Entering the latest Castlevania re-boot and you quickly realize that this game while branded with the same name and even classical characters from times past is a new direction for the famed franchise altogether.
You play as Gabriel Belmont, a member of the Brotherhood of Light, an elite group of holy knights who protect and defend the innocent against supernatural forces. Much like Dante’s quest to rescue his lost love from the clutches of Satan himself in Visceral Games Dante’s Inferno, our hero not only risks his life to resurrect his wife, Gabriel also seeks to restore balance back to a kingdom long forgotten by peace, a land now plagued by evil forces governed under the tight grip of the Lords of Shadow.
Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow centers heavily around it’s strong story book narrative that meticulously takes players on a journey voiced by Patrick Stewart, who plays a brotherhood knight known as Zobek and Robert Carlyle as Gabriel Belmont. Much like it’s impressive voice acting, Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow manages to offer some impressive eye-candy with it’s keen attention to detail. Players can be certain that as they journey deeper into the heart of darkness, developer MercurySteam will continue to blow them away with the games ever-increasingly tight visuals. The game looks fantastic.
Unfortunately, as much as the game impresses visually, the game play doesn’t quite hit the mark as high. Adding a combat system similar to recent hack and slash combat heavy titles, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow doesn’t truly establish itself as original.
Gabriel’s weapon of choice is his trusted and upgradeable combat cross which has some similarities to the Blades of Chaos. Once Gabriel wields the cross it extends by way of a chain reaping some serious punishment on the enemy. However, after you’ve taken out a few enemies, the combat can become a bit repetitive. Slash, slash, roll, roll and you begin wishing for an upgrade quickly. Nevertheless, as you continue to make your way through each chapter the game introduces newer more eye-popping quick time event take downs which definitely add to the experience.
While the combat cross is upgradeable, the upgrades can seem underwhelming early on when put into practice. With that said, players need to be patient as Gabriel does eventually become an unstoppable force with an incredible arsenal of attacks at his disposal.
Some cool highlights added to the combat while not original yet still fun, Gabriel will battle some rather large beats which he can eventually take control of very similar to how Kratos can control a cyclops taking out other enemies in the surrounding area. The major difference in this maneuver in Castlevania is found in how these creatures are also needed to reach new areas. Players should be sure to explore their surroundings once they’ve commandeered a beast and of course after the beast has served it’s purpose it’s time to go in for the kill.
Not as dramatically implemented as Shadow Of The Colossus but still effective, during your journey Gabriel will be confronted by titans. Titans are larger- than-life immovable stone objects which based on the story are in rare capacity. Taking down a titan can get frustrating if you’re not carefully holding on. Again much like Shadow Of The Colossus, Gabriel must traverse the titan under some chaotic circumstances to find these glowing glass areas which Gabriel then needs to break in order to down a titan. This is no walk in the park but once you take it down the feeling is satisfying.
Along this 12 chapter journey Gabriel occasionally comes across his very own downed Brotherhood of Light kinsmen who have been killed in battle only to leave behind a journal. These journals lend well in cautioning Gabriel of the pitfalls and warnings ahead in addition to clues in solving the games challenging puzzles.
For players who enjoy a well told and lengthy adventure they will be right at home as Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow slowly but surely evolves into an exciting title. Supported by a soundtrack that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a Lord of the Ring adventure, the epic melodies of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow adds much depth to some of the games more hollow and less action packed scenarios.
For all the games lows there are highs which greatly reward you for continuing to the climatic ending which has us excited for a sequel. Ultimately, MercurySteam has introduced a beautifully imagined and well told story which re-creates popular game play ideas from other successful titles while being somewhat clumsy in it’s delivery. With some innovative touches to the combat and more original game play elements added to the sequel, Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow could be a sure hit.