What is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (other than a mouthful)? When the title was leaked, many feared that the upcoming 3DS game would move away from the franchise's 2D heritage. The Castlevania games were among the best titles on Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS--so Konami wouldn't want to abandon such a winning formula, right?
Mirror of Fate is an interesting marriage of Lords of Shadow and the classic 2D Metroidvania games. The game is played on a 2D plane, but features the combat of its 3D console counterparts.
At first glance, Mirror of Fate will look like your standard 2D Castlevania game, albeit polygonal. The lower screen is reserved for a map, and in typical fashion, it is a maze filled with alternate routes, dead ends, and passages that can only be accessed with later abilities.
Once entering combat, however, the game feels drastically different. It plays very similarly to Lords of Shadow, with a quick dodge that moves you away from enemies. Counters are vital to combat efficacy, although the window for timing the move is quite narrow. By countering right before an enemy's attack, you're able to kill it one hit.
In addition to a revised combat system, there's also environment puzzles as well. In one section, I pulled a switch which opened a timed gate many rooms above me. I had to rush to make it, ignoring any enemy spawns that might get in the way.
Mirror of Fate has the potential to mix the best aspects of Castlevania and Lords of Shadow: offering the deep exploration of the 2D games with the deeper combat of the 3D games. It also plays a pretty crucial role in the story as well. Taking place after Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate follows Trevor and Simon Belmont and sets up the events for the newly announced sequel. And by existing in that universe, it's likely we can expect the long-winded, but still gorgeously designed production values of the console LoS games.
Watch the Shacknews E3 2012 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. This preview is based on a hands-on demo shown at a pre-E3 event.