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Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow: Mirror of Fate HD Review: Nosferalgia
I’ve always believed that the rosy tint of nostalgia is usually a bad thing in the world of video games. It so very often warps our perception on games that we love form the past where we overrate anything from the series, or hold newer incarnations up to impossible standards. I for one will always blindly stand by Touchdown Fever as the greatest sports game of all time. To make some kind of point out of this, I love it when established series do their best to avoid to pull away from these idealistic memories. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate is a game constantly undercut by its own nostalgia.
Mirror of Fate is divided up into three acts, with the first two revolving around traversing the various grounds of a castle and eventually culminating in a battle with (shockingly) Dracula, and the third serving as a narrative prologue to the previous events of the game. You take on the role Simon Belmont in act one, and series’ mainstays Alucard and Trevor Belmont in acts two and three respectively. Herein lies the biggest issue in Mirror of Fate. Trying my best to avoid any spoilers, there are some inventive re-imaginings and twists in the game, specifically with characters and their origins. However they fall completely flat without knowledge of previous Castlevania games, and the writers never really try to make the characters matter because they are expecting you to already care, as well as the twists in the characters having no impact if you aren’t familiar with their previous incarnations. This completely devalues all of what happens in the games into mere fan service for loyal customers. The third act of the game seemed to have been put in for solely this purpose as you go through a rehash of the same enemies and bosses you have already beaten only for twenty seconds of exposition and getting to play as Trevor Belmont.
The gameplay itself is nothing new to regulars either. You wander through various areas, solving puzzles, fighting enemies and collecting power ups. Combat is split into a standard attack and area of effect attacks, alongside ranged attacks and magic which you accumulate as you progress through the story. The attacks/magic you gather are diverse and manage to stay fresh throughout the game, specifically when you change character and given a whole new set of things to unlock. The game does a good job of throwing a deep pool of enemies at you and challenges you to use all the skills at your disposal, giving everything a sense of value.
As you travel through the different stages, you will come across boss fights who will have your standard mix of special attacks and will spawn minions to do their dirty work. These bosses also force you to employ different strategies and skills to best them and are somewhere around the right line of challenging without being ridiculously hard.
If you feel like all this is saying that Mirror of Fate is a bad game, it isn’t; it just isn’t a particularly good one. It is a distinctly average experience with decent game play let down by a poorly thought out story and an inability to fully let go of the past. To its credit, by making certain collectibles inaccessible without having the right equipment gives the game some replay value. A boss rush mode also adds to the replay value. I suppose the reason I’m so down on this game is just that I was disappointed in how much better it could have been. But outside of its pointless third act, the game is never boring and is still pretty fun to play. Just don’t expect anything incredible.