The Action RPG is an ever-growing genre, and Lords of the Fallen looks to take advantage of that. Lords of the Fallen is a brand new IP from the Deck13 Interactive & CI Games and published by Bandai Namco. It takes place in a fictional world where no sin is forgiven. After long-forgotten monsters and demons threaten to destroy the world, our protagonist Harkyn, recently released from prison, sets off to save humanity.
Even from the brief introduction the lore of Lords of the Fallen really managed to capture me, the idea that sin is unforgivable and that criminals are forever cursed to publicly bear their wrongdoings (in the form of runes tattooed across their face) really sets a dark, unapologetic tone. The fact that the citizens of the world rely on these criminals as the only possible means to throw the darkness in a kind of “you can only fight evil with evil” mentality just fuels this and immediately we understand that we are not playing as some valiant knight in shining armor, but as a seriously bad man.
Gameplay-wise, Lords of the Fallen is an action RPG that has you slaying demonic and conquering giant behemoths of bosses with use of various weapons and magical spells. Mechanically Lords of the Fallen plays a lot like a slower version of Dark Souls, but with monsters and the player character feeling heavier and slower than the famous game series. The slower, heavier characters make the combat feel more precise because it takes longer for your character to recover, leaving you more vulnerable to attack for longer periods of time. Players will need to learn the attack patterns of enemies and bosses in order to defeat them, lest they resort to reliving the same stage over and over again.
I only got to play the first boss battle of the game, but I really liked how the Deck13 have made it so that the boss fights happen in “stages.” After sustaining enough damage, the boss I was against discarded his armor, weakening himself but also allowing him to more faster and add additional moves to his flourishes. The different stages of the fight reminded me of all Super Nintendo games like Mega Man X, or DuckTales where bosses would change their attack patterns after they have taken a few hits, bringing an old mechanic and bringing it into a modern game to hopefully great effect.
I’m a big action/RPG gamer, and more specifically I am a big Dark Souls player, so it was hard for me to not see some similarities between the two games. However while Lords of the Fallen seems to take more than a little bit of inspiration from the Souls franchise, it still manages to stand out on its own. Firstly the game is still challenging but nowhere near as daunting as the Dark Souls. Bosses telegraph their attacks well enough for you to learn their patterns easily, but are still forces to be reckoned while enemies slowly get stronger as you progress through the game, gaining more attacks and different abilities.
Lords of the Fallen is one of the most visually appealing games that I saw during my entire time at this year’s EB Expo and that’s saying a lot. The dark, dank castle that makes up the first stage is incredibly detailed, although the game itself was incredibly dark. Some areas were completely obscured by shadow, making it hard to navigate and see enemies hiding in wait. I’m not sure if this is an intentional gameplay element or just the settings being too dark for the television it was presented on, but either way it made it a little difficult to play through some of the game’s corridors. Aside from this though everything looked great, the particle effects of certain items and the flames on the boss’ sword all looked amazing and really eye-catching. You can tell that this was a game built from the ground up to take advantage of the Xbox One and PS4’s hardware.
Have you ever heard people say that Japanese Horror games are just scarier than American ones (taking the old vs newer Silent Hill games as prime examples of this)? Well Lords of the Fallen is in kind of the same vein. The European take on the action RPG genre seems to have resulted in a game that is challenging while lacking the soul-crushing difficulty of its FROMSOFTWARE competitor. As someone who always loves a challenge, I felt like Lords of the Fallen was missing something.
I enjoyed my very brief time with Lords of the Fallen, but I am still not sure if it does enough to separate itself from the heavyweights of the genre. I guess we will find out when Lords of the Fallen becomes available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on October 31st.
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