Review: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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Review: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

When a vampire comes along, you must whip it.

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Onyx Oblivion

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Sep 9, 2008
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I'm at the Crow Witch fight in Chapter 4, and can't bring myself to keep going. I haven't even started the fight with her, actually. I just entered her lair. Some of the enemies and bosses are annoying. The bosses have very small windows to dodge/block attacks, leading to cheap hits. I was fighting the Chapter 3 boss' second form, and dodging his ground pound was near impossible, because the execution time is so short. The claw swipe and charge attack had enough time to be dodged, though. I had to REALLY slowly chip away with "2 hits, dodge roll, jump", basically acting like he was always going to use the ground pound, even when he didn't. And it doesn't even give you full health when you restart from checkpoint!

And some of the enemies basically have the same bullshit.

And this is from the guy who beat Bayonetta on Hard. Without using the cheap-ass, broken Climax Bracelet.

And how long has the Escapist had this new video player?! I haven't watched anything since Friday.
 

Lord Beautiful

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I resent the comparison to Devil May Cry a little, but it was a good review regardless. The game has a load of problems, but fixing most of them for the sequel should leave us with a very interesting product.

I'm guessing I liked the story of this game a bit more than others. I was absolutely hooked, especially after
Gabriel killed Claudia.

I also found the ending to this game to be the best I'd seen in the past few years, though the fight preceeding was a little silly, albeit righteously awesome.
I couldn't help but laugh a little at Gabriel Dragon Ball Z-fighting a thin, pale, and naked Satan, but I could not deny that it, much like Dragon Ball Z, was discouragingly stupid while also rocking my balls off.
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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The game sounds really good and sets the strong foundation for the next game in the series.
 

SwimmingRock

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Onyx Oblivion said:
I'm at the Crow Witch fight in Chapter 4, and can't bring myself to keep going. I haven't even started the fight with her, actually. I just entered her lair. Some of the enemies and bosses are annoying. The bosses have very small windows to dodge/block attacks, leading to cheap hits. I was fighting the Chapter 3 boss' second form, and dodging his ground pound was near impossible, because the execution time is so short. The claw swipe and charge attack had enough time to be dodged, though. I had to REALLY slowly chip away with "2 hits, dodge roll, jump", basically acting like he was always going to use the ground pound, even when he didn't. And it doesn't even give you full health when you restart from checkpoint!

And some of the enemies basically have the same bullshit.

And this is from the guy who beat Bayonetta on Hard. Without using the cheap-ass, broken Climax Bracelet.
I don't have a problem with enemy attacks and can usually dodge them fine. My main complaint is their health. The enemies take a damned eternity to kill, so I just started running past them whenever possible during chapter 5. Seriously, I have other things to do this decade besides dodge, hit X a few times, repeat for 9 hours per fight. Seems to me the games about twice as long as it should've been.

Also, the QTEs after boss fights were a terrible idea. You've already beaten the boss, but then you have to press a button (any button... why!?) several times or you die instantly and have to refight the boss. It's not just frustrating, but takes away from the joy of the cutscene, because you have to keep looking for the QTE prompt instead of being able to just enjoy it.

The game's not at all hard (though I beat Bayonetta on Non-stop with no problem, so I may be above-average in skill), but it's really frustrating because the enemies take too long to kill and there are too many. Coupled with missions that seem to have been added purely to pad the game, it just gets really boring after a while. I'd honestly rather read the story as a book. Wouldn't take as damn long.
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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SwimmingRock said:
Onyx Oblivion said:
I'm at the Crow Witch fight in Chapter 4, and can't bring myself to keep going. I haven't even started the fight with her, actually. I just entered her lair. Some of the enemies and bosses are annoying. The bosses have very small windows to dodge/block attacks, leading to cheap hits. I was fighting the Chapter 3 boss' second form, and dodging his ground pound was near impossible, because the execution time is so short. The claw swipe and charge attack had enough time to be dodged, though. I had to REALLY slowly chip away with "2 hits, dodge roll, jump", basically acting like he was always going to use the ground pound, even when he didn't. And it doesn't even give you full health when you restart from checkpoint!

And some of the enemies basically have the same bullshit.

And this is from the guy who beat Bayonetta on Hard. Without using the cheap-ass, broken Climax Bracelet.
I don't have a problem with enemy attacks and can usually dodge them fine. My main complaint is their health. The enemies take a damned eternity to kill, so I just started running past them whenever possible during chapter 5. Seriously, I have other things to do this decade besides dodge, hit X a few times, repeat for 9 hours per fight. Seems to me the games about twice as long as it should've been.

Also, the QTEs after boss fights were a terrible idea. You've already beaten the boss, but then you have to press a button (any button... why!?) several times or you die instantly and have to refight the boss. It's not just frustrating, but takes away from the joy of the cutscene, because you have to keep looking for the QTE prompt instead of being able to just enjoy it.

The game's not at all hard (though I beat Bayonetta on Non-stop with no problem, so I may be above-average in skill), but it's really frustrating because the enemies take too long to kill and there are too many. Coupled with missions that seem to have been added purely to pad the game, it just gets really boring after a while. I'd honestly rather read the story as a book. Wouldn't take as damn long.
I actually really liked the QTE system in this game, how it became more about timing and less about specific buttons - for the cutscenes, anyway. It meant that I could still watch what was happening on screen without being taken out of the action by a big honking green (A BUTTON) in the middle of the screen.

Also, I never had to fight the bosses over again when I messed up the QTEs, just do the QTEs over again...
 

SwimmingRock

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John Funk said:
-Massive snippage-
Also, I never had to fight the bosses over again when I messed up the QTEs, just do the QTEs over again...
Depends which QTE you screw up. The second half restarts the QTE sequence, but the first few restart the fight. For instance, when fighting the Lycan Lord, screwing up from the point you grab the hammer restarts the event from the point the hammer drops out of the sky. Screwing up before that (I wasnt expecting a QTE, so I did and know from personal experience) restarts the second half of the fight (post transformation).
 

Celtic_Kerr

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John Funk said:
I actually really liked the QTE system in this game, how it became more about timing and less about specific buttons - for the cutscenes, anyway. It meant that I could still watch what was happening on screen without being taken out of the action by a big honking green (A BUTTON) in the middle of the screen.

Also, I never had to fight the bosses over again when I messed up the QTEs, just do the QTEs over again...
I agree with this. The QTEs were wonderful. When it said "Press any button" my jaaw dropped. Beautiful system.

I over all actually liked the game. It had a great many shiney moments. THe boses were fun enough. Didn't care for some of the puzzles though.
 

Kelthurin

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Jun 18, 2009
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Youthius said:
Looks like an awesome game just wondering. Can you change language to japanese?
Bleedin' heresy. Patrick Steward man, Patrick Steward!

Anyway I pre-ordered the game. And I loved it. All of it really. Apart from the music box puzzle, which pissed me off a lot.

I'll definitely have even more fun on the second playthrough, now that I know the puzzles like the one above, and the 2nd titan fight. My main moments of irritation.
 

Mstrswrd

Always playing Touhou. Always.
Mar 2, 2008
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Hey! Both Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness (the 2 3D PS2 Castlevania games) were good games. Not great, and not classics by any sense of the word, but good.
 

Mr.Pandah

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Jul 20, 2008
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I thought the "Combat Cross" was titled the Vampire Killer...or was that the character himself?
 

Falseprophet

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Mstrswrd said:
Hey! Both Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness (the 2 3D PS2 Castlevania games) were good games. Not great, and not classics by any sense of the word, but good.
Totally agree. I never played Curse, but Lament was a good game for its era. And yes, it did chain weapons in a 3D game before God of War did, even if GoW did it better. Near as I can tell, Lament was condemned mainly for not being a 2D Metroidvania game.

I also appreciated that Lament tried to explain why Dracula left all these power-ups scattered all around his castle.
 

Misho-

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Falseprophet said:
Mstrswrd said:
Hey! Both Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness (the 2 3D PS2 Castlevania games) were good games. Not great, and not classics by any sense of the word, but good.
Totally agree. I never played Curse, but Lament was a good game for its era. And yes, it did chain weapons in a 3D game before God of War did, even if GoW did it better. Near as I can tell, Lament was condemned mainly for not being a 2D Metroidvania game.

I also appreciated that Lament tried to explain why Dracula left all these power-ups scattered all around his castle.
True Lament was a good game, but Curse of Darkness didn't use a whip... Hector used Pokemon summons and different weapons making him like a summoner, or a "Devil Forgemaster" rather. What made me drop the game was the fact that the best item drops had to be obtain while killing a guy in a specific manner... Not just kill the bloke and % chance of dropping a rare... No no, it was kill a guy ina specific manner when they are looking in specific way and doing a specific action and you get a % of item drop... But the Boss Battles were nice if not downright awesome. :) The thing was I hated Isaac's constant ramblings and/or flirting with Hector and Trevor's almost exposed man-chest...

Now regarding Castlevania LoS, I liked the QTE system since you can press any button, so I'm doing all the QTEs by just pressing X, the QTE that DON'T use the round system (in which you can hit the button anytime after it's crossed the inner circle :)) are kinda random and sometimes unfair right after a cutscene while u were picking ur nose. But the feedback is quite nice and incredibly fun. The exploration made me feel like I could transverse "freely" the maps and get some incredible vistas and secrets I would never find in games of a Similar formula where you feel you are being dragged by the nose.
What could really improve the QTE system is that the kill animations change depending on which button you press, but that's hope for the sequel.

It is plagued however by invisible walls... Also it's quite refreshing hearing Reviewer John not complaining about the platforming much. I actually liked the pace of the sections in which you swing from place to place letting you enjoy the places you are visiting and exploring and the hand helding is felt by showing you Glowing edges without becoming overwhelming.
I still had a couple of Castlevania Old School stiff death-jump routines however...

The world map is a great idea in order to replay maps and bosses and stuff but some of the Trials are unfair but I guess that's the Idea, like defeat 10 guys while poisoned because your poison stat gets removed quite fast and you have to get hit in order to get poisoned... In Hard the Spiders take me out in a couple of hits so I gotta keep running back and forth and WAITING for the f*cking things to actually try and use that attack at some point... The same problem I had in GoW when I had to wait for the Medusas to actually try their gaze and stun me...

The gameplay is fun, once you have Shadow magic the battles become less tiresome but having full Combat Focus (play the game) and having a moron sneezing over you and removing it its fecking tedious. And I miss whipping candles and hearing classic tunes. But this re-telling is definetely a great one. It's too bad a lot of people won't see it. Specially for people who would like it to be in Japanese with inverted Castles and strange stories at best.

Oh and on a final note, I loved the Bestiary art style... It's kind of a dark Fairy Tale thing. :)

Oh and if you want to discuss how the game is un-original well let me tell you... Castlevania hasn't been that original since the first one on the NES and even at some degree.

The first looks like if they were watching the Universal monster movies and some of the Hammer Horror flicks... Simon's quest borrows a little from Zelda II... Castlevania 3, the prequel adds a couple of nice things like path choosing and character select but quite a few games were doing it at the time... Like Double Dragon 3... And the Super Castlevania (BEST CASTLEVANIA EVAHHH) is a remake... Castlevania Rondo of Blood borrows from previous titles and MetroidVania borrows heavily from that one Metroid game style and JRPGs things... But its a great game, and the 64 games were just jumping on the 3D-esque Wagon. And from there you can see the other things... But saying this day and age that one game looks like another it's just absurd... Every game looks like one or another... I guess by that reasoning I could very well say that any game is just a PONG rip-off... But anyhow that's just my personal opinion :)
Glad there's at least one thing on the menu and that's variety. :D
 

Vyper1X

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Oct 15, 2009
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Im a huge fan of God of War and Devil May Cry and found the combat on the demo rather dull
 

ironlordthemad

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I actually really like this game and I'm having alot of fun with it, I just haven't had the time to sit down and play it propperly (blame my work for that) but I'm about to finish up the second chapter and I only have one complaint.

I wish the mute girl (who you hear at the end of the review video) would shut the fuck up.

I know I'm looking for the shadow crystal to activate the ancient mechanism. I know I only have one more to go. I know I should keep looking. I've come this far, I'm hardly going to give up am I?
Dumb *****.

Ok hatred is over.

The best thing in this game, is the one button dodge, hold down the block button and then flick the left stick and you zip away. It keep combat flowing alot faster than other dodge systems where maybe you have to hold block, hold jump and then move in the direction you want to dodge. (And since this is a large game that your going to play for hours on end if you really like it, the one button dodge will prevent your hand from hurting in a long gaming session.

The titans are ok but I just don't think they fit in with this type of game, as you said the game should do what it does best, which is large fights with almost human sized characters.

Its a shame that you didn't pick up on how surprisingly colourful the game is.
For a game that is about storming the castle of dracula the levels always seem to have a large amount of colour and some kind of light in them. It would be too easy to hide most of the game world in shadow but Castlevania shows what it's got, its a gutsy decision but it looks great.
Take for example the swamp level.
Think about how many games would have just done that level in murky browns, greens and greys. Castelvania goes all in with luminous green water and its a fantastic style that works really well in showing the supernatural element of the setting.

If I get to play more of this game then I will post something on the forums about more detail but until I stop working 12 hours a day you have my first impressions.
 

Falseprophet

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Misho- said:
Oh and if you want to discuss how the game is un-original well let me tell you... Castlevania hasn't been that original since the first one on the NES and even at some degree.
Oh, no question the various elements of Castlevania weren't original. But really, in the 8-bit era, most 2D platformers were very similar.

What made Castlevania awesome was:

1) A mighty medieval warrior,
2) armed with a whip,
3) enters a huge, sprawling castle at night,
4) to fight the assembled hordes of Hammer and Universal Horror, Greek mythology, and the Cthulhu mythos,
5) led by half-vampire, half-demon Count Dracula,
6) all set to an amazing soundtrack.

No one would conceive of that story for a videogame today.
 

Misho-

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May 20, 2010
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Falseprophet said:
Misho- said:
Oh and if you want to discuss how the game is un-original well let me tell you... Castlevania hasn't been that original since the first one on the NES and even at some degree.
Oh, no question the various elements of Castlevania weren't original. But really, in the 8-bit era, most 2D platformers were very similar.

What made Castlevania awesome was:

1) A mighty medieval warrior,
2) armed with a whip,
3) enters a huge, sprawling castle at night,
4) to fight the assembled hordes of Hammer and Universal Horror, Greek mythology, and the Cthulhu mythos,
5) led by half-vampire, half-demon Count Dracula,
6) all set to an amazing soundtrack.

No one would conceive of that story for a videogame today.
True dat, you forgot the candle whipping and original (for the time) ancillary weapons like the Cross, but yeah. The thing is I'm referring to the fact that everyone (most reviews I've seen) accuse the game of being un-original, so that's why I posted that above. Still for me Castlevania stopped being castlevania after the Super Nintendo one... After that things like Experience points and inventory and even spells could really determine the outcome of the battle no matter how bad you were at the game. While the previous ones tested your skill and or patience :)
 

Monshroud

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Jul 29, 2009
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John Funk said:
Review: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

When a vampire comes along, you must whip it.

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John, how were the controls while platforming? On GTTV they harped on a bit that the controls and camera angles left players sometimes jumping to their doom, how was your experience with that?