The Guardian Lord really loves his fire buckets. They might be his greatest treasure; they’re definitely his greatest weakness. Give one of these flaming braziers two solid thumps with your size 15 monster stompers and it’ll sputter out, prompting your opponent a towering warrior in full plate armor, wielding two hooked swords to rush over and reignite it. This is your opportunity to duck in, land a combo, and roll back out before you receive a punishing backhand. Once you’ve figured out this pattern, beating the boss is a question of sticking to it. As it was, so it shall be.


It’s very Dark Souls. It’s also very Darksiders, and that’s what strikes me as I tangle with Lords of the Fallen. The game’s combat system and controls mimic From Software’s action RPG down to the small details, but it also sits neatly in a lineage of third person action fantasy games that stretches from Soul Reaver to Darksiders to Kingdoms of Amalur. But where Dark Souls interrogated the meaning of these games through its narrative and the design of its world, Lords of the Fallen raises no such questions. This is a game about hitting monsters in the face in a series of filigreed gothic ruins. The downside of this is that it’s unlikely anyone will write a heart wrenching op ed about it. The upside to this is that it’s unlikely anyone will write a heart wrenching op ed about it.
Despite the dark nature of the setting, we wanted to make something appealing
 It’s a colorful game despite the grim dark subject matter. “It’s a dark fantasy world, but that doesn't mean it needs to be a game that looks gray, dark and gritty,” says producer Tomasz Gop. “Despite the dark nature of the setting, we wanted to make something that was appealing. It’s stylized. We sought designs that followed that path.

You can see some Warhammer influences, especially the ’80s pen and paper stuff.”
That pulpy feel holds true for the rest of Lords of the Fallen. Despite the technical complexity of the combat system and steep uptick in difficulty represented by the game’s boss battles, Lords is invitingly gamey: there are spells and classes to tinker with, weapons to collect and pattern based boss fights to unpick over multiple attempts. The developers have made an effort to present difficulty in a way that is inviting rather than off-putting. I could have avoided the Guardian Lord for the
time being in favor of exploring side routes and leveling up. I kept at it punting many fire buckets in the process because I wanted to, not because I had to.

“On one side of the line is challenge and reward,” Gop explains. “The other side is frustration. We identified a few things that we reduced or removed, like environmental deaths. We moved save points closer to bosses so that you don’t have to backtrack. But I think you’ll notice that the level of challenge isn't reduced.”