I know that the Castlevania fanbase is still pretty split on their feelings for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Some people liked the new direction and revamped feel, but others thought it strayed too far from what Castlevania is as a franchise. With that said, I'm guessing that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate is going to do the same exact thing. If you didn't like Lords of Shadow, you'll probably feel the same here. I happened to truly enjoy Lords of Shadow, which means I had a blast with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate.
Right off the bat, this game is absolutely gorgeous. One of the nicer looking 3DS games I've seen thus far. It's not Kid Icarus: Uprising levels of gorgeous, but it's still a very nice looking game. The game also featured a lot of in-game cut-scenes that looked fantastic. You really appreciate the art and graphics themselves when you see how well they work during story scenes.
If you're a fan of the Metroidvania style Castlevania games, you should be pretty happy to hear that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate definitely follows in those footsteps. The touch screen during my demo session featured your typical tiny, blocky map that we've seen in the Iga-developed Castlevanias. There's definitely going to be backtracking and exploration in this game, but that all gets mixed in with the style and battle mechanics of Lords of Shadow.
The fighting in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate felt almost exactly like what you find in Lords of Shadow. Instead of just plowing through enemies and moving into new rooms, you'll have portions of the game where you have to clear out enemies to progress. Let me tell you, these enemies are no slouches either. Even your basic skeleton guards take a beating before they fall apart.
Just like in Lords of Shadow, you'll have to dodge and plan your attacks in order to take out enemies. Some enemies block attacks with shields or other means, which will put you quickly into harm's way if you just whip like crazy. You'll need to learn attack patterns and find your way in instead of just smashing the attack button. This was an element of Lords of Shadow that I really like, which is why I was so happy to see it retained for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate.
You'll also get the enemies that shimmer after they've taken a beating. That's when you move in and grab them to start up a QTE to wipe them out. These cinematic finishers have you punching through skeletons chests to explode them into bone piles or reaching down bats' throats in order to pull out their guts. Very visceral and very fun, something I found to be a highlight of my experience.
As I said before, when you're not fighting you're exploring. The demo section I tackled was pretty linear, but I think that was a product of the demo build. I believe there will be more exploration in the final game, as you could see the groundwork for backtracking and those features in the demo level layouts. You might not have to go through as much re-traversing as you did in other portable Castlevania games, but some might see that as a positive.
After my good 20 minutes with the game, I really did feel like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate was a nice blend of Metroidvania and MercurySteam's take on the Castlevania brand. While the demo build was early on, it played well, ran well and looked very nice. I was excited for this one when it got announced, but now it quickly went to the top of my most-wanted 3DS games.