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

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The Castlevania series of games is one of the most iconic franchises due to their original run of games, with the peak possibly being the absolutely brilliant Symphony of the Night. The problems started when the series moved to 3D from the 2D sidescrolling style found in the originals, which led to multiple poorly received games. That all changed with a much needed reboot to the franchise with the Lords of Shadow series of games. The first Castlevania: Lords of Shadow game released in 2010 on consoles, followed by Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate on the 3DS earlier this year. Now, ahead of the release of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 in February, we have received an HD upgrade for the 3DS title with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The first Lords of Shadow title consisted of a 3D world that you must explore, but Mirror of Fate instead chooses to go with a more classic playstyle. Perhaps limited by the 3DS with the original title, Mirror of Fate HD features 2D sidescrolling action that is most similar to some of the best games in the Castlevania franchise. The game utilizes a strange celshaded animated style for cutscenes only, but instantly transitions to 3D models when they are over. On a handheld it may have worked better to conserve space or something, but on the console it felt kind of jarring to go back and forth between the two styles.

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For whatever reason, the game starts with a short tutorial that is zoomed in way too much. I was very worried that this was the case for the full game at first, but quickly you transition to control over Simon Belmont as the game truly begins. Once this happens, the setup is much better as you can see better in front and behind you in combat. I did occasionally continue to have problems with the screen movement as the screen would sometimes not go fast enough, when you are running, and you can’t see what is going on enough ahead of you. This led to multiple deaths due to stage hazards that could have been avoided otherwise.

As you move through the game, you will control three different characters split across three different segments. You will start with Simon Belmont, followed by Alucard, and finally Trevor Belmont. Disappointingly, there really is no drastic change between the three characters outside of a few different abilities, such as Alucard having the ability to breath underwater and a few in-battle abilities. The three characters even share the same leveling system and skill upgrades that you earn. While it is kind of disappointing to have no real exclusive moves to each character, it does allow for more consistency between the three, to where you don’t have to adjust to three different types of gameplay in a decently short game.

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Just like the first Lords of Shadow game, you can definitely tell that Mirror of Fate HD is inspired by games like the God of War series. There are two base attacks with your whip that you will use for most of your attacks. You will also pick up projective attacks, such as throwable axes, that you will have to replenish as you play through the game by destroying barrels. The in-battle abilities I alluded to above are also in your repertoire while you fight, including Mist Form that allows you to move through enemies and barriers while activated. The combat is very simple to learn, but can quickly grow repetitive after a lot of button mashing, which is always a problem with hack and slash games. However, there is a light in the darkness with combat that will be discussed later.

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