Considering how much complaining I’ve done in the past about Konami bringing back the barbarians, I felt that I should take some time out and reflect on Lords of Shadow, the recently released Castlevania game in which the barbarians have been… uhh… broughten.
Lords is the very definition of an ambitious game. This classically designed single player experience borrows from many different genres and introduces so many new mechanics and ideas that the first few hours leave the player confused and frustrated. The God of War inspired combat feels natural enough at first, but it isn’t before long where the player will discover that pounding the attack buttons will get them nowhere. Once players finally get a feel for that, they’re asked to conquer Shadow of the Colosuss inspired Titan battles, which once again introduce a new set of rules. Factor in the increasingly complex battle mechanics (the game slowly introduces different magic types, new items, and plenty of useful combats and gadgets) and Uncharted style platforming and players will find themselves in over their heads. Let us not forget the many different puzzles also sprinkled throughout the game to break up the fighting and the jumping (each of which can be bypassed by the player if they chose, though the player will miss out on valuable experience points for skipping them).
Thankfully the long length of the game (which is impressive for a single player campaign these days) allows the player enough time to adjust to everything the game tries to teach them in those first few levels. By the mid point most players that haven’t given up will be one with the deep combat system and they’ll be experts at dodging, making use of well timed blocks, balancing between dark and light magic, and have no problem spamming monsters with holy water and fairies. The game demands a lot from the player, but patient and persistent players will be rewarded with a really well thought out combat system.