Lords Of The Fallen

Lords Of The Fallen

They get knocked down, and don't get up again...


Developed by CI Games and Deck13 Interactive, Lords Of The Fallen is third person action RPG.  Seemingly a combination of series such as From Software’s Souls games, and the now non-existent THQ’s Darksiders, Lords Of The Fallen takes inspiration from a great many places and amalgamates them into something of its own with the ever familiar dark medieval fantasy backdrop.  Now… I can’t really speculate in regards to Darksiders similarities outside of the aesthetic as I played very little of its first instalment, and what I saw didn’t exactly wow me (though I plan to give it another chance when other seemingly more awesome stuff stops coming out/existing).  However, I love both the Dark and Demonic efforts of From so far and this… is not that. 

It’s unfortunate, and likely my own fault, that on discovery of Lord Of The Fallen’s development, I took it for a more of the same type deal while waiting for Bloodborne.  That immediately set up expectations that this game both can’t, and kind of isn’t, trying to meet.  To make matters worse the realization struck that the release version of the game was having massive technical issues.  Sudden unexplainable framerate drops, crashing to desktop, etc.  A small patch post release seems to have fixed that for the most part, but those early days would have been frustrating enough without it all.


In the story you play as Harkyn, a slovenly, proud, lustful, wrathful, greedy, envious glutton whose face is a roadmap of his sinful past.  He also happens to be humanity’s last hope from the Rhogar.  Granted power immeasurable by his wicked ways, he is released from prison to, with the aid of his mentor Kaslo and some others met along the way, embark on mission to purge the titular Lords of the Fallen and, in doing so, all sin from man, possibly even himself.  I can’t help but wonder if any of the Souls games had taken such a straight shooting narrative approach, that the stories found in them would end up being so unimpressive. 

As Harkyn, you’re to choose from two categories from the outset to shape how you plan to tackle the evils ahead.  You have a magic type: Brawling, Deception and Solace, which are essentially sword and boarder fighter, stealthy dual wielder and paladin/cleric type, respectively.  Once your magic type has been chosen, it’s time to pick your equipment type which… well, though you’re not forced, should probably be whichever best reflects your previous choice.  Of course, acquisition of experience along the way, as well as armour and weapons catering to all classes keeps you from ever being locked out from all the game has to offer should you change your mind mid campaign.  That does naturally mean that you would then be shifting stat priority though.


You gain experience through the defeat of enemies both big and small, trash mobs and bosses, which can then be spent at crystals dotted around the world’s many areas.  You have your standard stats, Strength, Vitality, Endurance, Faith, Agility and Luck, each catering to specific class builds, though some naturally still have slight effects across the board, with the exception of luck which is just dumb luck.  Should you fall prey to the realms many dangers before reaching one of these crystals, a ghost will appear at that point, the monsters will respawn, and it’s up to you to fight back to the location without dying to reclaim the lost bounty.  There is an item that can spare you the run should the risk be too high.  Experience is spent to fill up an ever increasing progress bar.  Once filled, you will acquire a point which can then be put toward a stat of your choosing.   You see, this allows for experience to be banked, even if there is no gain in power granted from it.  Experience can also be pooled toward spell points rather than attribute points and each class comes with a set of spells which must first be bought, then added to for further power or duration.

The look of it all is fantastic, while in the demonic realm great black citadels loom over you forebodingly with talon sharp edges.  Malformed terrain hides deadly monsters over the next hill or round the next bend.  The interior of the citadel houses are eerily quiet onyxian halls where a threat may pounce at any moment.  While the realm of the living laysin waste with decrepit cathedrals and decaying structures outline battle-broken barracks and desecrated graveyards.  Harkyn stands defiant and proud (sinful) with his choice of apparel draping off him and his favoured weapon, in my case a great axe, slung over his shoulder.  A tower shield held protectively to his chest.  The armour and weapons look good, there’s no denying it.  The problem with this being that it breaks, what I consider to be, rule number one when it comes to fantasy based video games.  You have to earn the right to look cool.   Within an hour of play, and having made very few notable accomplishments, I felt my armour had reached a level of awesomeness that would be considered good enough for endgame.  Further progression proved this by offering up new and equally cool armour, but by no means superior to that which I already owned, at least as far as appearance goes.


An interesting inclusion comes in the form of runes, which can be found strewn about the place, dropped from enemies, found in chests and so on.  Upon receipt of runes, you find they are sealed with their effects locked away, but rather than being useless inventory fodder, they can be used to unlock certain hidden chests or pathways.  Once at the previously mentioned crystal, their effects can be unlocked or, better still, invested in with experience to boost the effect of what they initially may have been.  Now they’re fully fledged runes with magic resistance or power increases.  They can be socketed in an items slots to boost the effects of the item, so your favourite sword could be a little stronger, or you could lose less energy from a successful block with your shield.

There’s an item I’ve failed to mention until this point, the gauntlet.  Useful to all classes, but mostly beneficial to those planning to put more points into magic than elsewhere, the gauntlet is an offhand wrist mounted magic cannon that comes equipped with three unique modes of fire.  Projectile – a long range piercing shot; Blast – a short range shotgun type attack; and Explosive – which is essentially a grenade.  Each different fire mode can be modded by runes to give them varying effects.  For instance, if you want to slap a little poison on your foe to whittle them down while focusing on staying out of range, it’s recommended to point it into projectile.  Perhaps in a pinch, you need a little breathing room as an enemy is bearing down on you too hard, it’s worth putting a stasis effect in blast, freezing them on the spot for a moment while you gain some distance.  The downside to the gauntlet, aside from the lack of usefulness for the low on mana, is that in choosing it you forego a shield or offhand weapon which, even though momentary, can be the difference between life or death.  Magic types still can, and probably should, keep a shield at hand, but I consider this a nice mix up to the typical Stick-N-Move standard mages have come to accept as the norm.


That’s not to say that going physical is an exercise in monotony, fighter types have a wealth of variety at their disposal, too.  I’m fairly certain that there are no two weapons in the entire game, even those sharing exactly the same type, have the same animation.  Backstab animations may repeat, but standard combos all appear to be defined by the weapons name, less so than the weapons category.  Rogue type players have the bonus of opting for a buckler rather than a hulking great shield, and quick unequipping of it results in a clone of your mainhand weapon appearing in your offhand offering a considerable boost in burst damage should the opportunity present itself.  This can be permanent if you’re confident in your ability evade attacks entirely.

Lastly, combat and enemies.  I’d be lying if I said that it was perfect.  The inclusion of a backstab animation often seems redundantly when the enemies frequently rotate, even during animations, giving little opportunity to get round them and deal so real damage.  It’s fairly easy to be overwhelmed, which is nothing new to the genre, but sometimes you’ll encounter Rhogar so incredibly durable, with a bevvy of unblockable abilities, that you spend more time than you care to simply kiting them.  The boss encounters are not very creative and often outright unfair, swiping on something more times than you can count on your hands only to be taken out ‘just’ as you’re about to finally claim victory is not a satisfying experience, though the game crashing to desktop at these moments really didn’t help matters, either.


All in all, there’s a lot I want to like about this game, a lot I do and a lot I just plain don’t.  The awesome armour in the early stages of the game seemed to make me feel awesome, only for an unblockable attack or poorly warned stun to take me and my bad ass looking Harkyn down with ease.  I’m sure plenty will say ‘he’s hating on it because it’s too hard for him’, and to some degree, maybe that’s correct.  I didn’t want to hate this game, I wanted to love it, and I don’t hate it in the truest sense of the word.  Part of what made me eager for this game was the involvement of Tomasz Gop, who worked on Witcher 2, but more than that, I wanted to see this game succeed.  I still do.  I may not think Lords Of The Fallen is a masterpiece, but I certainly think it’s good enough to merit a sequel and sometimes a game needs time to come into it’s own.  Should a sequel to Lords Of The Fallen arrive, I’ll most assuredly be there.

A PC Steam review copy of Lords of the Fallen was provided by the CI Games PR team.

The Verdict


The Good: Fantastic design | Varied weapons | Unique modes of combat

The Bad: Unimpressive story | Boss encounters leave much to the imagination | Look too cool too soon

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When Cevyn isn’t writing for Codec Moments, he can be found either obsessively feasting on the many facets of geek culture or writing bad, unpublished fiction novels.

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