Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is perplexing, while being magical and frustrating at the same time. The environments are vast, but the lead hero Gabriel Belmont moves all too fast in a mission to avenge his wife’s death and simply get it over with to sit on the couch in the Brotherhood of Light bar. The environmental puzzles are solid and varied, but unfortunately a wide amount of variety can add to the substance of the game, but the noticeable faults are still glaringly apparent that hold this new reboot of the Castlevania series from its fame and glory in the 3D realm of a God of War inspired combat adventure. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow comes with incredible visuals that are often disregarded, and the enemy A.I. and storyline design is wondrous in character development regardless of whether the world is hardly developed between the game than the occasional starting and ending cutscenes. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a game that struggles on two levels, one level comes from trying to be relevant in the contemporary scope and next finally excogitating from other successful elements of notable titles such as God of War while trying to succeed. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a good title at its heart, but too many problems plague the new iteration of the series from being original or even inspiring let alone memorable.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow comes with an incredible storyline at the core of the premise. The text scrolls, and gives the storyline of a denigrated world where the forces of darkness attack day and night, as the connection between man and heaven is severed. The Brotherhood of Light, a holy order, sends Gabriel Belmont on a quest for the truth and on a quest to reunite with his wife who had been long murdered. Through his journey, Gabriel meets Pan who explains to him the importance of the God Mask, an item that can bring back the dead and lives in the lands of the Necromantic Wars. Fortunately for Gabriel, these lands are also infested with werevolves, large and glorious evil bosses thought to be long dead in Mythos of the world, vampires, winged beasts, and many more. All of the good in the world has long collapsed and it is up to Gabriel to discover the origins of the Lords of Shadow, and the very idea that powers the God Mask. While the storyline is engaging, the entire description of the setting comes from the notes of an in-game bestiarum as narrated text. Patrick Stewart does a terrific job providing vocals, but there is an extreme loss of identity when it comes to the Lords of Shadows world and storyline that would otherwise make a coherent, logical, and moreover appealing title with an incredible storyline to start off the gameplay superbly.
The environment within Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is an exceptional display to the gameplay setting and begins the title perfectly, unfortunately most of the setting is limited. Gabriel Belmont further moves too fast for his own good and points of the game require the protagonist to stand still in order to experience the environment. The linear gameplay style of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow would have worked fine in terms of the combat gameplay and advancement of character development, but only if Castlevania: Lords of Shadow complemented the environment with a storyline that makes sense between the game rather than just cutscenes that add to the title’s evaporating sense of environment and a disheveled world in chaos with a disconnection to something as powerful as Heaven itself.
The robust gameplay tactics focus on the use of a puzzling element and a combat element with the pyrokinetic chain whip titled “The Combat Cross.” Gabriel performs essentially two types of offensive move that he can use combined with jumps, rolls, blocks, and throws. The commands consist of short range and long range attacks, and interactions with other items in the player’s inventory such as stakes, knives, holy water, and environmental weapons, such as wooden hammers. The whip is used not only for combat, but also for exploration purposes like scaling walls and swinging across gaps. The whip is controlled by alternating combo’s using the face buttons that automatically changes the significance of the action depending on if the character is mid-air or ground level. The element of magic is also a given (in which Lords of Shadow is a powerful phase) but feels rather forceful and can come off as frustrating when the title tries to conjoin these two different elements into the puzzle platforming adventure. Certain areas of puzzles, while innovative, can become overly complicated and require the use of spells that are hardly highlighted in the game as important. Other times, short guides help out in terms of getting past levels, but seem highly unnecessary when they are actually needed. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow comes with incredible enemy A.I. and variety in terms of the puzzling features of the level design, but a button-mashing combat system combined with a rather artificial advance onto magic seems unrealistic and mediocre at best.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow exhibits musical problems as well, one of the most apparent issues arising when the heat of the moment picks up during battle and Gabriel wields his sword. The main battle theme song can become repressive given the incredible amount of enemies and levels. The musical score itself is decent but is largely lacking its own identity. Castlevania has always been known for its platform adventure in the 2D handheld realms and audio vocalization that provides a scrolling platform journey and an audio experience to match. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow fails to take anything from its predecessors, but manages to piece together incredible voice acting when the title’s cutscenes rarely call for them.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow takes ideas left and right, but only sometimes manages to take these elements and make them into a semblance of an amazing journey that players can believe in during the first level. While the environment detail work is great, the noticeable foibles with the title are far too glaring. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow furthers a decent audio score, and respectable visuals along with lightly entertaining cutscenes, but a lot of the design production values make it impossible to believe a legendary video game designer such as our good friend Hideo Kojima had any real say or any of his advice taken into consideration at all. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is an ‘OK’ game in the end and had a lot of promises. Unfortunately, the Brotherhood of the Light all took solace in their saying that promises are meant to be broken.