More than a clone.
Let’s just get it out of the way. Yes, Lords of the Fallen plays similarly to the Souls series. The control scheme is almost identical, upon death, players lose their acquired experience points and must return to where they died to retrieve them. Combat is heavily based on timing, stamina management, and what weapons and armor are equipped. There’s no denying the fact that it is in the same vein as the From Software series, but I’m not judging the game on how different it is from Dark Souls. I’m going to be talking about what it does and what I like about that.
Lords of the Fallen is an action role playing game that puts players in the role of Harkyn an ex-prisoner travelling the land with an old scholar and mage, trying to stop a potential threat that could very well take over the entire land if not stopped. Played out in a fantasy setting, the player will run into numerous demonic enemies while the overall style feels more medieval with some Viking aesthetics.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Combat is very heavy with Harkyn having to wind up for most of his attacks. Of course, this all depends on what he has equipped. Lighter armor and fast attacking daggers will offer up more hits in a short amount of time, while heavy armor and a giant hammer will take some time to attack, but allow Harkyn to inflict massive damage to an enemy. Strategy plays a major role in Lords of the Fallen. Knowing when to attack, block, and dodge is very important, and can mean life or death.
Pick your poison…or magic.
The world is broken down into areas that players must explore. I was given a single quest and was left to my own devices to figure where I needed to go and what to do. Of course, along the way, I had to deal with numerous enemies in order to reach checkpoints spread throughout the areas. At these checkpoints, I could bank the experience I had earned to increase my attributes or increase the power of my magic abilities. Each of the three classes has special magic abilities attached to them. The Warrior is focused on attacking and being aggressive, the Rogue is all about agility and getting in fast attacks, and the Cleric utilizes buff and debuff magic that can protect Harkyn and hinder his enemies.
Loot is plentiful and trying out different weapons can offer up different strategies for combat. Classes don’t dictate what players must use, so it is open ended in that aspect. If I enjoy the Cleric’s protective spells and want to be a fast striking attacker, I most certainly can be with the right equipment.
He who dares, wins.
I really like the risk and reward mechanics that are in place here. Holding on to my acquired experience without banking it at checkpoints will increase a multiplier that allowed me to gain even more with each kill, this is risky because I lose my experience if I die and have to retrieve it, which, may not happen if I die before reaching my corpse. When trying to get my experience back, there is a counter that ticks down. The longer I take to get back to where I died and pick up my experience, the less I will recover, but to counter that, if I am in the vicinity of where I died and choose not to pick up my experience, I will gain a temporary health regeneration buff until I pick them back up.
This is a great mechanic for boss fights. If I died during a boss fight and dropped my experience in the boss arena, when going back to fight that boss again, instead of picking up my experience up right away, I can leave it sitting there and get a nice health regeneration bonus to help out with the boss fight. Of course, I still risk losing all that experience if I were to die again. Lords of the Fallen has these unique mechanics that really add a lot to the game play.
While the game is most certainly challenging, it is not brutally difficult. The rewards and feeling of accomplishment is still there when I finally beat that one boss that was giving me some trouble, and exploring and finding secret areas became just as addicting as the character progression.
Big dude, big reward.
The boss fights are where the combat really shines. Trying to figure out the attack patterns and weaknesses of the hulking bosses is a game in and of itself. There’s a trick to each one and exploiting it will allow for a much easier fight. When taking out one of these enemies, it really is rewarding and memorable.
The story is a bit of an afterthought. There are a fair amount of cut scenes with dialog options and a few choices spread throughout the conversation, but ultimately, my choices really didn’t matter too much. While the voice acting is decent, the animations for the characters while talking are very jarring. Saying a simple phrase with an almost outlandish delivery made it look strange at times.
While the game looks great in many aspects, the lighting effects in particular, the overall look doesn’t change up much. The areas are very similar and the enemy variety doesn’t differ much throughout the game. Most look like they were pulled straight out of Diablo III and multiplied by about ten. Here’s the big guy, here are small but faster enemies, and here is the big shield guy that is easier to run away from than fight.
As far as the technical things, I did experience a good amount of screen tearing. It was pretty noticeable since this game required me to move the camera around a good amount to get a bead on my enemies. The camera is another hurdle I had to get over. Many times, I found myself having to fight large enemies in narrow hallways and corridors and trying to position the camera in a place to where I could see both Harkyn and the enemy in question took a lot of finesse.
Lords of the Fallen has a lot going for it. The story is bland and the camera will get you killed if you’re not careful, but fans of this action RPG genre will have a really great time playing it. The combat takes precedence over everything else and that is where the game excels. The mechanics put in place are so intelligent and add just enough risk and reward to keep players trying them out. It has a few missteps, but I saw past them and saw that this was much more than just a Dark Souls clone. Getting more games like this makes me excited for the future and for this series in particular.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.