A Miserable Pile of Secrets: A Review of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

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I’ve never been the best gamer when it comes to the Castlevania series. I’m absolutely not opposed to it though. In fact, I think it’s an awesome series. Super Castlevania IV is one of the games I most recommend downloading from the Virtual Console if you don’t already own it for the SNES. That being said, I wasn’t all that aware of a new Castlevania game, and specifically, I didn’t really care much when I heard it would break from conventions in about every way possible. What did get me more interested was watching a few reviews. So what is the verdict on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow? Well, this is the verdict:

This Belmont means business. Gorgeous, HD business.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is pretty danged good. No need to dance around something as simple as that. It’s not without faults, oh no, but it’s also not without a ton of merit. Has Castlevania managed to produce a quality 3D platformer yet? Now it has, at least as quality as any you can expect. As far as controls are concerned, Lords of Shadow plays well. Not perfect, but very good nonetheless. Alright, get used to that qualifier there because most of what I’ll be telling you will be a “yes, but” statement. Whipping enemies feels good and responsive and some fun situations can come about from the various encounters you’ll have with said enemies. This new Belmont knows his stuff in terms of combat.

He doesn’t, however, seem to know the platforming as well as we’d like him to. The camera will continually get in the way between you and your enjoyment of the title, offering amazing views that in no way assist you in performing complicated jumps. You’ll frequently even find yourself forced into the terrifying “Leaps of Faith” that infect otherwise decent platformers, moments where you need to jump from one platform to another but have no clue what you’re aloud to jump to due to the graphics being too pretty or the camera ignoring the need to show you. Expect cheap deaths and lots of them.

Just remember that the combat is the high point and be happy with it.

Also expect to do some searching on your own. The game, while gorgeous, doesn’t like giving any help regarding where to go next and what to do. Plenty of times you’ll fight a swarm of enemies, only to then wander around aimlessly completely unaware of your next objective. A map system would have helped, but you get nothing of the sort. At least the game looks nice though.

The game also sounds nice, too. Patrick Stewart, Mr. Classy himself, plays one of the lead roles, making at least that one role sound the best anyone could possibly make it sound. Maybe I just love Patrick Stewart, but his inclusion bumps Lords of Shadow up a few points. The rest of the voice work is well done, though the dialogue seems to be the usual Castlevania schlock with some really lame lines here and there. Mostly, it functions enough to get you through the story and that should be enough.

You don't need a story when there are demons to slay.

Lords of Shadow decides to forgo the Castlevania in its name almost entirely, leaving you with something closer to God of War or Uncharted or even Prince of Persia or Shadow of the Colossus at times, but this isn’t a bad thing. Longtime fans may lament the change in style, but this isn’t a bad game. Quite the contrary, Lords of Shadow is already on my Christmas wishlist as a game I really want to spend some quality time with. And it just might be worth it seeing as how Konami has already mentioned working on the sequel. Lords of Shadow gets my full approval at the moment, so give it a rent and check it out.

Want more reviews? Check these out:

Just Stay Dead: A Review of Dead Rising 2

How To Reach The Masses: A Review of Halo: Reach

Samuses Should Be Seen, Not Heard: A Review of Metroid: Other M

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

2 Comments

  1. great review Chris. LOL at the “leaps of faith” comment, which has been a problem with too-pretty graphics ever since the original Dragon’s Lair in the 80s. cheers! RH

  2. I’m waiting for this one to come down in price, probably after the holidays. The demo was awesome and reviews including yours have all been positive, but I sense this will be a quick game. I’m always hesitant to drop $60 on a game that I’ll finish in a month and probably not go back to.

    Castlevania is one of my favorite franchises and while LoS might not be the Castlevania all us retro geeks really want, it played pretty great if you ask me.

    My thoughts on Castlevania and the reboot:
    http://www.morningtoast.com/2010/10/castlevania-whipping-itself-back-into-my-heart/

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