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Lords of the Fallen Review

By Bond OO7

Here it is, the game I’ve been waiting for this year almost as much as The Evil Within (see my review on that HERE). Would it live up to the lofty expectations I had put on it’s shoulders? Or would it buckle under the pressure? Read on to find out!

Lords of the Souls

Developer: Deck13
Publisher: City Interactive
Format: Xbox one
Release Date: October 28th, 2014
Copy purchased
I’ll start by addressing the bugs. The worst of which is an issue wherein the game will freeze and crash the game to the home screen. This happened to me only twice, but it was in the same boss fight which had me worried and put off the game for a few days. It appears to be random as to when or even if you will encounter the bug. Issue number two is the frame rate, during certain sections, mainly boss fights, it would drop fairly significantly to a point where it was hard to fight with any sort of efficiency. However, much like the crashing issue, it is seemingly random. I had the same boss fight run flawlessly during one attempt, and borderline unplayable on others. One last issue I had was right at the beginning of the game the audio cut out forcing me to relaunch the game to restore it. This only happened once and it wasn't a huge deal. On the flip side of all this there was a bug in the final boss encounter of the game which made him significantly easier to defeat. If you used a poison infused gauntlet on him and died while the effect was still active, when you re-spawned he would be drastically slower in his movements. So there is both advantageous and disadvantageous bugs within the game.

The game seems to start off in the middle of an adventure, with you (Harkyn) and your companion busting into a castle and you being thrown straight into the combat. The game instantly gets your attention with it’s superb combat system. If you have played any of the Souls series you will settle right into the combat here and won’t need much direction. If you haven’t it may take a little getting used to but it’s fairly easy to pick up. Before the game you are asked two things. What type of magic do you want? And what loadout do you want? The decisions from these two options will determine your class. I went with brawler magic with the rogue loadout, which let me have the brute force magic from the warrior combined with the nimble agility of the rogue. There are three options for each, which gives you a lot of choice so you can try and cater your play style.

However no matter what combination of classes you pick the combat will always require you to play smart. If you try just mashing the attack button you will die… fast. It’s all about learning your opponent and picking the correct time to strike, which when done successfully is an incredibly satisfying feeling. There are also three different stances to choose from, two handed, shield, and gauntlet. All of which have your weapon in one hand but varies what it puts in the other. Two handed weapons such as a staff or hammer will just put both hands on the weapon for a more powerful blow, but on a smaller weapon like a short sword you will draw a duplicate of that weapon to be able to dish out some pretty awesome combos (if you can time them right). The shield stance is pretty self explanatory, one hand holds a weapon one hand holds a shield which you can use to block much more effectively than any other of the options. The gauntlet stance has the gauntlet in your other hand which is tied to your magic.

To be honest I didn't use spells a whole lot during my time with the game, but that’s because I didn't build my character to do so. I did however use the gauntlet a lot. Both consume magic energy when used and they both can be useful depending on what your build is. The gauntlet has three different options to it: a straight projectile, a explosive bomb and a blast not unlike a shotgun. I used the projectile for 99% of the game. I toyed with the other 2 but they did not suit me at all. But I am sure there is a build in which they are suited. On the spells side of the magic there are 4 different spells you can use. The Brawler magic set that I used gave me a decoy spell, a spell in which stamina replenished really quickly, a spell that shot out a staggering blast (not to unlike the projectile gauntlet) and a earthquake spell, which you slam the ground and damage nearby foes. I used them all a couple of times and they seemed good in their own right but just didn't work for me. That really is the beauty of this game, it is suited for just about everybody!

On top of the combat and the magic there is the rune system which allows you to put a modifier into either a piece of armor, a weapon, and even your gauntlet. Not all weapons support the runes but some support two. So, again, it’s all about finding that combination that works for you. Personally for most of the game I used a fire rune inside my gauntlet which would allow me to deal damage over time to my enemies. I mixed up the runes in my weapons a lot, but a lot of the time I would use poison to also do damage over time. The possibilities are incredibly vast. The way in which you obtain these runes is pretty nifty too. You can get one of two drops from enemies, a small unknown rune or a big unknown rune. You then take these to the blacksmith and have him transform them into a random rune. Big runes produce better outcomes than small. Before you do so you can sacrifice some experience points to increase the odds of getting better quality items from the conversion. Better quality runes give better stats for the item it is equipped to.

So if you fail in setting yourself up right with all that stuff I just spoke about and get yourself killed (which you will!) you will be faced with a huge amount of deja vu if you have played the Souls series. When you die, whatever experience points you had on your person will be dropped at the place in which you died. You must then return to the spot you died it if you wish to get it back. The twist this game put on it that the Souls games did not is that it's on a timer. The longer you take the less you get back! Which adds much more of a sense of urgency and pressure into the mix. But banking any experience you earn as soon as possible is not always the best option either. The more you go without the banking it the bigger the experience bonus you get. Which again makes you think very hard about your plan of action!

Obviously there is more to the game than just killing your run of the mill minions. Taking down the gigantic bosses are the main mission of the game. The Lords as they are called are incredibly fun and satisfying to bring down, you will have to keep your head on straight and not get too complacent because one wrong move could swing the battle back in their favor. The only boss that I felt wasn't very good was the final one. Unless I just couldn't figure it out there was an attack in which he would send out a red mist and permanently cut your health bar down and it is undodgeable as far as I could tell. That move aside, the fight just wasn't as fun as the others.The difficulty of the game is nowhere near as brutal as the Souls series but it is by no means easy. For me it was the perfect challenge. A veteran of the souls series will probably feel it’s too easy.

The world of Lords of the Fallen is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It is far and away the best looking RPG to date. The character models are as incredible to look at as the scenery around them. The world itself however is fairly small in comparison to many other RPG's, but don’t let this fool you. There are many little nooks and secret areas for you to find and some of them are incredibly well hidden. So despite the actual area of the game being small it is incredibly well utilized. I never felt the world got stale in my time with it and I was still finding new things when I back tracked right at the end of the game.

The audio in the game is as stunning as the visuals. I actually received a soundtrack CD with my copy of the game and I have to say it’s one of the very few I have listened too. It makes the game feel truly epic. Each boss battle had an amazing sense of grandeur about them thanks to the simply stunning soundtrack. The final assault at the end of the game had an incredibly impressive vibe to it as well.

The story in the game, however, seemed pretty generic. A typical good versus evil story did little to draw my attention. I understood what was going on, but I didn't really care. The characters were not very likable and if the game had ended with everyone dying I wouldn't have felt anything. This is the one department of the game that could have used some serious work. That being said, most games with no story or a bad story tend to bore me, but this one was so good in all the other departments it didn't bother me at all. I didn't feel a need to save Keystone but I was always looking forward to the next boss encounter because of how fun the gameplay is.

Once you have made it out of your first venture through Keystone the game offers up a New Game + option. Much like other games, New Game + allows you to play the game again but with the stats of your veteran character. Lords of the Fallen however lets you pick another magic class to take on top of the one you already had. So your next trek through the game will give you new features to play with. Also, like the Souls games, each time you start a New Game + the game takes a step up in difficulty. So don’t expect the next playthrough to be a breeze because you have a loadout from the end of the game!

Lords of the Fallen has managed to step up to my expectations and deliver the experience I had hoped for, which was a less brutal Dark Souls. The choices available are sure to cater for whatever play style you favor. There’s some minor things that hamper it from being a perfect game, but it really does come close. This game is a must for any fan of the genre!
+Strategic combat
+Variety of builds
+Epic boss battles
+Gorgeous world that’s a blast to explore
+Variety in the play style choices

-Rare occurrences of frame rate drop and crashing
-Rare occurrence of audio cut out
-Final boss battle

Score: 8.5/10
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