Castlevania: Lord of Shadows Review

I reviewed Castlevania: Lord of Shadows for the PS3, developed by Mercury Stream and published by Konami.

[Story] Gabriel Belmont voice acted by Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, 28 Weeks later, Stargate, Trainspotting) , plays a member of the Brotherhood of Light , a group of Holy Knights who defend and protect people against supernatural creatures. Marie, Gabriel’s wife (Natascha McElhone) was murdered by one of the supernatural creatures. She is trapped between both worlds (Heaven and Hell) and she needs Gabriel to set her soul free. She is a guide throughout the game to help Gabriel achieve his destiny. His goal is to travel to the destroyed land and slay three great evils of the Lord of Shadows. You meet other characters one is named Zobek who is voiced by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: Voyager) who incidentally is also the narrator. There are two masks known as the Devil and God masks that are entwined in the plot. Gabriel seeks to piece together the God Mask in an attempt to bring back his dead wife. Little does he know what dangerous secrets await him. The story was well done even if takes a little to get into don’t just drop it after the first chapter.

[Gameplay] The combat system in the game gives me a very Bayonetta feel for the dodging that can cancel out any simple attacks. I quite enjoyed the battle system a lot more than God of War 3’s because of the skills you can buy with exp. You use a cross that has a whip attached to it which does remind me of the Blades of Exile in God of War 3. BUT and this a big but the extreme variety of skill moves you can buy in the game make the combat seem fresh rather than just constant button mashing that make your thumbs hurt with agony. I enjoyed using light and shadow magic because you can combine your simple attacks and heavy attacks with the magic which opens up more choices to defeat enemies. I especially enjoyed the Holy Cross attack which I saw a similar move in Dante’s Inferno’s teaser trailer where you summon a bright shining light with your cross which makes your enemies burn in the light. This move will become extremely useful for the vampires you face. Unlike most 2D Castlevania games this game is not a platformer, it is a hack and slash and very linear though you do have some room for exploration to find gems to upgrade your health, light and shadow magic bars. The thing that I especially liked in the game was the puzzle aspect the puzzles in the game at times were extremely challenging and clever. You had the option of a hint but where’s the fun in that? The only complaints I had were the camera sometimes became a nuisance when you were in enclosed spaces and the camera would not help you find where to go next like it would in God of War series.

[Presentation] The way the game is presented is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the game so much. The scenery they have in the game is really well done graphics wise. Unlike most Castlevania games this takes place not just in the Castle which is funny since the name is Castlevania but don’t let that make you frown upon the change in locale. You visit besieged towns, forests, castles, deserts. And all the locations are very interesting. The Graphics for the overall game is pretty good. The player models are mediocre but the scenery is extremely pretty which makes you not care about the characters. The soundtrack they choose for the game is an orchestra style. Unlike the 16-bit in the old Castlevania’s I do not think the soundtrack was bad though for a soundtrack which included a lot of songs most of them sounded very repetitive. Though the boss battle music never got old I still think a little more variety should have been chosen for the soundtrack. And I also want to add how I liked the camera in the different environments when you were in rain you would have raindrops on the camera and in the snow you get a frostbitten camera which made me get a cool “oooo and awweee” effect.

All in all I quite enjoyed this game I pre-ordered it and played through it getting about half the trophies. The trophies in the game are challenging since you have to complete trials to get most of them. I give Castlevania an 8.4/10: 7.5 story, 9 combat, 8 presentation. I strongly recommend this game to people who enjoy hack and slash’s though most old school Castlevania fans will be annoyed by the lack of free exploration. But that doesn’t mean all old school Castlevania fans shouldn’t give this a chance it might shock you about how polished the game is.