Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review

The Castlevania series hasn’t had much luck making the transition to the 3D space. After two terrible N64 games followed by two terrible PS2 games, Konami turned to developer MercurySteam, with the help of Kojima Productions, to produce their latest attempt at a 3D Castlevania adventure. What has been created is a game that cribs from numerous other titles, combining them all in a concoction that is surprisingly fun, but not very fresh.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a complete reboot of the series lore. You play as Gabriel Belmont, an initiate in the Brotherhood of Light, a sort of peace-keeping order that is out to destroy the Lords of Shadow. These beings are apparently the source of all the evil that is suddenly pouring into the world and you are tasked with killing them to bring the world closer to the God, like it once was. The game never shies away from its heavy religious themes and terms. The writers have taken what is familiar about Castlevania lore and woven it into the common themes of Christianity in an interesting and well written tale.


The storytelling also benefits from the game’s gorgeous presentation and visual style. Character models are amazingly rendered, with the monsters and creatures taking center stage. The nature god, Pan, is one brilliant example. His features are expertly crafted and his look combines the styles of past Castlevania games with a bit of Guillermo Del Toro thrown in. Environments also follow the same path, with logical platforming and beautiful areas that all make sense and animate wonderfully. Everything looks like it should exist in this world, without breaking the fourth wall with obvious platforms or ledges that are usually placed their for pure gameplay purposes instead of servicing the environment.

Lords of Shadow‘s play mechanics are a grab bag of other popular games. There’s some Uncharted, God of War, and Shadow of the Colossus here, with a bit of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night thrown in to spice things up. The main combat sees Gabriel smiting foes with a flurry of light and heavy attacks, using his Combat Cross chain weapon. As you progress through the game, the cross will be upgraded, and you can buy new skills using experience gained from killing enemies. With new skills and equipment, you can then backtrack to previous levels to find more upgrade items and discover all the secrets a la Symphony of the Night.

If anything nice can be said about the core combat, it’s that it’s very intuitive and fun. The visual impact of your chain thrashing baddies is deeply satisfying, with enemies usually exploding in a dazzling display of gore. Pulling off new moves is very easy too, and they look just as flashy as you base attacks. If anything negative can be said though, it’s that this all feels like it has been done before. LoS doesn’t bring anything really new to this genre, and like Dante’s Inferno before it, feels serviceable in all aspects of combat. The ability to use Light or Shadow magic is a nice addition, but really equates to a healing or rage mode, respectively.


LoS tries to mix it up a bit with its titan battles, which are ripped straight from Shadow of Colossus. These battles require you to traverse giant beings to find the runes that power them and destroy them. It’s great to see these kinds of boss encounters featured in a game that does more than just boss battles, but again, nothing new has been added. These fights are actually a step back from Colossus. Whereas those fights were multi-stage battles that had numerous set pieces, the fights in LoS are usually equate to, "Find the Rune. Punch it."

LoS is a great amalgamation of the genres and games it combines. It makes sure they all come together effortlessly, but it never really owns the gameplay it borrows. It’s a fun game that will last you a while if you so choose. Just don’t expect a revolution.

3 out of 5


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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