Like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow’s combat? Well you’re in luck, because Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate will make you feel right at home.
While the demo I played (which Spencer also played at E3) didn’t have any combo counter in place (which in turn removed Lords of Shadow’s usual way to gain magic), I could tell that quite a bit has carried over from LoS, albeit with a few tweaks.
Once again, you have direct and wide attacks, but instead of circling around Trevor (like they did Gabriel), wide attacks essentially act as a way to protect you from overhead attacks arcing 180 degrees from in front of you to behind. The skeletons I fought acted in traditional Castlevania fashion, throwing bones in an arc. Wide attacks were a handy way to counter the bones and knock them back towards their progenitors.
Don’t be put off by the slight behavioral changes of the wide attacks, because for the most part, Lords of Shadow’s combat remains intact. For instance, holding either the direct attack button (Y) or the wide attack button (X) still gives you a heavy direct or wide attack. Mirror of Fate also includes Lords of Shadow’s ability to launch most enemies by simply jumping in the middle of a combo. While the launchers only worked on smaller enemies, considering that your enemies will come at you from both sides, it’s nice to get some breathing room to take one out.
Perhaps the most significant addition that Mirror of Fate makes to the Lords of Shadow combat system is the ability to air-dodge.
Now, in the original Lords of Shadow, pressing block in the air would send Gabriel Belmont crashing down to earth, and give him the chance to re-launch the poor soul that he already had in the air. That skill is still in Mirror of Fate, but is instead performed by pressing block (L) and Down in the air. Additionally, if you press block and Left/Right, you can perform an air-dodge (or air-dash, if you prefer).
This little dash makes a huge difference in how you can approach enemies. For instance, if I was jumping over one of the larger, shield-bearing skeletons to get to its unprotected back, the air-dodge gave me just enough room to jump at it from a safe distance and still land in a comfortable range to quickly eliminate it. The air-dodge also worked as a handy escape when surrounded, as I could do things like launch an enemy to get airborne, kill that enemy, and then dodge back to get out of the crowd surrounding me.
While Mirror of Fate’s combat isn’t anything like previous portable Castlevania games, I was quickly smitten with the air-dodge, combining it with the double-jump to dodge over boss attacks, get around groups of enemies, and even give my platforming a little extra boost. The funny thing is that the demo never even took the time to “teach” me how to use the air-dodge, so I’m curious to see whether or not the game’s platforming will demand it.