Castlevania: Lords of the Shadow tells the player the tale of a lover who can go to any depths to reach his love. The player takes the role of Garbriel, a member of Brotherhood who is stuck in a fight against the Lords of the Shadows to bring his beloved, Marie, back from the death and to save the world from ruin. What follows is a memorable and at some times mind boggling, twenty five hour long action adventure story that will suck you right in. Welcome to Castlevania: Lords of the Shadow, which has been hailed as the reboot of the popular franchise by Konami, and yes, the player does not need to know any background of the previous games. When I first saw Castlevania last year, I thought this will go down the route that Visceral Game’s Dante’s Inferno took. Many critics have claimed this is a mere rip off of the popular God of War franchise, and yes I will admit that it borrows not only from Sony’s amazing franchise, but it also takes a few elements from Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus. So that begs the question, what is so original about the game? The answer is the way it implements those elements in such an admirable fashion that the player will get sucked in to a world never witnessed before.
One of the brightest points of the game is the “cross” weapon that Gabriel can use to attack his foe as well use it for platforming sections. When the game starts Gabriel will only be able to inflict heavy and light attacks, but as you progress through the game you will be able to unlock new combos and upgrade your cross. Upgrading your cross will help to take down obstacles, swing around and help in platforming. There are tons of combos that the player can unlock throughout the game, but these will require skill points. Skill points can be achieved by winning a boss battle, puzzle solving or defeating your foes. As you slowly weave through the game, Gabriel will find relic powers and magic. There are two categories of magic that will be available to the player. One is the Shadow Magic, wherein Gabriel will be able to inflict serious damage and the other is the Light Magic where the player can do damage as well as gain some health back for each hit to the enemy. Surprisingly magic is not only limited to combat as Gabriel will also have to use them to solve some well thought puzzles. MercurySteam have ensured that puzzles should not be bland or straight forward hence many of these will take some time and some thinking from the player. The game does a great job of pacing the combat and puzzle sections, and every puzzle is unique and will require the player to use it’s magic powers or combos. As the player clears each area, they will be able to unlock new relic powers with the help of which Gabriel can dash down a door, run real fast, have wings to jump to higher heights and pack a strong punch. The most amazing thing about the puzzle elements is that the player will require using combat skills as well as magic together, which is pretty unique since other games usually rely on one aspect at a time.
The combat, as I said before is the heart of the game. But this is where the game fells just a bit short. For some players the combat might get a bit repetitive since it usually is all about taking the right shots at the right time. Often you will be have to jump out of the way of the attack and counter attack and repeat, such countless repetitions might put off some players. But thankfully, combat gets interesting when you are facing some of the amazing boss fights in the game. Throughout the game, your aim will be to dash and slash to the boss as much as you can, and drain its life in order to make it a sitting duck. When this happens Gabriel can latch on to the enemy which will initiate a sequence of some interesting cinematic which can be controlled by some well placed Quick Time Events. But the stars of the show are the three epic battles against huge titans in the game. Now again, these sections are pretty similar to the 2005 PlayStation 2 classic Shadow of the Colossus where Gabriel will have to get upon these giant creature, find the weak spot and dent it with his cross. There are some interesting fights, one of which takes place at the end. The Flying Titan can take the player about an hour to take it down. Undoubtedly the Titan battles are titanic and the best parts of the game. To be honest I was left wanting for more and wished there were a few more of those.
Castlevania is a beautiful game to look at. You will be travelling various places with amazing art design and environments. It’s easy to let Gabriel stand for a moment so that the player can admire the beauty of its scenery. Gabriel has been wonderfully modelled and so are the other amazing cast of characters. You are going to meet some strange looking people, witches…some will help you and some will look to tame you. Castlevania introduces a world that will suck the player right in. To compliment the amazing vistas is the Hollywood level voice acting and music. Gabriel sounds like a “man”, a hero who wants to bring his Marie back. The voice acting of his foes and friends are outstanding and the lip syncing is near perfect. The game gets even more engaging due to the mind boggling music which will get the player involved even more. The rise and drop of music is equivalent to the rise and drop of emotions of the player and Gabriel. Technically speaking, Castlevania: Lords of the Shadow is a stunning game.
If you are a big fan of games like God of War, Dante’s Inferno, then Castlevania: Lords of the Shadow is a game you should play and trust me you are going to cherish every moment of it. If you are not in to action-adventure games, then too I will suggest picking up this game, since it’s an epic tale of how deep a person can got to bring their love from death. Yes, there are issues with the game and it is is not perfect, the player might get a bit frustrated since the controls get a bit unresponsive for some moment, and if you can ignore that you will be having the most stunning twenty five hours of your life. I wonder how the developers will improve on the inevitable sequel.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Voice acting exceeds Hollywood standards, Sense of scale is amazing, Use of Magic never gets old, Titan Boss Battles are the highlights of the game, Brilliant music and an Interesting cast of characters
Controls are clunky; Combat may get repetitive for some players
Castlevania: Lords of the Shadow borrows several game play elements from popular games, but the fact that it implements them so well makes it one of the year’s finest action-adventure games.