Lords of the faLLen: Preview

When the going gets tough, the tough get copied
If you would like strangers to understand precisely what dark place you’re coming from then there can be no more simple and effective way of doing so than by first getting yourself a facial tattoo. it’s a trick that not only works, it works permanently and the more amateurish the inking the better. so just ask a chum to pop over with a nail, some ink, a toffee hammer and a few bottles of Buckfast and get to it.

Lacking inspiration? then show them a picture of harkyn, star of a crazily brave and demonstrably convincing attempt to claim some warmth from the heat generated by the popularity of Dark Souls. he may not wear his tats with pride but he certainly wears them with a seething mass of attitude.

unlike the majority of anti heroes you’ll find in the wide world of action based Rpgs, this bald and bearded bad man hasn’t just had meaningless symbols scribbled across his visage in a vain attempt to look a lot more “edgy” than he normally would; each individual marking represents a crime he has committed and as a very bad man he’s inked with a veritable dictionary of felony. unfortunately, when we played some Lords of the Fallen we decided that he’d find battling demons a great deal easier if he wore a full and heavily armoured helmet. not for fashion, but because in this game you’ll need all the protection you can loot.

Armour isn't class dependent, which means that no matter what class you choose to play as you’ll still be able to wear another class’ kit and so not have to worry that it’s been specially designed for cleric or Warrior. sometimes you might actually be advised to get as naked as possible because armour rattles as you move and certain creatures you’ll encounter can only detect you by the sound you make.

the infested we saw, for example, may well be completely blind but their hearing is remarkably acute. get out of your heavy metal clanging garbs and you can saunter through a room that’s filled with the repulsive bastards without having to battle a single one of them, or easily get behind them and perform back stabbing manoeuvres. now that’s a sweet touch, no doubt, and we hope the final game features more such cunning features.

Although undoubtedly inspired by From software’s adventure into a world of utter despair and punishment, what we have here isn’t quite the carbon copy it initially seems. harkyn, for example, is the only character you can play in this story of old gods returning from banishment to find that mankind has mostly eradicated its violent ways that are now only practised by humiliated criminals and so is largely incapable of putting up a fight.

he’s deeply involved in a narrative that can actually be explained in a sentence and he exists in a world in which frequent checkpoints not only soothe the sting of death, they enable players to bank their experience points so they won’t lose them all when they inevitably die. Opt not to bank them, however, and you’ll subtly increase the amount of XP you’ll go on to gain as it all adds to a multiplier system. Want to level up quicker? Then you’re going to need to be a lot braver.

Is it easier to play than one of the hardest videogames ever made? Undoubtedly, though it manages to include a few neat tricks that are designed to only help the player out if they’re observant. A massive enemy Champion (or boss), for example, can prove a painful challenge in direct combat but can be persuaded to chase you over rickety floorboards that will give way to its weight, but not yours. Then there’s weight in general; weapons and armour add to it, and so the more you carry the slower you’ll become but the same can be said for your enemies. Destroy their heavy protection, as we found out, and they’ll become lighter and with that faster, so you’d be advised to swap to lighter armour just to keep up with their increased speed .

Reassuringly, then, our hands on impressions are positive ones. Deck 13 Interactive, after all, is the developer that gave us the decidedly below average RPG that was Venetica and City Interactive last saw daylight with ragged WWII shooter Enemy Front. Lords of the Fallen could well prove a shining light for both, most of all by emulating Dark Souls. It’s set to be a gentler take on the concept, but a welcome one.

On deaf ears
this is one of the infested that  we mentioned. they’re perfectly blind, but have astoundingly acute hearing and so you either want to walk past them as slowly as possible or strip off so you don’t sound like a load of saucepans falling through a greenhouse. of special note is the weird muscle on their backs that seems to reach over and pull on a lever that has sprouted from their right arm and provide it with extra power.

Hands on
Here’s where things get a bit embarrassing. You see, we hadn’t expected to have needed our Dark Souls skills primed so tightly when we popped to London to play the game and so had expected to be able to gallivant around musty corridors while slicing up monsters as if we were pumping through Darksiders. Nope, it was straight into a battle against a Champion and then 20 minutes of death and retry, death and retry. Don’t make the same mistake; it’s going to be a gentler game, but not that gentle.

Gorgeous environments
Excellent creature design
Taught and responsive, controls

Undeniably a Darks Souls clone
Armour slightly too fantastical
We’re still playing Dark Souls II

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