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Game Review: Castlevania - Lords of Shadow

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The Castlevania series was initially known for its difficulty and horror-themed setting. The classic tale of the Belmont family versus Count Dracula took place over many video games on nearly every console and the series really hit its peak with Symphony of the Night on the Playstation. Great 2D Castlevania titles continued to be released for handheld consoles which, however the series jump to 3d never really appealed to reviews or many players. The two N64 titles were labelled as terrible and ignored, and the 2 PS2 titles were considered repetitive and uninspired, with the final release of Castlevania Judgment on the Wii, which has become known as one of the worst games in the series, it seemed Castlevania fans would never see the series return to its former glory. Enter Lords of Shadow, a current-generation 3d Castlevania with a lot of hype around it.

Fresh Approach

The game would be a completely new Castlevania, everything reworked from the ground up. The game was abandoning the original story and characters from the previous games and the main development team MercurySteam was known for some previous flops, but with Hideo Kojima's involvement, it seemed the game could really put the series back in the spotlight.

The game features brotherhood member Gabriel Belmont who is searching for a way to return his dead love to life while fighting back the darkness that claimed her life and has begun to corrupt the land. To do so he must defeat and reclaim the power of heaven from the Lords of Shadow.

Technically Aesthetic

From a technical standpoint, the game looks great. The environments and character models are detailed and really add a varied look to the stages and creatures. However, the stage and monster design are my biggest issues with the game. They just aren't Castlevania at all. The original series used classic horror movies and novels for its inspiration. Monsters included Dracula, Medusa, the Mummy, Frankenstein. The games always took place in a huge dark castle or the surrounding area. This game seems to borrow more from fantasy than horror. The monsters themselves look silly and out of place, some ripped directly from the film Pan's Labyrinth while others look like they came from World of Warcraft. It doesn't feel at all like a Castlevania title.

Gabriel has quite a large arsenal at his disposal, his choice weapon is the retractable chain held within a cross he carries. The whip has two attacks that can be chained together to perform up to 40 combos. Whip enhancements can be found throughout the game which includes a hook that can be used to pull Gabriel towards enemies or pull enemies to him. A saw like a chain can allow the player to control monsters and saw through some obstacles. Gabriel can also throw daggers, holy water, summon a monster using a magic crystal, or unleash faeries to distract enemies.

In addition, Gabriel can collect essence from defeated enemies and store it in light or shadow magic reserves which can be used at any time. The light magic mode will restore Gabriel's health as he attacks enemies, shadow magic mode will inflict more damage. Both modes will also give Gabriel some new

Lots To Explore

Throughout the game, Gabriel can find gems, either life, light, or shadow gems. Collecting 5 of each type will increase the player's gauges. There are also pickups that will allow Gabriel to carry more sub-weapons.

The game is broken up into a series of stages. The world map allows the player to choose which stage to access and upon beating a stage, the player can return later to play a different difficulty, find missed upgrades, or complete the challenge. Each level has a unique challenge that can be completed the

The second time through. Many items are not accessible with the player's current skill set and require the player to return to that level later in the game to get them. The total percentage for each level is shown, and a percentage of 110 means the player has found all upgrades/gems, completed the challenge and beaten the level in every difficulty.

Total Control For Gamers

The game allows the player to tame and ride many creatures throughout its levels which can be used to attack enemies and progress through the environments. This is exactly like the way it is done in Dante's Inferno.

The second stage has Gabriel riding a horse while attacked by werewolves riding larger werewolves which he can whip. After he's inflicted some damage he can perform a QTE where he'll leap to the enemies ride and instantly kill it before hopping back onto his own horse. Sound familiar. It's the second stage of God of War 2, only on a horse instead of gryphons.

There are also several boss battle with enormous enemies which Gabriel must climb into and scale in order to seek out weak points which he can stab with his knife until the huge monsters fall. The execution of these features couldn't be any more similar to the battles in Shadow of the Colossus.

Final Words

Overall Castlevania: Lords of Shadow really is a God of War clone. It's a good one, and technically well-executed, but aside from the story, there's nothing here we haven't seen before. While that in itself isn't a crime, the real shame here is that complete abandonment of everything Castlevania. The switch from a horror focused game to a fantasy focused title is one I didn't enjoy. I felt like I was playing a D&D game at times for the majority of the game.

The game is fun and plays well. If you loved God of War, and Dante's Inferno, you'll have a good time with Lords of Shadow, if you're hoping for an authentic Castlevania experience, you will be disappointed, but imagine this isn't Castlevania and you'll probably make it through.

CHECK OUT THE GAME HERE

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Monojit Mandal

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