Categories
PC Reviews PlayStation 4 Reviews Xbox Reviews

Lords of the Fallen Review

Within the past five years hardcore JRPGs have made quite the return. From Software has been the vanguard of this resurgence with the Souls series heralding this new wave of titles that set out to cater to their small, but incredibly dedicated audience. And now Lords of the Fallen comes a long, a game that is frighteningly similar to the Souls games and one that manages to channel the best parts of those titles and apply its own spin to each of them.

Lords of the Fallen casts you as Harkyn, a notorious criminal who’s been released from prison and conscripted into fighting in humanity’s last stand against an army of long-defeated gods. The dark fantasy outline is very generic but the game does a commendable job of introducing fresh, interesting concepts, but a lot of these go underutilized as the plot roles on.

A similar problem extends to the majority of the cast, the supporting characters are quite more fleshed out than they first appear to be, but only a handful of them get time to develop to a point where they matter to the story. Harkyn himself has a lot of potential to be a compelling character, but the game never explores him or his past, leaving us with character with a completely void personality.

What the game does exceptionally well though, is its world building. Just enough of Lords of the Fallen’s world is explained to draw you in and leave you wanting more. The game avoids burdening down the player with an overabundance of meaningless exposition and frilly fantasy terminology; instead it serves up a highlight reel of a history that I’m quite keen to explore further.

When I said the game was scarily similar to the Souls games I wasn’t exaggerating in the slightest. If I’d been sat down to play this completely blindly I would have fully expected to see the From Software name during the credits. The progression, death, combat and control mechanisms are lifted wholesale from the Souls series, but there are enough interesting spins put on each of them that the game avoids feeling derivative.

You level up in the standard RPG format: kill monsters, gain XP, and spend XP to accrue levels and spells. The catch here though is that there’s an XP multiplier that is constantly escalation as you acquire XP, but it vanishes once you spend any of it. It leads to the player constantly gambling their progress in the hopes that they’ll score big and it resulted in quite a few white knuckled moments for me.

In addition to losing your multiplier death causes you to drop all your XP in the form of a “ghost” that needs to be returned to in order to restore it. What differentiates it from the Souls death system is that the value of the XP contained within the ghost is constantly diminishing, meaning that caution needs to be thrown to the wind if you want to retain most of it.

That mechanic encapsulates the key difference between this and the Souls games; where the Souls series enforces you to employ caution, Lords of the Fallen instead allows you to utilize more drastic strategies quite often. Diving in with a set of light armor and no shield to back you up is a much more viable strategy here than it ever was in Dark/Demon Souls.

It makes for a game that’s much more accommodating and not quite as punishing, at least in a way that makes your missteps clear. The combat can be phenomenally satisfying when it hits all the right notes; heavy animations and great sound design make every counter, slash and parry feel rewarding. There’s an interesting magic system that lends credence to every play style and the gear you acquire throughout the journey leads to some great variety all round.

The enemy design though lets everything else down. There’s a decent enough variety with the basic level enemies, but the higher tier foes is where the game starts to fall apart. The boss fights in particular stand as the worst part of the game, with most of them being pure exercises in frustration rather than the challenging duels you’d hope for. The final encounter is especially awful and it ends the game on a sour note that is a detriment on a game that I otherwise found to be very enjoyable.

Most of the game takes place in a mountain fortress and while it’s a much smaller world than you’d see in other RPGs of this ilk, the game actually benefits from its less expansive nature. The environments are dense with detail and every room has some kind of secret hidden in it; smash your way through a wall and you could uncover a powerful weapon, fall down a pit and you could well discover a whole new area.

It makes for some wonderfully engrossing exploration and the game does a great job and encouraging this as every minor action rewards you with XP or rune shards that feed into the gear upgrade system. Even after finishing the game and diving into the New Game Plus mode I was constantly finding surprises crammed into areas I’d thoroughly explored previously.

There are a few side-quests to go about when you are not pursuing the main objectives, but the complete lack of a menu that keeps track of these means that I abandoned most of them as its just to much of a hassle to juggle multiple objectives in this manner.

Conclusion:

There’s more to Lords of the Fallen than it first appears. The wonderful combat, great world design and interesting takes on the mechanics that the Souls series established takes it quite far in the right direction. A decent soundtrack and a visual style that evokes the best parts of the fantasy genre help it along nicely, but it is brought severely off course with its frustrating enemy design and a story that never capitalizes on its interesting potential.

The Breakdown:

Story: 7/10
Gameplay: 7.5/10
Lasting Appeal: 7.5/10
Graphics: 7.5/10
Sound: 7.5/10

Sam Fourie

Ever so slightly unhinged, this one spends most of his time playing or writing about video games. Also dabbles heavily in tabletop, comics and the occasional bout of music creation.

Categories
News

Someone beat Dark Souls using only their voice

As if beating Dark Souls wasn’t hard enough, Benjamin “Bearzly” Gwin has managed to beat the game using only his voice.

We’ve seen it done before using a Rock Band controller and also Donkey Konga bongos. Now, Benjamin “Bearzly” Gwin has managed to beat Dark Souls using only voice commands. Gwin detailed his endeavour in a Reddit post in which he mentioned that the technique had been suggested “many times”.

“I used VoiceAttack (www.voiceattack.com) to translate voice controls into keyboard presses. For the most part the detection was good, but the latency was around 1.5 seconds, and commands couldn’t be chained together quickly. I ended up with a wide variety of commands (including some complex macros) but it was still extremely difficult.

30 hours of suffering, almost losing my voice several times, and 485 deaths later, I finally completed the game. 111 of those deaths were to O+S alone, not even counting the deaths on the way to the boss. I considered giving up and summoning Solaire a few times, but in the end I persisted and won the fight solo.”

Of course, this isn’t Gwin’s first attempt at using unorthodox methods as he has previously completed the game using the Donkey Konga bongos, a Rock Band guitar controller and finally, the Rock Band drum controller.

Have a look at the video below where Gwin using only voice commands, manages to defeat possibly the toughest boss in Dark Souls, Ornstein and Smough. These guys are no joke, even when playing with an actual controller, making Gwin’s defeat of the duo even more incredible.

Brady Ruiters

Known as Brady Ruiters by day and GuitarDemon by night (Well, on the PSN mostly…) Professional, creative and frank, a self-proclaimed gaming journalist moulded by a passion and fascination for gaming and music, and in turn, taking a crack at shaping the rest of the world with the very same obsession. That, however, remains a trying task.

Categories
News

Twitch streamer beats Dark Souls without being hit

Twitch Streamer The_Happy_Hobbit has just set a new world record by completing the very first no-hit playthrough of Dark Souls.

The_Happy_Hobbit has done the impossible; beating a game known for its punishing difficulty without taking a hit. Beating Dark Souls without being harmed by an enemy is something that no one has recorded themselves doing, until now.

How does he plan on following this, you ask? Well, he’s just jumped into a livestream of another playthrough of the game. Holy shit, that’s quite a feat. Well done to him; he must’ve been working hard on this for quite a while.