Like many gamers, upon completing a video game I often times like to write a review. Even in my high school days I've always liked the written word (well, much more than math and numbers at least) so I often write things down as a point of reference for the future. I know that reviews are often meant to guide others in the positives and minuses of a given product, but I tend to see them useful for myself as well. I often wonder if I'll feel the same about a given game or item ten or fifteen years down the road. Looking back at some of my oldest scribblings, some of the music CDs I liked in my youth have aged very poorly. It's a real hoot to see such a contrast in opinion as tastes change and evolve... but given the hand that fate has dealt Castlevania: Lord of Shadows ~Mirror of Fate~ writing down an opinion seems like a good idea.
I write this review mainly because I see a real divide between opinions on this game. It seems that opinions are much more positive on websites that don't focus exclusively on video games yet when I visit a gamer-centric forum many people are quick to call the game trash. To a certain extent I guess that is to be expected - gamers are (sometimes unfortunately) pretty stout with their opinions - but I don't think Mirror of Fate is the failure some see it as.
Now, I will admit when I started Mirror of Fate (about the first three hours) I was a little concerned where Mercury Steam was headed with this game. In the simplest of descriptions it really felt like something was missing. Things really picked up with the first boss (minus the quick time events that don't belong in a handheld title and make me feel like I was going to break my 3DS) and soon after that I picked up an item that really opened up the game's world. It was around this time that the game really started to show some similarities to old-school Castlevania games, especially Super Castlevania IV. The further I got the more and more I realized the game's focus on learning enemy attack patterns which, as any Castlevania fan knows, was a big part of the older games. To put it frankly, if you don't learn when to attack your not going to get very far.
Still, what puzzles me is the seemingly large group of people that dislike Mirror of Fate because it doesn't directly follow in the steps of Symphony of the Night. As a fan I can't even begin to talk about how big Symphony of the Night was for me as a fan of the franchise... but, you can only make the same game (with one new gimmick per title) so many times. Recent video game history has shown fans are more than capable of making or breaking a rebooted franchise if they want to, but in the case of Castlevania Mirror of Fate has made a believer out of me. I actually want to go back and play the first Lord of Shadows and am now looking forward to the sequel despite having kind of written them off as God of War clones.
Despite my disappointment in how some view this game, the aspect of Mirror of Fate that really clinched my attention and respect was the game's willingness to tinker with and challenge pre-established beliefs about the previous game's storylines. Mercury Steam has obviously added a page from the older games to the original Lord of Shadow's mythos but they have done it in their own unique way. While it certainly takes a while for the revelations to come to light, I thought the game offered some really delightful twists. I know some of the traditionalists are going to have huge issues with Mirror of Fate's story but I just flat out loved it.
In the end it's rather ironic that a game with a story so vested in the idea of fate faces an uncertain fate itself. While the negativity on message boards and reports of low sales are discouraging I couldn't be happier with the game. I can't really give it a ten of ten but I'm more than glad I picked it up and it has help me shed the preconceptions I had of the series newest developed games. Personally I find Mirror of Fate to be a good game, and an especially good handheld title.