A storied franchise like Castlevania needs no introduction. Since 1986 and over the course of 30 different games, we’ve literally been whipping Dracula and his aberrations to death. Rehabilitating as this practice obviously is, the impending release of Castlevania: Mirror of Fate dictates that this obsessive practice won’t slow anytime soon. It’s great to see a franchise as classic as Castlevania continue moving forward in strong suit, but it’s no secret that the series has been mired by its shift to the third-dimension. Mirror of Fate sends Castlevania back to its two-dimensional roots, but the question still remains – can it help break Castlevania’s contemporary curse?
Lament of Innocence, Curse of Darkness, Lords of Shadow and the upcoming Lords of Shadow 2 are all Castlevania games that have forsaken the realm of the second-dimension. They’re also all games that aren’t even close to being considered near the top echelon of the towering Castlevania ladder. So why then, is Konami so set on bringing Castlevania to the third-dimensional route? One word – modernization. As previously stated, Castlevania’s been around a long time and if there’s anything a company like Konami wants, it’s a successful triple-A dose of a tried-and-true formula on a modern day console. It, unfortunately, has not been working favorably but if Mirror of Fate is any indication, Konami hasn’t forgotten about where Castlevania has excelled.
I’ve been a Castlevania player all my life and while I’m not crazy and tout having played every single game to 100% completion, I’ve played extensively and know a fair share of information that would be lost on the uninitiated. With that out of the way, know that I’m terribly pessimistic about the direction Castlevania has taken. Although, Mirror of Fate’s sudden appearance at last year’s E3 rejuvenated my despondent attitude while simultaneously alleviating some of my fears for Lords of Shadow 2. Now that the dust has settled on the situation and the demo is out on the eShop, there’s a real chance that Mirror of Fate is what the series needed to get back on track.
What’s Mirror of Fate bringing to the table? How does it have anything to do with the three-dimensional games? Does the handheld market hold any weight when compared to full-fledged home console releases? These are all fair questions and the answer to all of them is strikingly positive. Mirror of Fate is focusing on the old-school gamestyle approach of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. The much loved RPG style of Symphony of the Night and Dawn of Sorrow will be taking a back seat, and for once, I think rewinding time is an audacious move.
Konami knows everyone loves the RPG elements of past titles, but by implementing a more simplistic approach, the very essence of the original Castlevania becomes most potent. I’m excited to see how they handle backtracking in this way and I think, if done right, Mirror of Fate can be the reminder of how simpler styles with cutting-edge focus can still be great games. Do you always need to level up and be systematically in control of your statistics? No, but getting the combat feel right and still emphasizing exploration are keys that cannot be ignored.
If Mirror of Fate’s old-style translates well, Lords of Shadow 2 will have an easier time being accepted by fans. After all, this is the first time a Castlevania game will be released in the same year and be a direct tie-in with a home console release. This means by showcasing a more classic style and, hopefully, a better overall narrative, Mirror of Fate can directly influence the way gamers feel about Lords of Shadow 2.
The first Lords of Shadow game wasn’t a great title. Besides the stunning scenery, the only thing that game had in common with the Castlevania name was a whip (bastardized as it might have been), familiar holy weapons, a fanatical religious order and some vampires. It felt so loosely tied to Castlevania that if Konami removed the Castlevania name from the box and replaced it with something completely different, it could easily have passed for a new intellectual property. This is not how Castlevania should be delivered.
Mirror of Fate brings with it tell-tale signs of promise and nostalgia with a mix of what we can expect for the future. Since Lords of Shadow 2 wraps up this specific series, here’s to hoping Mirror of Fate can teach some lessons about how the original formula is the greatest one; arguably.
What do you think? Does Mirror of Fate stand a chance to turn around the fortunes of Lords of Shadow 2? Let us know below!