In three parts, the twisting saga of the Belmont family sweeps through a derelict castle, inhabited by only the undead or mythical beings. Tradition holds true to the Belmont legacy: A whip solves everything. Mirror of Fate's entire balance rests on a string of leather or metal chain links, wielded by the best in gaming lore. Yet, it never feels as such.
This lands within the universe established by Lords of Shadow, a genuinely beautiful and uniquely successful polygonal Castlevania. The base of the combat resides there in an open environment, not here within the locked down 2D space. Simon, Trevor, and Alucard send the whip spinning with flash, dissipating necessary motion and crushing timing. In a 360 degree environment, the brash stylings make sense as to keep all comers at bay. Here, a whip swipe into the back or foreground is a loss of drive, clumsily wasting combative resources while waiting for animation cycles to finish. There is no sense of freedom, and sloppy impact washes away any of the snap generated by the Belmont's hallmark.
Mirror of Fate is also fighting against itself. Part of the game is seeking out the open castle gameplay methodology, wherein the player runs into new locations and snatches up fresh powers. Those games, on the PlayStation, Game Boy Advance and DS, were a constant progression, fluid and often striking pieces of platforming design. That never works here as actual conflict stops the game cold without any in-game restitution. Fights just sort of “are,” existing to slow the player down. Relinquishing the flow crafted by previous games is done almost out of spite to craft something that feels new. This is a half breed of design ideals smashed together without the pieces fitting snug. Home base for Mirror of Fate is split into miniscule, serviceable chunks, not a sprawling and intimidating home of horror.
Obvious polygon's aside, this is a game meant for a 3D space. It moves like a 3D title, with thick, unsatisfying jumps that feel bulky, not swift. It never feels polished. Drudging up recycled, climbable platforms in nearly every section of this haunted castle wears the pacing thin, already suffering from lack of clear advancement. Gained powers are often wasted on locked or hidden doors. The idea of transforming into a wolf for a boost of power is novel (as Alucard) until one realizes what a blunder his offensive capabilities are. Instead, the gained strength is used to burst open arbitrary doorways, hidden only as a means to create backtracking purpose.