Release Date: October 28, 2014
Platform: Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed), PC
Developer: CI Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
I'll preface my Lords of the Fallen review by saying that I never got into Dark Souls. In my opinion, it was unnecessarily difficult and overly frustrating for the sake of being so. Sure, some people like the hardcore-ness of Dark Souls, and I can understand and respect that -- but not me. But I don't want something as easy as Super Mario 3D Land, either. I want something in the middle, and that's where Lords of the Fallen cements itself. That's not to say that you won't die a lot or get frustrated in the game -- you will -- but it is definitely not as hardcore as Dark Souls.
And with that being said, Lords of the Fallen is definitely deserving of your time. Sure, it takes a lot of influence from Dark Souls with an art style similar to Darksiders and Bound By Flame, but it carves out its own playspace. You play as Harkyn, a gruff adventurer you'll use to take on some truly tough bosses and some tough mobs in general. He can handle it, though, I promise you.
It feels as though Harkyn gets the majority of his greatness through his armor and weaponry, as you'll find and loot many different armor and weapon sets scattered about the world (some of which apparently even require a second playthrough to find).
The gear is all well-balanced. You'll have to choose to use light armor with a heavy weapon, heavy armor with a fast weapon or mix or medium armor and whatever other weapon you can use with it. It's all about balancing your inventory load, really, and each weapon and armor set have their own advantages and disadvantages that you'll have to figure out when deciding which combination to use.
For example, I tried to take down one of the bosses with heavy armor and an axe, but that made Harkyn way too slow to get the job done. So, I switched it up and gave him light armor with a staff (which is quite a fast and powerful weapon), and that did the trick. I also really like the fact that you can switch up your armor/weaponry in mid battle in a pause menu. Because, you know, nothing annoys a boss more than saying "hold on just a minute while I tinker."
Combat actually takes some skill, and isn't just a mindless button mash or a series of combination sequences. Instead, you'll have to balance your attacks with blocking your enemy's attempts all while keeping an eye on your stamina bar. It becomes increasingly difficult when you're facing more than one opponent at a time of course, but again, it's nothing Harkyn can't handle.
Boss battles are satisfying, even though you'll likely die numerous times before getting the battle down right. Each boss has their own manuevers you'll have to figure out how to avoid, and their own weaknesses which you'll have to figure out how to exploit. This makes earning a victory much more rewarding, making you feel like a champion of persistance.
The environments in Lords of the Fallen are delightfully dark and grimm, albeit nothing too unique. Still, they are all incredibly detailed and let you know that this is definitely a game of the new era of consoles. Unfortunately, there are some screen tearing issues and loss of framerate, although nothing too hindering on the gameplay.
The soundtrack is also noteworthy and deserves a mention for its quality. The music adds a certain charm to Lords of the Fallen, especially during boss battles which can become quite tedious.
While Lords of the Fallen isn't exactly a genre-bending RPG, it's still a gratifying one, and the first successfully executed RPG on the new generation of consoles. Boss battles are generally well-done and entertaining, Harkyn is a cool dude and the armor/weapon upgrade system works well. The game is a good first in what I hope to be a long-standing franchise for CI Games, and a Lords of the Fallen 2 would definitely be welcomed, but hopefully the second game will bring with it a little more flair and take a few more risks.