Lords of the Fallen Hands-On
Last year, I had the privilege of checking out Lords of the Fallen when it was shown behind closed doors by City Interactive. I knew practically nothing of the game at the time since it was officially an unannounced title that I was promised on the meeting schedule. 40 minutes later and I walked out of that small room wonderfully surprised with what Deck13 Interactive was trying to create.
Not only did the game look great, powered by an engine that could rival Unreal Engine 4, but the promise of an enigmatic world by Executive Producer Tomasz Gop was enough to hold my attention throughout the presentation. This year, I was finally able to get my hands on the upcoming Hardcore RPG as it sat amongst the other kiosks inside the Bandai Namco meeting room. The game played pretty much as I expected.
Considering I had only minutes prior to trying it out gotten a taste of the new Dark Souls II story DLC expected later this year, the controls were mapped practically the same way. You have your light attack, heavy attack, dive roll, etc, It never felt like you had enough Stamina to withstand more than one enemy at a time, and the HP meter seemed to drop dramatically even with the lightest of attacks from the enemy.
I started off the demo at the bottom of a set of stairs wearing a set of light armor. Walking forward a few yards and looking up, there stood a mean mutated monster with a small sword and shield. As soon as I tried to climb the stairs, the monster quickly dove towards me, knocking off half of my health with one attack before I could manage to dodge out of the way.
After maneuvering behind it and quickly dispatching it with a backstab, I moved onwards to an open, circular area inside this dungeon-like location that was surrounded by tall pillars with a precarious pit in the middle covered with wood planks..
As soon as I crossed the threshold, two more of the same small, morbid beasts were on me almost instantly. Considering this is a game where every single battle is very meaningful, this was a very dangerous position to be in.
As any logical person would do, I had to use the narrow passageway that I came out from to take each monster down one by one. Of course, these monsters happened to come equipped with bows, making the whole battle management that much more challenging.
After getting rid of them and making my way to the other side of the circle to the door across the way, a tall, intimidating monster covered in plate armor came charging out. By running to the other side of the circle as quickly as possible, the creature managed to break through the aforementioned wood planks covering the pit in the middle and plummet to its death, a mighty cry the last thing it could manage before complete silence. I had myself a chuckle at that.
Of course, at this point, you pretty much get the gist of what the demo was like. I crawled my way through the rest of the extremely narrow hallways, ascending and descending different staircases, fought off a few giant poison-spewing spiders and even more of those nightmare mutations before making my way to the boss.
Now, if you saw the trailer we posted on the site a couple months ago where the main character tried to defeat the boss using different armor and equipment sets to find the perfect gear for the battle, that's the exact same demo that I got to play at E3, complete with that friendly creature who loves to continuously charge at you.
The good news is that these battles revolve around a clear "tell" that the monster gives off letting you know when's a good time to close whatever gap there is to launch a series of attacks, and when it's smart to back the hell away before you're mincemeat. Of course, what isn't shown in the trailer is that these bosses may have different stages - I only managed to get to the final stage of the boss where he goes completely bonkers before I had to put the controller down.
Make no mistake about it - Lords of the Fallen is a pretty challenging game, and this is coming from someone who had made his way through Dark Souls II seemingly fine just a couple weeks prior. It may challenge even the most arduous of players with its increasing difficulty, and you'd be better off dispatching any enemy you come across before advancing further.
The game does feature its own version of bonfires with these giant crystals that serve as a checkpoint and let you replenish your health and mana, but there's likely to always be danger lurking even following this oasis.
It is obvious that Lords of the Fallen takes a lot away from Dark Souls II, but it isn't anything egregious. The game has a lot of features that help to create its own unique identity in this genre that From Software had managed to reinvigorate after they took after older titles, much like how Monster Hunter took what Phantasy Star Online did and basically revolutionize the genre.
The atmosphere is provocative, the feeling definitely intense, and the combat engaging. The game continues to amaze with its superb graphical fidelity and cryptic world, and I definitely look forward to getting lost in the world when it launches this Fall.