Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC

A dark fairy tale which casts the player as the mysterious Gabriel.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow screenshot
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow screenshot

I'm all for a bit of realism in games, but from time to time I want fantasy. I want trolls, chupacabras, golems, massive titans, werewolves, vampires, undead freaks, fairies, mystical lands, gorgeous scenery, magic and over-the-top action. That, in a few words, is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the most epic hack 'n' slash adventure I've ever played, packed with the kind of dark fantasy that video games are perfect for. Despite being a relative unknown, developer Mercury Steam has outdone itself here, crafting a rip-roaring adventure that delights from start to finish.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (or CLOS as it will now be known) casts you as Gabriel Belmont, a member of the Brotherhood of Light. This knightly group protect the innocent from supernatural and undead creatures, roaming the land after the connection between the Earth and the Heavens was severed. An evil group known as the Lords of Shadow is behind all this, and it's up to Gabriel to save the world. With his wife falling at the hands of these evil creatures, his desire to rid them from the land is even greater, and a mysterious mask seems to hold the key to resurrecting the dead.

Several secondary cast members are introduced throughout the adventure, including mentor Zobek and man of the forest, Pan. Each character is surprisingly well developed, and one early twist had a real impact despite the character in question only being around for a few hours prior.

Whereas Castlevania is predominantly known as a 2D old-school action platformer, CLOS is in the God of War mould, complete with fixed camera, multiple button combo attacks, magic, puzzles and a little bit of platforming. Gabriel's main tool is his Combat Cross, which combined with a whip lets him perform directional and area-based attacks. Depending on the situation you can focus on one enemy or fend off a group by swinging the Cross around. A host of secondary weapons bulk up your combat options, with daggers taking down enemies from range, holy water making short work of vampires, fairies distracting foes and an incredibly cool crystal summoning one of the most deadly, evil-looking creatures I've ever seen.

While the weapons are at the core of the combat, the real depth lies in the use of Light and Dark magic. When activated, Light magic replenishes Gabriel's health as enemies are attacked, whereas Dark magic dishes out more damage per strike. Each can be upgraded to offer more moves and special attacks, but the fundamental idea is this balance between being the ultimate badass and making sure your health meter isn't about to run dry.

Magic requires neutral orbs, gained by defeating enemies or by attacking them with a full focus meter. This central bar fills as you fight enemies while avoiding being struck, with it returning to zero if you fail to dodge in time. Evading and counterattacking are absolutely essential if you're going to get anywhere in Lords of Shadow, as without them your Focus is never going to fill and you're not going earn the orbs needed to power your magic. If this sounds a little complicated, that's because it is. Like the Castlevania games before it, CLOS isn't afraid to dish out the pain, so don't expect an easy ride - especially on the two hardest difficulty settings.

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BLAZER's Avatar

BLAZER

I wish it would have released on pc.
Posted 08:37 on 19 December 2010
reynoldio's Avatar

reynoldio@ clangod

Agree entirely Clangod, I enjoyed the demo very much and will certainly be purchasing. Hack'n'slash is what it is and when you get one with a great story and some crazy scenes then it's a few hours enjoyably bashing that controller :)
Posted 11:23 on 02 October 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

I tried the demo this morning and in a word, I'm "impressed". Looks great, plays well and from the snippet you get there is every indication that epicness is abound in C:LoS.

I see as commented on in the review that the combat could be a bit simplistic but I guess that's a common trait of the hack 'n' slash genre. The highlight here is clearly the visuals. Looks like a story I could get into. This might be a purchase after all.
Posted 10:11 on 02 October 2010
AWilke's Avatar

AWilke

It's really refreshing to read an article from a website that isn't necessarily "huge" popularity wise. You can still pick up on the overwhelming excitement Tom has for this game and any games really. While on websites like gamespot, ign, etc. they tend to nit pick and forget about the whole point of video games, fun. Anyways, great review. Been looking forward to this game since the reveal trailer nearly a year and a half ago. Can't wait to play it.
Posted 04:51 on 02 October 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

I don't think this would be something I'd normaly consider a purchase but there seems like there's plenty of fun on offer here. Interesting read. I'll keep an eye out for this...
Posted 23:57 on 30 September 2010
TomO's Avatar

TomO@ scaz2244

There's a lot to find once you're done with the campaign, as certain items can only be accessed with abilities gained later on in the game. Replay value depends on if you want to collect everything. Even if that doesn't interest you, the first run through should take at least 15 hours, but probably more like 20.
Posted 09:19 on 30 September 2010
scaz2244's Avatar

scaz2244

sounds really good might have to give it a rent and see how meaty the single player is, if dont complete going to buy.
great review tom quick question does it have any replabillity?
Posted 00:52 on 30 September 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ reynoldio

Likewise. However it did drop down the pecking order as of other games coming into the spotlight. With not much info about the game, that where it started to decline for me. After reading this review, C:LoS is now firmly back up there. I will be getting this over Vanquish now. Vanquish will be a January pick up. Still got Fable 3 and Fallout: New Vegas to see whether it beats NFS: Hot Pursuit. I got a feeling that it will be Fable 3, and New Vegas will be obtained in the summer of the next year.
Posted 07:58 on 29 September 2010
reynoldio's Avatar

reynoldio

This one's been on the list from the day I first saw it, just looks epic and I do like a good bit of epic every now and again. The fact that it has a little bit of everything and does it all really well is the icing on the cake.
Posted 23:07 on 28 September 2010
jase_ace_uk's Avatar

jase_ace_uk@ Bloodstorm

Hideo Kojima?? I never knew he was developing this game. I will defo have to get this game now. There are so many good games coming out!!!!!!
Posted 15:40 on 28 September 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Excellent review Tom. I really do want this. I like the preview what Tim did. I need another hack & slash into my routine. Not had any hack & slash since completing God Of War 3.

Simply getting this.
Posted 14:46 on 28 September 2010
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

It's Kojima doing a castlevania game, how on earth is it a surprise hit?
Posted 14:34 on 28 September 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Surprise hit then...er...no, it's no good, I need to call it a Surprise Hit because it is! :)

Looks great.
Posted 14:32 on 28 September 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

I wasn't expecting much from this I now want it!
Posted 14:16 on 28 September 2010

Game Stats

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
9
Out of 10
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
  • Epic adventure
  • Combat requires thought
  • Gorgeous art design
  • Slight repetition when using mounts
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 08/10/2010
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Mercury Steam
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 4,326 1172
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