Games of the Generation: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
- Posted August 8th, 2013 at 19:48 EDT by Garri Bagdasarov
This article may contain spoilers.
For over 20 years, Castlevania has been a landmark series for Konami, releasing over 30 games since its incarnation in 1986. Primarily known as a side-scrolling action game, Castlevania has not had the best success moving into three dimensions.
In 2009, Konami announced Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, developed by MercurySteam with Kojima Productions overseeing the project. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was announced as a reboot to the franchise and would explore the origin of the Belmont clan. It was released in October 2010.
Lords of Shadow stars Gabriel Belmont on his quest to find the God Mask to revive his recently deceased wife at the hands of the monsters Gabriel is sworn to fight. Gabriel, a member of the Brotherhood of Light, sets out on a quest to stop the Lords of Shadow who have ravaged the land, setting lycans and vampires upon its citizens. The game's story is brought to life by stellar voice work from Robert Carlyle and Golden Globe winner Sir Patrick Stewart, who portrays Gabriel's companion Zobek, who acts as the narrator during Gabriel's quest.
The game's combat borrowed heavily from other games, but was able to set itself apart. The Belmont clan's whip has become their iconic signature weapon, but Gabriel instead uses a Combat Cross, a cross that extends with a chain that acts as a whip. The cross came equipped with a stake that Gabriel uses to not only kill vampires but to execute many of the creatures he encounters. Moving into a 3D environment, MercurySteam did a great job of allowing Gabriel to hit multiple enemies and smoothly move around the battlefield. Gabriel also has the ability to use three different types of fighting styles with his Combat Cross. The Combat Cross allowed Gabriel to attack enemies individually or spin the chain to attack multiple enemies, but Gabriel also possessed light and shadow skills which allowed the player to create over 40 combos.
The game's boss battles were well-designed; climbing a giant golem felt like an epic Shadow of the Colossus battle. Battling the first lycan and watching him go from his human form to his transformed state is just something that must be seen--every battle is intense and exciting. Of course, the Combat Cross was also designed to traverse the environment and solve many of the game's intriguing puzzles.
Though past Castlevanias take place in an actual castle, Lords of Shadow sends Gabriel across multiple locations, from a village ravaged by lycans to swamps inhabited by goblins and a castle occupied by vampires. The environmental design in Lords of Shadow is exceptionally crafted, from old ruins overrun by nature to castle architecture with stained glass windows, to the statue architecture embedded in the walls. The game's puzzles also used the environment to solve everything from standard switch puzzles to more complex endeavors like Combat Chess with a Vampire. All the environments are brought to life with Spanish composer Óscar Araujo's score. Staying true to classic Castlevania rhythm, the Lords of Shadow score was composed to match every environment, always making you feel like you were fighting to save the world.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow has an average score of 85/100 on Metacritic. The game also won "Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media" from the International Film Music Critics Association. PSU gave Castlevania: Lords of Shadow an 8.0, with an average user score of 9.4.
With so many failed attempts to bring Castlevania to 3D, Konami turned to a Western developer to try their luck, and MercurySteam did not disappoint. With a 12- to 15-hour campaign, an award-0winning score, and a post-credit ending that no one saw coming, Konami's PS3 Castlevania reboot not only surprised, but satisfied, on multiple levels.
Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, a side story that takes place 25 years after Lords of Shadow, was released on Nintendo 3DS in March 2013. A sequel, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, is scheduled to release this Holiday season. Castlevania fans have a future to be excited for.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is just one of many "Games of the Generation," so stay tuned to PSU as we showcase more of what we consider PS3's very best. If you agree or disagree with Lords of Shadow, let us know in the forums or comments below.