Castlevania: Lords of Shadows is an action adventure game, developed by MercurySteam and published by Konami Digital Entertainment. Releasing in August 2013 on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. The game is set in South Europe during the Middle ages. This was a reboot of the Castlevania series, where you play as Gabriel and you follow his quest to revive his wife.
Gameplay is played from a third person perspective. Your main weapon consists of a retractable chain, and you can learn up to forty different combos to use in the hack and slash combat system. As you progress through the story mode, you will learn new abilities along the way, as well as picking up new unique pieces of equipment which boast uses in both combat and non-combat situations. Gabriel will learn how to muster magical powers of light and dark. Light powers enable the player to heal any damage taken in fights by hitting enemies, whilst dark allows the player to deal extra damage. You are able to renew these magic powers by hitting a high string of attacks together without being interrupted, which will release magic orbs for you to collect. You will encounter tons of different types of enemies, from trolls, zombies, and spider’s right the way up to gigantic titans. Each enemy has their own strength and weakness which you will be able to use to your advantage.
The boss fights throughout the game are some of the most intense scenes I have played in a game. Each boss has multiple different phases of fight, each requiring you to act in a different way. The titan boss fights are long processes which normally also require an element of platforming. These can become a little bit of a pain when you first start out the game as you are still learning how to use all of the mechanics but by the last titan boss fight, it shouldn’t pose any problems for a veteran titan killing machine.
Whilst the game does have an element of platforming in a few boss fights, the game also has small amounts of platforming included throughout the story mode too. Of course jumping puzzles are always going to be my biggest enemy, and sadly they also make an appearance and are as frustrating as usual.
Graphically, Lords of Shadows is stunning; it is difficult to think that this game was released in 2013. It looks gorgeous. The cut scenes are almost a step down in graphical fidelity compared to the in game graphics. There is a huge different in how the game looks on PC compared to the consoles though. Animations throughout the game are all fluid and perfectly designed too. The sound effects are spot on, with some brilliant voice acting to be heard also from the likes of Patrick Stuart.
The game has various levels of difficulty, and you can also change them on the fly. The easy mode is essentially just a way to see the story as the combat poses no real threat. Paladin mode is the game’s hard-core mode, where enemies are more dangerous and Gabriel is significantly weaker than usual. This will add an extra layer of replay ability to a game that already boasts over twenty five hours of content. On top of the lengthy story mode, each stage also has a “trial” for you to complete as well, these can be simple tasks such as completing the stage in less than a specified amount of time, or more challenging such as not being able to use your magic’s throughout the stage.
I initially thought I would be able to play the game on 4k resolution given the age of the title, but unfortunately, I was not able to, not because my rig was not powerful enough, but because when setting the resolution to anything over 1080p, the screen in game began to flicker violently – this required a hard reboot of my system before I was able to get back into the game to change the settings back to 1080p. I would also strongly recommend people play this game on a controller; it plays perfectly on an Xbox controller and the keyboard controls would just become a huge chore to anyone regardless of their skill.
Overall, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is an underrated title that is definitely well worth your time in checking out. The game’s price tag of £19.99 is perfectly matched at the game’s length and production values. Fans of the series will be pleased with the amount of lore and plenty of tributes to older installments in the franchise.