Lords of the Fallen is Dark Souls-hard, but with softer edges

Praise the lords

Lets get one thing out of the way right now. Lords of the Fallen is a lot like Dark Souls. Its 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 wont notice the differences at first, but a decent gameplay session--like the one I heartily enjoyed today--will show them up. First of all theres the fighting game influence. The games devs are also citing Street Fighter and Tekken as inspirations, and theyre entirely right to do so. While LotFs 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, Fallens 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 characters health, but they dont reset the areas 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. Its 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 Ive 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 whats 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 Softwares masterpiece. Its 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.

At Gamescom, GR's own Dave Houghton was the first to stab this clown right up

This game is insanely pretty

There are three core character classes: the tank-like Warrior, balanced Cleric and weak, precision-fighting Rogue

Customisation is quick and easy. A radial menu, bold, clear equipment menus, and minimal fuss

Magic covers a range of uses, from all-out attack, to deception, distraction and debuffing

Lords visuals are sublime, like a meaty, bleak, high-fidelity World of Warcraft

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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