A Dark Fantasy Reboot: Lords of the Fallen Returns as an Impressive Souls-like Experience
A Souls-like or Soulsborne game, inspired by From Software’s iconic titles, used to be a novelty. However, back in 2014, the original Lords of the Fallen fell short of replicating the immersive experience that made Souls games so beloved. Now, with the upcoming Lords of the Fallen set for release in 2023, developer Hexworks is offering a second chance at redemption, acting as a reboot for the series.
A Better Understanding of the Genre
As the subgenre of Souls-likes has evolved drastically in recent years, it takes a lot more to stand out amid the sea of similar games. After playing roughly two hours of the new Lords of the Fallen, it’s clear that Hexworks has a better understanding of what makes a good Souls-like game this time around.
“While this new entry still contains lore loosely tying it to the original, 2023’s Lords of the Fallen is completely rebuilt, committing to a much darker fantasy world and offering stronger RPG elements,” says the team at Hexworks.
Fine-Tuned Combat and Engaging Boss Fights
The flow of combat in the original game was one of its weaker aspects. However, in the new Lords of the Fallen, the combat has been greatly improved. The heavy and consequential style of combat that fans of the genre love is back, and it’s better than ever. Every move is a risk-reward scenario, and dodge rolls are your best friend.
From the boss fights and enemy encounters experienced in the demo, it’s clear that the developers have put a lot of effort into creating engaging and challenging battles. Understanding attack patterns and managing stamina played a crucial role in these encounters, and it felt just right.
A Flexible RPG System
Lords of the Fallen features a fluid RPG system reminiscent of the Souls games. While you choose a class template at the start, it doesn’t restrict how your character grows. It serves as a starting point, allowing you to develop your character in different ways as you progress. The demo showcased a class that mixed both a sword and bow, providing both close-ranged melee and long-ranged flexibility.
“There are several ways to build yourself in Lords of the Fallen thanks to a fluid RPG system that, again, is reminiscent of the Souls games,” explains the team at Hexworks.
The Dual Worlds Concept
Lords of the Fallen introduces a unique concept of dual worlds. Axiom, the land of the living, runs simultaneously with the Umbral realm, the land of the dead. This parallel dimension system allows for interesting gameplay mechanics in both exploration and combat.
In Axiom, you can use your Umbral Lamp to see the surroundings in the Umbral realm, which often reveals alternative paths and hidden loot. You can also fully transport yourself into the Umbral realm, exploring its treacherous landscapes filled with undead enemies. However, the longer you stay in the Umbral realm, the more powerful wraiths pose a threat to you. This creates a puzzle-like element to exploration and adds tension and curiosity to the gameplay.
A Second Chance and a Compelling Narrative
Lords of the Fallen offers players a second chance upon death. When you die in Axiom, you immediately resurrect in the Umbral realm and the fight continues. This mechanic, reminiscent of Sekiro’s resurrection, allows for challenging encounters while providing a rebuttal in tight situations.
The game also hints at a vague sense of narrative, with brief cutscenes, audio log-like spirits, and esoteric dialogue. According to creative director Cezar Virtosu, the narrative will unfold as players progress, with various permutations depending on the choices made during the run.
A Dark Fantasy Reimagined
Lords of the Fallen is shaping up to be an impressive dark fantasy game, taking inspiration from the success of the Souls series. With its improved combat, engaging boss fights, dual worlds concept, flexible RPG system, and compelling narrative, the new Lords of the Fallen is set to be an exciting addition to the Souls-like genre.