-Dark Souls fans will be familiar with combat
-Beautiful graphics and animations
-Weapon variances are majorly different
-Enemies have variances that will provide an interesting combat scenario
-New Game+ offers a varying rise in difficulty and could definitely test a players patience.
-Difficulty that easily jumps without holding back
-Finding the path to take is hard and can lead to an ultimate demise
-Understanding weapon upgrades via runes can be extremely hard
-Inability to adjust level difficulty
-Intermittent frame rate jumps and or pop-in terrain
When entering Lords of the Fallen; players are immediately introduced to a world that is out to kill you. When every corner filled with traps, poison, fire, curses, enemies, and even unspeakable odds, death is imminent to those who remain impatient and do not take their time. It’s not hard to see that this game has spun itself around the successful mechanics that players have come to expect in the more difficult titles that have released from Bandai Namco in the most recent years.
The one thing the game has established well for itself is what makes the Souls franchise famous; intense and tactics filled combat. Rather than struggling with this set up, it become a good thing for Lords of the Fallen. The transitions in combat and exploring is what makes this game one of the more difficult titles to have launched on the new-gen consoles; this being possible even with the few technical hiccups the game has once in a while. While some would say that this title is easily accessible for explorers, others could say it is a title that sticks out as slightly inferior to titles such as Dark Souls or even Demon’s Souls since the character for us to use is already pre-made and set-in-stone. Fortunate, it worked out quite well for the tattoo and rune marked character only known as the prisoner Harkyn. This is where we find our game focusing on when we aren’t helping out Kaslo, the one person who seeks to remove Harkyn from his imprisonment he was sentenced to for all of eternity. Why? Well your guess is good as ours, but it builds up to an interesting story when demons start invading the world and leaving players to the point of cringing as they fight their way through almost seemingly impossible hordes, and even bosses in order to unravel the events that lead up to this point.
When players begin to try and dissect the games story, it’s easy to see that there are plenty of plot-holes and even small things that will make players beat their heads into a wall, but these are things that are minor, and not critical to our adventure with Kaslo, Harkyn, and the other characters who you will encounter. The story itself could be stated that it follows a formula that was used in Game of Thrones, but just not quite as well as the before mentioned one has. Thanks to the game filling some plot holes via some closure via journal entries and notes.
Though that is where the title began to lose some of its glimmer for some. For Dark Souls and or Demon’s Souls fan, this game will be an easy pick-up-and-play title from the get go, but for the less experienced, this game will be a difficult adventure until those whom are new to the game are used to the mechanics. Lords of the Fallen suffers from one thing that could make quite a few people slam their heads into a wall out of frustration; Harkyn is slow. Players will find a bit of frustration with his lack of speed outside of anything, but light armor. This means adjusting to this can be a bit frustrating for those players who are attempting to find some comfort zone within the title; unfortunately there are a few problems with that approach that will be discussed a little later on. Newcomers? This game will take hours to master and feel truly acquainted with due to the games constantly changing strategies based upon what enemies are quelled and well if players don’t snap their XBox One Controller or their PlayStation 4’s controller first in pure frustration.
For those that manage to push through Lords of the Fallen will find a game that could easily find itself as a more Diablo-esque hack-and-slash title that even follows a loot style much likes its own. Finding better weapons, armor, and runes is always something that players will feel their exploration and challenge is quite worthy of. Let alone will players be able to enjoy the games massively useful gauntlet or even finding weapons such as Swords that wield fire damage or even poison elements in order to beat their enemies into a bloody pile of viscera that will find no mercy from Harkyn’s wrath. For those who prefer not to use a sword-like-playstyle will quickly find themselves brandishing a staff, scythe, dual swords, or even daggers to tarnish the well known reputation the Rhogar (the demon’s) are known for. One of the aspects that made this loot system entertaining was the random encounters players can take on through hidden challenge portals where players can find the loot, clear enemies, and claim their armor or take on a room where enemies will come in waves of three or more, and will slam down a boss among the mess. This is where the loot gets insane as players will find a chest crammed with loot, and in my case; full armor sets that could easily make someone’s jaw hit the floor.
When putting all that aside though, players will determine how to use this gear based upon the class they choose (this is where stats seem to weigh a bit more). For me I decided to pick the games variant of the cleric when I could have chosen through Warrior or rogue on my first playthrough. Here I was able to pick one of my spells that allowed me to increase Harkyn’s health regeneration instead of having to use my healing potions where I would have normally consumed them as having been a bit rusty with such titles. Though at level 50 or so and having all my spells maxed out before trekking towards the final boss, I found myself deceiving enemies, making them return their own damage, and eating straight through the game as if there was no challenge at all. This is something where I felt a bit taken back by as it was time to prepare for New Game+ where I decided to start looking between the Warrior skill tree and the Rogue on in order to make a hybrid class, which truly gives this game another spin for a root of entertainment.
Much like the game many will compare it too (Dark Souls), the game does attempt to increase the games challenge where players will recover their lost XP, which ticks away with time, and eventually can completely disappear. This will lead players to running through enemy hordes if they aren’t smashing through them and hope to reclaim their lost XP on top of the newly accrued XP that they’ve manage to wrack up over time. Unlike Dark Souls, however, there is one thing the game does well. Traps will be waiting if enemies had smashed them to their deaths, let alone will those enemies have respawned to once more claim their death toll marks for the day. Unlike what I would have hoped and seen in Dark Souls, Lords of the Fallen does not respawn enemies at each checkpoint; instead players will find themselves either saving and restarting the game from the menu or doing what I had and leaping to my death in order to grind more XP so that my stats had felt a bit more streamlined for the weapons and gear used.
The XP system, surprisingly, isn’t used just to make Harkyn a harder hitting, spell throwing, and enemy crunching slayer; instead XP can also be used for identifying runes at the games oddly interesting spirit-like-vendor who openly tosses them the players way. Doing this, players are able to obtain runes that increase a weapons stats (if socketable) or even add new elemental effects that may have not been there before. Many players who have played games such as Diablo will easily relate this to the armor crafting or modifying system to make their arsenal all the more lethal.
As the adventure came to a close and my controller was placed on my charger cradle, I walked away knowing that what I had played wasn’t just some new hack-and-slasher. Instead what I played was a game that had easily wanted to put itself in the line with some of the hardest to play titles. This time around, the game itself was rather impressive once said and done and with the New Game+ offering more features, it’s hard to not see that this game has countless hours that could be placed within it. Even with having only seen a third of the trophy’s and even the achievements unlocked, it’s not hard to see that this game has some life in it, but will it be enough to keep Souls fans at bay? From what I saw, the short answer is yes. This is a title that should be within anyones collection for PC or new-gen despite the few technical hiccups we found, which lead to the games framerate dropping and even terrain flashing black for a small second before returning to normal.
Review Score: 7 out of 10
Review Notice: Our review is based upon the final retail version on the PlayStation 4 and XBox One. The XBox One version was played on for a rough six hours before having returned back to PlayStation 4.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.