Review by webdesignfire

"More Tomb Raider than Castlevania"

Lords of Shadow is a reboot of the series. This means several things: over 20 years of lore are thrown out the window, and the gameplay is different from every other Castlevania -even the 3D ones on PS2. instead the gameplay revolves around Tomb Raider style climbing, lots of lever and switch puzzles, a little combat, and a few Shadow of the Colossus boss fights.

Traditionally Castlevania games have been a very solid formula with a little variation each time to keep it interesting. That's why the series has been around for over 20 years. This game is a completely different formula than any previous title.

Many people compare LoS to God of War or Dante's Inferno, but God of War is more focused around combat, though it has puzzles and climbing like LoS. The elements borrowed from Dante's Inferno are riding mounts, health fountains, and only one main weapon with moves added as opposed to many weapons in a game like God of War or Devil May Cry. What's unique here is that God of War style "magic" has been replaced by the four sub-weapons, and a new magic system that is one of the best parts of the game. There is light and dark magic which can be used to heal yourself, deal more damage, and when combined with relics it allows Gabriel to do things like shield himself to perform new attacks.

The story is good, but it's very underdeveloped. The twist at the end will make you roll your eyes, and the story itself seems like framework to bridge the levels and feels like it was an afterthought. the plot is revealed through cutscenes, scrolls you find on your journey, and narratives between levels read by Patrick Stewart.

Many of the puzzles are repeated throughout the game such as "rune puzzles." Rune puzzles consist of a series of runes on the wall that need to be lit up by either light or dark magic. Some have their solution in a found scroll, others are solved by trial and error. Other than the rune puzzles, there are numerous lever puzzles, and switch puzzles, but they are not as quick as most other games that have puzzles like this. There are many stretches where all you do is puzzles. Even though it was pitched as a hack and slash, this is a game about climbing and puzzles.

Yamane left Konami shortly after Order of Ecclesia. That's why the music in this game, and Harmony of Despair just isn't as good as typical Castlevania music. This game features orchestral scores that attempt to make it feel "epic" but end up feeling empty and soul-less. It's very boring, and while the limited edition includes a soundtrack, the artbook is what makes it worth buying.

Is This A Castlevania Game?
By the title of this review you know my stance. Supposedly this was modeled after Castlevania IV for Super Nintendo, and the influences from that game are the grappling swing and the darker feel. There are numerous Castlevania references peppered throughout the game which seems like they were put in to please fans, but really they're just placed out of context. There is a warewolf named Cornell, but he's not the Cornell from Legacy of Darkness, there's a vampire named Brauner, but he's not the Brauner from Portrait of Ruin, and the main character is named Belmont, but he has nothing to do with the Belmont clan. Right. A forest is named the Veros Woods, there's the Outer Wall, and Malphas... the references go on and on but they are all just names. If the names were changed and the main character was re-designed it wouldn't be a Castlevania game at all.

Is This Worth Buying?
If you're expecting a Tomb Raider style game with a lot of puzzles, yes. If you are expecting a hack and slash or a true Castlevania game you're probably better off with something like Lament of Innocence or Curse of Darkness. Similar games like Bayonetta, Devil May Cry 4, God of War or Dante's Inferno might also be good. Of course, if you really enjoyed the titan bosses, Shadow of the Colossus is the perfect game for you. There are also the metriod-vania games Castlevania games, but those are 2D and not something this game should be compared to, though they are very good in their own right.

So it's a decent game, just know what you're getting into. This is a climbing and puzzle game with a little fighting thrown in -and it is not a Castlevania game despite the title.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 10/27/10

Game Release: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (US, 10/05/10)

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