So you know how FromSoftware saw that games were a little too easy before it zipped down its trousers and whipped out Dark Souls, proudly, out on the table for all to see? How they created a game that people were all too happy to fail at because of the off-chance that one day they’ll defeat the boss they’re stuck on? Ooorrr how they’ve managed to do the same with 4 other titles? Good. Keep them in mind as you’re reading this review of Lords of the Fallen.
Lords of the Fallen is an RPG developed by Deck13 Interactive and CI Games, Published by Square Enix and weirdly it was distributed by Namco Bandai. Why is that weird? Well it’s because Namco Bandai published Dark Souls, the very game Lords of the Fallen is copying. Oh did I give away the secret before I was supposed to? Don’t worry it’s very apparent in the beginning that this game is a half-assed Dark Souls clone and I cannot stress how half-assed it is.
Lords of the Fallen is all about Bland-Kratos™ who is on a mission to find Antanas who is such a powerful being that it’s in Bland’s best interest to sacrifice a whole load of men just to meet this guy. Men you don’t see in an actual fight. Sorry Bland-Kratos™ but your princess is in another castle. The game has you run past trash mobs in order to kill the big bad boss guys at the end of that certain area. While both this game and Dark Souls share this same basic point they’re both incredibly contrasting experiences.
The opening cinematic in Lords itself tells you fuck all about what’s going on story wise. You get this over the top, dramatic, “epic” opening video that serves no actual purpose. It gives you no info whatsoever. Hell in Dark Souls 3 you get a full opening that tells you all about the Lords of Cinder and their place in the world you’re about to enter. Even Dark Souls 2 has a very good opening cinematic, true to its tone, and sets up the entire plot for the game. Lords does the opposite. This sets a massive precedent for what the rest of the game is going to be like. Lords basically gives you nothing. No motivation, no background and no fucking reason to play the game. Here have a look for yourself and compare the two:
Yes you armoured chucklefuck, the giant hand has heard you but who the fuck are you and who’s the Doppelganger Bland-Kratos™ and why’s he looking for Antanas?
Do you see the massive difference between the two? Not only is there a complete contrast in terms of voice acting and setup in the two titles, in Dark Souls, while not giving too much away, it tells you what the actual fucking is going on. In Lords of the Fallen you get this big dramatic cinematic with no actual fucking point for it other than to show off all the shiny polygons.
As a person who’s been taught the basic foundations behind film making in college, the cinematic in Lords bugs the ever living shit out of me. Why? It’s very simple. In a film, a good one at least, each scene is meant to drive the story forward and show some sort of progression. In layman’s terms each scene has to have a fucking point otherwise it’s not needed in the film. Take out the above cinematic completely and the game can still be played without it. It has no purpose other than to show a guy lift up a hammer and point it at a mountain range. Can the same be said for the Dark Souls cinematic?
To give the devs credit the cinematic looks class and is very entertaining to watch but again it serves no overall purpose that a text box can’t elaborate on. Not to be outdone by the half-assed cinematic, the character creation is so minimal it too has no reason to be implemented.Well other than the obvious reason of course. To paraphrase General Dissaray “Dark Souls did it!”
You choose between 3 spell types and 3 different equipment load-outs using the generic rpg trifecta of Warrior, Rouge, Sorcerer without the ability to customise any of it. You do get a gauntlet in the game that lets you use your mana to shoot a ranged attack at your enemies. Can you see where the game is going with this? It’s taking what Dark Souls does on the surface and implementing it but not going in-depth enough for it to work as well as it does in Dark Souls. It uses the “Dark Souls is hard as balls” design but forgets everything else. The game forgets that the boss fights have to be entertaining as well as difficult. The voice acting is average at best and the character’s syncing with the audio is jarring at best.
The game is also incredibly linear as you traverse the game going from point to point in a straight line rather than giving you an open playground to mess around in. You kill trash mobs in a straight line to get to the boss and once the boss is down you continue in a straight line towards the next boss. While there are secret items to find throughout the levels the game gives you no sense of freedom.
Not to mention the games biggest sin. The bosses are boring as fuck. The bosses aren’t interesting whether it’s their appearance, their move set or their entrance. They show up, you beat them and you move on. In a game that has you fight boss after boss you’d think they’d be more creative with their design. It’s only about halfway through the game that they decide to be a little creative and give the boss an extra two legs to make him look a little different. Then they go back to men with swords. That about correctly sums up the game. Half-assed troughout and when there’s even a little bit of creativity they do a 180 on it.
That’s not to say the game is shit by all means. It’s just that you can’t not compare it to Dark Souls when it borrows so much from the game. The problem is that the game shoots itself in the foot at the parts where Dark Souls shines. Lords of the Fallen looks great, I daresay even better than Dark Souls 2 when it came out. My issue is not with the style itself but with its substance. The game has enough in it to be an okay game but I’m not sure it accomplishes its goal of being a Souls type game with an easier learning curve.
If I look back at the previous Broadside Review (formerly Roulette Review) of Poly Bridge I can’t help but admire Dry Cactus for what it achieved and it’s a lesson Deck13 Interactive and CI Games need to pay attention to. Poly Bridge has an identity of what it is, what it wants to be and all aspects of the game work together to achieve that. Lords of the Fallen knows what it wants to be but it has no idea what the fuck it is. It’s not an RPG and it’s definitely nowhere near a Dark Souls game. It’s all over the place in terms of combat, bosses and character development. When you have no idea what the core ideal behind your game is it’s hard to achieve that ideal and all you have at the end is a game that’s a very basic RPG let alone an alternative to Dark Souls.