As a newcomer to the Castlevania series I’ve been well aware of the history of the franchise and the fans that love it. I know the fans expect a certain level of quality and depth in any style of Castlevania game, and after playing through the newest 3DS incarnation “Mirror of Fate” I can say that I think most fans will come away from this game with generally positive opinions, despite some overall flaws.

I’ve, of course, seen and heard much about the fabled Castlevania series over the years as a gamer and played a small bit of the latest Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 game Lords of Shadow (of which Mirror of Fate is a sequel to), but I never really got all that deep into one of the games until now. Throughout the campaign (which lasts about 8 hours, minus collectibles) you take the reigns of three different characters, the main being Trevor Belmont, the son of Gabriel Belmont who is now Dracula. Gabriel/Dracula had murdered his wife, Trevor’s mother, and the game follows Trevor as he ventures to the castle for revenge. The twist of the narrative being that Gabriel had no idea he had a son, as the Brotherhood of Light took Trevor away after birth to protect him from the darkness that would befall Gabriel. Trevor is eventually told of his father and his actions, and wants to clear his family’s name. You can stop here, because this is where the plot stops being interesting. I did enjoy playing as different characters, however. You eventually play as Trevor Belmont, his son Simon, and Alucard. They each have slightly different styles, and different “powers.”

The most important part of this game is the gameplay. Following somewhat in the footsteps of the Xbox 360 and PS3 game “Lords of Shadow” this game features gameplay more in the style of what you’d see from a God of War. Heavy and light attacks (with your whip), throwing enemies into the air, and even thrown objects fill out your (somewhat extensive) move-set. The difference here is that Mirror of Fate is all side-scrolling. The gameplay felt great overall to me, although I found myself missing that 3D space on occasion, but side scrolling is what makes up the DNA of Castlevania so I can’t give it too much grief.  The enemies are decently fun to fight and the exploration is nice. There are quite a few collectibles to be had and nooks to find throughout the game. You’ll find yourself going back to areas once you get new tools to get the hidden items as well (via a nice teleportation system). The checkpoint system is very forgiving as well, it even gives you boss battle checkpoints. I found this very nice for a newcomer. My only two qualms with the gameplay is the inclusion of quick time events and the throw-away XP system. They could have done quite a bit more with the XP system, so this is a bit disappointing.

Overall Mirror of Fate is a solid entry in the long line of Castlevania games. The new combat is a welcome addition and flows just as well as the previous console game. The graphics are fantastic on the 3DS and the 3D is well done and never gets in the way. The plot may drag overall and you’ll have to endure quick time events and pointless XP, but these are not quite enough to keep me from liking the game. As someone new to the series it was a nice first entry for myself, and a great game to pick up and play for a few hours at a time. I would recommend Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate to anyone that loves the series, or likes action games overall and is looking for something to keep their 3DS going through the winter.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate Launch Trailer