Review: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD (Xbox 360)

Review - Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD

The tragic story of the Belmont clan continues. They simply can’t escape their fate.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow left us with a sense of tread at the end. The always pious Belmont clan… descending into the Dark Side! Who will defend us from the kinsmen of the night if a Belmont WAS the Lord of the Night!?

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 will continue on with MercurySteam’s reboot of the revered franchise, but a lot of things will transpire between the two games. Back in March 2013, they released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate for the Nintendo 3DS, which serves as a bridge between LoS and LoS 2. What we didn’t know was that they were working on an HD version of the game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as a downloadable title.

So let’s check out Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD for Xbox 360!

Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD - coverCastlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD

Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: MercurySteam
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Xbox 360 Also on: PlayStation 3
Original Release Date: October 25, 2013 (X360); Oct. 30, 2013 (PS3)
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Reason for Rating: Blood and Gore; Partial Nudity; Suggestive Themes; Violence

 

 

Gabriel Belmont’s fate was unavoidable; foretold over a year prior by the mystical Mirror of Fate. Unbeknownst to Gabriel, his wife Marie was pregnant and gave birth to his son, Trevor. The Brotherhood of Light, knowing Gabriel would descend into darkness, took Trevor to raise and train to be the best of their Order. Now an adult, Trevor must go after and kill Gabriel, for the good of mankind.

Spooky, Dark, and Bleak… I Love It

Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD - cut scenes

Diggin’ the cell-shading used to tell those important story bits.

Mirror of Fate HD is quite the interesting-looking game. It’s in 2.5D, and the use of colour captures that dark, foreboding tone well. Each area of the castle and the surrounding areas are very well detailed, and it’s a shame that I can’t venture off the beaten path and explore a lil’ more. I really like the character designs, too. Monsters look great, and in terms of the main cast, I love ’em. For the Belmonts, I see a bit of artist Ayami Kojima’s style in them… except made more manly. Gotta love Simon’s new grizzly look! The story bits are told using cell-shaded cinematics and are voiced very well.

In terms of music, we once again have some fabulous tunes to listen to that further add to the scary atmosphere. I think the thing I had a problem with is that there didn’t seem to be as many, so you end up hearing the same music over again. Also, the music tends to stop and you’re left with this awkward silence for a minute or two before it loops again.

A Tale Of Three Belmonts

Like all great tragedies, Mirror of Fate HD is told in several parts. The Prologue stars Gabriel one year before Lords of Shadow, and acts as a short tutorial. Afterwards, the game is split into three Acts, and in each Act you’ll assume a new character: Simon Belmont, then Alucard, and finally Trevor Belmont. They’ll each explore different areas of the castle (or the same areas, but different parts). Like previous Castlevania games, certain spots will be inaccessible to you until you acquire new abilities, meaning you’ll have to do quite a bit of backtracking. There are Warp Portals to help with that but they are very few, and you don’t have access to ’em to late in each Act. Unlike past instalments, you don’t have to find the Portals in the areas beforehand to use ’em. You also can’t choose which Warp Portal to go to, as they’re all paired up already.

If you get lost, consult your handy map. It’ll have several marks on it, such as nearby health and magic fonts, and where you’re suppose to head next. It’ll even tell you how many hidden items there are in the area, be them knights with scrolls or coffers containing upgrades.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD - Scrolls

Finding fallen knights this time around will net you some experience points. And like before, they contain nods to the previous Castlevania timeline.

What’s nice is that you can even leave notes on the map to remind yourself to return to a certain spot later when you get a certain ability. You have a max of 50 notes, but you can delete them whenever ya want.

In terms of fighting, each of our boys have their own sets of Light and Shadow magic (or their equivalent), as well as two subweapons unique to them. You can switch between your subweapons on the fly, but what’s different from Lords of Shadow (and closer to the old-school Castlevania games) is that they share the same stock as oppose to each having their own. You can replenish your supply by finding hearts in barrels, and you can charge your subweapons by holding down the ‘B’ button.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD - Simon and Belnades spirit

Simon can summon the spirit of his mother (or perhaps another Belnades?) to shield him from incoming attacks.

As you beat enemies, you’ll gain experience points, and you’ll learn a new move automatically upon leveling up. Mirror of Fate HD level caps you at 18, so you don’t have as many moves as you did in Lords of Shadow. It makes it easier to actually give each of the moves a go in a fight, honestly.

Speaking of levels, when you transition over to a new character, you maintain your current level, along with whatever health, magic, and ammunition upgrades you have. From a gameplay perspective, that’s groovy, as having those extra moves will be a big help. From a story perspective, it makes no sense that Simon would have the same fighting moves as Trevor and Alucard. It kinda would’ve been nice to see each of them have different moves (same input, but just visually different).

You’ll be doing lots of platforming once again, and they still give me a heart attack. Bottomless pits, wall-mounted Bone Pillars spitting out fire, spikes embedded on the walls and in the ground. Needless to say, you really have to watch where you’re going, and all points of a ledge that you can latch onto glow brightly, so you should be okay.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD - Swinging

Okay, Trevor… you can do this… just don’t. Look. Down.

Wait! What About The QTEs!?

Remember when I said there were a lot of Quick Time Events (QTEs) in Lords of Shadow? Well, MercurySteam toned them down for Mirror of Fate HD. They’ve taken out all those circle QTEs, and you’ll occasionally have to mash a button to break a hold or do something.

I kinda like it, ’cause now I can sit back and actually watch the special finishes done to enemies and bosses as oppose to staring at the screen waiting for those circle QTEs to start up (as oppose to not paying attention to it and totally missing it).

So… Anything Else?

It’s short. Like really short. I took my sweet time and clocked in about 20 hours on Normal Mode, but it’s possible to plow right through it (I’ve seen the Leaderboards – these dudes are FAST!). Hell, one of the achievements is to finish the game in three and a half hours or less. But really, it’s fine. I feel that it’s more important for a game to tell the story that it intended to tell without artificially trying to lengthen it. Nothing’s worse then being forced to do a bunch of fetch quests just to add an extra hour or two to the game. Bleh. Anyhoo, that’s certainly not the case here, and I’m glad.

What really got me is the story. I really like what MercurySteam has done with the series; making Dracula’s war with the Belmonts way more personal than it was before. As I mentioned on Twitter, the closing moments left me a bit choked up. Despite being so far gone, for a brief moment, there was a glimmer of the good and pure-hearted Gabriel we knew and rooted for from Lords of Shadow, and that was rather touching.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD - Gabriel

I know I’m supposed to be rooting against Gabriel because he’s now a villain… but I can’t bring myself to do so.

Also, because it’s in 2.5D, it really feels more like the Castlevania games of old. Like they took an old-school Castlevania game and “modernize” it in terms of including some standard features in action games today.

Staring Into The Mirror Again

Besides nabbing those Xbox achievements, you can try your hand at Boss Rush Mode. Choose your Difficulty level and go through every single boss in the game with one Health Bar.

Also, as hinted at in the game, completing the game at 100% will net you a special scene that you can view from the ‘Extras’ menu at the title screen.

Embracing Your Fate

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD is pretty fun. It served its purpose as a bridge between Lords of Shadow and Lords of Shadow 2, and even managed to tug a heartstring or two. It’s short n’ sweet, and worth a look, especially if you want to get caught up for Lords of Shadow 2.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD - Farewell

You played the greatest role in this review. Thanks for reading!

Final Score
7/10 – This game has lots of potential. Not a bad experience at all

Lookin’ Good in the Mirror
+ Nice-looking game, great music
+ Interesting to see the story unfolds
+ Not as many QTEs

Succumbing To Fate
Not much music variety; tends to stops and leaves you in silence before it starts up again
It’s short. It doesn’t overstay its welcome (which is good!), but people may not like its length

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