Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate Review

I really wanted to love Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate. It would be a 2D platforming Castlevania game, a la the games of old, infused with a new story to set up the upcoming console sequel, Lords of Shadow 2. I would be in control of familiar names like Simon Belmont and Alucard, characters I thought to be removed from the new Castlevania narrative altogether. This should have been a window into the past, giving current gamers a glimpse to the glory days of Castlevania.

Yet, as I whipped my way through the tale, I felt not a bit nostalgic. Sure, some of the core elements of the original Castlevanias made their way into Mirror of Fate, but none of them put me back into the familiar Castlevania mindset. If anything, the game plays more like a 2D God of War than Symphony of the Night. Mirror of Fate does provide some entertainment, but those looking to re-capture the magic of yesteryear will be disappointed.

Combat is a mixture of monotonous button-mashing and quick-time events. Some of the abilities, especially in the game’s third act, seem to serve as a means to prolong the game rather than add substance to the experience. Boss fights are challenging and fun, but most of them are fought the same way: attack, dodge, jump, attack, etc. Patterns are quickly found in the boss’s behavior, creating a much easier battle than what should be. Some boss fights throw in an elaborate quick-time event sequence, and one boss encounter is entirely QTE, but the rest become predictable and simple far too quickly. The hair-raising challenges of the bosses from Symphony of the Night are sadly nowhere to be found here.

The game is split into three acts: each one covering a different character. The first two run concurrently, while the third takes place in the past. If that timeline isn’t strange enough, because each act sees a different protagonist, finishing an act means starting from scratch with the next character. All of the powers I’ve grown familiar with (the ones I used, anyway) are taken from me. The only thing that carries over is my experience level, any unlocked whip attacks that come with it, and a few platforming skills.

While slaying supernatural enemies and solving elaborate puzzles has its fun moments, it’s clear that Mirror of Fate suffers from a major identity crisis: it’s not sure if it wants to be new Castlevania or old Castlevania. The 2D platforming brings out the classic feel of the series, but once an enemy appears and battle begins I feel like I’m playing Lords of Shadow in 2D. This normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, but some of the classic elements detract from the experience so much that the twelve-hour story dragged on to feel like 24 hours, even with only one instance of Castlevania-esque backtracking through familiar territory. Locating some of the items takes far longer than they could have, making the entire ordeal boring. Perhaps a faster pace would have helped me to enjoy these moments more.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate tries to continue the restoration of the Castlevania name, serving as a narrative bridge between Lords of Shadow and the upcoming sequel in an attempt to appeal to both the new players and the tenured fanbase. Ultimately, where Lords of Shadow reinvented the franchise, Mirror of Fate finds itself stuck between past and present. It’s never sure what or where it wants to be, and the experience suffers because of it.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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