Yayınlanma: 17 Kasım
You might be surprised to read this, but I don't particularly like writing negative reviews. Critics are supposed to love writing them, because it gives them the opportunity to throw out all these zingers and sound really clever. I'm not clever, heck I'm not even smart. In fact if I knew anything at all I wouldn't have subjected myself to the entirety of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.
By now we're all familiar with Gabriel and his quest to rid the world of evil. He has a cross that behaves like a whip, control over the powers of light and dark, and a really thick neck. He meets a variety of unusual characters, fights the same 4 or 5 monsters, and all the women he talks to don't have shoes. In the 17+ hours I spent with this game, I put together a list of everything I hated about it.
One of the first stages you explore is a SWAMP. This what I like to call unforgivable game-design. It's not uncommon to see swamps in a fantasy-adventure game, they're spooky places with potential for grotesque abominations. However, a swamp is not what you want to introduce your game with, particularly if it includes sections where you have to slowly make your way through the mud.
The controls lack finesse. Gabriel moves well enough, but he's incapable of those subtle movements. For those times when you just want to move a foot to hit a switch. Instead you have to make several steps and go up up down down lef..errh..It's just a bunch of unnecessary motions to accomplish the same task.
Balancing act. For whatever reason, LoS has a ton of high beams. These narrow sections force Gabe to keep his balance as he crosses. I hate this glitch-ridden garbage. If you don't approach the beam at the right angle, you might end up getting stuck. There are even times where you'll mash the analog stick around like Gabriel was caught in a spider-web, just so he'll cross the beam.
Chupacabra? More like chu ca suck ya? Nevermind. There are a few run-ins with this little joker. He steals all of your powers, and you have to waste time getting them back. This adds nothing but padding to the game.
A plethora of puzzles to ♥♥♥♥ you off. Lords of Shadow has a LOT of puzzles. Action-adventure games (like God of War) have puzzles, so it's natural to expect a few in this game. However, smart-puzzle design is incorporating elements of the game, and knowing when and where to place them. Most of the puzzles in LoS are based entirely off of the kind we're overly familiar with. At one point some kinda chess game has to be played, there's a sliding-block puzzle, Something where you make light go through maze, some other puzzle where you make blood go through a maze. There's also the sliding block that goes through a maze, and the maze itself has sliding pieces, and THERE ARE PORTALS TOO?!!?!?! All these puzzles are simply mind-numbing. Oft-times the solutions are easy, and you can buy the solution if you don't mind losing out on experience rewards, but you can't actually skip them, even when you replay the stage. If it's pointless and doesn't add anything of quality to the game, it must be padding.
A combat system that you can never appreciate. In God of War, Kratos learned a ton of different moves and acquired a handful of weapons. However, most of these techniques were ineffective in actual combat. For the most part combat was using the weak attacks to chip away at enemies, and then following up with the shockwave. The handful of stylish moves didn't see much use, because Kratos was always on the defensive. Lords of Shadow suffers from the same issue. A lot of interesting moves can be purchased, but you'll probably never get the opporunity to use them in battle. The lack of decent hit-stun and functional mechanics make fights more tedious than challenging.
A number of fights suffer from bad camera-angles. I'll file this under nit-picking, since it's something even the best 3D Action games have trouble with.
A total lack of variety in terms of enemy-design. Claw-swipe, weapon-swing, dash-attack, shockwave, trail of fire, swinging a weapon twice. What does all this mean? That's the move-set of almost every fiend in Lords of Shadow. There are exceptions, but everyone in this game fights as if they're just some evil guy with a weapon. Imagine if you were to fight Medusa. Let's say she can whip you with her tail, use her petrifying gaze, and throw snakes. It sounds sensible enough doesn't it? Now let's throw all that out the window, and give Medusa a sword and shield instead. Suddenly she's nowhere near as interesting an enemy to fight. This is just shockingly uncreative. Mercurysteam had the entire Castlevania play-book at their disposal. This is a franchise with hundreds of different monsters, tons of bosses, and all sorts of potential for creating some really impressive and unique encounters.
Instead you get this: Claw-swipe, weapon-swing, dash-attack, shockwave, trail of fire, swinging a weapon twice.
What this game isn't lacking in is game-play segments designed to make you angry. This isn't like flicking a switch and suddenly you're drowning in various bodily fluids. It's a process that encorporates every bad element in a game. Everything comes together and you're given something that is just plain balls.
Enter the Forgotten One.
This is the true final boss in Lords of Shadow. In the console version he was part of a DLC quest, but lucky(?) for us he's included in the PC version. Reaching this final boss-fight involves a lava-rising segment, a gloriously stupid moment where Gabriel has to hide from TFO by crawling around a pillar (in-game it looks like some Bugs Bunny ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥), moving platform shenanigins, and my personal favorite: balance beams over rising lava.
After all that mess you get to the actual fight, and the game doesn't even grant you the courtesy of a health & magic re-fill. As with the rest of the game, if you come to a fight with low health and die, all you'll get when you retry is half.
TFO's weakpoint is on his arm, shoulder, and then head. You have to jump to hit these spots. This is easier said than done when most of his attacks are keep-away stuff like shockwaves. After a certain amount of damage is done, TFO pulls off some gimmick. The gimmick is something you'll likely not figure out the first time. After messing up, you're force to bring his health back down so he'll repeat the gimmick, and hopefully you can move to the next phase. There are two moments to attack it, when it slides a ball & chain across the ground, or when it summons missiles from the sky. The only reason I, you, or most anyone else is going to defeat this boss is through the checkpoints after each phase.
This isn't a fun battle, it isn't even tolerable, it's just a brick-wall built to house a black hole of entertainment. The Forgotten One fight is one of the worst I've played in a game. This is a fight that would bury a good game, let alone this one.
But I did it, and for what? Just to say I did? I'd say I lost a lot more than I gained from playing through Lords of Shadow. I actually tried this game back when it was only available on consoles. I didn't care for it then, but I gave it another chance, and now I just feel horrible. The worst part is, as much as my review indicates otherwise, this isn't a completely miserable game. It does just enough....just enough right to keep you playing. Maybe it was Avery Bullock's dreamy narration that kept me playing Lords of Shadow, because my idiot brain can't come up with any other reason.