Have You Played… Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Lords of Shadow doesn’t play like a regular 2d Castlevania game. While there are unlockable abilities that allow you to return to levels and discover new pathways and treasures, it’s a much more linear action adventure. Every played God of War? This is Goth of War. With Shadow of the Colossus type mega-battles against giant enemies.

I love Lords of Shadow. It does loads of things and doesn’t do any of them as well as they’ve been done elsewhere, but it’s the gaming equivalent of junk food. Or a really solid B movie.

You’ve got Patrick Stewart and Robert Carlyle turning in vocal performances that are equal parts hammy and earnest, an plot that veers between monstrous gothic camp and laboured love story, and an upgradeable weapon that is literally a big old cross on a chain.

Yes, this is a game in which you swing a cross on a chain around your head and wallop vampires and werebeasties in the face with it. The crushing combination of a holy symbol and a massive lump of metal smashes just about anything you meet.

Combat is simple enough for just about anyone who’s comfortable with third-person action games to master, the titanic battles are EXACTLY like a cut-rate version of Shadow of the Colossus, and the environments are exactly what you’d expect. Death swamps, creepy castles, elemental temples.

Lords of Shadow doesn’t have more than a couple of original bones in its land of monsters, vampires and skellingtons, but it’s as solid an action game as you’re likely to play. There’s some inventive level design and puzzling later in the story and…fuck it, I’m going to play through the whole thing again. I still haven’t touched the sequel.

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23 Comments

  1. SigmaCAT says:

    I started it, but the use of the oh-so-frustrating-swamp-that-makes-you-move-at-0.0000000001mph for the first levels really drove me away. It was there too in The Evil Within a few years after, but the will to “see what’s after” was strong enough for me to finish it and rather enjoy it, where Castlevania really absolutely lost all my interest even once I made it out the nightmare swamp.

    I made it to the first boss, the ice giant thingy which I found nice, but I really felt left out of the game, with its clichéd cutscenes where your character insists on facing the person the person who talks, then turning his back to give his answer every. Single. Line.

    I’m a dirty young player who hasn’t really been transcended by SotN or the classic ones though, I liked the Sorrow series and the few NDS games that came out.

  2. thenevernow says:

    This is the kind of game I personally want more of. Standing on the shoulders of giants, sure, but why not? Borrowing ideas from platform exclusives and bringing them to the general public, why not? Giving me something to play between releases of “genre-leading” franchises which are sometimes years and years apart (unrelated but think GTA), why not?

    I’m still hoping for a PC release of Dante’s Inferno.

  3. funkstar says:

    I’d stay away from the sequel, Adam. It’s an abomination!

    • Grim_22 says:

      That’s funny, I much preferred the sequel over the first one. I never understood why it got such poor reviews – sure, that one stealth section was abysmal, but that was like, what… 10 minutes of the entire game?

      • funkstar says:

        Just picked this quote from a random review but it pretty much encapsulates my experience:
        Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is a sequel that simply tries to do too much. It fills out its lengthy running time not with deeper explorations of the surgically precise combat, platforming, and cohesive world-building of its predecessor, but with multiple misguided, jarring new elements that all-too often fail to satisfy in their own right. Worse, they make for a diluted, deeply disjointed overall game experience.

        Lords of Shadow (1) was a much more focused experience.

      • vorador says:

        10 minutes? Quite a bit more than that.

        I got fed-up on the second stealth section. Too bad, because the rest of the game was okay-ish.

        • Grim_22 says:

          As I remember it, though it was a long time ago, there was only one section where stealth was forced, and that could be completed in a very short time with a bit of luck. There were other moments where it was encouraged, but you could fight instead. I might be wrong, though… even so, it didn’t ruin what was otherwise a very solid game for me.

  4. Emil says:

    I really like the game, when I first played it, it felt like a game that you could just put down when ever and come back to it, without any problems. It was engaging and had some challenge to it on the harder difficulties. The second game however, we do not talk about, ever.

  5. ts061282 says:

    Really like the memory hole front page… makes old posts seem new again!

  6. liquidsoap89 says:

    I have, and I love it. The risk reward system they designed with avoiding hits to get orbs for your light or dark attacks works incredibly well, and some of the most beautiful screenshots I’ve taken in any game were taken in LOS.

  7. Bradamantium says:

    I bounced off it like a rubber band ball on a trampoline when I first played it, absolutely aghast at how far it strayed from its venerable forebears. But I gave it a second look after seeing some stuff from later in the game, and it’s much better as long as you’re not expecting something traditionally Castlevania-y. Even has some really neat moments, like Baba Yaga and the music box.

    Despite the flak the sequel catches, I enjoyed it more. Mostly due to an abject lack of urban fantasy in gaming (the same reason I load up Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines once every six months) and the way that the sequel goes all in on modern pseudo-Gothic architecture and weirdo horror-tech-soldiers. The stealth sections are awful, but there’s only a few of them, and the story at least is much more engaging than the first game’s “Have dead wife, will travel/fight” yarn.

  8. Bobtree says:

    Playing Dark Souls 2 DLC recently made me want to go back to LOS and tackle the hard mode. It had a few hiccups but LOS was a very strong game overall.

  9. gabrielonuris says:

    Two things:

    First, I wouldn’t compare this series with God of War, but with the Legacy of Kain series, God of War is just a copy-cat of that one;

    Second, I see people saying that this game is unoriginal, but not a single soul can actually drop a freaking list of the games I can expect the same level of awesomeness (besides, ofcourse, Legacy of Kain Series). So, please, if you know what PC games I can play that actually does better, let me know!

    • funkstar says:

      Not sure I agree with you on the Legacy of Kain series comparison. It’s much more in line with GoW (which I really don’t see as a copycat of LoK series) and other games of that ilk (DmC etc).

      With regard to originality, there was a lot that LOS borrowed from other (predominantly console) games, so I understand why people have trouble giving PC games.

      A really good example of this is the fights against giants were essentially slightly worse copycats of Shadow of the Colossus.

      That said, it did do extremely well in bringing those parts together into a coherent whole, which, as I said above, I feel LOS2 is less successful.

  10. vorador says:

    I enjoyed it a lot and finished the game, but got stuck on the DLC boss.

    Oh, and it does one thing really well. It looks pretty. Some great panoramic vistas and scenarios.

  11. HigoChumbo says:

    Spanish game =)

  12. aozgolo says:

    I couldn’t really stick with it, it all felt very lackluster, and doesn’t hold a candle to the 2D Juggernauts of the series. The gameplay felt very toned down, and I hated how cramped and straightforward every level seemed, even the cliffs were just an invisible wall, because lord forbid you’re not skilled enough to not fall down a hole.

    There’s really no thinking involved in the levels, except in the occasional puzzle thrown your way, and outside of the bosses, the normal enemies tend to come down to “press x to not die”

  13. Premium User Badge

    john_silence says:

    I’d stumbled on its store page on Steam a few times, in a bit of a confusion as to its status within a sprawling franchise I don’t know much about except it’s one of the forebears of 2D platforming. Not helped by the fact its first official sequel, Mirror of Fate, looks a lot alike but is a port from a 2D 3DS game I believe. I’m not really into 2D platformers – I mean I didn’t much enjoy Mario on the Gameboy when I was 11 so I’m a lost cause I guess.

    Anywho, this made me want to pick it up! I looked up some gameplay clips and basically cannot not own a game with a Gothic horror vibe of this magnitude. It’s 66% off on Gamesplanet at the moment, too.

  14. Assirra says:

    I liked the game but holy crap it had some of the worst DLC i ever played.
    First one was basically nothing but puzzles and the second was a single level/boss fight full with crap like “run from boss and if he sees you 1shot you and you can restart” and some bullshit attacks. Played the whole game on max difficulty but in the end i had to drop it to normal.

  15. Caleslik says:

    Has anyone been able to run Lords of Shadow on PC with Windows 10 and a Nvadia GPU?

    The .exe doesn’t even seem to launch. There is no window or any other signs of the program launching outside of a CPU working for a second or two, but it never launches.

    I have ran the application in Administrator and also in Compatibility mode to no success. The game ran flawlessly in Windows 8. Purchased on Steam. I have reinstalled and validated the game multiple times with a clean uninstall and even contacted Konami’s support service only being told there is no work support Windows 10.

    A real shame too, I was actually working on making some Youtube content about, I learned the game front to back; with boss tips, collectibles, combo strategies. Only to find out one day it will no longer launch at all.

  16. pillot says:

    You forgot to mention what this game has that every other similar game does not have, and that’s simply the best score written for a videogame in the last 20 years.

  17. icemann says:

    Give me Symphony of the Night or Dracula X chronicles any day over this one.

  18. Vickey says:

    Dear Admin

    I have downloaded the game castlevania lord of shadow earlier
    But unfortunately setup.exe is deleted permanently and i cant recover it
    So i request you that will u please upload only setup.exe for this game