The long wait is finally coming to a close.
There’s been a void in my life lately. I could once happily plow through some of the most compelling platforming gameplay ever conceived on a number of handhelds with the plentiful smattering of Metroid-vania titles that Konami kept churning out, each managing to stay fun despite doing little to change the formula—because the formula was that good.
And then the well dried up. I don’t know why or who’s to blame, but I haven’t gotten a Metroid-vania fix since Order of Ecclesia, and that was nigh-on four years ago. Why Konami would choose to leave their beloved line of handheld titles dormant for so long is beyond me, but I’m not about to question them now that they’ve come to their senses and finally begun developing the next 2D Castlevania installment.
But then again, is that really what it is? Or is it more in keeping with its namesake, the 3D Lords of Shadow? The truth is that Mirror of Fate manages to land smack-dab in the middle of those two Castlevania sub-genres. On one hand, there’s the familiar map, the exploration and search for health and power upgrades common to Metroid-vanias. On the other, you have the impressive 3D models and fast-paced action combat of Lords of Shadow. Oh, and the fact that the story and characters are a prequel to the upcoming LoS2.
The most jarring thing to get used to is the new combat system on a 2D plane. Like many console action games (and unlike previous handheld Castlevanias), there are two attack buttons for the whip: a weaker, faster attack and a slower, stronger attack with a wide area of effect. Using these different attacks in conjunction with each other is the way to create good combos to tear through enemies.
It’s a very promising start to somewhat of an experiment in the storied franchise. I did think that enemies in the demo had too much health—such that the combat slowed down and became more of a chore as you just chipped away at them—but hopefully that will be tweaked further into the development cycle to keep the game going at a good pace. There’s still a lot of time for Konami to perfect the game before it launches later this year ahead of its big brother, LoS2.