To say Lords of the Fallen is a poor man's version of From Software's critically acclaimed Souls franchise is to sell the game a tad bit short. Lords of the Fallen undoubtedly gets its inspirations from the Souls titles, but Deck13 Interactive also puts there own spin on the game that helps separate it.
Harkyn, isn't your typical hero. He finds no pleasure in saving innocents of rescuing damsels in distress. This outlook on life is part of the reason why our anti-hero is a convicted criminal behind bars. Harkyn sins are worn on his face. Every misdeed he's done and person he's wronged all leave scars on his face that not only shows other of his horrible actions but also serves to remind himself of the kind of person he is. Harkyn finds himself with a chance at redemption once he is pulled from prison in order to save the world from a demonic threat.
I found the world of Lords of the Fallen to be an surprisingly immersive one. The dark and depressing tone surely compliments the plot and adds more to the overall intended feeling of the game. Even more, I enjoyed how I was never told exactly where I needed to go in order to make progress. This lack of direction encouraged me to explore the vast world I was presented. The rewards for this exploration resulted in me venturing even further off the path in hopes for greater rewards. Finding a treasure chest full of a rare set of armor or finding much needed consumables are just some of the rewards I found hiding in the game.
The borrowed mechanics of the Souls games are more apparent in the combat department than arguably any other portion of the game. I didn't find that to be a bad thing at all because of the great success the system has had in the past. The three classes all feel different and offer various playstyles. On my first playthough I went with the warrior class primarily utilizing a sword and shield. Within these classes are specific powers each class exclusively own.
The warrior is equipped with powers such as "Quake" which allows the warrior to call upon a spirit who slams the area surrounding him doing devastating damage to foes caught in the area. Another, being my personal favorite, is Rage. Rage allows you to increase the damage you deal to enemies while ignoring stamina penalties for a period of time. Strategy is key for survival. Rolling, dodging, and blocking are all essential skills you must master in order to defeat your enemies. Keeping a keen eye on your health and stamina is all part of ensuring your success.
Fans of the Souls titles will surely be in familiar territory when it comes to dying. When you die, you have to return to the area you were killed at in order to retrieve your lost experience. Unlike the Souls games however, a timer is implemented here. If you don't retrieve your precious experience in a timely fashion it will be lost for good.
Experience also works in a unique way. The game allows you to gamble on how much experience you gain from killing enemies. With every monster you defeat, an experience multiplier is granted depending on how difficult the game deems the enemy to be. Simply put, the more enemies you kill the higher your multiplier will increase. Saving or dying however will reset this multiplier.
Deck13 adds an even more interesting spin on this unique system by also increasing the rarity of items you find depending on that same multiplier. If you want to play it safe and not risk losing all off your experience, you can "bank" your points at save points which will protect them from being lost. This is one of my favorite features of the game. I loved how the game forces you to trust your instincts and decide for yourself if you are willing to take on the unknown ahead of you to get more experience or stop and save what you have.
Lords of the Fallen isn't as unforgiving as I would have hoped for however. Early in the game I thought I was in for a relentlessly hard game but the difficulty of the game let up about halfway through and the balance issues allowed me to hack and slash even some of the most daunting of enemies. The new game plus mode however offers a more arduous adventure that turns the difficulty up a notch for those looking to scratch that itch.
Lords of the Fallen isn't the best looking game on the PS4 but is still a pretty good looking game. The game takes you through the snowy peaks, dark corridors, castles, courtyards, etc. What I found to be more pleasing was the armor you can equip. The armor sets available in the game all makes your character look pretty bad-ass even early on. They are incredibly detailed and add more to the theme of the title. The creatures you encounter also are cleverly crafted. The normal enemies pale in comparison however to the game's insane bosses.
What I was less impressed with in the game was the unfortunate technical hiccups that frequently reared their ugly heads. Enemy AI would sometimes become stuck in the map and not move at all and lip syncing was completely off at times. Those problems were the least of my concerns however. Within the first two hours of playing, I encountered framerate drops not only in gameplay but these issues also carried over into the cutscenes. I hope these issues will be eventually fix itself but, as of this review, they have not.
Another issue I came across and bothered me even more than the frame drops was the audio. A couple of times the audio from the dialogue would completely cut out leaving only the background noise. The only fix I found for this was to do a complete reset of the game. This issue wasn't as frequent as the frames but being forced to reset the game each time this problem occurred ruined the experience for me at times.
Lords of the Fallen isn't a perfect game but that doesn't mean it's not worth playing. The lack of polish and balancing issues prevents the game from meeting its true potential, but the game successfully delivers to fans entertaining combat with a great risk-reward system that sets it apart in its own right.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09