Lords of the Fallen is a more than competent action romp featuring Nordic influences blended with a fantasy theme. It’s certain to appeal to fans of similar games such as Dark Souls II but might not hold the same appeal to fans of the God of War series.
For the past two years, we’ve seen Lords of the Fallen in action during Gamescom. In both instances, the emphasis was firmly on the combat mechanics and less so on the story elements. In hindsight, this is somewhat understandable because the story is fairly generic in nature. You play a criminal called Harkyn who has a chance at redemption if he defeats the demons inhabiting a foreign dimension called Rhogar, saving all of humanity in the proces. Before you do achieve that goal, many adversaries will stand in your way – with a lot of them being large boss characters that require specials tactics in order to bring them down.
Your main character looks like a cross betwee Kratos from God of War and a character from the Dark Souls series, but the gameplay style leans heavily towards the latter of those two. Lords of the Fallen is far from a button masher, and instead requires a strategic approach to a lot of the combat. In some cases this might mean having to duck and roll before striking an opponent from behind during your counter attack, and in other cases you can benefit greatly from knocking down magical items before taking on your foe. In those scenarios, the enemy draws strength from a circle of magic urns on fire, and you have the choice of going straight for the bad guy or taking out his ‘backup system’ first.
It’s dynamics like that which keep the game interesting all throughout its campaign, because CI Games has made sure that something new is thrown at you every few steps along the way. To tackle these challenges, you can choose from a large number of items and weapons that you collect on your quest. After completing the quest, additional modes are unlocked that present even more item and weapon choices to the player – inviting you to a second or even third playthrough. Magic and a projectile-firing gauntlet complete your arsenal – and you’ll need all of it to be successful.
Lords of the Fallen is a challenging game. It’s not as hard as games which glorify a high difficulty level such as Super Meat Boy, Fenix Rage or even Dark Souls, but it’s a serious challenge nonetheless. When you die, your spirits stays at your location of death, allowing you to pick up you experience points if you make it back to that place without dying. Not using these experience points at checkpoints and saving them up also results in a quicker buildup of stats by using a multiplyer system, which is an interesting balancing game between risk and reward.
The PS4 version runs smoothly, but the PC version was plagued by some performance issues at launch. The team has since addressed a number of these issues with an update, easing our worries about instability in this game. With that issue out of the way, we’re left with a game with a little more focus on action than Dark Souls had, and less of the item crafting and punishing difficulty. It’s a more than welcome addition to the genre, and the first to focus exclusively on next gen – which shows in its excellent audiovisual presentation. It’s not flawless – we ran into a few little glitches and the camera isn’t perfect, but nothing too grating and certainly not enough to keep us from enjoying this game. We’re hoping for more by Deck13 and CI Games – recommended.
CPU: Intel 3770K
Video: Asus GTX 660 Ti
Installed on: Kingston HyperX SSD drive
RAM: 16 GB DDR 3, Kingston HyperX Fury series