It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly three years since Mercury Steam released its reboot of the Castlevania franchise. Lords of Shadow remains one of my favorite games of this generation, despite its flaws. Now, returning to it years later I remember why I fell in love with Gabriel Belmont’s adventure in the first place. The epic set pieces, fantastic voice acting and variety of enemy encounters hold up, and now PC players can see it all in super high resolution glory. Toss in both DLC packs and we have a package worthy of the Belmont name.
Mercury Steam’s effort follows the story of Gabriel Belmont and his quest to thwart the Lords of Shadow. For those that have not had the ending spoiled, consider yourself lucky. The final moments of this adventure are some of the most memorable of this generation. The game takes players through a gothic adventure filled with interesting characters, and truly amazing encounters. Playing through a second time made me realize that so much of the best bits of this narrative are told through Zobek’s accounts before each level.
I was once again engaged in everything in the world, and Mercury Steam does a great job at creating this fiction. It only gets me amped up again for the sequel. PC players won’t have to wait nearly as long as console owners. The two included pieces of DLC also help fill in the gaps with Reverie giving more info about the amazing ending. I certainly don’t want to spoil anything, but at the same time go into both packs with lowered expectations. Reverie is decent, but Resurrection is downright painful, both in its effect and difficulty. Neither one of the downloadable adventures felt necessary, which is a shame considering they accompany such a great experience.
The main game runs well into the 15-20 hour mark depending on skill level. It is also worth noting that Lords of Shadow is no cakewalk on any difficulty. Mastering combat and utilizing the light and dark magic discovered later in the game is crucial to taking down some of the more challenging foes. Enemies are a highlight as their variety keeps things interesting throughout. The bestiary is packed full and each one takes specific tactics to take them down. It keeps combat interesting while also making it nigh impossible to leave the game and come back to it after more than a week or two.
Puzzles also play a light role in the action, but can also be circumvented with scrolls. This eliminates XP earned from solving them, but it also keeps players from becoming too frustrated. Some of them are intuitive, but there are more than a few that left a bad taste in my mouth. I was reminded of them upon my second play through.
Combat takes some getting used to as well. Playing with a controller is a necessity. The timing of blocks and general fast-paced nature make this a game I would never want to attempt to tackle with keyboard controls. Gabriel has two standard attacks, while holding the left trigger (on an Xbox 360 controller) allows him to block. Holding that button and moving the analog stick in a direction causes him to roll/dodge out of the way. Much like other Castlevania games, Gabriel will also learn new moves such as a dash and double jump along his adventure, giving him access to new combat options, as well as being able to explore more of the environment.
The most notable upgrade to this version though is the visuals. Lords of Shadow was already a great looking game. Mercury Steam crafted some memorable environments, and the boss fights took me back to the glory days of gaming: large-scale monstrosities that took up the entire screen, to more challenging, smaller foes that relied on changing up tactics. Seeing the PC version run in 1080p at 60 frames per second is nothing short of amazing. Weighing in at a hefty 15GB to download, they have really packed in some slick textures. The environments really shine at this higher resolution, and showcase just how much work the team did that was never fully appreciated.
Being a three-year old game, Lords of Shadow still feels fresh. This adventure is just as much fun as I remember it, and digging back into it only furthers my excitement for the sequel. PC fans that have not had a chance to experience Gabriel Belmont’s adventure owe it to themselves to check out this version. This is by far the most complete package available, not to mention the best version by far. Those that have already taken the plunge though won’t find much outside the glorious visuals to warrant a double-dip. Still, after not experiencing it for several years it felt good to dive right back in for that 20 hour adventure. Bring on Lords of Shadow 2.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
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- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670