Fans of soulslike games will be very familiar with the gameplay and mechanics of any new entry to the genre. High difficulty and precision are the name of the game when jumping into any encounter. Lords of the Fallen introduces a few new mechanics that add spice and variety to the traditional formula. If you’re thinking that Lords of the Fallen sounds familiar, you’re right. Back in 2014, a game by the same name was released. The 2023 version takes place in the same universe about 1,000 years later.
In Lords of the Fallen, you play as a Dark Crusader on a mission to overthrow the demon god, Adyr. You will utilize the Umbral lamp to traverse between the land of the living (Axiom) and the dead (Umbral). You’ll encounter a ton of interesting characters, vendors, and enemies along your journey. To come out on top, you will need to continue to adjust your character and play style to each new challenge. You never know what awaits around the next corner.
One of the first things I noticed when booting up the game is that it looks a lot better than a lot of the entries in the genre. Lords of the Fallen is built in Unreal Engine 5 and you can tell when looking closely at the lighting and particle effects. At times I just let the game sit and take in how good the armor and character models look. I played the game on PS5 and it ran pretty smoothly but I have heard of some issues when it comes to PC. The menu systems have a similar appearance to games like Dark Souls but I didn’t expect much to be different here.
I stated before that Lords of the Fallen introduces a few mechanics that are new to the genre or at least new from the various Souls games I have played. The most unique mechanic you will notice is the Umbral realm. Players will use the Umbral realm to solve puzzles and discover secrets throughout the various maps. As you make your way through the game, you will notice white moths or butterflies. This is a sign that there is a secret in the area and you will use your lamp to peek into the other world. I like that you can leave yourself vulnerable to enemies in the other realm while you do this. I think it is a nice treat to catch players off guard. When it comes to combat, there are a couple of interesting mechanics added when it comes to the Umbral lamp. One forces you to use the lamp to assist in defeating shielded enemies. You can also use the lamp to pull enemies towards you or throw them off of ledges.
The Umbral lamp also gives players a second chance at life. When a player dies, you are resurrected in the land of the dead. You respawn with reduced health that you can recover by attacking enemies before taking any additional damage. This is one of my favorite additions as a player that is prone to dying. It is a lot of fun playing in this space but you have to be aware of your time spent. You get a multiplier when you collect the in game currency while in Umbral but when that multiplier maxes out, you are hunted by a grim reaper of sorts. This was very surprising and entertaining the first time this enemy appeared. I found myself dashing past all enemies and loot in order to find my next checkpoint.
Combat will vary depending on the character or build you decide to go with. When you first create your character, you will be able to choose from nine starting classes. You will also be able to unlock an additional four classes as you play further into the game. Your starting class gives you a ton of variety when it comes to how you want to play the game. Even though your starting class dictates your stat distribution and armor, you can customize your character more to your liking as you play and gain more experience points. If you are a die-hard Dark Souls gamer, the controls may feel a little sluggish at times. I needed to take some time to perfect blocking, parrying, and understanding the various stance changes. When you get the parrying system down, you can execute enemies using finishing moves which was a fun addition to combat. One thing that many players will notice that is different from other games is the amount of enemies that will attack you at a given time. In similar titles, your encounters will consist of one to three enemies at a time. In Lords of the Fallen, things can escalate fairly quickly. There is no real way to predict this so this can become frustrating.
Lords of the Fallen is a great addition to the Soulslike family. The game feels familiar but brings some welcomed changes that I think many people will enjoy and find challenging. There are so many secrets to experience and there are a ton of different character archetypes to try out. You will encounter the occasional hiccup or quirk but it doesn’t kill the experience. If you are looking for a new challenge, this is a great game to jump into.
Lords of the Fallen is available now on PlayStation, Xbox Series Consoles, and PC.