At the recent Bandai Namco event in NYC, I got a chance to go hands-on with a game that I wasn’t able to fit into our busy E3 coverage this year. At first glance, Lords of the Fallen resembles the popular Souls series (Demon’s Souls & Dark Souls). Both franchises features dark atmospheric fantasy environments (although Lords of the Fallen showed streaks of color in the dreary world), enemies that will kill you instantly and a slow-paced combat system that makes you think before acting.
The team at Deck13 Interactive has already gone on record in saying that while the game may appear quite similar; it has a whole lot more to offer. This includes subtle differences that will ensure Lords of the Fallen will be every action RPG fans wet dream. First and foremost, the use of checkpoints will attract those players who thought the punishing difficulty in the Souls series was not worth their time. Just like the “souls” in theSouls series, after dying, you will lose your experience in Lords of the Fallen, promptly you to go back to the spot you died to recover them.
Nearing the end of the day, and end of the event, I was able to play through the demo for Lords of the Fallen unimpeded, without worry of rushing through and without the hassle of someone else waiting to hop on the demo unit. After immediately spinning the camera around Harkyn, the main protagonist in the game for that “cinematic” experience, I came face to face with a skeleton-like creature at the top of a narrow staircase, eager to cut me into pieces. Checking out the menu options to get my bearings, I gleamed at the equipment given to us, including a punishing staff, an agile sword, twin blades, and a shattering heavy hammer. The armor provided looked impressive, but I wasn’t able to try out any other pieces or sets.
The creature struck first, as my mind blanked on the game’s controls, which will feel comfortable to those that are fans of the Souls series. Attacks are broken up into light and heavy attacks on the shoulder buttons, as dodging and items and magic are tied to the face buttons. Attacking and flicking up on the analog stick will produce a leaping attack. Just like in Demon’s Souls, I’ve wasted countless potions when I meant to attack. The tight corridor ensured that the wild swinging creature was at a disadvantage, and I made sure it stayed that way with a well-timed block and counterattack. The tight corridor opened up into an open-aired courtyard where two additional creatures were waiting. From overhearing one of the reps that was working the event earlier in the day, some of the creatures will have differentiating characteristics, such as being blind, reacting to the echoing sounds of my armor and weapons moving about. I guess it didn’t help that I tend to run everywhere, or at least until my stamina runs out. Not only that, but they appeared to transform after death into a more menacing creature all-together.
My first true test came in an adjoining corridor, where I was met by a heavy armor cladded foe with a massive shield. At times, a good defense is the best offensive, so I hastily retreated to the previous area, providing more room to get behind my adversary to inflict damage. I waited for the slow moving hulk to step into the center of the room, only to have it crash through wooden planks set across an open hole in the ground. I smiled and continued onward, only to be ambushed by a hidden creature out of sight and died falling down a flight of stairs.
After several more encounters, and succumbing to the poison effects from a giant spider multiple times, I realized that enemies could be unpredictable, making it harder to determine a pattern. This unpredictability sometimes worked in my favor and other times it did not. I also tested out the magic system, my favorite was a powerful fire blast, knocking enemies to the ground and taking about two thirds of their life in the process. A checkpoint mid demo allowed me to continue from that point upon death, instead of going back to the beginning, it even refilled my health and mana pools.
The boss battle itself was an easier experience than the journey, as I didn’t have any trouble determining the pattern and exploiting it with relative ease. This is in stark contrast to the unpredictable nature of everything else I have faced.
I didn’t get to experience the non-linear narrative the game will offer, but can’t wait to see how my actions can affect things once the game is released later this year on October 28. Lords of the Fallen will be available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.