Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate Review

Mercurysteam flexes its abilities and tries something new, with mostly good results
Mercurysteam flexes its abilities and tries something new, with mostly good results
Mercurysteam flexes its abilities and tries something new, with mostly good results


  • Great atmosphere
  • Fits in the older Castlevania universe
  • Diverse and fun gameplay


  • Inconsistent design
  • Often drag graphics
  • Serious pacing issues

DT Editors' Rating

The Belmonts have always employed  Napoleon Bonaparte’s battle plan when it comes to fighting Dracula: First you show up, then you see what happens. Just look at the original Castlevania for the NES. Simon Belmont just walks up to the gates of Drac’s castle and saunters on in like a boss. That’s how the heroes of Castlevania always do it, picking up the weapons they need on location and beating to death anything that gets in their way.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow—Mirror of Fate developer Mercurysteam seems to have followed the same plan. The developer shows up with some spectacular riffs on the series’ exploration and platforming, but it often feels like it went in without a plan at all, starting to make one game in one style and then ending up making something very different halfway through. One second Mirror of Fate is a sort of loud spectacle like its console predecessor Lords of Shadow, with its hero riding on the back of a giant insect during an obnoxious quick time event. The next, it’s a quiet, patient exploration game in the mold of Koji Igarashi’s classic Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. This indecision keeps Mirror of Fate from perfection, but like any great conqueror, Mercurysteam’s raw talent and verve carries it through. This is the studio’s best game, even if it feels rough at times.

Castlevania review 2

Family Values

Unlike Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate goes old school, a two-dimensional romp that has you wandering the halls and grounds of Dracula’s fortress home with a few familiar names. The wanderers in question are three generations of Belmont. In the first of the game’s three acts, you control Simon, grandson of Gabriel, who became the monstrous Dracula at the end of Lords of Shadow. Simon, a red-haired, whip-wielding cross between Billy Connolly and a WWE wrestler, knows all too well about his lineage and is there to clear the family name and avenge his father Trevor. Aiding Simon is Alucard, Dracula’s vampiric son and fan-favorite from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Alucard has his signature coat, but strangely doesn’t wear a shirt anymore.) In the second act, you control Alucard, and in the third, you go back to play as Trevor, finding out what happened all those years ago. 

All three characters share experience, their whip skills leveling consistently throughout all three acts of the game. New moves for the combo cross are unlocked by fighting off monsters and bosses, from drooling mermen to feathered vampire knights. Each hero has four special skills though, that have to be found in the castle. Simon can call on spirits like his mom Sypha Belnades to protect him while Alucard can transform into a wolf and Trevor can slow down time. The similarities and differences between the three characters keeps the combat fresh throughout, but also uneven. Alucard is so weak even with his powers that the prolonged combat—even at the end enemies take many hits to put down—can feel cheap and unfair especially when you have to wail away on a giant demonic wolf after your fiftieth death. Playing as the overpowered Trevor in Act III, meanwhile, lacks some of the satisfying challenge from when you play as Simon.

Castlevania review 3


Alucard’s section of the game, the lengthiest of the three, feels the most fleshed out. He’s more versatile in exploring the castle, more limber than Trevor or Simon thanks to the ability to double jump and climb walls (Trevor can do both, but he can’t float, just jump farther distances). But the characters are so similar that it doesn’t seem like the three acts were meant to be distinct. It just feels like part way through each, Merucrysteam had a new idea and just threw it in. Why not have Alucard solve some giant puzzles? Or have to backtrack through the castle to find items to enter Dracula’s throne room, even though Simon was able to just wander right in?

The chunks of castle that Alucard gets to explore are more interesting too. Simon’s stretch of game is very drab, almost ugly thanks to halls dominated by brown and grey. When Alucard’s act starts, the castle is much more colorful and varied even though he visits some of the exact same spots. When Simon gets stuck on a monstrous carousel dodging nasty looking monster heads, Alucard is in bizarre room above where you have to solve a devious puzzle to shut it down. The game is often inconsistent in this manner.  

In cutscenes, the blocky characters are cel-shaded. Simon’s hair burns red and Trevor’s coat is a brilliant aqua blue. During play though, everything is muted and bare. Mirror of Fate actually looks better with the 3D on, but it’s sometimes too hard to follow the action with the effect active. The flow of the game is another example of this inconsistency. Trevor’s act seems to have been made well before Simon or Alucard’s. It opens with the same chunk from the earliest demos of the game, with you fighting giant possessed suits of armor. If the plan was to have Trevor’s section of the game at the end, why does the game start throwing up tutorial prompts on how to dodge and fight again?

Castlevania review 4

Mirror of Fate

In spite of all these problems, Mirror of Fate ends up engrossing. Melodramatic as its story is, it’s surprisingly good. The meetings between all the various Belmonts are all sad and moving, their impact reinforced by brevity. When Trevor and Gabriel meet at the end, it hits home in a way the series has never managed.

Exploring the castle is excellent, too. Mercurysteam’s game never feels as vast and smooth as the Symphony of the Night era games, but it’s chock full of personality. Swinging your way through Vertical Prison section of the game just plain feels good. It doesn’t even matter that the game sometimes misinterprets what which way you’re jumping. Technical problems, a weirdly inconsistent flow, some ugly graphics – all of these failings melt away in inspired moments like Simon’s fight against the Night Watchman. 


Mercurysteam has the potential to become Konami’s most valuable developer, but it has a long way to go. Mirror of Fate can feel schizophrenic and almost improvisational in its design, but it also feels more distinctive and energetic than Lords of Shadow. Rather than an homage to other games and genres, this 3DS game feels like a developer stretching out and testing its limits. It even feels more like a proper Castlevania game. Even without all its callbacks and references to past entries, it nails the game’s mixed atmosphere of cartoon bombast and dread. It may be imperfect, but it’s exciting game making. The next time Mercurysteam shows up, we can’t wait to see what happens.

Score: 7 out of 10

(This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS using a copy provided by the publisher)


GameStop manager marks ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ launch by mimicking cover art

To celebrate the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, GameStop stores held midnight launch events across the United States. One manager even cosplayed as the cover star from the game, complete with an accurate haircut.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in October, from 'Mindhunter’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.

From Blackout to Zombies, here's everything we know about 'Black Ops 4'

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 arrives on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12. Here's everything you need to know about the game, including info on multiplayer, Zombies, Blackout, and Signature Weapons.
Product Review

'Black Ops 4' learns a few new tricks, but it's Call of Duty to the core

Despite nods to hero-based tactical gameplay, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s multiplayer feels as stable as ever -- even as the game trades in its story-driven campaign for the new Blackout mode.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

Here’s our guide on how to get ‘Fortnite’ on your Android device

'Fortnite: Battle Royale' is one of the biggest games in the world right now, and it's finally on Android, even if getting set up is a bit long-winded. Here's how to play 'Fortnite: Battle Royale' on an Android device.

Put your iPad Pro to the test with these great games

Did you recently purchase a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, or are you enjoying the 12.9-inch version? If so, we've rounded up a few of the best iPad Pro games currently available on Apple's mobile platform.

Open-world video games are getting too big for their own good

As technology has progressed, open-world video games have grown increasingly bigger. What seems like a universal positive has shown problems preventing the genre from truly moving forward, however.
Product Review

The Oculus Rift is cheaper, the Vive Pro is better. Is the original Vive still worth it?

The Oculus Rift may have brought virtual reality into the public eye, but HTC’s Vive, built in partnership with Valve, does it better. Does the Vive still represent the true future of virtual reality, or are there better competitors on…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.