Whenever I hear Castlevania being mentioned, a couple of things come to mind, whips, hearts, creatures of the night, and 2D platforming. The thought of a Castlevania game being in 3D hasn’t lived up to its name so far. The previous games that were done in 3D were for the Nintendo 64, the games were a little difficult to play since the frame rates tended to drop, creating some stuttering, but the game play was great. The team at Konami, with the help of Hideo Kojima, are breathing new life into the franchise with Lords of Shadow, and honestly the game didn’t disappoint in any aspects.
In Lords of Shadow you play Gabriel Belmont, one of the many from the bloodline of Belmonts who have dedicated their lives to destroying the creatures that go bump in the night. Gabriel’s quest is to find an ancient relic called the God Mask, that has the ability to revive the dead, what’s so important abut this you ask? Well the best reason for any good game hero to revive the dead would be to bring back a loved one. To get the relic Gabriel must collect a total of three pieces from the three dark lords. The dark lords being spread out in three different areas being the lycan, vampire, and necromancer regions.
The combat system in LoS is reminiscent of God of War. A whip with chain links flash across the screen as it snaps into multiple enemies giving you the blood lust from the beauty of monster. Attacks range from short and powerful to wide and somewhat weak. The choice of weapons revolve around vampire hunting, throwing daggers, holy water, and dark crystals for magic attacks. The enjoyable part of combat comes in the form of unlocking more techniques with the whip, holy magic and dark magic powers. The constant attacks may seem a bit draining and eventually may become boring, but involve short interactive cut scenes that require you to pay attention at all times during the screen. An Addition to the combat system is a mount system. Certain large enemies such as spiders, wargs, and large boars can be mounted after a certain amount of health is taken away from them. Not only are you able to attack while riding each mount, but sometimes are required to use them to continue on the path of the game, even though they are only used for possibly a short amount of time.
level load times are noticeable but a narration of the events that occur between levels help with such long waits, especially since it’s by Patrick Stewart or better known as Captain Jean Luc Picard. Another smart way to break up the strain of battle were puzzles in the game. Just like GoW, there are multiple puzzles that require some thinking, and a lot of trial and error. If you aren’t good at puzzles or are just in it for the action, you don’t have to worry, close by the puzzles are scrolls explaining what the puzzle entail and the story of the fallen soldier. Each puzzle scroll also gives the option of automatically solving it for a small amount of credits, although most of the time your credits don’t need to be wasted since the puzzles are quite easy to solve. The gameplay for LoS is fast, challenging, and visually stunning but there are some hiccups. Unfortunately with an uncontrollable camera, certain areas on the map can be hidden and you may miss vital items, meaning lots of back tracking and replaying levels over and over again. Some would say the game plays to much like GOW and not enough like Castlevania since not much castles were seen? One or two glitches that I ran into during the entire game actually needed me to restart the level as well but this was far and in between.
Castlevania Lords of Shadow was a great game to play. Expect to die a lot and get frustrated, but that’s part of the game. I’m sure you’ll be caught off guard since health is either gained my holy magic or one of the rare health fountains that are spread out in the game. The game racks up about 15 game hours and possibly even more if you want to go back to find all the hidden items and upgrades. This game was a surprising experience for us both visually and gameplay wise. The future of series looks very promising and the transition to next gen territories has not disappointed in this title.
[starreviewmulti id=2 tpl=20]
Overall = 8.6
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