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Lords of the Fallen Review

It’s got a Soul to it

Lords-of-the-fallen-2

So, I’ll be honest with you, I’m new to these sort of games. I’ve never touched Demon’Souls or Dark Souls – which is something that many will compare Lords of the Fallen too. And, in all honesty, you’re quite right. However, coming into City Interactive and Deck13’s new title as a bit of a ‘noob’ to the world of punishing RPG gameplay, I certainly wasn’t expecting something quite as merciless. Especially something that requires you to really know your weapons, armour and timing of strikes.

As you can probably imagine, Lords of the Fallen is a hack and slash-styled RPG, although I wouldn’t advise going in so willy-nilly. Taking on the role of a bald-headded, face-tattooed convict by the name of Harkyn you’re off to defeat demons and gods who have entered the realm of mortals. So far, so RPG weird.

For me though, Lords of the Fallen‘s strength isn’t in its story, its characters or really the voice acting. Instead it’s all about the challenge, it’s what keeps bringing me back in for more and more. It’s the thought of levelling up and going toe-to-toe with the next big boss. And, while the general pace of the story is actually quite quick, you can slow it to a glacial crawl by exploring the environments and grinding your way to becoming an all-powerful force against the Lords you’ll be going up against. That said, while having more power, speed or bigger weapons certainly does help, it all boils down to skill when you enter into battle. And don’t expect the tutorials to tell you all, this is a game you learn through practice and play, and while things scale rather nicely, by the second boss fight you’ll need to have gotten to grips with the basics of dancing around your foe to succeed.

Just like Dark Souls, you need to pay attention to your health and recharging stamina and magic meters.While you may want to focus your attention on retaining your health, it’s really the stamina bar that’s the most important. It dictates the force with which you hit your foe, going at it when your bar is empty is almost pointless. It also enables you to run, block and dodge attacks; it’s essentially the most important weapon in your arsenal. Keeping track of your stamina bar means you can time attacks properly too, looking for key openings and ensuring your spent stamina will recharge in time for the next strike.

For instance, going for a heavy weapon like a two-handed axe or a blunt hammer means your swing will take longer due to the strength needed to swing it. Opting for a lighter weapon like a dagger or shortsword means you can lay down more attacks and – with some perfect timing – you can use half as much stamina doing so too.

You also have a ranged weapon at your disposal, but it’s not a crossbow; instead it’s a mysterious piece of magical equipment that’s never really properly explained – not even by my friend and companion Kaslo asked about what the hell it was. Offering a toggle between an arrow-like projectile, shotgun-like Blast, and a grenade-like Explosion, it’s an incredibly handy weapon to kill enemies from afar. However, it’s slow to use and eats away at your incredibly slow to recharge magic bar. It’s definitely not the easy way to win a fight, which probably makes sense seeing as it’s actually incredibly powerful. But that’s okay as there are various magic techniques you can use to your advantage to turn the tide of battle, including the ability to summon a duplicate you to distract enemies. In reality though, I just opt for the melee combat approach instead.

One of Lords of the Fallen’s more interesting features is how it handles your dead body and level growth. Just like with the Souls series, when you die you lose your all your experience. And, just like the Souls series, you have to go and get it back by finding where you fell and picking it up. But, unlike the Souls series, your experience actually deteriorates over time and eventually disappears if left for too long. This weighs up the risk/reward strategy more than you’d imagine. While you may have lost a lot of experience in one particularly tricky area, you may not think it’s worth trying to level up and get it back due to the time it would take and the fact that over time it would offer diminishing returns. Even when you do find your lost experience, you may not want to pick it up right away either, as just being near your old body grants you a health buff. This allows you to get through the tougher areas that previously killed you, but also to give you a reason to gamble with your old life.

Levelling is also a game of risk and reward too. Visiting save points dotted around the world – usually before boss fights with a Lord – allows you to restore health and potions and bank some of your XP collected from fights, attributing it towards an ability point or a spell point. So far, so standard really. But by banking experience it means you’ll be back to square one with the experience you have to earn from enemies. This is because with each battle you win, you’ll be given an experience multiplier. Kill more, get even more experience; it makes sense really, but it’s a feature that’s generally overlooked by many.

It is, of course, worth banking your experience regularly, but it’s also worth remembering that you need to dish it out reasonably sensibly. I went for adding points in a fairly uniform manner to even out my strengths and weaknesses. That was a mistake. I discovered that I couldn’t use some high-level weapons or armour for boss fights, and that started to be ruinous. Luckily, I stuck more onto my agility and then got the most out of weapons made for my Cleric class.

While classes do matter, you can still chop and change between equipment to help in any situation. For instance, going up against the second boss – the Commander – I dropped my Cleric gear and opted for a lighter Rogue set of armour to dance around his strikes and deliver heavy blows.

Visually things are also pretty impressive. Having played through on the PC build, the characters and environments are actually very detailed, and thanks to Vaughn’s preview on PS4, we know that the PS4 game is also rather pretty. That said, it’s quite easy to dismiss the world as being a rather linear experience. Worlds feel like they funnel you down corridors and walled off areas, but thanks to being stuck against some tough bosses, I actually ended up discovering a warren of hidden areas and interconnecting passages where I could grind and still explore something new. It helps, especially as enemies respawn at every save point.

There’s plenty here for RPG fans to sink their teeth into, you’ve got a New Game + and New Game ++ to run through once done, and decisions you make during the game shape how things unfold later on too. It’s clear that this is ambitious, but despite the weak characters and rather throwaway story, Lords of the Fallen throws up a challenge and can sit up there as a visually impressive and enjoyable skill-based RPG.

TheGamersHub Score
Reviewer: CrazyHookMonster
7.5
10
+ Pros

+ Graphically stunning
+ Enjoyable skill-based combat
+ Good amount of exploration

- Cons

- Characters feel weak
- Decisions feel unimportant.
- And an incredibly minor niggle that cape, armour and weapons clip

3 Comments to “ Lords of the Fallen Review ”

  • MarkusNovember 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Maybe Lords of the Fallen is not a perfect game but for me it’s great. I hope all of shortcomings will be fixed as soon as this possible. I agree with that graphics in this game is very good, animation looks awesome. Combat – for me great.

  • SamssonNovember 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

    rating 7.5 / 10 is almost identical to my feeling. teething problems were quickly backed out of hand, devs, now remain me hours of fun!

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