First Shot: Castlevania - Lords of Shadow
When I heard I was going to be reviewing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, old memories of the castle crawling franchise came rushing back to my mind: the labyrinthine corridors, the epic tunes, Dracula… good times, those were. It is with those memories in mind that I can say the series’ latest incarnation is a Castlevania in name only.
While LoS immediately differs from the series norm by opting for a third dimension; that design choice is not the object of my scorn. As opposed to essentially every (good) Castlevania since Symphony of the Night, LoS features a streamlined game progression utilizing a level system. Start at point A, fight way to point B, and advance to next level. That tingly sense of adventure you felt when you opened your map for the first time only to see a vast, empty screen? Completely gone.
Combat is equally ho-hum. Main badass Gabriel Belmont hacks his way through unholy baddies with his Combat Cross, a cross fitted with a retractable chain that operates almost exactly as Kratos’ Blades of Chaos. As the game progresses, Gabriel can acquire new combos, but even with an expanded move-set, every encounter feels the same as the last, reducing the action to a snoozefest.
I know it’s too soon to bury Lords of Shadow, but every early indication is forcing me to grab a shovel. Despite the fact that there’s a guy named Belmont who fights with a whip, absolutely nothing about this game feels like a Castlevania. Two and a half hours in, and I haven’t even seen a freaking castle yet. No joke.