Castlevania: Lords of Shadow — Ultimate Edition review: delve into Castlevania mythology
Xairylle | On September 10, 2013 at 9:00 am
When you say Konami’s Castlevania, you must mean challenging and action-packed, because that is what Konami’s famous franchise has been bringing its fans since its first release in 1986. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is the latest of the series that has been made available on the PC platform. Although Castlevania: Lords of Shadow has been available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 since October 2010, only recently did the Ultimate Edition make its way to PC via Steam. For fans with no access to said consoles, its arrival to the PC platform is great news.
In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (LoS), you play the role of Gabriel Belmont, an elite holy knight from the Brotherhood of Light, as he embarks on a journey about the events surrounding his wife, his destiny, and the fate of the world. Like the rest of the Castlevania series, you can expect the LoS storyline to be serious and rather dark. And since I recently got my hands on the game, let’s take a look at Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (LoS) for PC. Don’t worry, as I’m keeping this as spoiler-free as possible.
LoS is not your usual button-mashing action RPG. It requires focus, quick thinking, and eye-hand coordination. Aside from the usual game settings, LoS also has four difficulty settings, which is great for players new to the Castlevania franchise or to action RPGs in general. The game has controller support, but only for XBOX controllers. I’ve tried both a Playstation controller and a generic controller for PC, which both didn’t work. If you don’t have a compatible controller, you can still play the game using a keyboard and mouse, although the camera angle remains fixed. You also have extra settings for in-game interface including experience gains, health bars, combat damage and health recovery. If you would like a more cinematic experience, turn them off, but if you are after more detailed and informed gameplay, then you can keep them on.
Although the camera angle can’t be changed, it doesn’t hinder the player from being mobile. You can jump, roll or block in addition to running around. Be careful, though, as some attacks are not blockable. Regular attacks may either be single-targeted or area of effect (AoE). You can also grab an enemy or hit them with skills and combos. I particularly like the quicktime events for certain boss fights. Make sure to watch out for these quicktime events or you will end up prolonging a fight that should’ve been over. For every quest you finish, you are given experience points, which you can use to buy additional skills or upgrade existing ones. This way, you can work on building a skill set based on your play style.
Puzzles and Obstacles
Players don’t only get through the game using hack-and-slash methods, but also by solving puzzles and getting through tricky obstacles, which is another of the popular and well-loved features of the Castlevania series. Gabriel can jump from ledge to ledge, rappel walls, activate switches, find and destroy runes, and determine sequences. These puzzles are usually required to get from one place to another or to trigger an in-game event or sequence. Boss fights also make use of brainteasers and may not require you to fight with skills or weapons at all.
The variation of challenges is what made me enjoy LoS. It may get frustrating when you’re not quite sure where to go or what to do, but once you figure it out, the triumphant feeling afterward is rather worth it. It also makes you aware of the in-game surroundings, creating an immersive experience with the environment and ambience.
Light and Shadow Magic
The combat system for LoS is something that every player should look forward to. At a certain point in the game, Gabriel will learn to use Light Magic. When active, it allows him to replenish health per attack. At the same time, this also drains the Light Magic meter, which is the blue gauge at the bottom left of the screen. This gauge is filled by acquiring light magic orbs dropped by enemies when they die. Gabriel also learns Shadow Magic, which, on the other hand, increases the damage dealt to enemies and drains the red gauge at the bottom right of the screen. When Light Magic is active, it causes Gabriel to glow in blue. Activation of Shadow Magic makes him glow in red. Because of this combat system, I would recommend the use of a controller; I found it difficult to activate light magic and acquiring orbs while moving when using the keyboard.
Audio and Visuals
Like any PC game, the visuals on LoS is still reliant on how your PC specs handle graphics. All in all, given good PC specs, LoS will not disappoint. Every area and portion of the game has a unique mood depicted by outstanding graphics and great art. The skills are also executed with impressive in-game effects without being so confusing. I like how the game doesn’t make me dizzy even with the fast-paced in-game movement that Gabriel has to do. The cinematics coupled with the voiceover allows for immersive storytelling. Some people I’ve talked to tell me they prefer the game to have some action or support for the mouse for tasks like selecting menu items. In my opinion, I’m glad that they kept the game as close to its console counterpart to keep the same gaming experience across all platforms.
The Verdict: Should you play this game?
If you are looking for something laid-back and relaxing, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is not for you. That is, unless your idea of relaxation is a fast-paced, action-filled, thought-provoking role-playing game. LoS is a great stress reliever and has its own way to force you to focus on the game. The story also plays a big role in the gaming experience, so make sure you don’t have a very short attention span. While you can skip the cinematic parts of the game to continue playing, I recommend you sit through it, watch the scenes, and listen to the dialog. It will help especially given that its sequel is set to arrive next year.
If you enjoy Assassin’s Creed and God of War, you will enjoy this game, too. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a game that will keep you on your toes with its amazing gameplay, combat system, impressive audio-visuals, and compelling storyline.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow — Ultimate Edition is now available on Steam and includes Reverie DLC (downloadable content) and Resurrection DLC. Its sequel Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 will be available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC in February 2014.
(Editing by Paul Bischoff)