Lords of the Fallen is an action adventure RPG designed to test your abilities to learn and adapt, a game that uses difficulty as a selling point… Or a Soulslike as games like this will likely be known if they keep churning them out at the rate they are.
It is no secret that Lords of the Fallen owes a lot to the existence of the Souls games, it opened the door for others to follow, which will generally mean you get a mix games that range from decent to absolutely god awful. Luckily Lords of the Fallen falls into the decent category, but not without the odd flaw here and there.
To start, the world of Lords of the Fallen is wonderfully designed, it feels as medieval as can be. It is dark and dank, eerie and atmospheric. It is a world that draws you in, but at the same time it does feel like you are moving through corridors to the next objective, knowing that when you hit an open area, that is likely a cue for some kind of battle. But that’s cool, it works well enough and even after initial worries that it will feel a bit too linear, you still have a sense of freedom.
Characters and story are stuck right in the middle of average, really, perfectly positioned, neither of which stands out for being good, or super bad. There are barely any moments that grab you, nor are so bad you can’t help but laugh, it is almost as though the story doesn’t need to be there at all. Which feels odd, as there is a lot of conversations to be had between characters in a Mass Effect / Fallout sort of way, yet there seems to be little impact based on your actions here.
Character models again are just average, they aren’t great, but at the same time they are passable enough for the game you are playing. The facial animations are probably the biggest distraction here, as lip movements are very generic and in a world where we have been spoiled by solid work going into audio syncing with animations, it just doesn’t feel right here. But again, not enough is wrong to put you off of take you out of the experience.
So there you have it, the presentation of the game is average…but what of the bit that really matters, the playing of the game?
Here things are on the right side of average, you have a user interface that is functional and easy to understand, especially if you have come to this off the back of Diablo III, as the main character interface shares a lot in common with Blizzard’s game and that is fair enough, the Diablo UI was ideal for sorting out you character on the fly and it works here in Lords of the Fallen just as well and to be honest, why try to do something different for the sake of it? It is clear the Diablo style way of upgrading and changing your characters weapons, armour, etc is one of the best out there, so just use a version of that. It would be pointless building a plane without wings, just to be different, when you know it is the ideal design.
Why is the UI here so important though? Well it comes down to how your character acts depending on a number of factors. The armour he is wearing has an effect on movement, so by wearing light armour, your character is a lot more agile, can use speed as a defence, but is then weaker when it comes to taking damage, compared to a setup that is heavier armour. That character can take more damage, but will likely have to as he won’t be running and rolling to avoid attacks.
But it isn’t just a case of this armour is heavy, so it does this and this is light so overall this happens. Each piece you wear has an effect, so you could have light armour on your legs and be able to move a bit better, but you could have heavy armour on the arms, which means you are slower with certain attacks. It is all about experimenting and getting the combination that best suits, either your play style, or the current situation.
It is the same with weapons too, as again there are many factors to take into consideration. What is impressive about all this though, is the visual feedback. You can see even the minor differences in how a certain item affects you and in what way, sometimes it is even very subtle, so much so that it does come across as very dynamic, rather than a set of pre-defined animations.
Like the Souls games, you will die a lot, but here it seems to be set up to have you find troubles with bosses alone, as enemies you meet out in the open so to speak are pretty easy to deal with and we can only recall dying in between boss battles a handful of times and was usually because we were rushing to a checkpoint to bank our collected XP.
But you know what? It works well again, you use the travelling between areas to gather XP, so you can get to a checkpoint and bank it before moving on or taking on a boss. And the way XP is handled here works too. You can only save and use it at certain points, so you are always risking losing it at some point, but a nice mechanic here, is that if you do die, you leave an aura and should you get back to it in time, you can recover your lost XP, or even sacrifice it to use it as some kind of buffer against the enemy that ended you.
This adds a nice amount of tactical thinking to how you approach certain scenarios and means you aren’t simply walking through killing all that stands before you. There are moments you may want to try and sneak past, other you want to engage in combat and so on.
You almost don’t want to describe Lords of the Fallen as a Souls Lite, but that is what it is. It follows the formula, but doesn’t quite reach the heights set by From Software’s titles. However that isn’t to say this is a bad knockoff, it is still a damned fine game and does a lot of nice things. If you are a fan of the genre, than it will entertain you and is certainly worthy of your time.