It’s taken me a very long time to pin down how I feel Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
. On the one hand, I was satisfied with the game, but on the other, I don’t think I could have been more disappointed.
So, let’s start out with the good: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
is a slick, competent action game. The controls are tight and the action is satisfying to both watch and execute. The light and shadow magic systems out a unique spin on the combat and help make it more than simply “like God of War
The graphics and presentation are also both top notch. It’s obvious that a lot of care went into the making of this game, and it looks that way, as the locations are simply too detailed for the game to have been developed as “like God of War
The game also does away with the "Metroidvania" style of gameplay that has permeated the series ever since Symphony of the Night
. As great as Symphony of the Night
is, I much prefer the more linear style of progression. Yes, there are upgrades and collectibles that can only be reached by taking a newly acquired power or ability back to a previous chapter, but that is never required to progress and those things feel like are there to aid in later play-thoughts on high difficulties.
Now onto the stuff that’s not so good:Just because you give me daggers, holy water, and a weapon that’s kind of a whip doesn’t make it a Castlevania game.
There was only about a quarter of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
that actually felt like a Castlevania
game. The rest of it felt as if an action game had simply been re-branded into a Castlevania
Now, I have no problem with Castlevania
games not taking places entirely inside a castle. My favorite of the series, Super Castlevania 4
, spends half the game just getting to Dracula’s castle, traveling through countryside’s, marshes, and sunken cities along the way. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
does eventually get to a castle, and this is the high point of the entire game, as it should be, but it comes right in the middle and you are forced to leave it. The peak comes and goes and the game is left to close on a brown, lifeless desert.
Perhaps this issue could have been assuaged with better music. The Castlevania
series has always been known for its music. The series soundtrack is comprised of some of the most iconic pieces of music in gaming. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
soundtrack is comprised of generic “epic” music, of which there are only about five different tracks total that get repeated through the entire game. My favorite stage in the game ended up being the Music Box, and that was only because Vampire Killer made a cameo.
Maybe this was a creative difference between Hideo Kojima and the rest of the team? Maybe, except that the man who was featured so prominently in the marketing seems to have had no real part in the game. Aside from the slick production values, the only time Kojima’s influence can be felt are in the fucking loading screens
. As great an actor as Sir Patrick Stewart is, you can only listen to him wax poetically about the power of love before your eyes start to roll back in their sockets. However, this does afford you to hear Sir Patrick Stewart in all his regal glory say the words "Baba Yaga," which was almost worth the price of admission alone.
Then there are the Titan battles. There is absolutely no reason for theses to be in the game. They are a shameless rip off of Shadow of the Colossus
in every way and I cannot defend them.
My final, and perhaps most major complaint, requires a spoiler:
I understand that this was supposed to be a reboot of the series, but there comes a point where there is so little of the original series left that it just feels like a re-branding of an unrelated game.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I have very mixed feelings about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. On the one hand, it’s a satisfying action game on its own merit and I’ll probably play it again on the next difficulty up, but on the other, it’s a very unsatisfying Castlevania game, and if it weren’t for the name Castlevania in the title, I probably wouldn’t have played it.
As before, I’ll leave you with some gameplay to help you make an informed decision, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s hard for me to recommend this game. It’s not going to satisfy fans of the series and there are better action games on the market.