Lords of the Fallen Review
In the not-so-distant past, a game inspired by the acclaimed Dark Souls series was a rare gem, with the genre not enjoying the popularity it does today. Among the early contenders was Lords of the Fallen, which, despite its mediocre quality, garnered a dedicated fanbase. Riding the wave of the genre’s newfound fame, publisher CI Games decided to breathe life into the series with a reboot/sequel, aiming to rectify the original’s flaws while capturing the essence of the Dark Souls universe. Although the latest installment is an improvement over its predecessor, it falls short of becoming the elusive Dark Souls 4, hampered by flawed combat mechanics and a lack of refinement.
Set a millennium after the events of the first game, Lords of the Fallen unfolds in the realm of Mournstead, once ruled by the tyrant demon god Adyr. Humanity’s saviors, the Judges, defeated Adyr, and the Hallowed Sentinels order was established to safeguard the world. However, Adyr plots his return, corrupting the holy beacons and turning the Sentinels against humanity. The only hope lies with the disciples of the radiant god Orius, united in The Church of Orius. Armed with the sacrilegious Umbral Lamp, these Crusaders must venture into the world of the dead, thwart the Sentinels, restore the beacons, and prevent Adyr’s resurgence.
While Lords of the Fallen weaves a more complex narrative than expected, its story alone cannot compensate for its gameplay shortcomings. The game initially excels in introducing players to its mechanics and world. Despite a limited selection of movesets, the tutorial adeptly guides players through the basics. However, the transition to the main game reveals significant flaws. Combat suffers from lackluster impact, floaty movements, and unresponsive controls. Attacks lack weight, and positioning becomes a nightmare due to excessive forward movement with every swing. Enemy placements and formations are punishingly unfair, with archers often perched in inaccessible spots, leading to frustrating encounters.
Magic provides a partial remedy, but the game forces players into specific playstyles, deviating from the essence of the Soulslike experience. Boss fights offer brief respite but come with their set of issues, including untelegraphed one-hit-kill attacks. The game’s attempt to innovate with long-range weapon attacks and the Umbral Lamp feature is marred by execution problems. Balancing feels skewed, reminiscent of the infamous difficulty of Dark Souls 2.
Despite its flaws, Lords of the Fallen showcases commendable exploration and world design. The dual-world mechanics, shifting between the living and the dead, offer a compelling risk-reward system. The game’s checkpoint system, Ancient Vestiges and Vestige Seedlings, is cleverly implemented. However, these bright spots are overshadowed by glaring flaws in other aspects. The user interface lacks polish, hitboxes are disjointed, and multiplayer experiences suffer from poor netcode. Although visually impressive due to Unreal Engine 5, the game’s animations feel stiff.
Moreover, performance issues plague Lords of the Fallen, with choppy moments even on high-end systems. With a potential audience limited to die-hard Souls series fans willing to overlook its flaws, Lords of the Fallen fails to deliver an enjoyable experience to a broader player base. Despite its promising premise, the game falters, unable to rise above its clunky combat design.