I got Castlevania Lords of Shadow a couple of weeks ago when I found it on sale at gamestop. Now I liked Castlevania classic and team IGA's Metroidvania games so I wasn't sure how I would like this reboot. After playing this I can say I hope we see more of Kojima's Castlevania but still hope we haven't seen the last of 2d Metroidvania.
Recommend this product?
The story reboots Castlevania lore and starts off at the beginning (where the old time line jumped all over the place). The lords of Shadow have cast a spell separating Heaven from the Earth. Demons now walk around preying on humans, and the dead are now forced to walk the earth because they can't get to the afterlife. Gabriel Belmont from the order of light and a fellow member Zobek are out too defeat the dark lords and restore order. Gabriel wife was murdered just a few short nights and he is also seeking answers and a way to bring her back.
The story is a lot thicker than any of IGA's Castlevania with a deep narration. While the game isn't heavy on cut scenes during the load screens Zobek narrates a part of the story telling what Gabriel is feeling, what the history of the next stage is, and the mission they are on. While the story is setting up something new there are a few hints and inside references to Castlevania Lament of Innocents the game that set up the original time line. Gabriel's weapon the combat cross was made by Renaldo the same guy who made Leon's whip, you will visit a castle owned by Walter Bernhardt, and a scroll you find late in the game says that Renaldo is now living deep in the woods waiting for someone to challenge the vampire that stole is daughter. Some nice hints and the game has a few surprises and twist. While Zobeks true nature didn't surprise me I got that at watching the first trailer, who and what Gabriel turns into at the end is a nice little surprise and there is more story told supposedly in two DLC add on packs. I would like to play them but the PSN is down and my credit cards might have been hacked (thanks Sony).
The graphics are nice and crisp and pure eye candy. Unlike IGA's metroidvania Gabriel spends most of his time outside of the castle and exploring other haunts. From Pans forest, ruins of an ancient city, to yes Castlevania that is now covered in ice, too the land of the dead the areas are fantastic. It's not perfect the camera is fixed and while the enemy getting in cheap hits isn't has big a problem has it could have been, ironically the camera is not program to show you where paths are. I got lost several times because I never steeped close enough to the edge of the screen for the camera to move to show me the path.
The music is haunting and memorable. While not many Castlevania classics are put in (Vampire Killer gets an odd remix) the music is still good. The strong voice cast that includes Robert Carlayle (he played the bond villain in the film the world is not enough), and Patrick Seward (he narrates those annoying National rent a car commercial, he also played Captain somebody on some star travel show in the 80's).
Unlike previous Castlevanias this game is pretty straightforward and linear. Do get past stages and get to new areas you will have to get past 3 different kinds of obstacles. Combat, climbing, and an occasional puzzle.
Combat is simple enough and is fairly fun, in combat pressing square will do a more powerful front attack, and triangle will do a distance attack. Combining them will cause Gabriel to do special moves like twirling the chain whip attached to the cross or causing eruptions on the ground. Killing enemies gives you points to upgrade and buy new moves. You also pick up special sub weapons. These include daggers, holy water, fairies, and special crystals. Each has unique powers in combat. Too add to the mix Gabriel will have light and dark magic, light will heal him has he fights, dark will increase his attacks. Too fill the bars he will need to collect special magic orbs that can be done by filling his focus gage (done by doing combos without being hit). The way you use magic adds a lot of strategy to the game.
The rest of the game falls under some Prince of Persia platforming that involves jumping from wall to wall, swinging, and hook shooting up wall and obstacles. The game takes it easy when you fall taking just a little bit of health and starting right where you fell off. The problem is that the game fixed camera angles won't always tell you what an open ledge is and what isn't. While most glow some do not and it can be frustrating trying to figure your way around some of the obstacles not knowing what you can jump on too.
The puzzles come in variety of passwords, switch hitting, or other things that can tax the brain. Konami did the right thing, solving these puzzles can give you some big rewards. But there is a scroll near every one of these puzzle devices and opening it up and reading the answer will make you forfeit the prize. Nice that the action doesn't stop just because you get stumped on some switch device game.
I should also note the game is pretty lengthy while it is single player it will take a good 20 hours to finish the game, and that is without add-ons.
While Castlevania the Lord of Shadow isn't perfect it's pretty good. While I hope it isen't the end of my 2d Castlevania series I hope Konami keeps up this new time line and I can't wait for a sequel.
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