Lords of the Fallen is out now, adding to a few other Souls-like titles over the past year, such as Lies of P, Thymesia, Wo Long Fallen Dynasty and Steel Rising, to name a few after the monumental Elden Ring. I really enjoyed the 2014 game start to finish, with the created world and heavy, tight combat. Lords of the Fallen came out October of that year, but it was going up against Dark Souls 2 which launched earlier in March and remained popular.
What we have here is essentially a soft reboot new game, which is set 1000 years after the original one. The dark fallen God Adyr is seeking vengeance after his banishing, his army is on the move and The Sentinels have been protecting the realm. A new champion – The Dark Crusader, and current lamp bearer – is now tasked with stemming the tides and taking out Adyr’s followers.
You will create your character using an extensive set of options, much like many other RPGs, and select one of 8 archetypes, ranging from an extremely fast dual wielder, spear and shield, paladin with a hammer and magic, and a few others, so you can select the one closest to your wanted play-style to start. Much like all other RPGs now, you are not set in stone with your build, and can add points so you can use magic or dual wielding.
The combat, itself, is normal with the Souls genre, and easily as fast-paced as Bloodborne, but with blocking, parrying and dodging all being there, as well as single-handed or dual-handling of weapons. Of course, there are plenty other weapons and armour sets to find on your travels throughout the world. You also have the lamp which is a core mechanic to the game, for both exploration and combat. For the combat side of things, you can pull out the soul of an enemy and attack it. This, in turn, will wither their health bar which basically greys some of it out. Hitting an enemy that is withered, will take off the entire grey chunk of the aforementioned bar.
Additionally, you will come across enemies which are tethered to an Umbral eye. These are much like the red pots from the original game. Instead of smashing pots, you have to use your lamp to remove the eye as it will keep healing the enemy to which it is attached. Death works in a similar way to the Souls series in general, collecting your vigour from where you were slain. If it is an enemy which kills you with a weapon, you will have to kill that enemy to get it back. You will also occasionally come across a red lamp which is another slain player. Using your lamp, you activate the red lamp, and a trail of red moths leads you to the enemy which killed the player, and you can kill it and get a few eyes for use with one of the vendors.
Mornstead, itself, is well worth exploring down the various nooks and crannies, and a lot of the time something you will see won’t be available, until a little later, accessible via one of the many shortcuts or through progression. A major mechanic of the game is Axiom and Umbral. Axiom is the living world, with Umbral being the realm of the dead. If you die in Axiom, you will instantly resurrect in Umbral, effectively giving you a second chance. The enemies are still there, but you also get Umbral-shambling enemies and moth-type harpies with which to contend. You cannot hang around for too long and explore in Umbral, however, as enemies will get tougher, with more of them, and when the eye goes red, you get hunted by a reaper and one hit kills you… yeah, that is damned frustrating, especially if you cannot find a return to Axiom point.
Some bosses and encounters only happen in Umbral, which ups the stakes, given you don’t get a second-chance resurrection. If you do hit an area and are wondering where to go next, there is a good chance that you need to manually go into the Umbral realm, as there may well be a bridge across a chasm or ladder up to a new area. It is a really cool feature that is well utilised.
Your vestige points are essentially the equivalent of bonfires, where you can warp to others which you have activated, to upgrade your character, rest to replenish your health charges – which also respawn all the area’s enemies, and multiplayer. With the latter, you can summon help, offer help, summon a friend with a password, or invade someone else’s world. A summoned person can stick with you as long as they wish to, instead of disappearing after a boss, like the From Software games. On top of a human player, many of the bosses also allow you to summon an NPC. Yourself and two others really helps, as the bosses are absolute tanks, with huge move sets and sweeping attacks. I personally know quite a few folk who have given up after not being able to beat the first major boss…
It is an interesting game with great mechanics, but there are some glaring issues.
Forced multiplayer invasions gets annoying, especially when you end up losing progress because you haven’t found the next Vestige point, or planted an umbral seed in a flowerbed, which acts like a main Vestige point. Either, having no seeds (they don’t drop often) or once an invasion starts, as it will cancel being able to activate them, even if you start before the invasion. I have been ganked a few times, especially in the area called The Fen, which leads to the Hushed Saint. I was doing virtually no damage to the invader and they hit me twice and killed me, so obviously matchmaking is way off with the levels.
Summoning help has full cross network, which is cool, but I was summoned into an area way later in the game, which I hadn’t reached myself, yet. This shouldn’t be happening.
For me, personally, the biggest issue is all the enemy mobs. I have held off finishing this review as they have patched it on Thursday 26th October to make it a little easier. This patch was mentioned on the Monday of this week, so I wanted to hold off. I can confirm it has been patched, but there isn’t a great deal of difference. It is still full of frustrating non-enjoyable encounters. A lot of the time, you will get enemies tucked away in a corner you can’t see around, but an enemy a little in front runs at you, so into combat. Then suddenly, you get walloped by this hidden enemy. Ranged enemies can hit you from outside your lock-on distance, and their spell cast speed is quicker than your ranged attacks, so you are going to get hit no matter what.
Near the Hushed Saint, there is a ranged enemy with poison on a rooftop, and 4 enemies which look like the Predator from the movies, for the want of better description. You also have these weird-looking toad-type things which spit poison clouds. The aggro range of enemies is crazy: they spot you, and everything attacks you. Imagine having multiple ranged, a few melee which can kill you in two hits, and then the rolling and jumping poison enemies all at once. That is inflated artificial difficulty right there, and completely unfair on the player. The further you get in, the worse it gets with this.
Lords of the Fallen is quite possibly the hardest game I have ever played, moreso than Sekiro and Bloodborne. I do enjoy Souls-like challenges, as I love the created crumbling medieval fantasy worlds. I do keep swearing off them, however, as some developers are really upping the ante with difficulty spikes and with my age reaching half a centure, reflexes aren’t what they used to be. I usually work through a level, unlocking shortcuts and then summon help with the bosses, which gets me through the games and I enjoy that. Lords of the Fallen, however, is just frustrating to the point where deaths are cheap, because of enemy placement or being ganked by an invading player or a mob of enemies and losing progress.
I love the game, but also absolutely hate it because of the enemy placement and over-zealous bosses. Will I finish it? Definitely not at this moment in time.
I haven’t had any performance issues at all, unlike some unfortunate players. It is running on my Ryzen 7 5700x, RTX 4070, 32Gb DDR4 and installed on a SATA SSD and is buttery smooth. I haven’t had a single crash or issue with performance. I am running with Ultra settings, QHD Resolution at 165Hz on my screen with Motion Blur, Chromatic Aberation and Screen Shake disabled and using DLSS Quality with 100% resolution scale and 100% Quality.
Thanks to our friends at CI Games and Hexworks for the review code.
- Developer: Hexworks
- Publisher: Ci Games
- Players: Single (offline), Co-Op (online only) & PvP
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!