Action-adventure (PS3, X360)
Rated M for Mature
4.5 / 5 stars
The reboot of a classic series can breath new life into a stagnant fan base or utterly destroy it.
Thankfully, Konami’s “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” is a fantastic refacing of a franchise that is nearly as old as Dracula himself.
Completely disassociated from the canon of the original installments, “Lords of Shadow” puts players in control of Gabriel Belmont, a member of the Brotherhood of Light, a group of holy knights that have sworn to protect the innocent against the supernatural creatures that hunger for human flesh.
Gabriel’s wife, Marie, was brutally murdered by such creatures, trapping her soul in limbo, as a dark spell has sundered the Earth from the heavens.
Gabriel’s main weapon, the combat cross, is essentially a chain-like whip which can be upgraded as players progress through the game. A variety of sub-weapons can be utilized, including traditional daggers and vials of holy water, as well as fairies that distract your enemies and a rare magical crystal that destroys most enemies when used.
Upon defeating enemies or solving puzzles, players will gain experience points which can be used to purchase new abilities and increase attack damage.
Combat in the game is “God of War”-inspired.
Gabriel can also use two types of magic — light and dark — which have different combat effects when activated: Light magic will replenish your health and dark magic increases attack damage.
The game can become quite challenging at times, so expect to die a lot.
Many levels contain several platforming elements, including puzzles, wall climbing and cliff jumping which blend well with the overall game design.
Level-specific challenges become available after a level’s initial completion, allowing players a chance to replay it and test their skills, gaining additional experience points.
Though “Lords of Shadow” has a lot to offer its players, it does suffer from a few irritating flaws.
The camera in the game can occasionally become a nuisance and some platforming elements can be problematic. It’s frustrating when you jump to a climbable ledge only to miss it for some unknown reason, killing you in the process.
The lack of a solid soundtrack also plagues this title — though it’s not game breaking, a decent score could have made this game even more immersive. Also, the game is very linear and offers little in terms of exploration.
There are some frustrating boss battles requiring players to combine action with platforming — while this idea is often rewarding when done correctly, it is poorly executed in the game, resulting in an occasional sense of ingenuity.
Overall, the game is a wonderful reimagining of a series that deserved a solid modern-gen iteration.
Though some fans of the series may find the latest installment a sacrilegious departure from previous “Castlevania” titles, “Lords of Shadow” is an exciting marriage of brutality and adventure.