Its fun combat and platforming is hampered by its short length and linear maps.
THE GOOD: Decent combat with simple but fun combos to pull off. Great swinging and platfoming segments. Great looking cinematic battles.
THE BAD: Lame and pointless story. Short. Extremely linear most of the way through. Secondary weapons and abilities serve very little purpose.
The Castlevania series received a reboot and Mirror of Fate continues that narrative with a bridge story from the last game to the next. Before, the stories were complete trash that gives you an excuse to whip your way through massive castles with fun abilities. In the case of the new story driven Lords of Shadow games, the stories are still complete trash but with much smaller and linear areas, the problem remaining in Mirror of Fate.
You play as three different characters; Simon Belmont, who is out to get revenge on Dracula for killing his father. Alucard, who wants to assist Simon in his quest. Then when you’re about 66% through the game, control switches 30 years into the past, giving you control of Simon’s dad, Trevor, and telling you the story of what happened to him exactly.
The ending was actually a unique plot twist that I enjoyed and was surprised by. A cool thing the game does is, when you play as Simon, you see glimpses of someone else giving you a hand behind the scenes during a boss fight or during a cutscene. When you play as Alucard, you learn that he was the one that was helping Simon as you need to solve puzzles that help Simon get past traps that you’ll remember playing as him. It’s a unique story mechanic that is sadly wasted on a boring story.
Many may complain about the change of combat from previous Castlevania games, but it seems a welcome addition because of the implementation of the combo system. Your combos can immobilize an enemy and make it that much less tedious to defeat a damage sponge that would take forever if you did it the old way. You can swipe an enemy into the air where they will be completely defenseless to your excessive pushing of the Y button from that point. You’ll unlock more combos as you level up, most of which prove useful and satisfying to pull off.
You’re not at all invincible, though. Some baddies just break right through your combo and kick your ass so the dodge system is useful both on the ground and air. When you take damage, you take a lot of it, so you can adjust the difficulty at any point if need be. The harder you make it, the more tedious combat can get, however.
Aside from standard combat, there are a few moments where you’ll have to use quick-time events, such as in a cinematic boss battle. It may sound bad just watching these moments in 3D is very thrilling so pressing a few buttons to keep you in the action is A-ok. Each of the three characters gets their own unique set of skill and sub-weapons but this feature is very poorly implemented. You use some of the skills solely to open doors and solve a puzzle or two. I’m not even sure if some of the stuff was useful in combat since you need to take your thumb off of the circle pad to activate them and it doesn’t feel necessary most of the time. More clever uses of the abilities would have been very welcome.
At first glance of the touchscreen, the map has the same visual style as previous games but turns out to be very deceptive once you’re exploring it. The game is extremely linear with very few branching paths that just lead to dead ends with a scroll or chest so this makes backtracking more boring than before. You can leave a note by dragging one onto the map, which should be displayed larger, so you can remember to where a door or chest is once you get the ability to reach it.
Since you’ll be walking down the same path with very few fast travel points, it just becomes annoying to go back and forth. It pads out the games already short length, which can be about 8-11 hours depending on how much you pace yourself. There is a big positive here, and that is the platforming. There is a lot of it and the game will have you swinging across grapple points, wall jumping, climbing up platforms that are moving down, and double jumping over spikes. It’s surprisingly fun and something that should always be in future games in the series.
It’s not the prettiest game ever, but it doesn’t look terrible either. Textures can look low rez and muddy up close but you don’t really notice it when everything’s moving around. Monster and character animations are done pretty well and the game likes to throw some cheap but oddly cool 3D effects out at you, mostly during cutscenes in slow-motion.
Story focused cutscenes are done in a weird paper-mache style but sadly nothing really animates a lot including mouths. Cinematic battles happen often and they are astounding to watch in 3D. Normally, this stuff is pretty lame but I got a great thrill out of it. The framerate is rather slow as you can always tell there’s some choppiness in almost everything you do. The choppy framerate creates a slight blur in your character which might get distracting from time to time, but it isn’t so slow that it becomes nauseating to play.
It’s hard to discuss Mirror of Fate’s music without looking it up on Youtube to hear it again, as there is practically nothing memorable to draw attention to your ears. The music that’s there certainly fits the dark theme and atmosphere but it’s nothing special at all. Music is a very subjective subject, but when thinking about Mirror of Fate’s music, Dawn of Sorrow’s tunes pop into my mind instead. On the other hand, we have a bit of voice acting here and each character has some sort of European accent. Since the story is so boring, it’s hard to care how good a job the actors did but they’re good for what it’s worth.
Fans of the series may be disappointed but the combat and platforming is enjoyable for the few short hours. It’s hard to justify the price on what feels like an eShop game on steroids.