Review: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow “Resurrection”
He has just witnessed the death of another ally, though this time it was by his own hand. Gabriel Belmont has been through hell and back with the sole purpose of bringing back the woman he loved from the dead. He failed, it was all “a fool’s hope.” Now, he finds himself mere moments from entering the lair of the Forgotten One, a powerful demon long cast away and concealed within the Bernhard castle by the combined forces of the founders of the Brotherhood of Light. Gabriel will put an end to this demon no matter how much it may cost him. He no longer has anything left to lose including his own humanity. Upon the recent death of his aforementioned ally, Laura, Gabriel absorbed her vampiric powers, putting him one step closer to his ultimate destiny as the Prince of Darkness. First, he must save the world from the impending return of the Forgotten One, though…
“Resurrection” was pure brilliance. Sure, it wasn’t as meaty an experience as “Reverie” but that shouldn’t serve to degrade its overall worth. This final add-on for Lords of Shadow serves as the perfect ending that will leave you wanting a sequel. Watching the ending also makes you think: How is this not part of the main timeline? The events that unfold within the two levels of “Resurrection” do a good job of leading up to the Castlevania lore we’ve been accustomed to for years. Hell, we even witness Gabriel proclaiming to the Forgotten One before their first battle: “Enough talk, have at you!” This, as you would imagine, filled me with happiness, the notion of Mercury Steam implementing dialogue from the main timeline’s Dracula was quite surprising and yet, astounding. But, without spoiling anything, if no sequel gets made for this game, a perfect follow-up would be Lament of Innocence, though I’m sure many fans (myself included) would want to experience the next proper chapter in Gabriel’s tale. But, narrative praises aside, how do both levels in this DLC actually play?
I’ll get this out of the way first: I died many times during this DLC. Both of the levels included are more action-oriented and more focused on platforming than the pair of levels found in “Reverie”. So, you can expect to be free from solving any puzzles with your only concern being to pursue the Forgotten One without being seen, for the most part. Now, this is where the “died many times” part comes into play. Aside from having the occasional battle with flaming variants of the skeleton warriors, grim reapers and sword masters, you’re also met with a good dose of platforming bits which involved chasing the Forgotten One and taking cover at appropriate times. If you get spotted by the demon then you’re treated to a short cinematic in which he disintegrates Gabriel with a powerful blast. So, yes, we see some of Kojima’s influence thrown into the mix now. Stealth segments integrated into Lords of Shadow’s gameplay system may seem a bit absurd at first, but I truly enjoyed these bits and they proved to be a challenge, calling for quick platforming.
The biggest aspect of “Resurrection” fans were looking forward to is the big, epic confrontation with the Forgotten One. Well, you’ll be happy to know that the actual fight(s) live up to what this big showdown was built up to be. You have a vengeful Gabriel going up against a demonic force that can wipe out all humanity from the Earth. The stakes are high, and now with his newfound abilities (that don’t actually get channeled through gameplay mechanics), Gabriel has what it takes to overcome this monumental threat. Before you all ask, no, this isn’t a titan fight. Instead, this fight is more akin to the battle with Pan in his Silver Warrior form and the Black Knight. I will say this, though, the Forgotten One proved to be a much tougher adversary than Satan did. And that’s greatly appreciated seeing as how this is the final chapter of the game so it’s expected to have the final battle be one that truly tests you. The battle with the Forgotten One is split into two encounters but both play similar for the most part: you have exposed weak points on the demon which you are supposed to strike then you deal a significant amount of damage by doing certain actions. For example, you have to time your dodge perfectly in one scenario so that the projectile the Forgotten One shoots at you gets shot back. And, yes, you also have QTEs thrown into the mix, which constantly kept me on the edge of my seat, as did the whole battle.
All of this is wrapped up nicely with a solid presentation. One thing I should point out right away is that no, all the cut-scenes in the game aren’t within the mold of the artistic slightly animated style employed in “Reverie”, which was met with both praise and criticism. Instead, the cinematics in “Resurrection” utilize the actual in-game graphics with the final scene using the artistic minimally animated style. Having said that, the scenes with the Forgotten One also brings some noteworthy voicework. Though I’m not entirely sure who provided the voice for the demon, it does sound a bit like the same voice actor that played Cornell in the game. The Forgotten One speaks with a great sense of power and, of course, Gabriel responds with his own solid voicework from Robert Carlyle who adds depth to both levels’ loading screen narratives. Oh, and as aforementioned, he was aurally amazing when he shouted out that classic Symphony of the Night line “Enough talk, have at you!” The music in this DLC consists of tracks from the main game and I was a bit surprised that Gabriel’s theme didn’t get used for the final battle, seeing as how this is Lords of Shadow’s grand finale and I found that song to be extremely fitting with such a battle.
The issues I had with “Resurrection” were minor but still present. As aforementioned, I died quite a lot of times. Those deaths came in the platforming bits but it wasn’t the actual platforming itself that caused them, it was the camera. I never had any noticeable issues with the camera in both the main game and “Reverie” but here they cropped up a few times. They weren’t game breaking, mind you but they still led to unfortunate deaths and delayed (we all love this word) my confrontation with the Forgotten One. Also as previously noted, the length may prove to be an issue with some, seeing as how this content is available for $10 (and its equivalent value on Xbox Live). The thing is, though, fans of the series who enjoyed their time with the main game and came back to pick up “Reverie” should feel compelled to spend the money on “Resurrection”. Missing out on it would be missing out on the game’s finale, and trust me, you don’t want to miss out on it. Now, I imagine some would find issue with the difficulty levels of the actual battles with the Forgotten One but, personally, I found it to be very suitable. The Forgotten One was build up to be quite an enormous threat by Laura in “Reverie” so it’s good that Mercury Steam opted to give him the difficulty to complement that notion.
“Resurrection” was an astounding final chapter for an already amazing game. The complete experience offered by Lords of Shadow has been truly memorable, not to mention debatable due to the epilogue and other elements, and “Resurrection” serves as the perfect ending to Gabriel’s tale. We got to see him go through hell and back, trying to obtain an ancient relic with the ability to bring back the dead, which in this case was his wife. We got to see him feel abandoned by God when his beloved didn’t actually get resurrected. Then, in “Reverie”, we got to see him start his descent into darkness, ending with him gaining vampiric powers. Now, with “Resurrection”, we see it all tie together and end in grandeur. Bring on the sequel, Mercury Steam.