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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of fate HD: A Poor Reflection

Originally released for the Nintendo 3DS to less-than-rave reviews, Mirror of Fate blends free-flowing melee based combat with 2D exploration to produce a recognisable Castlevania experience, despite having been seemingly largely neglected by developer MercurySteam.

A bridge between Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, Mirror of Fate explores the family lineage of Gabriel Belmont (main protagonist of the Lords of Shadow saga) as his son and grandson explore the vast depths of Dracula’s dark and disfigured domain.

Mirror of Fate picks up from a major plot twist at the end of 2010's Lords of Shadow as players assume the role of Trevor Belmont (son), Simon Belmont (grandson) and Alucard (son of Dracula) while narrative is delivered through simplistic, yet stylized cut-scenes reminiscent of the older games in the franchise.

Character progression is what you would expect from a Castlevania game. Watered down role-playing elements allow players to earn experience points and unlock new moves as opposed to stats, while action plays out like a side-scrolling hack-and-slash Devil May Cry with plenty of exploration marred only by the over-simplistic and clumsy map system.

Perhaps the best addition to the HD port is the removal of somewhat tedious and pointless quick-time-events. In the original version, gamers were forced to input a timed button command for virtually every action including the simple opening of a chest for which you have a key! While the PC version only throws QTE’s at you when you need – or can at least tolerate –them like when escaping the firm clutches of an enemy’s grab.

Naturally, the graphics have been improved, but only just, although to the game’s credit, the original texture models were of extremely low quality given the power of the 3DS and Mirror of Fate HD looks about as good as it can without remodeling the entire game.

The game also lacks the ability to change your primary weapons but each character comes with their own variant of a ‘combat cross’ (magic-infused chain whip) and narrow host of unique special abilities like the ability to change into a werewolf or summon a ghostly spirit protectorate.

Combat is certainly not as smooth as Capcom’s DMC but streamlined enough to make the game accessible to all players with dodging, parrying and more advanced aerial attacks.

Unfortunately, here combat takes place on a 2D plane which means you can only dodge in one of two directions. This can be frustrating when cornered against a slew of area attacks, however, it is in death that the game’s biggest flaw is revealed – not in the mechanics but in the difficulty.

Simply put, this particular HD port is far too easy. With little or no consequence for death and an overly generous auto save feature, the developer has taken every precaution to ensure that everyone will be able to finish the ten hour campaign split across three acts.

Boss fights are a more of a nuisance than anything else. Your own onslaught of chains and jabs will barely draw blood while a clumsy swing will send you to a familiar grave – only to respawn with your health at full but your adversary’s right where you left it.

Although, vastly greater than Lords of Shadow 2, Mirrors of Fate HD does not offer much to the PC experience and while functional, is also very lacking.

It's a poor reflection and a saddening end to a long and illustrious lineage with developer MercurySteam having since chosen to distance themselves from the franchise.

In all fairness, Mirror of fate HD is the better version of Konami’s Lords of Shadow series but does not really warrant Steam’s $14.99 (R158.16) price tag and certainly not if you already own the original.

Score: 5/10