GAME REVIEW: LORDS OF THE FALLEN / DEVELOPER: DECK13 INTERACTIVE, CI GAMES / PUBLISHER: SQUARE ENIX / PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE, PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Wearing its influences on its sleeve, it’s clear that Deck13 Interactive’s Lords of the Fallen is a title trying to capitalise on the success of Dark Souls. Yet rather than being the soulless cash-in many would expect, Lords of the Fallen puts a unique spin on things to help it stand out on its own. Here the player takes the role of Harkyn, a convicted criminal in a world where every man’s sin is laid bare for all to see. Released with a chance for redemption he is sent on a seemingly suicidal mission to halt a demonic invasion.
While hardly the most genre-breaking tale ever to grace this generation, the concepts behind the story and the world itself are enough to give it some substance. As you hack your way through the legions of the damned, there’s a constant sense of what is at stake and Harkyn’s character development plays into the game’s mechanic of breaking and forming alliances. This excellent atmosphere is punctuated by a stylised gothic presentation reminiscent of a far grimmer, darker Kingdoms of Amalur.
As expected, the meat of the gameplay comes down to its combat mechanics and it’s all you’d expect. A couple of hits will generally kill you outright, timing and careful management of resources is essential, and you’ll die repeatedly thanks to the game’s sadistic placement of enemies. This said, Lords of the Fallen manages to both be far more forgiving to players while encouraging them to take greater risks. This comes in the form of the combo multiplier, which increases with every kill made, booting the chance to get that all important loot but resetting you save, die or upgrade skills. This risk-reward system always pushes anyone wanting success to try and go that little bit further, but leaves a window of opportunity to ease in new players.
Unfortunately problems begin to appear when you step beyond the core mechanics. Despite being an Action RPG at heart, the game lacks variety in terms of magic and armour types, and these ultimately boil down to the expected warrior, rogue or mage choices with a few crossover classes. Atop of this many missions come down to your common or garden find item/slay monster quests without much variety. If you’re here more for the loot and less for the story and visuals, the tedium of this quickly builds up within only a few hours.
Things are only made worse by the sheer volume of bugs, especially late in the game. These range from aggravating graphical issues which can get players killed, notably invisible enemies, to some truly game-breaking ones at times. With an already steep difficulty and blindsiding instant-death traps, this addition can turn a deadly game into a tooth-grindingly frustrating waste of time.
Lords of the Fallen is by no means bad. Once the bugs are patched out it will be a decent title, but it seems to never push that bit further with its ideas when it could have been something truly outstanding. Give it a look if you’re interested in its setting and inspirations, but don’t expect anything which will set your world on fire.
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