First thing’s first. Like other reviews, mentions of Dark Souls will be made. The game does stand on it’s own merits but comparing it to From Software’s game helps put some things into perspective; we will keep them to a minimum if possible. So with that said, do we recommend Lord’s of the Fallen? Well here we go!
The game begins by tossing you right into a fight as a tutorial. I opted to skip the tutorial prompts and jump in! I mean I just finished my second run of Dark Souls 2 so I know the controls. Well I was wrong, I had to go in and change the control options to “alternate” and then the controls were 99.9% Dark Souls. Now I was comfortable. I’m glad they gave an option to have controls setup just like those from Dark Souls since I have over a hundred hours into that game. It makes a difference, learning new controls for a very similar game would be a pain. So nice job Lords!
A seasoned gamer of this genre will have little difficulty at first but the game does ramp it up after a bit. My first death came an hour into the game on the third boss. That was a bit surprising to me but shortly after I met my demise many times on during my playthrough. Lords doesn’t have many areas where you will have cheap deaths due to the environment but the way they increase the difficulty can seem a little cheap or lazy in some cases. The biggest offender in my opinion are the Knights with tower shields. They pose a threat early on because they are just tanks for damage and are always blocking. When they are introduced I still was a low-ish level and took forever to take one down. Normally that would mean I’m not supposed to be in that area yet but as a linear game that’s not the case.
The other cheap mechanic used is when a boss summons extra enemies. The enemies summoned are small and underpowered normally but the bosses that use this mechanic typically have very simple moves and are easy to exploit. I’d rather have the difficulty come from a good, intense one on one battle with a sharp AI instead of a mediocre enemy that summons. Dark Souls used the same mechanic sometimes too but the boss in questions was usually formidable on it’s own as well, minus the Skeleton Lords.
Aside from those gripes I was happy with the overall challenge the game provided. The save point mechanic was unique and, while exploitable, would take some time to really take advantage of the system. I also liked the fact that the number of attributes that can be upgraded were not overwhelming. It took me a while to get the hang of the Souls series. About halfway through the game though I realized I would be good to just pump everything into Strength, so I did. I put a few into energy but I was mainly a strength build which paid off greatly in the later part of the game.
I mainly used an axe named “Fate” and was overall happy but I am a sword guy so I was elated to find the Vanguard Sword. It served me well but didn’t do as much damage as I’d like. Late in the game I found “Justice” and it was on! It was a good job that I put so many points in to strength as the sword needs it. It instantly doubled my attack power and suddenly I was afraid of no man, not even tyrants. Three hits and they are done.
The ending to the game was good in my opinion and I overall enjoyed the story. I liked that the story was presented to me as opposed to me having to piece it together like the Souls games. However the Souls games do a great job in their own right with the story. Somewhere in the middle is probably the optimal way to do it. But the ending left me satisfied and I liked my time with the game. The enemies put up a fight and most of my deaths felt it was due to not playing well enough. There were a few “wtf” moments where I was at full health one seconds and then dead the next without knowing what went wrong but they were few and far between. The game runs well enough but it did crash a few times during the Lost Brothers fight, and only during that fight. I also saw physics issues in the second visit to the Citadel, but a reset of the game seemed to fix it.
The only other technical issue I have with the game is the enemy AI. There were times during every boss fight where the boss would sit still, frozen for one to two seconds motionless, just a lifeless character model, as if it was trying to figure out what to do next. I never encountered this with a regular enemy but every boss seemed to have a “brain fart” at some point rendering them paralyzed and open to punishment for a few seconds. While I appreciated the free hits, it was glaringly obvious it was a game AI issue and I’d prefer if it didn’t happen so it doesn’t take me out of the experience. It didn’t happen every single boss fight, but every boss did it at least once.
If you are a fan of the Souls series or even if you want to like them but the difficulty turns you off this game would be worth a look. It’s more accessible than the first Dark Souls and less difficult and shorter than the second. I feel Dark Souls 2 is the perfect balance between challenging and accessible but Lords of the Fallen comes close. It’s very similar yet it can still stand on it’s own. Definitely recommended and I’m excited to see where the series goes. I do hope the next game comes with save point warping/fast travel though, even though this game is more linear there were still times it would be helpful for side quests or item cleanup.