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Lords of the Fallen – First Impressions

Draws comparisons to Dark Souls

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You may be tired of hearing about the games coming out this week. Sunset Overdrive has been through a rigorous advertising campaign from Microsoft and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will no doubt be everywhere in just about a week’s time. However, a game at the moment that is falling under the radar of many people is Deck13 Interactive’s Lords of the Fallen.

After a couple of hours with the game on the Xbox One, I feel bad that I can only compare Lords of the Fallen to another title. Comparing a new game to another can often be doing the game a disservice. However when Lords of the Fallen is so similar to a game like Dark Souls, it is almost impossible to not draw direct comparisons between the two. There are a few differences that change up the formula slightly but if you liked that type of game, then Lords of the Fallen has been made precisely for you to adequately fill the gap before Bloodborne.

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You play as Harkyrn, a grizzled man who has been imprisoned because of past sins. You awake free in a land that has been overran by a demonic army of Rhogar. The game quickly jumps you into a tutorial, thankfully, as the combat is slow, precise and every move is vitally important. Much like Dark Souls, blocking and rolling is vital in Lords of the Fallen. Blocking when an enemy attacks and quickly countering while they are staggered is key to every victory. It is important to keep an eye on your stamina, as keeping your shield raised at all times means it will not recharge. Scattered around the open world are Shards, similar to Bonfires in the Souls games. These serve as checkpoints for the game and also act as a place to spend your experience points and upgrade your abilities.

You can use the experience points gained from enemies to upgrade a spell or attribute. The attributes are your standard RPG stats that you would come to expect. Vitality gives you more health and Strength increases your damage. Interestingly you earn more experience points the more you kill without visiting a Shard, meaning there is a risk/reward element to the game. You can choose to earn lots of experience, but you can risk losing it all if you make a mistake.

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Each character class has four spells, although it looks like you can buy spells from other classes if you have the points. My first spell created a clone of my character that distracted the enemies while enabling me to get behind them for a more powerful strike. This would also be handy if I needed a break from the action to heal up without getting harassed. When you die in Lords of the Fallen, you lose all your experience you had not currently spent at a Shard. Much like similar games in this genre, a ‘Ghost’ will remain where you fell. After you respawn, you can run back to where you died and recover your old experience points. An extra useful thing about the Ghost is that when you are near it your health will slowly increase, meaning that you might not want to pick up the Ghost straight away and especially in a particularly tough boss fight.

Speaking of boss fights, after the first tutorial area you are quickly thrust into the first boss fight, and this one is definitely not easy. You have to learn the attack patterns of the boss, carefully block his attacks and choose when to strike. Luckily you are given three potions which makes this fight manageable as long as you are patient.

Lords of the Fallen is a nice looking game. In the couple of hours I played the areas ranged from dank, dingy dungeons to snowy castle walls and everything looked good, albeit very similar to Dark Souls. The framerate would sometimes noticeably drop below 30fps, especially when multiple enemies are attacking at once, but it was nothing too drastic. The enemy designs looks pretty good and the basic monster is a horrible contorted demon that moves at you with surprising speed.

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Fans of the Souls games love the fact that the game is difficult. After experiencing the first few hours of the game, I can say that Lords of the Fallen is pretty tough at times. The enemies can kill you easily if you don’t manage your shield and stamina very well. However, there seems to be a lot of Shards so far, meaning that if you die you don’t lose much progress. This is a lot less punishing than the Souls games where there would often be a very long stretch without a bonfire. Bear in mind that this is only the beginning of the game and I’m sure the difficulty will increase the further you progress.

I look forward to playing more Lords of the Fallen. It definitely succeeds in scratching my Souls itch enough to keep me playing more. Although it is very clearly attempting to live up to the Souls games, it does things just differently enough to not make it seem like a direct copy. Unfortunately, I do not know the length of the game. If Lords of the Fallen is only a 10 hour ride, then I’m not sure I could fully recommend it to fans of similar games. However, if the game reaches 20+ hours then I’d say that Lords of the Fallen could keep you satisfied until From Software’s next title in February. Look out for our in-depth review of the game very soon.

These first impressions are based off the Xbox One version of Lords of the Fallen provided by BANDAI NAMCO.

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