Despite the clear comparisons that many will look to, that genuinely undermines what Lords of The Fallen is. That’s not saying that Lords of The Fallen doesn’t borrow anything from Dark Souls – the developers are happy with the links to From Software’s masterpiece but Lords of the Fallen is a beast itself. It may fall down at certain points but Lords of the Fallen is a great first iteration that will help establish the genre that the Souls games created, not monopolise it.
There are a lot of different aspects to the Souls games, both good and bad. You play as Harkyn, a gruff, man that doesn’t seem bothered to be on his adventure. The conversations he has with other characters end with not a goodbye but rather “I Don’t care” and huffs. These story moments get in the way of the gameplay with writing that never makes you feel more interesting in the world or lore. It is there, and although some of it may enhance your experience, they should not get in the way of the main aspect of the game: the combat.
The combat in lords of The Fallen is really satisfying. Every swing has a heft to it and although it doesn’t take just a couple of hits to die, you have to be weary of both your stamina as well as your enemy’s attack patterns. The fun of learning a new enemy’s attacks never tire and never really feel cheap. There are some moments where you feel like your weapon connected but never registered but other than those brief moments of frustration, the combat feels fair, balanced, and ultimately fun.
The world of Lords of The Fallen isn’t as mysterious and inviting as you might expect. Instead of massive open areas which require you to find your way, Lords of The Fallen is more linear as you move down corridors and constantly move on the next area. This pace though allows the game to show off some variety to the locations and enemies.
Lords of the Fallen is a beautiful game. The lighting is sometimes captivating as colours bounce around the screen, casting light on surfaces, and the occasional breathtaking vista. The game is soaked in atmosphere that makes you wish the story was more subtle, rather than the conversations with NPCs. There is a lot of lot to uncover in the places you visit but it presented to you more than it is there for you to discover yourself.
It’s a difficult game, but not as much as you may expect. You are definitely going to die but you won’t face stronger opponents often. In fact, as you go through the game, Harkyn becomes a more formidable foe for almost anyone you encounter. You’ll still stumble and falter but it’ll be more down to stupid decisions rather than being outplayed. When you die, rather than all your XP being left with your corpse and you must try get back to it before you die again like in the Souls games. You instead see your XP decrease the longer it takes creating a frantic chase to get there before too much damage has been done to make it not worth saving.
There is a nice risk/reward mechanic in your experience that you gain. As you kill more enemies, your multiplier goes up ever-so-slightly. The risk then comes in how long you go until you bank it in at the shard and start all over again. This will bring out the greed in your play as well as the self-loathing when you simply knew it was too much to try.
You don’t feel weak or afraid of what you face until you make your way over to the otherworld where everything is sinister and dangerous. These otherworld moments offer great reward for success and can bring the biggest challenges in the game. Success may bring a treasure chest with a rare rune that will greatly increase your weapons abilities, or new armour to protect yourself.
Lords of the Fallen should be rewarded for what is it, not what you think it tried to be. The world is incredibly beautiful, contains a history, and riches should you explore. The 20 or so hour trip is not the end as New game+ offers even more in the way of threats and challenges. It’s a game that you’ll talk about not for its influences but the path its carved for itself: dark, moody, yet beautiful.