Lords of the Fallen
E3 2014 Hands-On
Derek Heemsbergen Derek Heemsbergen

PS4/Xbox One/PC

Bandai Namco

Deck13 Interactive, CI Games

Action RPG


US Fall 2014

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I double-dagger-dare you to come at me, bro.
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Hey, can I axe you a question?
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Are you an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., by any chance?
"Lords of the Fallen looks and controls almost identically to the games that inspired it, but ironically lacks the "soul" that makes the Souls series so popular."

Aesthetically dark, challenging games with high-risk combat are currently in vogue. Many players, once frustrated by the difficult games of yore and now bored by the hand-holding in other contemporary games, have come full circle in their tastes, once again seeking tougher experiences to sate their gaming needs. CI Games is a Polish developer looking to deliver one such experience to players everywhere with Lords of the Fallen, a gothic action RPG with elements clearly drawn from the ever-popular Dark Souls.

I spent some time with a demo of the game and got an idea of what to expect in the full version. Taking control of a customizable character wielding a giant battle hammer, I explored a dank castle environment, where I fought blind mutants, hulking shield knights, and demonic spiders. My character was able to swap between a one-handed and two-handed stance on the fly, mixing up weak and strong attacks, as well as block and perform a dodge roll — actions all mapped to the same controller buttons as in Dark Souls. In fact, it took genuine effort on my part to keep acknowledging that I truly was playing Lords of the Fallen and not tackling some as-yet-unreleased content from Dark Souls itself. The weight of my character, my enemies' attack patterns, picking up experience from my corpse upon death, the stat point allocation system... even the very environment seemed to have been transplanted rather than newly-created — a woeful conclusion to reach after such a brief time with the game.

Some unique elements kept the demo from being too straightforward, however. The aforementioned mutants flew into a rage if I made too much noise, but I had the option to sneak behind them and avoid combat altogether, which struck me as an interesting strategic option. I also lured a knight onto an unstable portion of the castle floor, causing him to fall to his death — although it's worth noting that my second attempt to do so, which I had ostensibly botched, ended with him stupidly walking into the hole anyway. I imagine that the AI will be improved between now and the game's official release, at any rate. I wish I could have heard the music playing during the demo (if there even was any), because it might have augmented my sense of immersion, but alas, E3's atmosphere is often not conducive to hearing things.

As I played Lords of the Fallen, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was playing a slightly less polished Dark Souls. Aside from differences in interface and enemy design, Lords of the Fallen looks and controls almost identically to the games that inspired it, but ironically lacks the "soul" that makes the Souls series so popular.

© 2014 Bandai Namco, Deck13 Interactive, CI Games. All rights reserved.