Back To The Castle
Konami may be taking the Castlevania franchise in new—and decidedly more Western—directions in the last few years, but that doesn’t mean they’re ignoring the mechanical legacy of the series. Lords of Shadow is a new story, taking place in a 3D action world, but there’s still some side-scrolling gameplay that can be wrung out of even this new interpretation of the property. Mirror of Fate, originally a 3DS game, was that callback to earlier games, and now it’s available on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
Getting In On The Trend
If you’ve played the God of War: Origins collection on the PS3, then you know exactly what you’re getting into here. This is an HD version of a game that originally debuted on a portable system, only this time, it’s making the jump from the 3DS to another family of consoles entirely. As you might expect, that means that there’s a nice jump in the graphical quality, though nothing too impressive compared to the kind of games we’re seeing now on the 360 and PS3. There was also clearly not a lot of optimizing going on with this port as the frame rate occasionally dips and there are some significant loading times between levels. In many ways, the original 3DS version actually performs better at a technical level than the console version does, despite the increased horsepower.
Despite that, however, there’s a game largely worth playing here. Tale of Lords of Shadow gets a bit more filling out as we lead up to the release of Lords of Shadow 2. There aren’t any surprises here in terms of plot, but MOF does a good job of fleshing out the details leading in the sad story of the Belmont family over the decades. The real reason people come to play the game is that this is classic Castlevania. The characters and environment are in 2.5D, going from left to right while exploring a ridiculously huge, gothic castle. There are monsters to kill, a return to previous areas in order to uncover secrets formerly inaccessible that aren’t later when new tools/abilities are acquired.
Just don’t expect a difficult game when you load this up and start playing. It’s actually a decent length, taking eight or so hours to complete if you’re just trying to finish the main story while that lifespan lengthens considerably when you do the usual Castlevania thing of backtracking to uncover secrets with new gadgets. There’s a decent mix of puzzle elements—some of which require actual brain power—and side-scrolling combat. The numerous QTEs of the original portable game have mostly been removed for these console ports, which is probably for the best. That aside, this is the same game that 3DS owners enjoyed, with slightly better graphics, and slightly worse performance.
So is it worth $15? I’d say the answer is yes. Mirror of Fate is a fun, but not spectacular outing that provides some decent Castlevania action at a cheap price. It also adds a bit more texture to the new Belmont storyline in anticipation of Lords of Shadow II. If you’re aching for a bit of classic Metroidvania action, it’s hard to go wrong with an actual Castlevania game, and this one is good value at only $15 for a full-length game. Just don’t expect it blow your socks off graphically.