Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
The new Castlevania game has been high on my most anticipated games list since it was revealed last E3. Konami finally allowed me to get my hands on the game, and I got to play enough to get a good idea of how the story and combat fit into the experience. Is this the game that will revive Castlevania for consoles? I’m not so sure yet.
We join Gabriel Belmont on his quest to resurrect his wife as he entered a town being attacked by werewolves. Villagers with torches and pitchforks trail Belmont as he attacks the agile monsters with direct and wide-radius attacks. Peppering in daggers deals easy long distance damage. As Belmont slogs through the mud and rain he’s confronted by a werewolf bigger than all the others combined. After dealing some light damage to the beast, it climbs a rock and pounces. Upon pressing a button prompted onscreen Gabriel lifts a gigantic stake and the huge beast impales himself upon it.
Everything from the werewolves’ red, glowing eyes to Belmont’s whip animations looks solid. Tons of cinematic interludes and quick-time events are sprinkled in to show off the game’s moody world. At certain points they seem a bit heavy-handed, but it certainly beats the bland experience of recent past Castlevania console titles.
Next the actions takes Belmont on horseback, riding along charging werewolves at top speeds. The horse appeared to be the embodiment of some protective spirit, which was guiding Gabriel. As of now players can only whip enemies to the left and right while the horse automatically runs, but Konami insists that Belmont will be able to train beasts and ride them at his will in the final build. After leaping across a chasm several werewolves fall into the abyss below, with Belmont’s horse dissolving just as he safely lands on the opposite side. Suddenly he’s in another encounter with a big bad wolf. Here hit and dodge tactics are used against the big brute while taking out the little guys with light attacks. Everything feels familiar about the combat, and though the controls are tight the execution is feels a little bland right now. Perhaps new moves purchased with experience points will spice up the action in later builds, but the current demo is a little underwhelming.
At its best Lords of Shadow is a watered-down God of War clone. We’re seeing the game at an early stage so the huge set piece moments and notable story elements could still be further down the road. The game can only succeed if Konami manages to capitalize on its satisfying combat engine with more interesting enemies and locations. Let’s hope it hurries though, as the game is due out this fall.