Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD Xbox 360 Review
If I ever were to sit down with Dracula and have a conversation as I sip tea and he sips his usual, I’d expect him to be as layered and formulaic as a diary, carrying gripping deep-rooted secrets that make me want to dig out what they are.
With that pre-conceived notion of undead mystic I’d expect any game based on Dracula’s existence to have the same kind of traits when I settle down to take on the aspects. Some games deeply disappoint, being so bad that they should be arrested but other games capture that kind of ambiance that makes the portrayed an epically gripping trench of immersion.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD is the version that’s done right – with no quick time events to open chests or defeat bosses. The developers have finally realized that anything with quick time events in them isn’t a game anymore, but an annoyingly interactive movie and they’ve showed us this by doing something very smart and made the console version free from that disgrace of a feature.
Initially set 25 years after the events of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate will reveal the story of Gabriel’s descendants in a foreshadowed cluster of poor hint dropping, as they battle their own destiny in each era only to discover their true, shocking fate that’s as predictable as the ending of a football game.
Trevor Belmont, a knight of the Brotherhood of Light with a mullet that obviously argued with a mirror, sets out to avenge the death of his mother, at the hands of his own father, who has now returned from years of exile to take up residence in a mysterious castle. What was once Gabriel Belmont now stands a powerful vampire called Dracula, who has declared war upon the Brotherhood and thus the scene is set for a cataclysmic showdown between Father and Son.
In this wholesome tale of explorative wonder, you’ll play as each of the descendants. Simon Belmont, his father Trevor Belmont, and Alucard. Each of their stories is told separately via chapters, allowing you to play all of them, shifting back and forth. Even though the threads snuggle up together to mesh into a nice ending the foreshadowing laced throughout the story like scattered 1,000 dollar bills makes the surprise fall like an arthritic dog.
Despite the storytelling the game is definitely gripping. Within seconds of starting I immediately felt like I was in the castle, thanks to the score that sounded like angels were caressing my eardrum, visuals. And controls. For a side scroller, the visuals are as gorgeous as Denzel Washington.
The gameplay was simple. I was to navigate the halls of Dracula’s castle, fending off zombies, seething, skull-headed rat-dogs, and undead knights, with an occasional challenging boss fight, following my map that was perched at the top right corner of the screen. Unfortunately, this map can’t be moved but it can be blown up by hitting the start button.
There is an exploring element to the game thanks in part to your trusty whip that allows you to reach places out of the ordinary such as rappelling down walls or grappling and swinging across areas with the fluidity of Buffy. It added the feel of being inside the castle when I had to draw my own mini map of treasures hidden within the castle. This added bonus definitely brought the correct kind of atmospheric feel along with the added ease of controls.
The game’s combat system makes it easy to string together a series of direct and area attacks, well-timed blocks that can stun enemies, and evasive manoeuvres enhanced by the added ability to memorize the button combos. If you can’t do the memorizing thing though, button mashing will allow you to plow through like a duck on roller blades.
The game’s strengths are atmosphere and placing the character into this world but the game definitely has some noticeable diatribes and disappointments as well. One of these may cause you to admit yourself to the nearest hospital. The text. It’s extremely small. So small, that people even with perfect vision had to squint as if they were staring at a crumb. Because of this, I didn’t want to give myself a migraine so I didn’t even bother to read anything on the screen. I felt as if I were missing important information, detracting from my gameplay experience.
The other problem that tickled the back of my critical thinking ability was the character switching. The shifting from character to character was welcomed because it gave me a chance to be a master of all characters. Even though you will be dealing with slightly different repertoire of movement and attack abilities each chapter the controls are not hard to get used to. Because of this, though, my levelling up with characters I knew were minor, and wouldn’t be using in the final boss, felt like a teacher boosting my skills with a calculator before an important reading test.
The game is worth a prod though because the feeling can’t be matched. It’s a classic game, with most of the best elements, tossed into a nifty hitch of a game ported over from the DS. Some elements of the game, such as the text, will make you question your sanity but the gameplay redeems that and will show the light at the end of the tunnel. The style brings together a classic style of gameplay that can have everyone sighing with a wash of comfort, wishing to sink their fangs past the bad to experience some heart-thumping fun.