In the gaming space being fresh and unique often garners praise, Lords of the Fallen dares to challenge this by being none of these things, instead marching forwards on a path carved by Dark Souls and the original Lords of the Fallen, unashamedly showcasing its unmistakable similarities with everything that came before.
Lords of the Fallen proudly wears its inspiration on its sleeve… but is this a good game? Or a shameless rip off like the Lords of The Fallen that came before?
As everyone knows at this point, I am a huge fanatic of Soulsborne titles looking constantly forwards for the next game that will push my shit in, weathering the merciless storms of all its entries and forever on the quest for the next Soulslike treasure, I find a sense of home in this darkly whimsical realm.
The sinister yet enchantingly beautiful world of Lords of the Fallen captures the quintessence of a Soulslike experience, while embroidering its own unique charm through the awesome Umbral Realm mechanic. This mechanic doesn’t just extend the tactical gameplay world by effectively giving you two worlds to explore each with its own character; it introduces a “last chance” lifeline, a flicker of hope in the ruthless, unforgiving clashes that will smash your head against a wall at every opportunity.
With every step in this cursed land, my Soulsborne fanboy heart races with anticipation for the vicious yet gratifying battles that lie in wait, and the promise of that sweet, elusive victory that only a true Soulslike game can deliver.
Graphically, Lords of the Fallen is very much what we have come to expect… Played Dark Souls before? Yeah it looks like Dark Souls graphically with the crumbling spires reaching into the gloomy heavens and the forest swampy area being very similar to all that came before. However, this is by no means a bad thing. I went into this game WANTING a Soulslike game and graphically Lords of The Fallen delivers.
Sound design, particularly in combat, is robust, with every strike, parry, and magical incantation resonating through the cursed lands, providing a satisfying feedback to the players’ actions. The voice acting is excellent, breathing life into the characters and the eerie narrative.
The combat system is fluid and allows for a fast-paced, aggressive playstyle (almost feeling like a cross between Bloodborne and Dark Souls), encouraging players to engage in opportunity to deliver multi-hit combos. The enemies, though bearing the signature Soulslike challenge, offer a fair battleground to those who master the rhythm of combat, Lords of the Fallen has not once felt cheap or unfair, a balance that many Soulslikes have struggled to maintain in the past.
The world is meticulously crafted with a diverse range of environments, each more menacing and captivating than the last. The level design, looping and intertwining, invites exploration and rewards the curious with hidden passages and treasures.
However, not all that glitters is gold. The journey through these cursed lands is marred by frequent framerate dips, especially on the PlayStation 5, shattering the immersion at pivotal moments. The game just cannot hold the 60FPS on PS5 – the games hub area being a particular nuisance and dropping down well below even 30fps and just looking janky as hell, ruining my immersion as I speak to the games plethora of NPC’s, thus spoiling the moments where the game was injecting me with lore and narrative beats.
This is no more apparent than a quick foray into the Lords of the Fallen subreddit where you will see post after post detailing the discontent over the uneven performance and random stutters, particularly in certain boss fights. I had a boss fight myself dropped under 30FPS and made the game basically unplayable, this was heart-breaking as up to this boss I was enjoying the game so much but in a fight where I am reliant on every I-frame possible, it just ruined much of the game for me.
My anticipation and excitement for the game were palpable, given its promising Soulslike allure and innovative mechanics. Yet, the reality of its technical execution on PS5 has left a bitter taste in the mouth. As I have run through the ominous corridors and faced off against grotesque foes, the performance issues loom like a dark cloud, tainting what could have been a masterpiece. Until these issues are fully resolved, Lords of the Fallen remains a gem with rough edges, its full shine obscured by the technical shadows that dance across its facade.
The story unfolds in the same way you would expect a Soulslike to. Rather than big cutscenes the player is left to find fragments of lore throughout the world by speaking with NPC’s or reading item descriptions. I love this form of narrative, finding that I can pay as much or as little attention to the games overarching narrative as I feel like on any given day, before giving in and just watching a Vaati (or similar) video to understand the game a little better.
The character creation, though fine, leaves much to be desired. The options available are sparse, often resulting in avatars that lack the aesthetic appeal one might hope for in a game of this caliber. The facial features, hairstyles, and accessories on offer are shockingly limited, prioritising simple presets over real character creation – it very much feels like the character creator from Dark Souls 1, which is no issue in of itself because essentially I am just going to throw the first helmet on I come across anyway, so it makes no real odds at the end of the day
In spite of these flaws, Lords of the Fallen stands tall as one of the most unabashed Dark Souls clones, and I adore it for that. It’s a game that not only pays homage to the Souls genre but strives to carve its own identity through innovative mechanics and a hauntingly beautiful world. The realm-hopping magic introduced is nothing short of remarkable, elevating the game to a realm of its own amidst a genre crowded with mediocrity.
There is a fantastic game hidden in Lords of The Fallen, it’s just that so far I haven’t been able to experience too much of it due to technical issues and frame rate dips hiding it. Usually I wouldn’t mind a framerate dip too much but when it happens every time the game throws more than one enemy at me, it’s ruining my immersion in the title.
Since I have had it, I have had almost a daily update that have, to its credit, been fixing some of the issues so I may come back and review it with a much higher score because I’d really like to give this game a 9… but with the technical issues in mind I have to give Lords of the Fallen:
7 / 10
Game code provided by publisher.
Written by Luke.
Edited by Alexx.