You’d be forgiven for not having a clue about this game.
Bandai Namco published this dark action/adventure romp in conjunction with Deck13 Interactive/CI Games and released it amongst the flood of blockbuster fall/holiday games. Lords of the Fallen manages to adopt several of the best qualities of Dark Souls while giving non-veterans of that series a much easier experience to get attached to.
Lords of the Fallen’s world is special due to one rule – the sins of humanity are never forgiven. You take on the role of a beefy convict turned warrior Harkyn, who sports the entirety of his sins on his face as permanent tattoos. Harkyn is released from his prison stay and is thrust into a world overrun by demonic hordes. The rules of the world are looking for a way to wipe all humanity of their ill wills, and this may lead to Harkyn’s sins being cleansed. Before that may occur, you’re given the task of redemption through the massacring of Rhogar’s invading demons. The plot trappings here are bland and unmemorable at best. The NPC’s you encounter do provide you with some important choices along your journey, but the overall story will do nothing to interest you much.
The entertainment value and replay value is derived from Lords of the Fallen’s hard but none too punishing gameplay. Dark Souls fans will find the overall working of this game very familiar – you’ll create a class focused version of your character, move throughout a dangerous world filled with threatening enemies, go to war with gigantic bosses and build up your warrior along the way. You’ll have the option to run around as a sneaky rouge, magical cleric and tank of a warrior. You’ll have access to a number of different magical abilities that give you plenty of options for 1st time playthroughs and New Game + replays. There’s a lot of fun to be had when deciding how to equip Harkyn from the start.
The socket customization system offers another dose of fun character tinkling that adds more to the battle mechanic. You’ll earn a number of runes that add all types of status ailments to your attacks. Having the chance to poison a particularly tough boss in battle or getting some magic resistance points for your shield are just some of the great options offered to you. The process of finding even better gear and items comes in the form of the cool dark world that’s accessed by killing a powerful entity that gives you entrance to it. The risk and reward of Dark Souls is instantly felt here as you look to avoid hard-to-see beasts and pick up rare treasure. These worlds are fun to delve into, but they will inspire fear into you as you trudge through it every time.
The huge swath of enemies you encounter here look much thicker and evoke a much more uninviting look than some of Dark Souls’ creatures. As you venture through several hub worlds, you’ll encounter dangerous enemies that provide a big challenge. The checkpoint system is a lot more prominent around each corner, so Lords of the Fallen isn’t as hard as its clear inspiration. Gamers who have been scared away by Dark Souls difficulty will find this game to be much more approachable. The graphics here are dark and dank, the characters themselves sport a more bulked up look and the environments harken back to the medieval ages of lore. Everything looks great and sounds even more menacing at higher volumes.
There are a few issues that keeps Lords of the Fallen from topping the Souls games. The hit detection can be off at times, the enemy variety here is lacking and some of the characters you run into don’t have much of anything to say. There aren’t that many classes to choose from and not having the choice to use your entirely custom made avatar may be a bit of a big issue for longtime Souls fans.
Nevertheless, Lords of the Fallen is a dark horse contender for action/adventure game of the year. It’s faults are visible, but its much more inviting gameplay, interesting customization systems, darker next-gen sheen, haunting soundtrack and memorable game world mechanics make this game stand out on its own.
Images: Bandai Namco Games