There seems to be two distinct types of Catlevania fans out there. Those who prefer the old style “Metroidvania” design, and those who will embrace anything with the Castlevania name on it, given the chance. Konami’s upcoming instalment, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, looks like it might finally bridge that gap and bring harmony to the fanbase.
Having been recently invited to try out and early build of Mirror of Fate, I found solace in that fact that I am not a huge Castlevania fan – which allowed me to judge Mirror of Fate entirely on its own merit rather than comparing it to previous games in the franchise. And I have to say, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far.
The first thing that stands out when you play is the 2.5D graphical style, however, despite this, attempting to play this game like an older Castlevania title will get players nowhere pretty fast.
The game itself is visually stunning, even in the early build I was treated to, players should be stunned by the ability for the game to draw the camera back and provide a look at the stunning gothic architecture, or zoom all the way in to the main character and the variety of enemies. The 3D effect is used well, making the game feel a lot bigger and providing depth to the game’s world even though you’re really only walking along one linear path.
As with Lords of Shadow that came before it, Mirror of Fate has a bigger emphasis on combat than in previous games, allowing players to string together combos while evading enemy attacks. The demo I was privy to offered instructions on just how to do all this, and things to watch for, however it’s likely that the final demo won’t have this hand holding which should lend to the game’s difficulty.
Those who enjoyed the platforming aspect of previous Castlevania games will be pleased to know that there is an abundance of it in Mirror of Fate. It’s not just thrown in here haphazardly, either, but instead poses a great challenge to the player. You’ll find great satisfaction skipping, jumping and whipping with perfection to make it past gaping chasms without falling to your death. Thankfully, not all platforming sections punish the player with death if they fail, and instead give the player opportunities to “get it right”. Platforming is also incorporated into many of the game’s puzzles, though we only got to sample the typical “hit the switch and run before the gate closes” type in this build. Precision is key in these moments and thankfully, the game works well in allowing the player to have such great control over their character.
Those who were a bit nervous by our linear comment previously will be pleased to know that there is some incentive included to walk off the beaten path, giving the player treasures and the like (though of course, ramping up the risk too).
While I was playing an unfinished build, which had some obvious rough spots, Mirror of Fate already felt like it had a higher than average production value with it’s presentation. A no doubt controversial inclusion – cutscenes, dialogue and the odd touch of humour bring a level of modernism to the game than seen in previous instalments (and more in line with 2010’s Lords of Shadow).
It should also be noted that Mirror of Fate is quite brutal – or I’m just not good at it (which is very possible). The boss battle I had to battle at the end of the demo took me a while to get used to, and I didn’t die that much, but many players will definitely die during their journey.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate is a MercurySteam developed exclusive title for the Nintendo 3DS, which has been delayed until early 2013. It’s perhaps not the Castlevania that you’re used to, but maybe it could be come release day. We are certainly impressed.
Thanks to James at Mindscape for allowing me to come in and play the game.