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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was MercurySteam's and Kojima
Productions' Castlevania reboot that brought the action series heavy with Quick
Time Events (QTEs) to the current console generation. Such gameplay largely excluded gamers with
fine motor disabilities due to the frequency of QTEs that required sequential
button presses. In a turnaround, the
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 demo is playable without QTEs, now welcoming
gamers with fine motor disabilities.
Cue the anticipation for February 2014 for one of the remaining current generation exclusives.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 was originally slated for a
fall 2013 release but was recently pushed to February 25, 2014. For us Castlevania: Lords of Shadow fans who
are not Nintendo 3DS players, the spring 2013 Lords Of Shadow: Mirror of Fate
on Nintendo 3DS received an HD update as a port to the Xbox 360 and Playstation
3 to help alleviate the wait for February 2014.
The downloadable game costs $14.99 and comes bundled with an exclusive
demo for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. For
those interested but without access to the demo, here is a preview of
what to expect in February 2014.
*SPOILER ALERT: Discussing the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
2 demo requires revealing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow's ending.*
The demo immediately references the ending of Castlevania: Lords
of Shadow where Gabriel Belmont defeated Dracula only to become the master
image of Gabriel as Dracula, poised in front of the familiar book that tells
the Castlevania story, serves as the basis of the in-game menu. Frustratingly, the demo does not give menu access until the player is given
in-game control. From the accessibility
standpoint, subtitles are available, there are controller options to invert
vertical and/or horizontal aim, and there is the all-important feature: a
playable mode with no QTEs that is not linked to a difficulty level.
In the demo's opening, Gabriel as Dracula lounges on his
oversized throne nursing a golden chalice with his bloody drink of choice, but
immediately the assault on his location occurs with a pounding at the enormous
door. Dracula tosses aside his goblet
and stands to face the assault.
Silly soldiers bursting into Dracula's castle.
Using an elaborate ram in the shape of a fantastical beast, Dracula's
former friends, Brotherhood of Light soldiers, barge into the room. As the soldiers crowd in, Dracula picks up
his goblet in anticipation of the fresh blood to drink, threatening, "What a
timely coincidence, I am dying for a little drop of blood." Surrounded by soldiers the player is thrust
into an arena-type battle serving as a combat tutorial.
The biggest combat changes are quickly clear. The player has control of the camera on the
right analog stick and moves Dracula on the left analog stick. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow infamously was
an action-based game that kept utter control of the camera, creating difficulty
when battling swarms of enemies. The required barrel roll for action-based
combat is now a vampire-like glide away.
Otherwise, the combat controls largely the same, with the controller's
face buttons used for area attack, direct attack, and instant kill for an enemy with low health. Combat does now require a press of a face
button to quickly stand when knocked down, adding to the button presses for
Brooding is Dracula's new favorite pastime. The demo features never-ending, semi shirtless Dracula close ups.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was largely inaccessible for
gamers with fine motor disabilities due to the frequent use of quick time events
(QTEs). QTEs remain prevalent, but now
enabling "Play without QTEs" eliminates disability-related difficulties with QTE
gameplay. I played through the demo
twice, once with QTEs and once without. Without the QTEs, the game progresses
with CGI sequences not requiring arbitrary button presses. With the QTEs, the familiar timed button
presses, rapid single button press, and sequential button presses are required. Combat is action-based, employing sequences (such
as the ethereal glide away) that require a left trigger pull concurrently with
moving the left analog stick while forcing the player to remain ready for
combat button presses with the right hand and blocking with the right
trigger. Dracula's final combat move is
shown is slow motion, similar to Rocksteady's Batman franchise.
The combat remains whip-like due to magic emanating out of
Dracula's hand. Void and chaos magic
return, triggered by bumper presses.
Void, or blue magic, creates a sword that replenishes health and chaos, while
red magic activates dual claws that break through enemy defenses. In the original Castlevania: Lords of Shadow,
I struggled with using the magic energies because the replenishing was slow,
but refilling is noticeably faster in the demo.
After passing the combat tutorial, Dracula enters a rundown
hall in his castle for a platforming tutorial.
Climbing now includes pinpoints of light when pulling the left trigger to
show nearby climbable points. Dracula
shimmies up columns and across gothic room decorations reaching a door to the
Dracula v. an army. Who are your odds on?
On an outside balcony, an oversized, steampunk mechanical
boss confronts Dracula, and from the cross shape in its face, a golden-armored,
winged soldier appears. The shiny
Brotherhood of Light fighter battle is reminiscent of the previous fights but
with a boss whose powers rival Dracula's.
The Brotherhood of Light champion eventually flies away and Dracula
jumps upon the titan-sized boss. While
onboard, the contraption rams the castle, trying to dislodge Dracula. If QTEs are enabled, timed button presses pop
up in conjunction with Dracula's platform ramming of the castle tower, and any
button the player chooses to be pressed when two circles overlap is required to
keep Dracula's footing. Climbing the
mechanical boss includes avoiding explosive arrow shots by the winged boss and
jumping from moving gears with the correct timing so as not to be smashed.
Jump! Wait! Jump now! Argh crushed into a bloody mess!
With a similar feel to the ginormous bosses in Castlevania: Lords
of Shadow, Dracula must climb the boss to a series of platforms where he
defeats a soldier swarm while convincing the flying boss to target rivets on
the mechanical boss. On each platform,
Dracula rips off a section of the steampunk machine until he reveals the
enormous boss's glowing core, radiating electricity. Dracula's finishing move is all his own, he
spews a fountain of blood onto the inner workings, and the entire apparatus
crashes to the ground.
Now, we are free to sit back and enjoy a CGI teaser.
Fantastical environments return, one of my favorite aspects of the initial game.
In the wake of widespread devastation after the mechanic's
fall, soldiers twitch and moan in the wreckage.
Dracula arises and the flying golden soldier appears bolstered by cheers
from his brethren. A series of shots
teases a new showdown between Dracula and the Brotherhood of Light
champion. The two stare at each other
with various close ups until the screen goes black and the following words
appear, "Blood is everything! February 2014, Pre-order now."
All of you v. the red lightening from my hands. Good luck.
A new CGI sequence begins showing a slow walking Dracula
meandering through a hallway in his castle with a series of close ups featuring
Dracula's character model. Dracula
reaches his balcony and is met with an innumerable number of Brotherhood of
Light enemies grouped at his castle walls.
Charging up his powers, Dracula takes on the horde by himself, bringing
destruction upon the army with his Dracula magic whip powers while he whirls
from group to group in a cloud of fierce smoke.
Facing the army's large war machines, Dracula drags a single soldier
before the creature and feeds before morphing into a gigantic smoke dragon that
flies shrieking into an enemy machine.
The demo blacks out to the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 logo.
The destroyed battleground appears with every soldier lying
prone, and a new assailant appears. Long
white hair blows in the wind, presumably Alucard, as he readies his sword
against Dracula. Dracula stares across the wasteland with his own stylish hairdo,
and the camera fades to black for the last time.
Overall, the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 demo reveals a
promising sequel. The possibility of an
action franchise including the accessible feature of disabling QTEs is an
exciting end to the current generation and hopefully a new standard for the
My intended writing schedule is far off track nowadays as writing a weekly piece here as well as writing for ex-GI intern's, Josh Straub's, website for video game disability accessibility, dagersystem.com, all the while actually playing games is beyond my schedule. However, I have begun writing feature pieces along with news articles and if you noticed that my writing was gone here I will post my features here as well. As we all have limited free time, thank you for reading. Retooling my schedule again, I appreciate the ability to post here and to stay updated in the irrestible world of GIO. Also, all of the images included here are my own amateur screenshots so my apologies for the quality level.
Do you play current generation Castlevania series?
Given the option would you play with or without the QTEs enabled?
Would you like to see a mode to deactivate QTEs in future games as well? If yes, which games?