Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Impressions

Though it’s one of the most storied franchises in all of gaming, I’ve largely ignored Castlevania. Having only played bits of the original, and Super Castlevania IV, its demon-slaying action didn’t grab me at the time. Though I understand that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is revered as one of the greatest games of all-time, I’ve passed on it repeatedly, knowing that I’m terrible at the Metroid style of world.

If it weren’t for the God of War influence, coming across it for cheap, and my girlfriend wanting to play this together, I probably would have passed on Lords of Shadow too. After a year or so of it sitting on my shelf, I finally gave it a shot recently.

Though my experience with the franchise is limited, it was clear to me that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. This plays almost identically to a God of War style game, from the moment-to-moment combat, to its use of powers, as well as its puzzle-solving, and traversal elements. It’s easy to knock this game for being a rip-off, but during my time with it, I was really surprised with how well done, and fun it was.

I was really ready to commit to playing this game in full, until I got to the Sanctuary Entrance, which is only a few hours into the game. It requires you to traverse around this area to collect 4 shards, before you ultimately loop back around to the beginning. Going through this loop was pretty tough, as the enemy encounters were really difficult. I died a whole bunch trying to get through this. When I circled around, I realized I was missing 2 of the pieces, and would have to retrace my steps.

To my dismay, all of the enemies I struggled through the first time re-spawned. At this point, I shut the game off immediately and moved on. I cannot stand re-spawning enemies, and their conclusion here was totally unnecessary. If this was a sign of things to come, I don’t want anything to do with it.

Did I drop it a bit too soon? Probably. Everything else about the game was pretty awesome. However, I have a lot of other games to play, and a low tolerance for those types of poor design choices. Maybe someday I’ll get over it, but for now, back to the shelf it goes.

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3 thoughts on “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Impressions

  1. DoctaMario November 27, 2012 / 9:52 AM

    You definitely gave up on it too early. The game doesn’t really start to pick up until Chapter 4. Chapter 1 is good, 2 is okay, 3 they could have gotten rid of imo, but 4 is where the game starts to get good.

    I feel like they borrowed a little too much from God Of War combat-wise, but it’s fun and that combat system was originated in the PS2 Rygar game and later used in Castlevania Lament Of Innocence on the PS2 also, BEFORE GoW came out. So while it’s commonly identified with GoW, CV actually used it first.

    I see LoS as a spiritual successor to the N64 games (which were fantastic, and still the best 3d Castlevania games imo) so a lot of things people again, mistakenly attribute to GoW, were actually used first in CV (wall shimmying for instance.)

    Definitely pick the game back up. There’s a lot of great stuff ahead of you!

    • Jett November 27, 2012 / 9:58 AM

      Yeah I probably did give up on it too early. My challenge is that I like to play as many games as possible. I like the variety, and it gives me more opportunities to write about different things for this site + Splitkick, or talk about on my podcast. Also, my backlog is a mile long. Due to these factors, my patience for games is at an all-time low. In my younger days, when I had less to play and no outside pressures, I probably would have worked through it and enjoyed it. Like I said in my post, I was really digging it. However, I just got to a point I really didn’t like, and saw the assorted other games I could be enjoying my time with instead of investing the hour or so to get through that crappy part and went elsewhere.

      Interesting that you think highly of the N64 games. I haven’t played them, but I generally hear negative things. Was it because people wanted a 2D Castlevania and didn’t want change?

      • theadamjames November 30, 2012 / 12:36 AM

        I understand your dilemma (I write for a music website and do reviews), but I think to a certain degree, that of you go into it thinking like that, you’re bound to miss some gems. Sounds like Castlevania may just not be your thing. If you didn’t like CV4 or SotN then there probably isn’t much hope for you haha! 😉

        I loved the 64 games. They nailed everything about them in terms of atmosphere and basically bringing a 2D series into the 3rd dimension. The camera was a bit wonky, sure, but that’s really the only valid complaint about thr game IMO. The controls are fine (quite a bit like Lords Of Shadow in terms of how jumping and platforming is handled), the level design is fantastic for the most part (the first game CV64 actually has better design in my opinion), and it has multiple routes and characters. Thr problem is, younger players go back and play them and wind up comparing them to thr more refined PS2 versions (3d was in its infancy to a certain degree when the PSX and N64 came out) and not giving them much of a chance. I don’t know that I’d recommend them to a non-Castlevania fan but they’re excellent games and IMO thr best 3d outings Castlevania has ever had in terms of bringing the roots of CV into 3d.

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