This article originally appeared in Nintendo Gamer magazine.
This isn't the Castlevania that you might have been expecting, this is the modern sort of Castlevania. The cool, new hippity-hoppity Castlevania. The Castlevania that skateboards over nerds and does kickflips so gnarly that they cause an old woman to faint and, rather than help, Castlevania just flips down its shades and says "deal with it".
What we mean is, this is a sequel to Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow on Other Formats, the celebrated series reboot that took Castlevania's hallmarks - the intricate, two-dimensional room-based maps and RPG stat-management - and punted it several hundred yards closer to the boisterous stylings of God Of War and Uncharted, transforming it into an intensely action and combat-focused platformer that, crucially, remained true enough to the series' roots to successfully avoid annoying everybody.
Mirror Of Fate is a 3DS sequel that follows in that swarthy, action-minded vein. You're a moody vampire slayer violently carving your way through a fantastical catalogue of undead nasties who've taken up residence in flying buttress-addled cathedrals and crenellation-pocked Gothic architecture. The plot's your typical Castlevania affair, so don't worry if you've not played the 360/PS3 predecessor: the vampire-hunting Belmont family are in a bit of a tizzy following the Jeremy Kyle-esque revelations of Lords Of Shadow's denouement, and as such are redoubling their efforts to smite the (once again) resurrected mortal form of Dracula. What a shocker.
Because it's a big job, the Belmonts will do this over four generations. Mirror Of Fate will star a quartet of playable (and fully voice-acted: Robert Carlyle makes a return here, hence our desperately tenuous strapline) Belmont characters in four different timelines, each with their own weapons, skills and abilities. Trevor Belmont (yes, there are vampire slayers called Trevor) is the fearless vampire killer in our demo, running through one of the game's early areas, the entrance to the infamous castle grounds and, presumably, the beginning of the Belmont family saga.
TREV THE IMPALER
Our boy Trevor stands before the dominating fortress, the wide opening shot framing a pale, fat moon hanging in the sky and casting creeping blue shadows across the structure's cold walls. Mirror Of Fate is a fiercely beautiful game, one whose finely detailed 3D character models do their best to ensure you won't miss the pixellated sprites of old, and whose subtle presentation of depth and space transforms catacombs and crypts into miniature Gothic dioramas. Fancy lighting techniques and neat camerawork mean that, already, this is shaping up to be one of the handheld's prettiest games - the variety and breadth of environments, even in our short playthrough, goes far beyond anything seen in the 2D Castlevania outings.