Game Review: Lords of the Fallen (Xbox One)

I consider myself to be quite a committed gamer so it may shock you to read that I, Raptures Lost have never played a single game in the Dark Souls series. However, I did get around to playing Lords of the Fallen which is considered to be quite similar to a Souls game by design only slightly more forgiving. I do intend on having a crack at Dark Souls sometime in the near future but this seemed like a game that could be a nice stepping stone into the world of that style of game. I mean, I doubt it properly prepared me for the rage quitting ahead but it looked like a fun game all the same.

Lords of the Fallen is a third-person action role-playing game. The game has a slow tactical approach to close-quarters combat gameplay, with difficult enemies and locations to overcome, players must learn from their encounters. The player takes the role of Harkyn, who, from the beginning, can be tailored towards the player’s preferred combat styles from a range of different classes, each with their own specializations in certain weapons, armours, spells, and abilities. A class is determined based on two major choices of three kinds of magic; brawling, deception, and solace, followed by the second choice of three different armour sets; warrior, rogue, and cleric. Different combinations of both choices allow the player to choose how to play Harkyn from the start.

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The game is set in a world long after the defeat of a god named Adyr that formerly ruled humanity with an iron fist, by three heroes, a rogue, cleric, and warrior, who later became known as the Judges and were elevated to the status of demigods. Harkyn is released from prison by a monk named Kaslo in order to stop a mysterious invasion of Adyr’s demonic forces, the Rhogar, into a monastery near the Hand of God Mountains (literally the hand of the fallen god). He comes across a number of powerful beings called Rhogar Lords who are invading from an unknown place into the human realm. With the help of an explorer named Yetka, he is able to discover the location of the Pathway, a portal to the Rhogar Realm, a former temple of Adyr that was banished to another dimension by the Judges and sealed in the monastery.

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It’s down to Harkyn and the player to decide just where your allegiances lie, helping put a stop to the Rhogar threat once and for all.

Let’s just jump right into the aspects of the game that I enjoyed and the ones that I didn’t. The game has been praised by critics for its slow, weapons-based, action oriented combat but personally I found it to be rather clunky and clumsy. That ridiculously huge battle-axe may look awesome but watching Harkyn sluggishly swing it and constantly missing isn’t. I appreciate the weapons having a realistic weight to them and it obviously makes you consider which weapon to use but it seemed to me that all of the best weapons were unreasonably heavy. It requires timing and a lot of patience but more often than not a death will occur due to Harkyn missing the enemy standing two inches in front of him simply because of his slow swings. Lighter weapons are available which increase his slashing speed but as I mentioned these are usually pointless due to their low hit damage.

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I didn’t think much of the story, Harkyn isn’t the most interesting of characters but he fits the clichéd mould nicely. I found myself skipping dialogue due to how uninteresting I found it all, still if you’re into dark mysterious themes then it could do something for you.

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Even if the combat is simply serviceable, it’s still a bunch of fun to hack down enemies which is thankfully what you’ll mainly be doing.  Some serious effort went into designing the armour and weapons in the game which is greatly appreciated, you’ll feel like a badass.

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For any game like this to succeed, looting around for new weapons and gear has to be compelling and even though the selection isn’t the biggest it’s definitely one of the best things about the game.

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Enemies are designed well; simply storming into a battle hoping to hack and slash your way to victory probably isn’t the best idea. Then there are the Wardens which serve as the games boss battles, don’t take these guys lightly. As it should be, most of your deaths will likely come against these intimidating behemoths. It’s a game of trial and error, once you figure out their attacks you’ll see just how formulaic these battles really are and yet you’ll still get a huge boost of adrenaline once you finally down the bastards.

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There are a number of special weapons that can be acquired when fighting each of the Wardens; you have to meet some type of requirement in battle to gain them. The reason I mention this is I was wondering how anyone would have a clue about these requirements without a guide.

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While there is freedom to create the type of character you want, certain builds will pretty much leave you screwed. Want to have a character that focuses mainly on magic and not so much on strength or endurance? Good luck with that!

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I’ve never played a Dark Souls game so I cannot comment on the contrast in difficulty; I can say that Lords of the Fallen is extremely forgiving. You’ll be given the option of healing and saving very often and death will usually not lead to any real loss or repercussion other than having to complete a small section again. I don’t think this is a game for someone looking for a casual experience but I imagine fans of the Souls franchise may have an easy ride here.

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As someone who has never played this style of game I think I faired quite well even if I did die a lot, unfortunately some of these deaths were due to me getting screwed over by some kind of glitch. That’s right the game has glitches, quite a few of them unfortunately. I played through the game 3 times and every time I was hit with awful audio sync issues that would basically break the game and really take me out of it.

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The game is nice looking but predictable in the sense that it looks exactly how you would imagine it to look; snowy peaks, dark caves, dungeons, you can probably picture it without actually playing it.

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Lords of the Fallen lacks an identity, it’s always going to be seen as that game that’s like a Dark Souls game and yet it’s not like one. It’s a fun game with nice visuals but a story that is extremely forgettable with a clichéd protagonist to boot. The combat is clunky but murdering demon after demon is satisfying even if occasional glitches attempt to sabotage you. Looking for loot and finding that final piece of an armour set is a blast, thankfully the designs for everything is very well done. I was hoping this game would be a nice stepping stone for me to eventually play a Dark Souls game and I feel it succeeded at that but I doubt that was meant to be its fate.

Lords of the Fallen
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    The Final Score - 7/10
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