Lords of the Fallen  Review

Lords of the Fallen Review

Often described pre-release as Dark Souls-lite, Lords of the Fallen doesn’t do much to dissuade players of that notion. Its narrative is presented in a much more linear fashion, but the game can’t disguise its inspirations.

Where Lords of the Fallen and the Souls games fundamentally differ, however, is that while From's titles are lauded for their rock-solid mechanical presentation and consistency, Deck13's game is markedly inconsistent. It can be incredibly challenging but also impossibly easy. It can hold your hand a bit too much, but devolve into a frustrating labyrinth. While it is enjoyable at times, Lords lacks the finesse and intensity of its rivals.

Nowhere is this illustrated better than in combat. Harkyn, the game’s protagonist, controls like Rocky Balboa in the 15th round. The developers say that the combat’s pacing is a deliberate choice, but that doesn’t make it any less cumbersome. Fights can be so slow they border on turn-based, lacking the thrill of other entries in the genre like the aforementioned Souls series or even Kingdoms of Amalur. That said, there are times where this more measured approach can create strategy-intensive situations where you have to outfox an opponent, waiting for that crucial mistake. The issue is that it just doesn’t happen often enough. The limitations of the combat mechanics mean battles are often one-versus-one, with only on the rare occasion you'll need to juggle multiple opponents. (As long as you don’t wander around clumsily activating several enemies at once, that is.)

Despite the jarring nature of encounters, the varied enemy types mask the issues slightly. You’ll be learning the combos and systems of new foes throughout the majority of your time in the world. They represent variations on a theme: archers, sword and shield carriers, fencers, spiders and so on, but do enough to keep you guessing.

While there are a plethora of weapons available, only a few types offer a tangible benefit in a fight. Thanks to the slow attack speeds, sticking to quick weapons is the best option as it’s difficult to counter enemy mistakes or staggers with a swing of a club or greatsword. Enemies will quickly regain their composure and raise their shields or even hit back before you’re mid-swing. This proves more of a frustration than a hindrance, as most enemies can be dispatched with relative ease, but lapses in concentration will lead to a quick downfall. Naturally, bosses are where the biggest challenge lies, requiring both time and focus to overcome.

A risk/reward system means that players can earn XP and a multiplier for every enemy they kill, which is reset once they use a checkpoint terminal to spend any accrued points to level up. Oddly, however, these checkpoints can also be used to refuel health and potions without entering the XP menu, which doesn’t reset the multiplier, massively negating the element of risk involved.

The greatest difficulty in Lords is largely found in its obscurity. The game’s conclusion (no spoilers) tells you of the choices you made throughout your playthrough, and whether or not you chose to complete or ‘ignore’ sidequests. The trouble is that it’s often incredibly difficult to locate these missions because the game does little to nothing to guide you towards them. If you’re a completionist, you’ll probably want to consult a guide or wiki, as there’s no in-game map or sidequest tracker. Trying to understand the purpose of your collection of quest items can be more difficult than any fight, especially when said items look the same as any other before you pick them up. It’s a strange decision to hide in-game content behind prolonged exploration with no waypointing or map, and comes across as a poor attempt at padding the main game.

It's a good job then that, for all the time you'll be trudging through them, the environments are often very well presented and wonderfully detailed. Watching light stream through the stained glass windows of a cathedral or snow fall across a bridge certainly tempts you to take a spin and absorb the scenery. But the locations themselves are distinct, the areas within can often be confused for one another. It’s easy to get lost in the corridors of the Citadel or the caves of the Catacombs as each path is almost identical to the previous one.

It should be noted that in our time with the game, both on PC and PS4, we encountered several bugs and glitches. Enemies flying into the air upon their demise, bosses glitching behind walls as they regenerate health, frame rate drops and complete game crashes. The PC build suffered with problems frequently, though the issues which affected game progress happened less often.

While Lords of the Fallen can be fun in spells, its inconsistency, poor pacing and muddied conveyance mean it stands in the shadows of its competitors. It’s a shame, as there is an interesting world and setup here, and the game certainly gets stronger towards its conclusion, but it just never quite reaches the heights of what else is on offer.

Version tested: PC

Second Opinion – Tom Orry, Editorial Director

Lords of the Fallen screenshot

I'm not the biggest Dark Souls fan, so I was kind of hoping Lords of the Fallen was going to feel closer to something like Darksiders. It doesn't. To my untrained eye (I played Dark Souls for about 10 hours back on release) this is very much in that mold. You struggle through encounters initially before finding your feet, only for things to take a turn for the tough again. If anything, Lords of the Fallen's slow battles make the frequent death even more frustrating.

While I grew to enjoy the combat against the game's general foes (although player laziness will result in a quick death), the boss battles often proved too frustrating. One game-crashing bug made me see red, as I was moments from defeating a boss that had proved rather tricky to topple. This is a game that you'll likely hit a brick wall in, and then question whether it's worth the effort to make progress. Had I not been playing for work, I doubt I'd have bothered.

On PS4 Lords of the Fallen does feel a few patches away from its best. For one, the frame rate isn't nearly as high as it needs to be, frequently falling below 30, and there's a lot of glitching and the aforementioned crash. Visually it's mixed, at times looking rather spectacular thanks to some pretty lighting, but also very rough around the edges. Texture work is lower quality than we've come to expect on new-gen consoles, and this shows up some low-poly environmental details.

I know a million people will say this is nothing like Dark Souls. I agree, and Dark Souls is a better game, but they both offer a similar experience. Sluggish and unforgiving, in my opinion, isn't a good combination. If you didn't enjoy Dark Souls I can't see this being for you either.

6 / 10

  • Combat can be great
  • Nice setting
  • Numerous bugs and glitches
  • Inconsistent difficulty

Click above for enlarged Lords of the Fallen Screenshots

14 Comments

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

Beast34's Avatar

Beast34

I have not had any major problems. Or, just have not noticed. At the beginning, crashing me a few times to the desktop. But now I do not have this problem. Constantly trying to improve Lotf issuing patches. And you have to admit that they are trying to do it quickly.
Posted 14:23 on 23 November 2014
Tirrat's Avatar

Tirrat

Bugs and glitches got fleshed out pretty fast on pc. I started playing in the day of the premiere and got some but after some patches a didn't encounter too much of them for some time.
Posted 19:46 on 03 November 2014
vader666's Avatar

vader666@ Ilidaner

I also have not had any crash on the PS4, of course, I installed the patch, maybe the creator of this review did not do ...
Posted 15:21 on 03 November 2014
Ilidaner's Avatar

Ilidaner

I don't know why but I don't have any crash during play in Lords of the Fallen on PC. Maybe I play too short at once. But I hope when developers do patch everyone will be happy and have a lot of fun with this game.
Posted 20:23 on 30 October 2014
Roland_D11's Avatar

Roland_D11@ SharnOfTheDEAD

Yes, there is a massive patch. But sadly only for consoles at the moment. The developer posted on twitter that they 'are aware' of the PC problems and are working on a patch.

A lot of the issues I have with the game are not patchable anyway, because they regard in my opinion poor design decisions (checkpoints, story, boring combat etc.).
Posted 10:54 on 29 October 2014
SharnOfTheDEAD's Avatar

SharnOfTheDEAD

That massive 4GB patch seemed to fix most issues judging from patch notes, I'm enjoying it thus far, it's seems easier than Dark Souls. Boss battles are pretty fun too.
Posted 07:45 on 29 October 2014
Roland_D11's Avatar

Roland_D11

I played about 3 hours tonight and made about 1,5 hours of progress (on PC). The game only seems to save at the checkpoints and if you have the 'luck' of a crash to desktop you respawn at the last checkpoint. With the boss you just defeated alive. And the unskippable cutscene after the boss fight.

It was frankly infuriating. Besides that the game was very aimless for me in these first hours. I don't really know who I'm supposed to be and where I'm supposed to go. What's worse is that the first quest is utterly nonsensical. Find Kaslo? Where? Why did he even leave before the first boss? He is "injured and alone", how did he get past all those enemies?

The enemy design is extremely uninspired so far as well. Most of the enemies are brainless blind guys (the game even tells you they are blind). And guys with shields. Who block forever until they do the one attack that gives you a window to attack/backstab them. The first two bosses were pretty much that as well. Not hard, just annoyingle long fights.

Sorry for the long post. In a nutshell: The game seems bland, the combat was pretty boring so far, the story nonsensical. Adding the massive technical problems the game has I will stop for at least a week until the developer issued some patches to fix the problems. And I hope the game changes after the first hours. Because if not, I'm unlikely to finish it.
Posted 22:54 on 28 October 2014
Ilidaner's Avatar

Ilidaner

I play on this game on PC and for me Lords of the Fallen is perfect game to person who like challenging games. I know it not is a ideal game but I hope developers will fixed all of bugs as soon as possible. For me this game is worth 8/10 points. But I don't finished it yet.
Posted 22:36 on 28 October 2014
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Console version to be reviewed?
Posted 18:06 on 28 October 2014

OnAClearDay

Saw some gameplay of it. Seemed like strafing is the best way to avoid any and all attacks.
Posted 15:55 on 28 October 2014
boycee's Avatar

boycee@ Manguy17

I completed it in around 18 hours, give or take, but it will no doubt vary from person to person.
Posted 14:47 on 28 October 2014
Manguy17's Avatar

Manguy17

Bit of a let down, roughly how long is it?
Posted 13:32 on 28 October 2014

skidoosh

Seems right up my street, butI'll give it a week or two for the patches to roll out. Should have a better overall experience then.
Posted 09:08 on 28 October 2014
nitefighter's Avatar

nitefighter

this game is better than this review makes it and i've been playing it for 12 hours and have had no crashes or frame rate drops. playing on PS4 i'd give it a 7.5
Posted 08:47 on 28 October 2014

Game Stats

Lords of the Fallen
6
Out of 10
Lords of the Fallen
  • Combat can be great
  • Nice setting
  • Numerous bugs and glitches
  • Inconsistent difficulty
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 28/10/2014
Platforms: PC , PS4 , Xbox One
Developer: City Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: RPG
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 17,844 37
View Full Site
X