The Belmont’s can never catch a break. Almost every branch of the family tree has someone involved in darkness and fighting of Dracula in some shape or form. And unfortunately, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD is just as cursed. Being ported to PC doesn’t do it any favors amongst its numerous other problems.
Serving as a bridge between Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, Mirror of Fate explores the characters of Trevor, Simon, Alucard and Sypha. Telegraphed by the Prologue, you’ll swap between different characters at various points in the story. Each character doesn’t really play different from one another, nor do you spend any quality time with them to get attached or care about what they’re doing.
Being set in 2D, exploration and backtracking returns, with the grid map on display in the upper-right hand corner. One of the best things I’ve seen in a long time is the ability to leave notes for yourself so you know who to bring to reach the next area. Die from a poorly timed jump or tough combat sequence? That’s okay, the overly generous autosave will only set you back a short time or just before the beginning of a fight. There’s little consequence to death here. While it is helpful when playing on a handheld and may have short periods of time, feels entirely too easy when sitting at a desktop to play. The real challenge lies in upping the difficulty, where only the highest difficulty isn’t available until you’ve beaten the game once.
Mirror of Fate’s array of enemies aren’t varied, but the way in which you dispatch them can be. There are light attacks, heavy attacks, and a throwable weapon round out your offensive weapons. Magic and using the block button give your defense. Evading enemies with a well-timed roll can save your health bar from being unnecessarily depleted. The combat in Mirror of Fate follows that of Lords of Shadow and you feel right at home with the combat. The game’s Boss Rush mode is welcome. It’s simple, take on the bosses from the game in a time trial to get a better place on the leaderboard. It’s a neat idea and works for people who wish to ignore most of the cutscenes, even though they are skippable. It’s also a good way of testing your combat skills when you get compared to your friends.
An experience system is place as you fight monsters, they’ll drop sparkles for you to collect. Over time, you logically become increasingly more powerful and unlock more moves. It’s a minimalistic system that almost has no place here other than to tie it into the Lords of Shadow series.
Want another take? Read Ed Acosta’s review of the original on 3DS.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD is an absolute mouthful to say. It’s a good game marred by bad design decisions, with an experience that falls short. The character switching is superficial at best. As a port it’s completely functional, but also very lacking. And combined with a lengthy, yet underwhelming story makes this title most forgettable. It’s saving grace is the 2D classic Castlevania exploration and backtracking that give the game its legs to endure the 10 hours of gameplay.