Dark Light

Over eight months have passed since the release of the Lords of the Fallen reboot. Despite its rocky launch and mixed reception, the developers have diligently released numerous quality-of-life updates, such as version 1.5 and the recent Clash of the Champions update, which introduced two boss rush modes and post-campaign gameplay modifiers. Given the extensive updates, it’s reasonable to consider whether the game is worth purchasing in 2024. Let’s explore that possibility.

This review is written from a newcomer’s perspective rather than a returning player, as I did not have the opportunity to play this game in 2023.

Built on Unreal Engine 5, Lords of the Fallen (2023) is a reboot of the 2014 game of the same name, developed by Hexworks and published by CI Games. This new iteration aims to refine and expand upon the original’s concepts, delivering a more polished and engaging experience for fans of the soulslike genre.” The game was launched on October 23, 2023, for PlayStation 5 and is also accessible on Game Pass for Xbox Series consoles and PC.

A Second Chance at Redemption

“Lords of the Fallen” presents a grand narrative set in a medieval dark fantasy world where you assume the role of a legendary dark crusader on a quest to defeat Adyr, the Demon God. The game’s reboot introduces a distinctive dual realms system, featuring the Axiom and Umbral worlds, which distinguishes it within the souls-like genre. This innovative design enhances the depth of exploration and puzzle-solving, providing a novel twist on a well-known formula.

Similar to Sekiro, the game effectively grants players a second chance to confront adversaries. Those familiar with Dark Souls or Elden Ring will recognize elements such as stat scaling, equipment load, health, stamina, and consumables. The distinctive feature of this game is the existence of two parallel worlds: Axiom and Umbral. Death in Axiom transports the player to the Umbral realm with ‘withered’ health. This ‘withered’ health is permanently lost if an enemy lands an attack. Therefore, players are encouraged to adopt an aggressive playstyle in the Umbral to reclaim their diminished health. However, a death in the Umbral signifies the player’s true demise.

Players can use their lamps to peer into Umbral, uncovering hidden paths and puzzles. However, the malevolent enemies within Umbral can drag players into its depths during this process, adding a layer of frustration and challenge. Dying is not the sole method of entering Umbral; players can also drown or deliberately use their lamp to venture in. To leave Umbral, players must locate special masks or reach a Vestige point, which serves a similar purpose to a bonfire in Dark Souls.

Furthermore, the game’s combat system is fluid and gratifying, offering an array of weapons, spells, and skills for players to explore. It provides comprehensive build-crafting possibilities, allowing players to customize their characters according to their playing style. Personally, I began with a strength-focused build but later transitioned to a magic-oriented build, which proved beneficial against the endgame bosses. The boss battles are particularly noteworthy, showcasing creative designs and intricate mechanics. Some bosses may be less challenging than anticipated, potentially underwhelming for seasoned soulslike enthusiasts. Nonetheless, this game secures a place in my top five soulslike games ever.

Version 1.5 and Clash of Champions

The release of version 1.5 has addressed numerous performance issues and bugs that were evident at launch. Consequently, the game’s performance on the PS5 has significantly improved since its initial release. While there are sporadic minor frame rate drops to the mid-fifties, the gameplay largely remains fluid and stable. Nonetheless, during specific sequences, there is a noticeable dip in resolution, leading to visuals that are not as sharp as those in recent titles such as Stellar Blade, which features crisp graphics and seamless performance. Despite this, the performance is notable when considering the complexities of UE5 games.

The “Clash of Champions” update brings fresh challenges, featuring new bosses, adversaries, and a variety of gear and customization choices for players to explore. Those acquainted with the Gauntlet trials of Sekiro or the Chalice dungeons of Bloodborne will find these additions comfortably familiar. While this update may not be the decisive factor for new players, it certainly adds value for veterans of the game.

Things to Lookout For

Despite numerous enhancements, the game still has its drawbacks. The primary issue is the very linear and restricted maps. It attempts to replicate the closed, interconnected pathways of Dark Souls, and while the Umbral aspect does lend a unique aesthetic, it still feels quite linear and misses the expansive, well-illuminated maps found in Elden Ring and Stellar Blade. It’s possible that the demanding Unreal Engine 5 features could have led to performance challenges.

Secondly, if the initial offering was not to your liking, it’s unlikely your opinion will change now. Moreover, with the recent release of the new Elden Ring DLC, this game might not be the first choice for many. However, if you can overlook its limited maps and reduced exploration freedom, among other minor issues, the game is still worth playing. Given that it’s available on Game Pass and is offered at a 50% discount this week, it’s an opportune time to give it a try.

The Holy Confession

Lords of the Fallen stands out as an impressive reboot, enhancing the original game’s framework with new mechanics and a more expansive world. Although it encounters some performance hiccups, the game’s captivating combat, dual-reality exploration, and comprehensive build customization options solidify its place in the Soulslike genre. The updates in Version 1.5 and Clash of Champions notably improve the game, rectifying earlier issues and introducing substantial new features.

FINAL RATING: 80/100

Lords of The Fallen (2023)

Lords of The Fallen (2023)
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Lords of the Fallen (2023) is a reboot of the 2014 game, developed by Hexworks and published by CI Games. This new iteration aims to refine and expand upon the original's concepts, delivering a more polished and engaging experience for fans of the soulslike genre." The game was launched on October 23, 2023, for PlayStation 5 and is also accessible on Game Pass for Xbox Series consoles and PC.
Lords of the Fallen (2023) is a reboot of the 2014 game, developed by Hexworks and published by CI Games. This new iteration aims to refine and expand upon the original's concepts, delivering a more polished and engaging experience for fans of the soulslike genre." The game was launched on October 23, 2023, for PlayStation 5 and is also accessible on Game Pass for Xbox Series consoles and PC.
80/100
Total Score

The Good

  • Plenty of Boss Fights
  • Improvements in Performance and Stable Frame-rate
  • Boss Rush Modes and Gameplay Modifiers

The Bad

  • Closed and Limited Maps
  • Lack of Freedom in Exploration
  • Blurry Visuals
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