Lords of the Fallen was to me one of the most interesting games at the 2014 E3 Expo. While most of the attention went to long-running series like Assassin’s Creed, Halo, and Call of Duty, along with RPG heavyweights like Dark Souls, Dragon Age, and The Witcher, the little bit of exposure Lords of the Fallen was able to garner was compelling. The previews showed amazing graphics, intense real-time combat and a generous loot system. That was all a longtime RPG fan like myself needed to get excited, two years into a new console generation that has been sorely missing a quality RPG.
Lords of the Fallen borrows quite a bit from the Dark Souls series and while it starts out pretty tough, the stronger your character gets, the easier the game becomes. Speaking of characters, there is no “create your own character” in this game. You’re given the role of Harkyn, a convicted criminal whose face is tattooed with runes describing his sins, who has been paroled for the purpose of saving the world from the Rhogar, or demons. While the overall aesthetic and premise of the game is reminiscent of Gears of War, Harkyn himself reminds me a lot of Ragnar Lothbrook from the Vikings series on the History Channel. Unfortunately the game never really bothers to tell us much about the protagonist, or anyone else for that matter.
Lords of the Fallen does force you to only play as one character, but it does give you the option of what class he will be. You can choose to play as a warrior, rogue, or cleric, though I would recommend playing as a warrior the first time through, unless you want to spend a lot of time trying to get through the first few stages. There is no difficulty adjustment, so you’ll just have to deal with the difficulty spikes. While grinding isn’t encouraged, it is possible and useful on occasion. In addition to your standard weapon, shield, and suit of armor, Lords of the Fallen does have a somewhat limited magic system and rune crafting mechanic.
Like the Dark Souls games, Lords of Fallen maps the combat to the shoulder buttons and triggers, left hand, left side of the controller, etc. The face buttons perform actions including using your magical gauntlet and potions and spells; a quick tap on those buttons will let you cycle through your assigned favorites. It did take a while to get used to the control scheme, particularly if I was playing something else immediately beforehand, but it wasn’t unwieldy. You do need to be careful when using magic or potions, because if you are attacked during the act, you might lose that resource, and some of the animations do take some time.
The combat in Lords of the Fallen can be customized depending on your weapon and armor choices. Some weapons are terribly slow and a heavy armor rig can make evading pretty tough. The combat is often made more difficult by the animations and hit detection. There were many times it looked like an attack I performed should have done damage and also times that I had evaded a blow, but took damage anyway. In no way was the fighting broken, it just seemed accidentally more difficult at times. Luckily, the game doesn’t punish you as severely as the Dark Souls games for dying. If you save before boss fights, there is almost no penalty for dying at their hands.
Lords of the Fallen for the most part is a gorgeous looking next-gen game, even if the environments don’t change much throughout the adventure. There are some hiccups, though. Occasional framerate and camera issues, and some minor clipping along with a few clunky animations, break the illusion. There are also a few instances where enemies would get stuck, but I often welcomed the assist. Once you beat the game a “New Game+” and “New Game++” is available. Despite its issues, including a lack of originality, Lords of the Fallen is one of the better games I’ve played this year. RPG fans should definitely consider adding this title to their PlayStation 4 library.
Lords of the Fallen is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB Blood, and Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox One, and Windows PC.
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