Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (Hands-On) (Nintendo 3DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 07.07.2012 6

Review for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

The name most Nintendo fans will link with the Castlevania series is Koji Igarashi-san, since he has been a key player in the majority of the best entries in the series, with the likes of Aria of Sorrow on Game Boy Advance, and the trio of Nintendo DS titles, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia. Those waiting for his next 2D adventure will have to wait longer, though, since the first Nintendo 3DS outing, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, is actually developed by MercurySteam, the team behind the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

Castlevania is one of those franchises that has a strong backing and push towards the 2D series. Whilst there have been polygon 3D adventures that brought something new in terms of both art style and gameplay to the long-running series, the side-scrolling setup is the general direction of choice for many of the whip-cracking fan-base. Now, with the addition of the 3DS to the roster, developer MercurySteam had various options to take advantage of the glasses-free 3D -- either having 2D sprites and playing with the background to achieve the effect, or going for the questionable 3D polygons.

The studio went with the latter, but opted to keep a majority of the game on a classic 2D plane, given the success of the more recent outings on Nintendo DS. From what Cubed3 sampled, the transition to this new look held up to the intricate pixel look of old, yet added a more contemporary feel, allowing the backgrounds to tease players into the grim, blood-tarnished world. There was a healthy balance of art direction that took staple pieces and imagery from the older games without overlapping too much into the 3D world that has had such a Marmite reception with the fans. Within the multiple, branching pathways for each of the Belmont clan to explore were detailed environments with crumbled floors, rotting castles and cursed corridors. It feels very much like a traditional Castlevania, yet the addition of bigger and deeper backgrounds create a much more involving world.

Lighting is such a key factor that also benefits from the move from pixels to polygons, and whilst it can certainly be done well in 2D, the dynamic lighting that seeps in through candlelit lamps far in the distance, the moon's guiding rays through the windows, or flicking light off a brute of a boss standing underneath a streetlamp helps set the scene; it certainly adds that extra layer of polish. There were only a handful of moments to experience the behind-the-player segments, and these too didn't detract from the more conventional side-scrolling setup.

In my time with the demo I quickly likened the game to classic Metroid in some ways -- something that many Castlevanias share in common, and to which games of a similar ilk are coined ’Metroidvanias.’ Certainly fans of either series should have high hopes for Mirror of Fate, which sees players swinging from lamps with the whip and crawling through passageways to snuff out new areas and unlock doors. Long time players of Castlevania will be especially pleased to know that the tough difficulty level looks to remain intact, with the boss of the demo being particularly hard to beat, garnering up many deaths. Those that enjoyed the highly praised HD console entry of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow will certainly want to take notice of Mirror of Fate, since it retains much of the same look of the original game and sets up the events for the upcoming sequel, Lords of Shadow 2, due next year.
- Aaron Elias, Previews Editor.

Having been a massive fan of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on PSone, all three Game Boy Advance 2D Castlevania titles and the subsequent IGA-developed trio of DS outings, the idea of something similar appearing on the Nintendo 3DS led to heavy perspiration as anticipation levels rose considerably. A wave of hesitation hit home, however, when it was revealed that Igarashi-san was nowhere to be found in the off-shoot of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Would the ’Metroidvania’ style be retained? Would the twisting, turning, elaborate dungeon layouts return? The answer, in a way, was a resounding ‘yes’ from the hands-on time spent with Mirror of Fate.

The catch was, though, that the general feel of the game was subtly different, yet enough of an alteration to leave the experience as being one filled with reluctance as to whether or not the end product will be quite as enamouring as the engrossing Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, for instance. Events take place a quarter of a Century after the first Lords of Shadow and follows four characters over the story arc; Trevor Belmont, Alucard, Simon Belmont, and an as-of-yet unrevealed person, with control changing between them at various junctures in the adventure.

It was unclear which character was presented for use in the demo, but it was a gentleman with a chain whip, as per as expected, able to lash out at enemies that lay in his wake. The confusing element, though, was that rather than having a limited reach, as in previous Nintendo outings, it seemingly covered the entire screen when used, meaning skeletal monsters and the like were within reach no matter where the character was positioned. To counter this, the hit points of beasts appeared to have been hiked up. On a personal note, this was definitely an unwanted compromise. It may have been my imagination playing tricks, but the character control was also slower than before, making progress sluggish to say the least. This was most noticeable during a section where a switch had to be hit and then quick backtracking was required in order to make it through the opened doorway. The other bugbear was the camera, which was rather erratic in following the action, causing damage to be incurred from enemies that the player should have been able to clearly see had the camera followed the scene properly. Something that will be ironed out by the time the final release rolls around? I certainly hope so…
- Adam Riley, Operations Director.

Final Thoughts

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate certainly came across as a bit of a mixed bag, with some positive elements from MercurySteam’s previous console release, plus the appearance of Koji Igarashi’s 2D Nintendo efforts of old, and at the same time some negatives in the form of sluggish movement, dodgy camera work, and awkward combat. Hopefully the game is still going through some major tweaking to fulfil its real potential. IGA fans, though, may want to approach with caution for now…

Developer

Mercury Steam

Publisher

Konami

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

Rob64 (guest) 08.07.2012#1

No IGA, no sale.

FryerT (guest) 09.07.2012#2

Lord of Shadows was SO overrated. Colour me disinterested!

bearmon2010 (guest) 10.07.2012#3

I really liked Lord of Shadows and I can't wait for sequel and this game.

Even if I didn't like LoS, I'll give this a chance.

Redrave (guest) 11.07.2012#5

Rob64 (guest) said:
No IGA, no sale.

Castlevania lords of shadow was not made by IGA yet it is the best selling castlevania game.

FryerT (guest) said:
Lord of Shadows was SO overrated. Colour me disinterested!

Are you fucking kidding me?It is one of the most underrated game this generation.It didn't get the recognition it deserves.Do some research.

Smilie Wow, the total swing in opinions in the comments is quite stunning! Smilie

I've not played Lord of Shadows - is it really one of those 'love or hate' games? The reactions seem to point that way.

I loved the GBA and DS games, and this had its moments, but it definitely needs some decent tweaking before release. My hopes are high, however Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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