Castlevania: Mirror of Fate HD Review

Castlevania: Mirror of Fate HD Gameplay

Castlevania has evolved in so many ways over the years, it’s hard to foresee what kind of direction the series will go in when it comes to future installments. Castlevania: Mirror of Fate HD, available on both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, is intriguing as it doffs its “Metroidvania” formula for something more linear, yet wholly ferocious.

It may not scratch the Castlevania itch some of us may be left with after the most recent releases (namely, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow) but it’s a meaty, delicious chunk of side-scrolling goodness that should tide gamers over nicely until their next brush with the venerable franchise.

 

This visually stunning side-scroller sports slick visuals, much like Symphony of the Night married Lords of Shadow, combining impressively complex combat with the gothic sensibilities we know and love from the Castlevania games. If you’re looking for a traditionalCastlevania experience you may walk away disappointed, so it’s best to approach this entry with an open mind.

Set 25 years after the events that unfolded in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate
unravels the story of Gabriel’s ancestors. Trevor Belmont is out to avenge his mother’s death as he traverses his father’s mysterious castle. The man formerly known as Gabriel Belmont has metamorphosed into a powerful vampire – Dracula. The all-powerful Dracula is waging his own war against the Brotherhood of Light, and it’s up to you to square off against him in an epic struggle between father and son. Sounds a little hokey, but it actually opens up an engaging plot thread to explore with plenty of twists along the way.

Trek through the castle and beyond across several gorgeously-rendered 3D levels, melding comic book-styled cinematics with vibrant character animations and competent voice acting to create an experience that transcends the boundaries of what the 3DS could do. This is the definitive way to play through the game.

New character portraits are also a welcome bonus, with improved presentation a boon you’ll notice right off the bat.

It’s clear that this is a game that Konami spent some time on reworking; it looks and feels fantastic, and the updates to HD are evident each time you crack a whip or topple a titan of a boss. The hack-and-slash gameplay has been refined significantly, and after going back to try the 3DS version for comparison, it’s clear the framerate and minor details have been improved as well.

The influence of games like God of War and similar quick-time event-laden games is evident here, however, and remains one of the aspects of modern Castlevania that fans simply don’t care for. Mirror of Fate HD surprisingly jettisons the QTE completely, except for a few occasions where you’re required to complete a few during boss encounters. It’s a refreshing change to be able to take down enemies without completely resorting to this hackneyed mechanic of well timed button mashing, and one reason MercurySteam should be praised for heading up this port.

Boss Rush mode and the included Lords of Shadow 2 demo were both boons as well, fantastic additions to a game that already felt as though it would have been more at home on a console anyway.

It could have benefited from a wider variety of enemies and a less linear path to the end, but dazzling boss fights, gorgeous environments, and updated character models/portraits as well as a fantastic soundtrack are a powerful combination, allowing us to recommend Castlevania: Mirror of Fate HD for purchase over its handheld alternative.