Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate walks the line between old and new. While the game continues the story of the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series, it isn’t a 3D game like its predecessor. Instead, it’s a 2.5D platformer that draws inspiration from Castlevania III and lets you play as multiple characters—Simon, Trevor and Alucard.
At the same time, it’s also very different from previous 2D Castlevania games in that the combat is more fleshed out, and there’s a very prominent focus on dodging, parrying and air-dashing. Certain enemies are capable of blocking as well, and don’t let you get hits in without really making an effort.
We recently got in touch with Konami’s Dave Cox, who is the producer on the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series, to ask him a few quick questions about the game, such as what inspired the combat and how movesets work.
What inspired Mirror of Fate’s art style? Did you initially plan on using a visual style closer to the original Lords of Shadow?
Dave Cox, Lords of Shadow producer: The art direction was something we were very proud of and that style has continued to develop within the team. Our original goal was to replicate the look and feel of the original Castlevania: Lords of Shadow game. The art style has evolved into something much closer to the classic feel and especially in terms of characters, I think we have improved tremendously our designs.
With the shift to side-scrolling, did you consider using combat and movement mechanics closer to traditional Castlevania? What challenges did you face when adapting the Lords of Shadow gameplay to 2D?
The brief was to replicate the combat mechanics from the original game but we faced many challenges along the way. The combat was something we really struggled to get right, the feeling of power and the fluidity was particularly difficult to replicate.
We looked at 2D fighting games like Street Fighter and Samurai Shodown and we tried extensive play testing in order to just get the feel right. The combat has a 2D fighting game quality to it and we have kept the strategic element that people really liked where you mix up your magic abilities and combine them with the sub weapons.
This is a game you have to think about enemies and a game where you need to learn the moves and use the tools we give you. Otherwise you are going to die a lot! Its definitely not a button masher and studying the bestiary and your travel book will pay dividends later on.
What’s your favorite addition to the game’s combat?
I really like the new abilities of Simon and Alucard. Simon summons guardians that protect him and softens enemies up from distance. Each ability uses magic but if you use the combo’s well, enemies will drop more magic and so you can become very powerful by playing with skill.
Likewise, Alucard uses vampiric abilities such as Mist and Wolf forms and this allows him to heal himself during combat and dish out a ton of damage in a very short space of time. As in the first Lords of Shadow game, secondary weapons are very powerful and can really turn a fight around but stocks are limited and so you have to manage your resources carefully. It’s this strategic aspect to the combat that works really well in the game and gives the Castlevania:Lords of Shadow series one of its strongest attributes.
Will we have access to more than just Combat Crosses and whips this time around, or do all of the Belmonts stick to the same general move set? If so, how have you integrated new weapons into the system?
Each of the character uses the iconic whip weapon synonymous with the Castlevania series but there are subtle differences and upgrades that provide new gameplay for each. Combos that are unlocked are passed onto the other characters but of course, new combos are opened specific to each character as you level up, too.
Each character has unique secondary weapons and unique magical abilities which also provides very profound differences amongst the characters. For example, Trevor has the boomerang and electric bomb secondary weapons, Simon throwing axes and burning oil and Alucard has the stop watch and bat projectile amongst others.
Will we see more bosses make use of the Ikaruga-style careful use of light and dark magic like the final boss of Lords of Shadow, or will bosses be more about combat alone?
The bosses in this game do pose one hell of a challenge, but this time the focus is really on skillful play. Using the tools we give, and patience, will allow players to take them down but just spamming the button will end in death. You will need to figure out the patterns but the emphasis on spectacular finishes means its very satisfying when you do see them fall.
Since the Castlevania designers in Japan have a lot of experience with 2D Castlevania games, did you get any advice from Japan? And overall, what feedback did Japan give about the entire Lords of Shadow trilogy/timeline?
Having produced the most successful Castlevania in the series history, we felt that this was the right direction to go in. We feel vindicated as there were many naysayers and we also feel we have a mandate to deliver our vision of Castlevania to a new expanded fan base. Staff in Japan have been very supportive of that throughout and are excited with what we are doing with the universe.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate will be released in North America on March 5th and in Europe on March 8th for the Nintendo 3DS. A free demo is available on the Nintendo eShop in both regions. If you’d like to read more about the game, here’s a couple more features you can find on Siliconera: