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As the press tours surrounding Deck13 and City Interactive's Lords of the Fallen continue to make their way across Europe and elsewhere in the world, it's no surprise that new previews for the action RPG have once again started to appear on the web.
In combat you're not given any hints on how to take down an enemy, instead you'll be relying on your own experiences. You will also die quite a bit while trying out different techniques, though I settled for the traditional sword and shield approach. The first enemy encountered in the demo was rather easy to kill off, but the next two were pretty troublesome. These wraith-like creatures were quite fast and powerful, with death not even enough to stop them. In fact if you didn't leave quick enough at least one of them would resurrect and come for you again. After fighting these two the challenge only got more difficult.
The next enemy to step up was a huge knight armed with a very large shield and sword. The first couple of times I faced him I died almost instantly from the charge attack, as I didn't get my shield up in time. The time when I beat him took a little while as it consisted of blocking his swings and trying to land one on him. You could press circle to try and dodge his attacks too, though since the fight took place in a rather small corridor, it wasn't the most well advised move.
There are several little things that make me like this game a bit more than the onslaught that Dark Souls brings. Firstly, the lockable camera allows you to keep your focus in battle on a specific target and is easily switched. That's a great help for the amount of times you duck and roll and keeps you in the fight rather than bouncing off the environment and getting one-hit-smashed to oblivion. You'll find special challenges throughout the map that are dimensional portals. When you die the ghost of you remains, like Dark Souls. Except, this can be an advantage as your ghost gives you a health buff while you're in the vicinity of it. I used it, once I died to a boss, as a health regeneration point and kept it there so I could fight the boss around this buff. You won't get the XP straight away but it's a nice tactical approach that can aid you. Strike combos make you feel like you're achieving some awesome damage, much like a Dynasty Warriors game would. The influences from other games are very noticeable but that isn't to the detriment of Lords, in fact it accentuates its positives.
Those positives are that the game is very easy to play, the control mapping isn't all over the place and uses held buttons rather than complex D-Pad selections. In fact you can select and deselect your favourite consumable options to make the D-pad essentially your healing potion button. The art is visually stunning and each area feels as atmospheric as Dark Souls and the enemies are just as nasty looking as those in Doom and other horror/fantasy games. The demonic mini-boss I faced reminded me of the devil from Dungeon Keeper which has always looked incredibly cool. The game is tricky and challenging but not in the constant death way of Dark Souls. You don't get that sense of frustration that sometimes Souls gives you. The game gives you the right amount of options to be able to carve your own Harkyn and your own style of play. The bosses do different things during their battles and it makes fighting them more challenging than just noticing their attack and vunerability cycle. The extras are nice to find and don't completely obscure you playing the game and keep you in the world more so than the Elder Scrolls games do.
Even the backstab - a favorite from Souls games, which if you manage to circle around an enemy and attack from behind, locks in an animation and dishes out critical amounts of damage - makes an appearance.
Its systems outside of combat are also very familiar. Reaching a checkpoint restores your health and potion quota, and while enemies won't respawn as a direct result, leaving the area or dying will see them reappear. Dying requires you to reach your point of demise in order to recover your experience, except here it's more of a race, since experience gained gradually ticks down the longer you take, which is a welcome means of adding tension.
And Push Start Play:
I figured the checkpoint was going to be full of the aggroed enemies when I respawned and I had ruined the playthrough for myself, however upon respawning they were nowhere to be seen. Going through a tunnel in front of me I fought a shielded enemy and yet again the camera decided to stick extremely close to me. You seem to be punished in this game for trying to fight in tight a space, which means that you just shouldn't do it, however I do not think that is an intentional design mechanic.
Finally I found myself at the end boss and sat back for a bit to try and figure out how he fought. To some degree I understood and was able to whittle his health bar down a bit, but he killed me on multiple attempts and with a queue forming behind, and various technical hiccups, I decided to step away.