There’s a popular saying that many people like to use: “Does the end justify the means?” I’d like to introduce a new version: “Does the satisfaction justify the frustration?” Many people I know who have played and enjoyed games like Demon Souls and Dark Souls find a great sense of reward upon beating a boss or even the game. It’s a challenge and it tests your skill as a gamer.
Lords of the Fallen isn’t like most games, it’s not a walk in the park and it takes a lot of skill and patience to complete. I’ve played Demon Souls before so I know a challenging game when I see one and LofT certainly is of that same genre, just not as brutal. It took me three attempts to get a character I felt comfortable with, in fact, I had to look at all three classes – rogue, cleric and warrior. For the most part the game is heavily reliant on brute strength and vitality, making it very lopsided if you picked rogue.
During my first attempt, I realized that although my cleric was strong, his endurance was shocking and he couldn’t dodge very well. I gave up after losing to the first boss about 10 times. During my second attempt I used a rogue because he was faster. This worked for a while until I reached the fourth boss and got annihilated repeatedly because my defense was crap. Then I switched to warrior and found battling anything was easy, but he was so slow. This irritated me to no end, so I switched to rogue and equipped him with the heaviest armor I could find. Eventually I managed to defeat enemy after enemy with patience, practice and yelling at the TV screen.
Difficulty aside, the game can be played how you see fit, if you want to avoid side-missions and avoid most of the dialogue, you’re free to do so. That helps if you just want to hack ‘n slash your way to the end. The other style is more story driven. You can choose to interact with characters, find scrolls and complete side quests to further the story and get a greater understanding of the world around you. The main issue I have with this type of style is that I have to WORK to get a story. Without speaking to people and finding all the scrolls, you’re left with a very meager story. And even if you do interact and learn about the game, you’re still not going to experience a thought-provoking or clever story.
Although it’s an RPG, there’s not much you can do to create your own character. You are Harkyn, through and through. A muscle-clad, bald, merciless and dangerous convict on a road to redemption. Your journey begins in a monastery that has been overrun by the Rhogar – deformed and evil creatures from another dimension. Your mission is to find Antanas, a spiritual leader, and find a way to destroy the Rhogar. Without giving too much away, the game has a big focus on Man vs. God.
For the most part Harkyn is a fairly boring lead character. He is also supplemented with other more boring NPCs, like Yetka and Kaslo. Other than Harkyn, who I think looks cool, the others aren’t inspiring at all. However, the enemies of the game are completely the opposite. Aside from the spiders – which I still hate and struggle to defeat – all the enemies are really well designed and resonate evil. The bosses are equally well designed and a blast to battle.
Just like the Demon Souls games, the bosses here are not to be taken lightly. There is a trick to beating each boss, but it takes time and practice to nail them. One boss – the third boss – took me 23 attempts and an hour to defeat. I’d like to say the battling is easy, but it’s not, and I’d also like to say the control system is perfect, but it’s not. The L1 and L2 buttons are used to block, parry, shoot or stab (if you have a second weapon equipped) depending on which action you take. The R1 and R2 buttons are for light and heavy attacks (sound familiar?). While that’s easy to figure out, it’s using the camera that’s unpleasant. When auto-locking, the camera occasionally works against you. When trying to select a closer opponent, it will either not select them, or unselect – neither are useful. Rolling and blocking can be used to defend yourself, but you don’t always roll in the direction you want to (when auto-locking) and sometimes the game doesn’t register that you’re slamming the block button. Considering that every move is crucial and that timing means life or death, these are issues that I could not let pass. I died countless times because my roll failed or I couldn’t block.
The issues don’t end their either. The game has a 5GB update that you really should download. I saw the game before the update, and it isn’t pretty. Screen tears, texture issues and terrible character animation. A lot of it improves with the update, but not everything. Some enemies, especially late in the game, shoot up into the sky after being killed. Some enemies stop dead in their tracks for no reason whatsoever, the game kicked me out three times, I got hit through a solid wall and I saw an enemy run from one end of the room to the other without actually touching the floor.
The game isn’t all doom and gloom though. The setting is beautiful, though not quite spectacular. It has a very strong and believable environment. It’s fairly linear and structured, so there’s a very strong sense of direction. Grinding isn’t necessary, thank goodness, but you will need to be careful with your experience. If you die, your exp is left where you died. If you don’t retrieve it back in time or you die again, you lose all of it. So making sure to use your exp is crucial. There’s a nice range of weapons and armor for you to use, but not a massive amount that you’ll feel like you’re being overwhelmed with choices. It’s also a lot more gamer-friendly, so if you’ve always wanted to play a challenging game that’s NOT Dark Souls, then Lords of the Fallen is the perfect introductory game.
Although this isn’t my favorite type of game, I grew to like it after I learned how to tackle each enemy. There’s a steep learning curve for those who are not familiar with the “run-attack-block-run away-run-attack-block…” etc style of doing things, but for those who are, Lords of the Fallen is the game for you. It won’t be the most challenging experience, but it does come with a New Game + and New Game ++, so who knows? For me, the satisfaction of beating this game was not worth the frustration, but I’m sure I would say the same thing for Dark Souls.