Hackneyed & Slash: Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow Demo

By John Walker on August 2nd, 2013 at 8:00 am.

I remain mystified as to why third-person action games called Castlevania exist. Why take one of the most inventive and interesting side-scrolling RPG platforming series, and reduce it down to the same combo-driven button mashing combat-fest that dominates so much of the console market? If this demo of the 2010 console game, Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow, finally ported to PC on the 27th August, is supposed to convince me otherwise, it’s failed.

The 2GB demo offers very little indeed. It begins with a millionty hour long opening sequence, narrated by Captain Jean Luc Xavier, in which BLAH BLAH BLAH WHO CARES. Then you get to go through the dreary combat tutorial, killing a bunch of were-rats. Then a horse-riding sequence that wouldn’t have felt out of place in a 1986 movie tie-in release from Ocean. And then done.

If you’ve been dying to play the game in unappreciably sharper graphics three years on, then your chance is coming soon! If you want to put yourself off the idea, you can get the demo from Steam now. I understand the full game is supposed to be pretty decent, but sadly that impression is not available here. And I still can’t get past its simply not being a Castlevania game. If Metroid releases itself as a top-down farm management sim, the phrase “metroidvania” will be completely mystifying to future generations.

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95 Comments »

  1. RProxyOnly says:

    It’s a shame you’re giving this a panning, John.

    Personally I’m pretty hyped for this release, I have a feeling that this will herald more PC releases.. console ports, yes, unfortunately, but at least it’ll be more releases for us. PC pickings are pretty slim, we need this kind of move.. People should buy it.

    • tnzk says:

      From which alternate universe dost thou hail from, where PC pickings are slim?

      • RProxyOnly says:

        This one.

        PC games with a half decent budget.

        Something that isn’t an MMO, and doesn’t rely on multiplayer, with production values that don’t look bedroom build.

        InB4 all the people itching to point out an exception or call me a graphics whore.

        • JR says:

          I’m kind-of bemused by this outlook myself. I’ve yet to see anything to be or has been released solely on consoles in the last few years that I’ve had any sort of interest in. Only exception I could think of is Below by Capy, though that’s likely to get to PC after the exclusivity contract with Xbone dries up anyways

          • RProxyOnly says:

            Seriously?

            You are going to compare the number and frequency of console releases to PC releases and say there is hardly a difference?

            WTF?

            Sometimes I feel people just argue for the hell of it, regardless of their stance.

          • Chris Bischoff says:

            The Last Of Us is the only game that’s made me wish I had a console.

          • neolith says:

            The Last Of Us is the only game that’s made me wish it wasn’t a console exclusive.

            Fixed. ;)

          • fco says:

            Red Dead Redemption
            Ico/Shadow of the Colossus
            maybe, Journey and The Last Of Us
            Those are the sole reasons I’d buy a PS3 for today.

            Actually, since they’re porting a Castlevania, I’d much prefer they did Symphony Of The Night, which I’ve never got around to play.

          • Baines says:

            Dragon’s Crown. Vanillaware doesn’t release PC versions of their games, and I’ve been waiting years for Dragon’s Crown.

            Bayonetta. I wish it had a PC release. It didn’t. IF it did, it probably would have been a lazy port. Bayonetta 2 will be console only as well.

            Still waiting for that rumored PC port of KOF XIII.

            While it isn’t the most high brow game, I’d like to see a good PC port of Dynasty Warriors 8. But as far as I know, there is no PC port at all, and Koei apparently does somewhat lazy PC ports of these games anyway. Plus, Koei couldn’t even manage to get the Xbox 360 version working right this time.

            While PC gamers might sneer at it for being a “console RPG”, I had fun with Xenoblade. Again, a console only game. (Pandora’s Tower and Last Story are console only as well, of course.)

            PC is kind of weak to me in terms of gaming. I own plenty of games on Steam, but they are almost entirely stuff that I’d never have paid full price for, even if PC gaming didn’t have big sales or price bundles. And I find the PC games that I tend to be willing to pay the most for tend to also have console versions. I end up buying the PC version largely because I’m more likely to be able to keep playing it on PC, where I might not buy a replacement console when a current one breaks.

          • mLocke says:

            Minna no Golf\Everybody’s Golf\Hot Shots Golf. I own a PSP and a Vita just for this game series, meanwhile new golf games on PC are nonexistent.

        • Scrooge McDuck says:

          I… really have no idea how you came to this conclusion. There are lots and lots of PC games that are not an MMO, and don’t rely on multiplayer, with production values that don’t look bedroom build. I finished more than 20 this year alone.

          Or are you only counting exclusive games? But if so then this game also doesn’t count…

        • ErraticGamer says:

          Do you live in a world where the following games didn’t come out on the PC in 2013?

          Devil May Cry
          Strike Suit Zero
          Kentucky Route Zero
          Tomb Raider
          Bioshock Infinite
          Bit Trip Runner 2
          The Walking Dead 400 Days
          Metro: Last Light
          Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
          Call of Juarez Gunslinger
          Dyad
          Remember Me
          Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes
          Civ V: Brave New World
          Dust: An Elysian Tale
          The Swapper
          (very shortly) Saints Row 4

          None of those are MMO’s, multiplayer focused, or look like retro titles (which I assume is your “bedroom build” catch-all). The list gets a LOT longer if you include that stuff.

          What are you missing? What didn’t come to PC this year that you’re upset about?

        • Shooop says:

          How about:

          Metro Last Light
          Just Cause 2
          Mark of the Ninja
          Skyrim
          Dishonored
          Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
          Call of Juarez Gunslinger
          ?

          None of them even have multiplayer, and they had healthy budgets. Just take a browse around Steam and hit the “Single Player” checkbox for search parameters if you need more.

      • Urthman says:

        Other than the Darksiders and Devil May Cry games, what other games in this genre have been released on PC? They may be common on consoles, but on PC this is one of the most under-served gaming niches I can think of. There’s been more flight sims and 4X strategy games released on PC in the last 5 years than God of War clones.

    • bstard says:

      It’s now considered consolficated.

    • killias2 says:

      First off, really? Slim pickings? Lordy lord, I have – way- too many games to play. The PC gets about as many AAA games as any console does. Second, how does a port of a mediocre God of War clone do anything aim ?

      Edit: here’s my challenge to you. Beginning with last year’s Christmas, name every AAA game that hit both consoles but not the PC. Someone else should name every AAA game to hit PC. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, DmC, Far Cry Blood Dragon, the new Hitman, Max Payne 3, Company of Heroes 2, that new CoD (just assuming there was one), Dishonored, etc. I’m sure someone could be more thorough.

    • Rivalus says:

      I agree with you in the fighting game department. So lacking, Only this year we see a few enter the pc zone. SSF IV, MK, Skullgirl. But the rest is lost, Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive,Injustice, Marvel vs Capcom 3, King of Fighter is nowhere to be seen.
      Oh, and how many jrpg you see in PC?

  2. RedViv says:

    I think that’s the same really pants demo from way back.
    Did enjoy the full game. Hope is not lost.

    • The Random One says:

      I once tried a pants demo. It fit really well, but the final product was too short (it only went as far as my ankles).

      Nowadays I only buy pants on bundles.

      • PostieDoc says:

        Why on earth would you want pants that went down below your ankles?
        My pants fit snugly around my crotch and buttocks, as any civilised pair of pants would.

    • darkChozo says:

      Ooh, that’s good to hear. I remember playing that demo and it being terrible (and yes, it matches John’s description quite nicely), it pretty much turned me off to the game. Might considering delving into the full one then.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Well that’s good to know. I played the Xbox demo way back and thought the game was going to be utter garbage. It boggles my mind why a company would put out a horrible demo that gives their game a bad impression, when in reality the game itself is better.

  3. Thirith says:

    As they say, “It gets better.” The beginning is one of the worst parts of the game, and it never becomes a *great* title, but as a third-person action game it’s pretty good. It also offers bits that only become accessible after later upgrades, although not to the extent of your usual Castlevania (from what I’ve heard, at least – I never played any of the side-scrolling ones).

    For me, it’s the typical purchase I would have regretted at full price but was quite happy with once it had come down to 1/2 or 1/3 of the original price.

  4. Paul says:

    Everyone knows the demo part of the game is by far the worst part, it all gets much better from there. Of course with Konami’s stupidity, they would release this part as a demo, what with being idiots and all.
    Still, at least it served as a nice benchmark, the game is extremely well optimized and looks great. I have it bought and paid for already.

  5. tnzk says:

    To be fair, Metroid Prime kinda showed us it’s a-okay to shake up the formula just a bit.

    I’ve played this new Castlevania on a console though, and it wasn’t my cup of tea. You have to be Ninja Gaiden or Bayonetta level calibre to get my attention in the hack-n-slash genre.

    • boe2 says:

      Except the concept of Metroid Prime stayed pretty much the same: It was a metroidvania platformer, but in 3D. They actually pulled it off.
      The 3D castlevania games? Ugh…shameless abuse of the Castlevania brand to sell a rather bland hack&slash.

    • onsamyj says:

      “Other M” was different too. Actually, there is a ton of examples of games changing their formula or even genre, so I just think it’s old man grumbling from John, nothing more.

      • RedViv says:

        We don’t talk about Other M. For various reasons.

        • gschmidl says:

          THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY THE…

        • onsamyj says:

          But it’s bad/good not because it’s different “Metroid”, but because it’s bad/good game.

          • Baines says:

            You can take “good” out of that sentence. No need to confuse people who haven’t played it.

    • ramirezfm says:

      Actually in my book this is right behind Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta for the button mashing chop chop action. Haven’t played the new DMC too much tho. Never played the demo, but the full game was flat out fun and very well done, so I don’t understand John’s hate here.

  6. Anthile says:

    Well, the only thing I remember about this game is Yahtzee freaking out about it having a Portal reference.

  7. bVork says:

    Castlevania doesn’t really have much of an identity outside of whips and vampires. The series has covered tons of genres: linear 2D platformer, weird nonlinear sidescroller, Tomb Raider clone, 3D fighter, Super Metroid with experience points, Devil May Cry clone, first-person arcade game, and even a puzzle game.

    If anything, I’d say Lords of Shadow actually hews closer to the 8-bit and 16-bit games than many of the titles in the series since then. It’s a beautiful game with solid combat and solid platforming with a story that babbles endlessly for too long and then finishes surprisingly strongly. I enjoyed it on console and will definitely be getting it again on PC, since the primary issue with the console version is mostly rectified: the sub-30 framerate.

  8. GamesInquirer says:

    Other fans might have similarly wondered in the past: why take a pure 2D platform game series with finely honed challenging gameplay and water it down with RPG elements, while removing most of the navigational and boss difficulty? There’s always indie games like Odallus: http://tinyurl.com/odallus

    • icemann says:

      Considering the fact that Symphony of the Night is seen by many as the pinnacle of the Castlevania franchise, I find that very hard to believe.

      If it’s not in 2D it’s not Castlevania. Simple. I completely agree with John on this one.

      • GamesInquirer says:

        I didn’t speak for everyone. I’ve not seen any fan Castlevania discussion on places that aren’t so PC centric without any people showing more love for games like Rondo of Blood or Super Castlevania IV, but feel free to doubt.

  9. nimbulan says:

    I have to say I agree with your assessment of the game. I knew nothing about it before I tried the demo and was expecting something like Darksiders since that seems like the natural progression from the 2D games into 3D. What I got was Devil May Cry 5 as narrated by Captain Jean Luc Picard. The enemies constantly spawning behind the fixed camera during the tutorial doesn’t give me much faith in the rest of the game either. No thanks.

    • Yuri says:

      It has very, very little to do with Devil May Cry.

      As a full game, it’s much more similar to God of War. In a very good way.

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        How does that make it in any way different from DMC then?

  10. Kamen Rider says:

    Now this is the top notch journalism I like seeing on RPS.

  11. tomek says:

    Who would want a game like this? The new devil may cry is far better at the same thing, the Batman games are better though different and the old castlevania titles like dracula x or symphonie are better at being you know Castlevania games. No, thanks.

    • PatrickSwayze says:

      But DmC is terrible??

      I mean, it’s genuinely shite.

      Castlevania is better in every way, plus it’s about four times longer and has none of that Emo teenager thing going on

    • ramirezfm says:

      Umm. No! Twice! First no. DmC is not better than Castlevania. Second no. DmC is not shit. It’s way better than I was expecting. The emo kid is bearable and the gameplay is fun. This said Castlevania is still a better game.
      Bringing Batman games into the mix? I’m not saying it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but it’s like comparing grapefruits to bananas.

  12. Njordsk says:

    Definitively getting this. Smooth port, nice action game and consequent lenght.

  13. DaftPunk says:

    Seriously RPS ??? I played demo two days ago already..You should do this kind of stuff quicker. Otherwise demo was decent,my only grip with game is that it looks way to gloomy.

  14. honuk says:

    you realize there was an entire decade of Castlevania games that had no RPG influences, right?

    I mean sure this game is shit but please don’t pretend you know something about a series when you clearly don’t

  15. Shiri says:

    John Walker, I think you are massively underrating this entire genre of 3D beat-’em-ups. Several of them (DMC3, Bayonetta, arguably the new DMC though that has some big problems) are actually very technical, skilled games when played at higher difficulties. I know they’re console games so you probably haven’t tried them enough to see the appeal, but speaking as someone who has always had a PS* console alongside a PC, you are definitely missing out by blanketly lumping them together as “button mashers.”

    • Wedge says:

      Other than the new DMC, those are made in Japan. This isn’t, and likewise no other 3d action game made outside of Japan is either.

  16. maximiZe says:

    Hack&Slash isn’t even a dominant genre on consoles.

  17. GamesInquirer says:

    Huh, I can’t believe nobody else thinks From Software’s Souls games best resemble a 3D Metroidvania game. The only real difference is that you only open up different areas and shortcuts by acquiring items and defeating bosses rather than via new skills, though the effect is the same.

  18. Yuri says:

    Just ignore the part of it where it’s called Castlevania. It’s Lords of Shadows.

    It’s just not a Castlevania, but it’s a great game nonetheless.

  19. Jakkar says:

    It’s horrible. Utterly vile. I’ve finished this one on the PS3 some years back, it was a struggle for the sake of a friend who loved the story, watching over my shoulder.

    It only gets worse. A few fantastic visual designs for enemies and environments, and one or two great pieces of music in an otherwise forgettable score – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8Uqy9L_xtk stands out in particular, in an apocalyptic otherworld of suspended spires of rock, as you complete an intriguing puzzle on a grand scale.

    A game made by people who do not understand fun, only how to cargo-cult the appearance and surface functions of earlier games. Tragic waste of a great team of artists.

    If you do stick around, I wish you the pleasure of Patrick Stewart engaging in one of the most embarrassingly awful plot-twist gloating monologues you’ll ever hear, right near the end, before Jason Isaacs inexplicably turns up as an overblown and underwhelming end boss.

    • Azradesh says:

      Absolute bollocks, it may not be the greatest of games and it may not be an old school Castlevania, but it is far from being a bad example of its genre.

      It’s best played as it’s own game though, because it was never meant to be a Castlevania title, that branding was slapped on at the last minute.

      • Philomelle says:

        You’re thinking of Order of Shadows, a mobile title. Lords of Shadow was meant to be a Castlevania from the very first moment, they only didn’t use the Castlevania title during development because they didn’t want to reveal it too early. Hideo Kojima personally hunted down the studio and gave them backup on developing the title.

        They rebooted it because nobody in Konami wanted to work with the original series’ lore anymore.

        • Azradesh says:

          No not confused at all. All the early marketing material just called it, “Lords of Shadow”. It wasn’t hidden as a Castlevania game, it just wasn’t a Castlevania game.

    • Lemming says:

      I think you’re all nuts. This and the SNES Castlevania are the only Castlevania games I think are worthy of note. Trying to be hipsterish and saying it’s not Castlevania, when it clearly fucking is, is just wanky.

      1. Chain whip
      2. Vampires
      3. platforming

      That’s all Castlevania ever was, and this does that with panache, even adding in backtracking options from the later titles, an impressive orchestral score, some memorable bosses and enemies and a few fun puzzles. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful to look.

      EDIT: Seriously, the music is fucking epic:

  20. CobraLad says:

    Talking horse appears when epiciest of scores plays. I shoul d take it with straight face.

  21. hideinlight says:

    Is this like Dark Souls?

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      It is not. It’s very much like God of War, but with (I think) slightly more interesting combat.

    • Jakkar says:

      God of War ripoff with borked, dull, slow combat.

  22. maximiZe says:

    Can you guys stop calling DmC (Donte must Cry) ‘DMC5′ and ‘DMC’?

  23. LennyLeonardo says:

    I enjoyed this back in 2010 (mostly because of the great gothic design), but why port this and not Metal Gear Rising: Revengeanenence? Hopefully it’ll happen, because that game is wonderful.

    • RedViv says:

      Don’t worry, the ridiculous glory of Reventributiopaybackengeance is already confirmed for PC.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      As a hack ‘n’ slash/beat ‘em up fan, I’m very much interested in Revengenanasauce.

      As a Metal Gear fan, Revengeagologo13pants make me throw up in my mouth.

    • Lemming says:

      This is probably for gaining hype as the sequel is coming out soon.

  24. clumsyandshy says:

    Very pants demo.

  25. Azradesh says:

    You may mock it, but I loved it. I loved the world, the story and the combat. It may not be a true Castlevania game but, I for one, am very glad that it isn’t another bloody 2D sidescoller.

  26. Eight Rooks says:

    Castlevania? Inventive? You do know that the series was tanking and nobody was buying them because they basically hadn’t changed since Symphony of the Night, yes? And I say that as someone who’s played most of the Metroidvanias. The last “inventive” 2D Castlevania was the multiplayer-boss rush-thing Harmony of Despair IIRC, and look how that ended up. Show me a PC-exclusive third-person action title with art and sound design as good as Lords of Darkness, with combat as thrilling – and challenging on harder difficulties – and I’ll pay attention. (Or you people could just keep dredging up your rose-tinted childhood memories of Die By the Sword and Severance, I suppose. Oh, Christ, my sides.) Otherwise, yet more stuffy PC MASTER RACE waving away a dirty consolebox game because it, gasp!, dares to have fun with a low fantasy plot that takes itself seriously, and doesn’t try to be a singleplayer MMO. I mean, Christ, I quite liked Darksiders II, but I gave up after twelve hours or so as I was yawning too much and haven’t been back. Lords of Shadow comfortably flattens that franchise. The trailer for the sequel is one of the few things this year that genuinely gave me chills, I was that excited to see it turn up.

    Tomb Raider was “horrible. Utterly vile”. Bioshock Infinite was tedious, insultingly overblown nonsense without an ounce of depth to the gameplay or emotional weight to the narrative. I’m sure I’ll find this hasn’t aged as well as it could have done – it was far from perfect to start with – but I’ll still take it back over the vast majority of big-budget titles this year, on any format.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      This too was a big budget title, you’re not exactly rooting for an underdog here.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Sorry, that wasn’t my intention – I meant that it still more than holds up against the big-budget stuff released now, and in many cases easily eclipses the competition, not that I thought it was an indie game or a B-lister or whatever and needed defending as if it were one.

        EDIT: Oh, and add the Batman games to the list. For all their technical excellence I can’t stand how soulless and calculated they seem – finishing Arkham City was a chore that almost put me to sleep. Give me a story that actually gets me caught up in its soapy melodrama any day, and makes me care about what’s happening, even if it is still ultimately a Saturday morning cartoon.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “You do know that the series was tanking and nobody was buying them because they basically hadn’t changed since Symphony of the Night, yes?”

      My copies of Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, Aria of Sorrow, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia all say “Fuck you!”

      • Eight Rooks says:

        You do know that “But but but I bought all the games in the series” doesn’t invalidate what I just said, right? I played pretty much all of them myself, and much as I liked them (not a fan of the ‘classic’ titles, but I liked the Metroidvanias), they were stuck in a rut since the first of the DS games. Konami publically said sales had been falling, reviews were getting more and more fed up with the lack of any meaningful progression at all – I’m sorry if you seriously think Super Metroid + vampires is the holy grail of game design and never want to let it go, but I wanted something new. Rather a lot of other people plainly wanted… well, something else, at the very least. BESTEST GAMES EVAR, U SUCK is a pretty weaksauce rebuttal, I’m afraid.

  27. Stormworm says:

    I registered a quite a while ago, but never got around to commenting. I just popped in to say that this game indeed gets a lot better after the painful start. You also cant button smash your way through, since most enemies in the game dont get hit stunned, which in turn means you have to keep dodging in and out to do your combinations and not get hit yourself. The better you do that, the more the game rewards you with the dual magic system, light and dark (healing and damage). Getting hit constantly means you wont fill your magic meter which you are going to need to heal yourself and quickly deal with the more annoying enemies.

    I would not call it a technical hack and slash however. The combo system and air juggling do not offer enough depth. Overall, it is a good game with average combat and some interesting puzzles thrown in. It is a spin off, so it wont effect the main series and we will most likely get more traditional Castlevania games. I’d like a new Symphony of the Nights style of game. One can dream…

    Back to lurking.

  28. John Walker says:

    I’m always impressed by people’s willingness to spend time expressing their fury, but not having the time to read the thing they think they’re cross about.

    I said that I’ve heard the game is good! But the demo, which I’m writing about here, is utterly terrible, and would put anyone off playing the game. Which is what I wrote.

    Sigh.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      If I may…

      I think part of the problem may be:

      I remain mystified as to why third-person action games called Castlevania exist. Why take one of the most inventive and interesting side-scrolling RPG platforming series, and reduce it down to the same combo-driven button mashing combat-fest that dominates so much of the console market?

      It comes across as if you’re saying, “why did they bother to make a 3D Castlevania? They should have made an old-school side-scroller instead of some console button masher.”

      While your review, itself, is of the demo, it does kind of ring of you being dismissive of the game, as a whole.

      Also, people’s reading comprehension is absolutely terrible. Seemingly, about 80% of internet fights start because some moron can’t properly string the words in a sentence to properly decipher the intent, so they grab on to one or two words and then project their own twisted interpretation.

      -edit- To illustrate the later point: You could say, “I don’t like cheese,” and someone will immediately jump up and say, “why are trying to ban cheese, you vegan-Hitler faggot!?”

      • Philomelle says:

        Pretty much this.

        Castlevania series is very old and while its fans are few nowadays, most of us are incredibly dedicated to the franchise. Calling the demo terrible is fine in my book (they should have put in the third stage, not the boring first two), but then it descended into OPINIONS on the franchise and the game’s relation to it that came off very badly.

    • onsamyj says:

      BlowFish much?

      Seriously, everyone here read what you wrote as “In my times Castlevania was 2D, as God intended! Get out of my lawn, you pesky teens you!” Anything after that, about demo, and that “I understand the full game is supposed to be pretty decent” doesn’t matter, ‘cause you already judged game as unworthy.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        I don’t think John meant it to quite come across as that. I think it was more of “my rose-glasses-tinted memory” than him downplaying the advances of technology. I also think that, while he might not have expressed it in the most eloquent of ways, he was suggesting that it’s a shame that Castelvania has turned into a button-masher rather than keeping with its more puzzle and platform, hidden-item, crazy secrets, open-worldish vibe that was so popularized and cemented into almost every old-school gamer’s mind by Castelvania 2.

        The backlash to this article, IMO, is a bit overblown. The demo is terrible. It really is. And, unfortunately, that does give you a bad impression of the game, which is a shame. It’s a shame when the demo sours what is, purportedly (I can’t say as I haven’t played it), a really great game.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      No, you wrote “Why take one of the most inventive and interesting side-scrolling RPG platforming series, and reduce it down to the same combo-driven button mashing combat-fest that dominates so much of the console market?”, which comes across as needlessly grumpy, reductive, elitist and possibly ignorant into the bargain. Other people have said it, but again, Castlevania hasn’t been inventive or arguably interesting for years, which is why fewer and fewer people were buying the games, and if I remember right even the guy in charge of the 2D instalments publically said he was getting tired of making them. Plenty of third-person action titles on consoles are arguably deeper, challenging and more aesthetically interesting than anything on PC, let alone tired, dated game concepts that started going down the pan ages ago.

      On a rather more subjective note, I really, really liked the demo. I remember thinking at the time it was stupidly short and rather simple, but I thought the production values were astonishing – and yes, I mean I sat there thinking “Wow” with my mouth repeatedly falling open – I thought the combat promised some interesting things if the full game continued in the same vein and built on these moves in the way third-person action titles were wont to do, and while the fixed camera angles were slightly annoying they weren’t remotely a deal-breaker. And I wanted to see where the wonderfully po-faced grimdark gorgeously fleshed out campy gothic plot went, even if Sir Pat and Begbie seemed a little too concerned about where their paycheques had got to.

      So, yeah. I’m genuinely sorry it didn’t win you over, John, but while I do honestly like RPS getting more confrontational this particular instance of that just comes off as “Things were better in the old days, when I could count every pixel on the screen, and silly videogame stories knew their place” etc., etc.

    • Shooop says:

      You give the strong impression that you hate the departure of the series from 2D platformer to 3D God of War wannabe very early on. People stop reading there and respond.

      Rest assured, you’re absolutely right about the demo being terrible. It’s also really bad on consoles too. I haven’t a clue about the finished product, but I think God of War took the genre as far as it could go already so I’m not interested enough to try the full game. Especially since it’d set me back $40-60.

  29. Philomelle says:

    Have you actually researched the franchise you’re talking about?

    Lords of Shadow is a Castlevania. It’s classical Castlevania gameplay to its very core – a platforming brawler with inventive jumping puzzles, random secret paths and breakable walls scattered across the elaborate wilderness of its otherwise mostly linear levels, a huge weapon arsenal, massive bosses, dark and gothy design + a story that seems to take itself too seriously, but turns out to be quite good.

    It’s exactly the way Castlevania was before Symphony of the Night came out and suddenly Konami decided that cloning it endlessly is the way to do. Now don’t get me wrong, Symphony was an excellent game. So were the Sorrow duology, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclessia. It should be noted, however, that before Konami figured out exactly what made Symphony right through those titles, they went through the dreadfully soulless Circle of the Moon, awkward and blotchy Harmony of Dissonance, as well as almost good but prone to endlessly dragging Lament of Innocence.

    Lords of Shadow happened because the part you consider “inventive” about Castlevania stopped being inventive. It was milked dry by the series’ portable titles and the developers ran out of ways to keep it fresh. On top of it, bringing over that Metroidvania gameplay into the 3D titles simply didn’t work. The combat and character progression ideas were okay, but the massive Castlevania-style locales ended up dragging badly and the experience suffered from it. Konami needed to find a better way to evolve the series and they chose to go back to the series’ very strong roots as a platforming brawler. All they did was update it into 3D.

    It should also be noted that none of the writing team in Konami wanted to work with the original Castlevania lore anymore. It was too crowded, too bogged down by its own concepts, with almost every decade of the series’ 8-century long timeline being occupied by one game or another. There was no more place for new characters or storylines in there. The only story that remained untold, the Great War of 1999, was purposefully avoided because its descriptions proved too epic to easily make into a game without fans being underwhelmed.

    Castlevania needed a reboot. Lords of Shadow may not be the finest game known to man, but it’s still one of the best games in its genre on the market and it’s a fitting way to restart a series that was too bogged down by its own concepts for either fans or developers to care about it any longer.

    • Lemming says:

      hear, hear.

    • Shooop says:

      The demo does a hilariously piss-poor job of showing that then!

      • Philomelle says:

        I did hear that playing a two-chapter demo of a 50-chapter game isn’t very representative of a complete experience, much like reading the first chapter of Fellowship of the Rings isn’t very good at conveying the experience of reading the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy and chewing on uncooked pasta doesn’t feel quite like eating spaghetti.

        No idea why that is. Witchcraft, I guess?

  30. strangeloup says:

    I think my main problem with Lords of Shadow was its length; there was just too damn much of it. It goes on and on and on and on and on forever, it’s a fair while before you even get told you’ve got to defeat these four bosses because macguffin or something, then it takes another age to even get to the first one. I gave up soon after that, but I suspect there’s other things you have to do after you’ve done in these four big bads as well.

    The dialogue is fairly terrible as well, despite some of the main characters being voiced by famous folk. And it’s not even terrible in a funny way, like Darksiders.

  31. Totally heterosexual says:

    “Why take one of the most inventive and interesting side-scrolling RPG platforming series, and reduce it down to the same combo-driven button mashing combat-fest that dominates so much of the console market?”

    YES

    EXACTLY

    Fuck the lords games. Any talk about them supposedly being similar to the classic, more linear castlevanias is horseshit since those games did not have a piss easy GOW esque combat system, skippable puzzles (The best FUCKING parts of the game) and terrible Sotc wannabe colossus fights. Fuck the new story and fuck Gabriel in the ass with the sharp part of the vampire killer. Grrr.

  32. XhomeB says:

    I think the problem I have with this game is that it’s of the DMC/god of war type – when I think of Castlevania, I think of platforming, castle exploration and whipping ancient creatures. Button mashers don’t fit that description in its entirety. The platforming in Lords of Shadow… well, it pretty much doesn’t exist.

    Still, it’s a beautiful game and runs flawlessly, so I might buy it at some point.

  33. MadTinkerer says:

    “I remain mystified as to why third-person action games called Castlevania exist.”

    Although it took longer for it to happen in Japan than it did in the West, it’s at least partly the result of original creators having less and less influence before being driven from the companies, and then clueless execs decide they are qualified to make design decisions based on graphs. In this case, the graphs say that platformers are Old Games and third person action games are New Games and therefore Hip.

    What’s really fun is trying out the new “Castlevania” demo on the 3DS and realizing in horror that they’ve tried to backwards-engineer the third person game’s mechanics onto a 2d platformer. It’s as bad as ham-fistedly slapping Halo game mechanics onto a Duke Nukem game, which I still can’t quite believe actually happened…

    Also, Megaman was nearly rebooted as an FPS, and when that failed the execs decided that instead of blaming themselves for fucking with the franchise, people didn’t just want more Megaman, period. Just like what happened with Syndicate!

    Also, Final Fantasy on the iPhone turned out to be even worse than people feared!

    Goddamn you, Bobby Kotick, stop giving Japanese executives marketing advice!

  34. ziusudra says:

    I must also vouch for this game. Its a really nice lengthy action\platformer, I enjoyed the hell of the pc versions of Darksiders. Demo does not favour the game.

  35. Superfasty says:

    Actually I think the demo is the best part of the game. I went on to buy the full game based on it and couldn’t even make it a quarter of the way through thanks to the terrible fixed camera that often guided you the wrong way, hokey combat and don’t even get me started on the boss fights that try to invoke God Of War and fall HARD with convoluted and confusing QTEs.

    The best things about the game are the little sketch animations of your moves in menu. Make a 2D game withs those as your sprites next time and I’m sold!

  36. mLocke says:

    IGA is why.