Developer MecurySteam partnered with Hideo Kojima’s Kojima Productions to deliver a smash hit to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow in October 2010. Nearly three years later the title is finally available on personal computers. Was it worth the wait? That is definitely debatable, but LoS on PC is a better package of the intricate combat, beautiful art, and mind-bending story I experienced in 2010.
I feel like I have to state I don’t have much experience with the Castlevania franchise. I own and have played some of the beloved Symphony of the Night but I have never beaten that game. As a real introduction to the Belmonts, I absolutely love Lords of Shadow. I don’t believe it is known exactly how much direct input Hideo Kojima had in the game, but the Lords of Shadow story feels like a Kojima story. It isn’t full of wink and nods you would expect from Metal Gear but it is full of over the top characters, insane moments, and engrossing stories. What begins as a story of attempting to save Gabriel’s murdered wife evolves constantly in this epic Castlevania tale.
MercurySteam has crafted a visual masterpiece of every sense of term relating to gaming. You will see many different environments throughout the over 20 hours you will spend with Gabriel Belmont. From dark forests, to foreboding castles, and even to a small music box, Lords of Shadow is covered in gorgeous unique art. Lords of Shadow is not a visual one trick pony between its gigantic Shadow of the Colossus-esque boss fights, its God of War-esque spanning panoramas, and even eye catching menu design with an absolutely pleasant “quit to desktop” animation.
I felt right at home with the controls of LoS that allow for tight precision but aren’t so convoluted to make it not fun. In an era of gaming infected with auto platforming with no real consequences Lords of Shadow reincorporates third person platforming with skill. The combat is certainly reminiscent of other modern third person action games like God of War, Bayonetta, and such with light attacks, heavy attacks, projectiles, throws, smart bombs, and parries. Don’t let that turn you off of the game though, with light and shadow modes for every attack LoS has some of the fun complexity of the Devil May Cry series. Many have complained about the games fixed camera, but that was only a problem for me for a few seconds in one of the titan boss fights, generally it worked very well for me.
Although Castlevania Lords of Shadow was originally chastised as being a simple copycat entry to the genre I believe it sits atop of all the third person character action games. A combination of top notch art, snappy gameplay, breathtaking moments and great sound design makes LoS a strong argument in the ongoing “What Should I Play Next” debate we all have. The wait for this game on PC was extremely long, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the game already or if you just want a return trip with Gabriel this game is well worth its humble price tag of thirty dollars with greatly improved loading times and a stellar frame rate that was locked at 60 frames per second for me.. It is worth stating that the games original DLC Reverie and Resurrection are included in this package, but they are ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. In a game full of wonderful design the DLC seems to lack all of it, so it might be worth ending your experience with Lords of Shadow at the games natural end. Any piece of entertainment where Patrick Stewart will read to you for over twenty hours is at least worth a serious look at.
This review is based on the PC version of the game.