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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow -- Mirror of Fate Impressions


Starman DX
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow -- Mirror of Fate is the new 3DS Castlevania title being developed by Mecurysteam/Spain and published by Konami. The demo was just released today, and even though I've yet to hear anything really positive about it, I thought it would be best to give it a spin and form my own impressions.

What did I come away with? Two main things:

One: The Castlevania series has been around for about 20 years now, and has plenty of distinct gameplay elements. Unfortunately, only the elements that it shares with the God of War series are present in this game, which plays exactly like a 2D Lords of Shadow. Very disappointing to fans of the fast paced, customizable, explore-based gameplay and progression of the more recent handheld Castlevanias.

Two: TEST YOUR GAMES! To be honest, I wasn't able to finish the demo, because I came across a bug that prevented me from getting through a door set off by a timed event. Not sure if this happens consistently, but if you die while racing to the door after having switched a lever, you start at the lever "switched" with the door permanently closed. Even tried leaving and re-entering the area, still bugged, no fun.

So as you may have guessed, I'm not at all impressed. While it does do a good job of being a quality portable God of War rip-off, the demo lacks any real sense of being a Castlevania game. I'll expect the full retail game won't do anything to change my mind on this.

Some of my other "impressions":

- Most of the text feels awkward; as if it had been written by someone who doesn't speak native English. Hiring a good proofreader may have helped to avoid sentences like: "A quick fall to ground that can be used to avoid enemy aerial attacks." Not to mention that all of the move descriptions read like they're out of the game feature specification.
- Jumping controls are super floaty, even more so than SOTN. You can jump about 3 times your height by default, and additionally have access to a double-jump.
- Fairly long loading times between small environments. Sometimes the borders aren't well defined, so it's easy to accidentally wander into a new area.
- The graphics are actually quite nice, though very dark. I only really fought skeletons, but they could have been zombies for all I could see of them. Trevor face design is a little odd, and stuck in a weird expression in the cinematic scenes, and the GOW-like brutal kill scenes.
- Music? Didn't notice it.
- Controls aren't very well explained as the game goes along. The control menu indicates L as being "Block/Synchronized Block", but it also functions as your dodge button. You can use this to awkwardly roll around everywhere, and do air dashes like in Megaman X.
- Quick time events. Fail em and you die. Probably my least favourite gameplay element from any game ever created.
- There's another bug, on that same switch part mentioned above. When you switch the lever, the game pans the camera over to a door opening, and then zooms back to where you were. If you switch the lever, and then jump to the right before the camera pans, the game seems to continue your jump. When it zooms back your character will be down at the bottom of a pit, and you'll be confused on how you got there. There's probably lots of places in the game where this could happen.
- The 3D effects... are actually really well done.

So there you have it, no reason to be excited. I hate to be so brutally negative about a game that really is quite well made, but the Castlevania series holds a very special place in my heart, and really deserves better than to become just another God of War clone.


Starman DX