Publisher: CI Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 13 Oct 2023
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $109.95 AUD – Available Here
Another day, another soulslike….clone? No, not gonna say it like that, sounds a bit mean. But interestingly enough, we’re on a recent streak of genuinely good soulslike copies. It’s what I thought about Lies of P that I reviewed recently and truth be told, the first Lords of the Fallen did have that extra something that made it stand out from the rest. A distinct world that didn’t rely too much on bleak colors, terrifying bosses, visual style that was sometimes bordering on horror aesthetic, and so on. But all of these soulslike games tend to stumble on one section where it matters the most – combat. Will this sequel correct the wrongdoings of its predecessor? Let’s find out!
Speaking of which, for some bizarre reason this sequel is also named Lords of The Fallen and the devs just went back and added 2014 in the title of the first game. We already reviewed that one and this is obviously a sequel. Bearing the same name. Yep.
The story continues where it was pretty much left in the previous Lords of the Fallen. Except for this time we are playing as a brand new character so bye bye Harkyr. After an age of the cruelest tyranny, the demon God, Adyr, was finally defeated. But Gods… do not fall forever. Now, eons later, Adyr’s resurrection draws nigh. As one of the fabled Dark Crusaders, journey through both the realms of the living and the dead on your quest to put down Adyr for good. There is also a rumor that following the story in certain ways can reward us with multiple endings and new classes for New Game +. And more bosses, more character classes, and more areas to explore. But does all of that also mean more fun? Let’s find out!
There are some new gimmicks in this sequel and most of them weren’t added for the sake of change but they do add something fresh to the gameplay. With our trusty lantern, we can now shift between umbral world (the spiritual one) and the axiom world (the world of the living). Sometimes when we have certain obstacles in one, we can shift to the other realm to progress further. We now have a lot more starting classes, with some secret unlockable ones through quests and achieving certain endings.
This time the combat feels more fluid, with a bigger arsenal at your disposal, and co-op play feels way more improved. One thing that could use some fine-tuning is the difficulty of certain bosses. I know, I know – this is a soulslike game. But occasionally it feels like someone sprinkled the bosses evenly throughout the game without taking the difficulty curve into account. It all feels very much random. For example, the very second boss in the game is way harder than the rest of the bosses you’ll encounter afterward. Imagine spending an hour trying to beat a boss in the first hour of the game and the next three are so much easier that you beat them on the first try.
The sequel also boasts a better engine with way more detailing when it comes to the environment. The umbral realm is as eerie and gothic as the axiom realm is populated, burning, and filled with all sorts of things that are trying to kill you. The character customization in Lords of the Fallen is upgraded as well so you can finely tune the visual of your armor throughout the various sets in the game. All in all, the game looks very good, even in medium settings.
But the optimization is a whole different story, though. The game gets actually playable only after you turn on FidelityFX Super Resolution, and even that only got me above 60 fps. And that worked just fine until the latest update “rewarded” me with stuttering and slowdowns so nasty that even achieving 30 fps after that was a struggle. Not to mention that on high above, the game introduces raytracing which can be quite taxing on your performance – so stick to medium settings or lower. The funny thing is the only place where you can find that out is while lurking on the Steam discussion hub of the game, it’s not even mentioned as a flavor text in visual settings, for example.
If there is one thing that stands out in this game, it is the voice acting. It is sparse, so don’t get used to it much but when it’s here, you’ll know. It’s a shame that some NPCs aren’t more vocal, since their grimdark voice really complements the game setting. As you mindlessly explore every section in Lords of the Fallen, you’ll never be alone (even as you slaughter all enemies in the area) with random creepy noises, feral screeching in the background, with eerie windy noses keeping you company in both umbral and axiom realms. As expected, the boss themes deserve a special mention, especially the one from a second boss in the game who kindly rewarded me with so many retries.
All in all, it is not a joyless copypaste of your typical soulslike game, but Lords of the Fallen could use some fine-tuning. As of right now, prepare yourself mentally for some occasional crashes and freezes, enemies clipping through the environment, bosses stun locking you as you lie there helplessly, and most importantly – the overall unfairness when it comes to scaling the bosses’ difficulty and enemies in general. And the deeper you delve into the game, you’ll start to notice less and less variety when it comes to enemies in certain areas. It’s when the game stops being fun and gets dangerously close to being tiresome.
Later on, I just figured it would be best for me to run past everyone instead of spending a minute or two on the same enemies on my way to a boss’s door. That’s the trap of having too many enemies in linear areas, after a while the combat just starts feeling tedious and too boring to be considered challenging. If there is one thing that would make Lords of the Fallen worth your time, it’s the unique visuals and atmosphere, but when it comes to the combat and gameplay this game could definitely use more time on the drawing board.
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