Castlevania Lords of Shadow Review - Rely on Horror

Castlevania Lords of Shadow Review

He seeks to bring back his departed beloved from a state of limbo. He belongs to the Brotherhood of Light, and in these dark times he’ll be needed the most. The recently deceased are neglected entry to heaven or hell. A prophecy exists, stating that a warrior of pure heart will stand up against the odds and make the powers of the Lords of Shadow his own. He’ll need an ancient relic, known as the God Mask, to bring his wife back and rid the world of this wretched curse. A hard journey lies ahead in his immediate future, the whole world is counting on him. Gabriel Belmont, and his vampire killer.

Next-gen Castlevania has finally arrived, in the form of Mecurysteam’s Castlevania Lords of Shadow. A game that is touted as a reboot to the, now somewhat confusing, Castlevania lore. Konami’s intentions are to bring in new blood to the franchise, little do they know, they may be alienating the legion of loyalists that’ve been with the series for a long time. Put any fears you may have aside, Castlevania Lords of Shadow delivers one of the best gaming experiences of the year and it’s sure to be remembered, and talked about, for quite some time. What makes it so good? Find out below.

As soon as the game game starts Mecurysteam makes it be known that this is going to be one hell of an experience. We see the amount of care given to the presentation of the game right from the getgo. Patrick Stewart,voicing Gabriel’s Brotherhood comrade Zobek,  beautifully kicks off every level with a narration that also serves as a clever way to mask the game’s loading times. The cut-scenes, while this being a Kojima observed title, don’t reach the levels of absurdity that people come to expect from them. The story carries itself in a serious tone and thus, really makes players sympathetic to– the Robert Carlyle voiced– Gabriel as he ventures to bring his wife back.

The game sprawls massive environments, from lush greenery all the way to the castle itself,and beyond. There’s a good diversity in levels, so players don’t feel like they’re being pit in a rinse-and-repeat cycle of levels. You will never come across levels that look identical, each one has their own distinct personality brought about by the little details that one might miss if you just speed through the game. To sum up the game’s atmosphere, Lords of Shadow has a huge world akin to an open-world rpg, while limiting player’s traversal strictly to the main path. There may be invisible walls and a lack of freedom, seeing as how this is a mostly linear affair, but you’d be wrong to throw the game’s world off as lifeless.

There’s some backtracking as well, for those completionists out there. Seeing as how the game’s structure is level-based, players can go back to previous levels with their newly-earned abilities in order to obtain more power-ups. Power-ups come in the form of enhancements to Gabriel’s inventory,health, light, and dark magic. You’re able to utilize daggers, familiar-type fairies, holy water, and a crystal that summons a grotesque behemoth that needs to be seen. Those are the sub-weapons. The game also boasts an intuitive light/dark magic system.

Light magic turns Gabriel blue in color and enables him to regenerate health on a hit-by-hit basis. Dark magic, on the other hand, gives Gabriel a red-glow and greatly boosts his attack power. Using these two forms of magic brings a lot of strategy to the table, making this more than just a generic hack-and-slash game. One scenario towards the end of the game utilizes this magic system perfectly, giving off an almost Ikaruga vibe.

This magic system compliments an already stellar combat system. Gabriel Belmont has the combat cross in his possession, with it, he’s able to do more than just deal damage on foes ala classic whip-weilding Belmont style. It allows him to swing, pull, and even catch and throw projectiles in certain circumstances. The swinging mechanic brings back memories of Super Castlevania IV, and it’s nice to finally see the mechanic make a much delayed return to the franchise. All this, and a superb combo-system, with many unlockable moves and abilities, make for one extremely rewarding gameplay experience.

The gameplay really shines when bosses come into play, especially the Titans. The Titans battles truly requires patience. Not to say they’re slow-paced, but rather, if you go in trying to speed-run these battles chances are you’re going to fail, multiple times. Why would you want to rush these gigantic battles anyway? When you could be admiring them, right down till their demise. They’re not often,but they’re extremely memorable encounters that will make you feel accomplished when you’ve finally beaten them. This isn’t to neglect the other bosses though.

Fans already know about the titular Lords of Shadow, of which there are three. No story specifics relating to them here, but their boss fights also prove to be extremely satisfying, keeing you at the edge of your seat the whole time through. There are also other bosses scattered throughout the game as well, at times you may even feel overwhelmed by the number, and frequency, of boss battles. Not a bad thing at all.

While the protagonist wields a chain-whip, and you face hordes of familiar monstrosities, is that enough to make this feel like the Castlevania of old? Yes, this game successfully brings Castlevania into the current generation, while not ignoring its heritage whatsoever. You may not reach the castle till the latter half of the experience, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t Castlevania. You’ll come to welcome the ghouls,zombies, skeletons, trolls, and other past enemies with open arms. Yes, it may be a reboot, but all the things that make a Castlevania game what they are remain in this new game. And yes, at the end of it all you’ll do battle with darkness itself, personified. All culminating in one hell of a post-credits scene that makes me wish there was a theatre-mode where one can view the games many, beautifully acted and scripted, cut-scenes just so I can view that scene over and over again.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow is a game that succeeds as an actual entry in its franchise, as well as a reboot. By the end of the game you will come away speechless, in a good way. Many questions will be raised, left unanswered until the eventual sequel, and most importantly, it’ll make playing through past Castlevania games an even more rewarding experience. A game that heightens the impact of its predecessors? Now that’s one faithful entry.

Right from the beginning of the game, when Gabriel stands in front of the village’s gate akin to Simon Belmont’s classic stance in front of the Castle gate, all the way till the end where everything is wrapped up nicely. Castlevania Lords of Shadow should not be ignored by series loyalists who may be put off by what has been shown of this game. This is a game that, sadly, might not sell as much as it deserves to, but the critical acclaim is what players need to note before making the purchase. Regardless of which console you get this for, this game needs to be in your collection.

‘Epic’ isn’t enough of a word to sum up this game, no, it isn’t. Castlevania Lords of Shadow is ‘Biblical’. A true masterpiece. It deserves no less than a 10 out of 10.

Overall Rating: 10/10

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