|Dev: Mercury Stream|
|Release: March 5, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Sean Engemann
There are only a handful of series in the video game world that have spanned two decades yet still maintain a formidable presence in this ever-changing industry. Castlevania is one of those series, with a rich story and recurring cast of characters, each with an emotional back story. Each permutation of the gameplay has been met with both positive and negative reception from the fan base. The use of 3D environments has been a common cause of criticism, with an outcry from the community to return to the side-scrolling roots.
The original Castlevania: Lords of Shadow reboot was a harbinger of this style that met the same vocal fate. Mirror of Fate, however, will play like the games of old, with 2.5D platforming action, a combat system that favors skill with the D-Pad rather than camera control, and the eerily picturesque backdrops we've come to expect from the series.
A quarter century after the events of the first Lords of Shadow, Gabriel Belmont, hero of the previous game, has now become the antagonist. His grandson, Simon Belmont, has in his possession a shard of the Mirror of Fate, which reveals the troubled history of his ancestors. Shifting between time periods, Simon, his father Trevor Belmont, and Dracula's own son Alucard seek their own retribution against the Lords of Shadow.
The castle of Dracula and its surrounding areas have always been designed with a steady hand and eye for perfection from publisher Konami. As such, new series developer MercurySteam has the lofty task of making the adventure feel current without compromising the legacy of the Castlevania name. Straying from that legacy was the harshest criticism of the first game, as it took conventions from other action series rather than from its own heredity. The platforming action in Mirror of Fate should rekindle the love of the disillusioned, with a fairly linear progression.
However, the path won't be without forks in the road, some of which can be traversed after unlocking a new skill. Though each character is confined to their own timeline, they each possess unique abilities, such as Trevor being the sole character able to perform a double-jump. Despite the rigid walls between the characters, the backgrounds will showcase the effects of the past. Thus the destruction Trevor performs in his time period will be showcased as Simon ventures forth in the present time.
Each character will wield a primary weapon, with Trevor's Combat Cross shining front and center. This hybrid chain whip and close-range melee weapon allows for many different attack combinations—a staple of the series. It becomes even more critical in Mirror of Fate since the enemies are much hardier (don't expect minions to be dispatched with a single hit). The bosses are as massive and intimidating as ever, many of them with few weak spots, requiring more than simply hacking and slashing to fell them. To aid in tough situations, there are secondary weapons and magic for your heroes to exploit, though many have a finite number of uses. Items such as the boomerang, for example, will return to you after being thrown, though they can be charged up for a more potent attack at the cost of losing the item.