Let’s get one thing out of the way right now. Lords of the Fallen is a lot like Dark Souls. It’s a brutally hard, dark, medieval-styled action-RPG in which merciless enemies combine with a iterative gameplay loop in order to teach mastery by way of many, many beatdowns. It even uses the same control scheme. But while Fallen certainly walks in the same shoes as Souls, it uses them to tread a path all of its own.
You won’t notice the differences at first, but a decent gameplay session--like the one I heartily enjoyed today--will show them up. First of all there’s the fighting game influence. The game’s devs are also citing Street Fighter and Tekken as inspirations, and they’re entirely right to do so. While LotF’s combat does require a sharp observation of attack windows and frame-perfect evasion, its melee battling is flowing, fluid and combo-friendly, where Dark Souls’ can be altogether more staccato.
On a similar note of accessibility, Fallen’s variant of Dark Souls’ bonfire save system is a good deal less punishing, while still trading on the same philosophy of rinsing and repeating your way to victory. Its save points refill your character’s health, but they don’t reset the area’s enemies. Only death does that. The penalty for failure--and crucial opportunity to learn how to succeed--remains, but forward momentum is not hampered for those simply wishing for a safety net. It’s a subtle change, but one which gives LotF a noticeably softer, friendlier persona and gameflow all of its own.
As for the all-important boss fights? The ones I’ve encountered so far have been hard, stern lessons in carefully-learned attack patterns and modest, disciplined counter-aggression. All very Souls of course, and damn satisfying. But there seems to be less abstraction and obfuscation here. Less repeat, early deaths while simply trying to comprehend what’s even going on, and a great deal more immediate clarity. None of this is to say that Lords of the Fallen is a dumbed-down Dark Souls-Lite. Far from it. Its systems are refined and layered just as intelligently--and with just as much intent--as those of From Software’s masterpiece. It’s just that their intent seems to be to warmly welcome those frustrated by the Souls games’ harder edges, as well as the battle-hardened Chosen Undead.
Click through the following slides for more Lords of the Fallen images and info.