want to whip it across the room? Read on to find out!
This game takes place years after the first Lords of Shadow game. You take control of Simon Belmont and go after Dracula within his castle. You come across a number of fallen soldiers who offer tidbits about the castle along with help with particular areas. You also learn that Alucard is within the castle and ends up assisting Simon in particular areas. You also learn some of Dracula’s history with the Belmont family, but don’t worry I will not spoil it for you!
This game is a straight up adventure game with some RPG elements. You will see the map uncover as you explore each area. Each map is a room or location where you are trying to complete the objective. Along the way, you uncover two different items to equip along with two magical abilities. About a third of the way through you change focus to Alucard who has a few different abilities, and has his own equip-able magic abilities and items. The last third of the game you go back in time about thirty years to control Simon’s father Trevor and also gains his own abilities and powers. Each time you switch characters, you do keep some of the other abilities learned, for example you gain the ability to grapple to particular points as Simon and Alucard starts with that ability. Alucard gains the ability to wall jump within particular areas and Trevor will start with that ability.
While exploring you can find fallen soldiers that offer story elements or even a hint on particular areas. You can also uncover chests to increase your life bar, magic bar, or number of ‘ammo’ for your items. When you collect a memory or chest or change between maps, the game autosaves your progress. The benefit is that it’s easy to save the game, but on the downside it makes the game much easier to play. For instance in boss fights there are cut scenes where it autosaves, so if you die it reloads the autosave. Also, it adds a little bit of health and magic for each death, so if you are struggling with the boss, you can fight at full health by dying a couple of times in a row.
Outside of exploring, you will fight many different enemies and plenty of boss fights. After defeating each enemy, you gain experience and after your experience meter is filled, your character levels up. There is a max of eighteen levels, but when you switch between character segments, your level remains where your previous character was. You also can switch back to previous used characters with the chapter selection, so you could go back and make sure each map was a hundred percent explored. Finally, the game is also pretty short. After about fifteen hours, I got the 100% rating and finished the game.
The controls are explained as you explore and acquire new abilities. The basic controls use Y and X to whip enemies, with Y attacking a single enemy, X being used to attack multiple enemies at once. B makes your character jump with A using your items. R is used to interact with objects or fountains or use the grapple ability. L is used to block. Your character is controlled with the circle pad while the D-pad is used to activate magic or switch between the two items. I feel that the controls work perfectly for this game. Within the menu the game tells you how to perform any combos and gives other information on the items you select, so it constantly keeps the player informed. Also when you really need to know the ability, the game has a tutorial within a basic fight with an easier foe to help teach you the technique.
Visuals/3D Effects & Sound
The visuals are very impressive and probably one of the game’s best features. All of the characters and backgrounds are well designed and look very polished. They help fit with the dark theme of the game and there are no bright colors. The 3D effects are very cool as I saw that particular objects like trees or the whip seriously look like they pop out of the screen showing that 3D effect you normally get with 3D glasses. This game looked very nice in 3D and I actually played more of the game in 3D than 2D. One of the negatives of the graphics was that it looked like the mouth animation was not properly synced with the voice acting. Oftentimes it looked odd the way the mouth was moving and the words being spoken did not seem to align up. In terms of sound it was nothing memorable, but some of the tunes really added to the feel of the game. There was a particular theme when enemies appeared and you had a moment to prepare as they jumped out onto the floor or out of the floor. The sound effects were pretty crisp, and the voice acting was very impressive.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
Overall, Mirror of Fate is a very solid game and is very enjoyable to play. The game itself seems a little short as I finished the game with a 100% rating and it took about fifteen hours. The engaging gameplay and stellar 3D effects do make this game a must have for fans of platforming and adventure games. The boss battles are pretty challenging despite the autosave healing assistance and also have interactive cut scenes to hit buttons. I would recommend this game to fans of the Castlevania games along with anyone that enjoys this genre of games.
+ 3D Graphics are top notch
+ Enjoyable story
+ Challenging and unique boss battles
– Autosave feature lowers difficulty level
– Voice acting and speaking animation not synced
– Music is not memorable
** Due to the rating on this game, I am unable to attach photographic screen shots of the content, since we do not have age restrictive viewing devices for our reviews.