Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Fate review

Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Fate is out 8 March 2013 for Nintendo 3DS

There’s nothing new to speak of in this moody 3DS interquel between the two main Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow console titles, but the atmosphere and sense of place presented by Mirror Of Fate is surprisingly impressive.

While not exactly scary, this combination between old 2D entries in the series and its contemporary brethren is an addictive, high-end reinterpretation of Castlevania that invokes a thrilling sense of exploration through its smart environmental design.

Mirror Of Fate follows the different, troubled generations of the Belmont family as youngest child Simon Belmont vows to avenge his father, ‘killed’ by Dracula (except that Dracula is his dad, Gabriel Belmont, transformed). We don’t want to get too in-depth with the story, as you can almost smell the ham with this sort of narrative, even if it is very nicely presented through comic book-like cutscenes, but it offers a nice excuse for you to get involved with different playable characters.

Simon, for example, can summon spirits that help him defend and attack automatically in battle; meanwhile, vampire Alucard can phase through enemies and doors, teleporting between places to outthink his foes. Each hero offers a tactical slant on the one constant environment in which Mirror Of Fate is set – it’s terrifically precise design that also offers intersecting viewpoints on the same tale.

It’s the labyrinthine castle that really brings Mirror Of Fate to life beyond its production values and variety of protagonists, though. This world almost feels like a real location, composed of detailed rooms that slowly descend into the macabre, with, for example, human bodies hanging from the ceiling in a meat locker, creepy statues in immense halls or a theatre with grotesque statues on stage. There are no dead areas or filler in this intelligently-designed locale, and that genuine sense of wonder is captured by each strand of the story.

It’s therefore one of the better-designed games out there in terms of pacing – there’s no slog to the finish in Mirror Of Fate, but rather an enduring sense of journey through an extremely well-considered world, one that offers a pleasing entry point to the long-running series on top of a somewhat retro love letter to series veterans.