While I was playing through Lords of Shadow 2, regret was growing inside me.
Regret that I hung on hoping the conclusion would be the most epic moment in gaming this year. Regret that I invested so much time (and money) into a trilogy that was destroyed by an attempt to improve something that was great in the first place.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 could have been the greatest thing to happen to hack-and-slash since God of War, but it is lacking identity and all its good is hidden behind improvements that should have just been left out.
The new game picks up where the original left off.
Awoken after centuries of slumber and yearning for release from his immortal bonds, Dracula finds himself stranded and powerless in contemporary times. Thus, the immortal vampire must rediscover his powers as he makes a pact with Death to defeat Satan. Only then will he gain eternal rest. The game is set in a modern city tainted by Dracula’s influence and within Dracula’s castle itself.
The story of Dracula takes place between two parallel Castlevania worlds; the modern day one which has been destroyed by Satan’s minions and the old Castlevania realm that we remember from the previous games.
Dracula is on a quest to regain his powers and prepare for the fight against the God of Hell himself, Satan. The Story plays out as you roam the streets and castle halls of Castlevania, and goes nowhere slowly.
At first I thought that the game just starts off slowly, but a few hours in and the pace did not improve. I still found myself spending hours travelling to my next objective to get side-tracked by another character into doing something else. This contributes to the game’s inconsistency and even though each objective leads to a great boss battle the trip there is lacklustre and boring.
Along the way you will fight the same enemies over and over again, and try make sense of the extremely confusing world. There are pickups to collect but you cannot reach them without certain abilities. For example, the “mist” ability allows you to pass through gates, but I could not see myself bothering to return to inaccessible areas to collect things once I obtained the new ability. There are plenty pickups though, each improving your character in one way or another, and even unlocking in game artwork.
Climbing up scaffoldings and broken buildings to reach your objective is repetitive, and often holds your hand. At times this can be extremely frustrating. Dracula doesn’t cooperate with your controller and often fails to jump off to the ground when needed.
The game features a stealth mechanic – during parts of the game you will be required to sneak past large brute enemies without being seen. It is a mix of puzzle and stealth, possessing your enemy or distracting them so you can sneak past. You can also become a rat to fit through broken vents and sneak past undetected. These sections are terrible, and every time you see a Brute you will wish there was a way to skip it.
These stealth sections don’t make any sense – if you are the Prince of Darkness then surely you will be able to kill a few brutes. Instead you are forced to play through these parts and that really slows the game’s pace. If you are seen there is no way to run and hide in the shadows; just load your last checkpoint.
Lords of Shadow 2 has a great battle system – it is a shining light in the game, but at times it will frustrate you. Enemies sometimes corner you and there is no way to escape; you just stand there and hope for the best.
There are three main weapons: Draculas whip; the chaos claws (which are powerful punching gloves which can break shields and armour), and the Void Sword (used to drain an enemy’s life force and refill your own).
Using the three weapons against your enemies will prove challenging at first but once you have mastered them, it will make you feel like a bad ass. You can upgrade your weapons using the in-game currency but at times I had about twenty thousand unspent cash, and I didn’t feel the need to use it. This is because you have limited use of each weapons due to the low Void and Chaos bars, so spending all that cash on weapons seems like a waste.
The game looks beautiful, with some of the best environments and character designs I have seen in a while, even though the disparate two worlds don’t gel together at all they still look good – the older Castlevania obviously looking better than the modern day one. The enemies are well imagined, but the boss battles take the cake. Some of the boss fights looked and played out amazingly, they added so much creativity to the game that they almost single handily redeemed it.
Unfortunately Lord of Shadow 2 suffers from an identity problem. It is trying to be something new when the old was great already. The open world idea does not work at all. The story is flat because it is trying to incorporate itself into this open world. And during all this disappointment, Dracula feels like an empty vessel with no brains, side-tracked by the simplest things.
Satan is returning to the mortal realm and he would rather collect Mirror of Fate fragments in his make-believe castle – his character is dry and unbelievable. Lords of Shadow 2 could have been amazing if it kept the chapter select and ditched the open world, stealth, and had a revamped Dracula.
I do regret having high hopes for it but I am glad it is over now. Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2, you did not live up to your predecessor at all, and in fact you put the series to shame.
- Boss Battles
- Battle System
- Beautiful environments
- Open World does not work
- Stealth is a disaster
- Holds your hand for too long
- Games pace is a downfall