Lords of the Fallen is an action role-playing video game developed by Deck13 Interactive and CI Games. It was released in October 2014 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. Heart of a forsaken monastery to end the reign of the Demon Queen Akasha once and for all. BATTLE GOTHIC MONSTERS IN 1-ON-1 COMBAT Fight against unholy horrors using the steel of your sword and the courage of your conviction. Dodge leviathan fists and counter with a flurry of slashes. Chain together massive combos and deliver unspeakable damage with the edge of your blade. INTUITIVE CONTROLS MAKE EVERY SWIPE COUNT Lords of the Fallen puts the action at the tip of your finger through swiping sword strikes and tapping defensive maneuvers. So long as you have quick wits and even quicker reflexes, you’ll be able to go toe-to-toe against those demonic beasts. CREATE A HERO THAT BATTLES ON YOUR TERMS Be the dreaded Harkyn, scourge of nightmares, the dual-wielding Yetka, or the hammer-handed Kaslo. Find new materials to craft weapons, armor, and amulets and equip your hero in whatever way you desire.
Lords of the Fallen’s formulaic story follows Harkyn, a gruff criminal who’s pulled from behind bars to save the world from interdimensional monsters called the Rhogar. We’re never told the nature of his crimes, however, and Lords repeatedly introduces other characters with only a modicum of characterization. Even the big bad guy behind it all gets only around three minutes of screen time. When the plot tries for a shocking twist near the end of its roughly 17-hour story, it’s hard to care about anyone involved.
The story wants to be something greater, but never quite attains it. It peppers its cutscenes with choices such as whether to chop a monk’s infected arm off or leave it to fester, but significance feels minimal aside from alterations to the final scene after the last boss falls over. Far more interesting are the audio snippets of lore waiting in scrolls scattered about the world of Keystone, which help Harkyn’s world come to life in a way it never manages with the main cast of characters in play.
It’s generally a good looking world, although aside from the welcome lengthy jaunt into the Rhogar homeworld, it’s composed of the usual crumbling castles and snowy peaks. (I like to think that it would have been more interesting had the Rhogar world featured something else besides, well, more crumbling castles and snowy peak.) All in all, I was more fascinated by the look of the gear than the landscape; the bulky, comic book design of characters and weaponry is less “prepare to die” and more “let’s kick some ass.”
As it turns out, that attitude doesn’t undermine the joys of combat. Blocking attacks and rolling out of harm’s way is essential in Lords of the Fallen, at least for the first few hours. Harkyn also encounters some fascinating creatures along the way, such as vaguely Cthulhu-type figures who breathe fire or giant spiders who spew venom. They’re certainly not pushovers, but neither are they even close in difficulty to the monsters Dark Souls fans are used to. In fact, on the mandatory first playthrough before the New Game Plus is enabled, encounters seem balanced for people who were scared away from Dark Souls’ unrelenting emphasis on hardcore play.