The realm of Souls-likes has witnessed an evolution over the years, with numerous titles attempting to capture the essence of From Software’s iconic series. Among them, the original Lords of the Fallen in 2014 marked a valiant effort that fell short of replicating the core experience that defined the Souls games. However, the upcoming Lords of the Fallen in 2023 emerges as a second chance, a reboot that demonstrates a profound grasp of the Souls-like formula, capturing the essence that makes these games truly exceptional.
A Refined Combat Experience:
Unlike its predecessor, the revamped Lords of the Fallen embraces a darker fantasy world and offers enhanced RPG elements. The clunky combat of the first game has been replaced with a finely-tuned system that embodies the heavy and consequential style, where each action carries risk and reward. Dodging and maneuvering are crucial, and from the gripping boss fights to formidable enemy encounters, the process of analyzing attack patterns while managing stamina feels intuitive and satisfying.
Boss Fights and Challenge:
The introductory boss fight against Pieta, She of the Blessed Renewal, stands as a testament to the game’s improved design. Towering over players, Pieta wields devastating light-based magic and transforms into an angelic being in the second phase, showcasing dynamic combat mechanics. The challenge is genuine, reminiscent of genre greats, and rewards players’ progression through strategic adaptation rather than mere repetition.
Flexible RPG System:
Lords of the Fallen offers diverse character building options through a fluid RPG system, resembling the Souls games. Class templates provide a starting point rather than rigid restrictions, allowing players to tailor their growth and direction as they progress. Players can experiment, min-max, and equip various gear pieces and weapons, resulting in a satisfying sense of personalization.
Dual Worlds: Axiom and Umbral Realms:
One of the game’s defining features is its utilization of dual worlds, Axiom and Umbral. These parallel realms run concurrently, offering unique exploration and combat opportunities. The Umbral Lamp mechanic provides glimpses into the Umbral realm, revealing hidden paths and alternate routes. Venturing fully into the Umbral realm presents dangers and challenges, adding a puzzle-like element to exploration and enhancing tension.
Resurrection Mechanic and Narrative Vagueness:
Lords of the Fallen introduces a resurrection mechanic akin to Sekiro, granting players a second chance upon death, mitigating the punishing nature of the genre. The narrative unfolds subtly through brief cutscenes, audio log-like spirits, and enigmatic dialogues, leaving players intrigued and eager to uncover the world’s mysteries.
As the Souls-like subgenre continues to expand and evolve, Lords of the Fallen stands as a notable contender, embracing familiarity while adding its own unique twists. The game’s engaging combat, dual world mechanic, and intricate RPG system contribute to a compelling experience that captures the essence of the genre. While the gaming landscape has been reshaped by titles like Sekiro and Elden Ring, Lords of the Fallen offers a satisfying return to the established formula that fans have come to cherish.