First Impressions – Castlevania: Lord of Shadow

I felt that the 3D Castlevanias were treated a little unfairly.  They may not be perfect, but they are trying to deviate from the tried and true 2D formulas, and it’s as though the fanbase wrongfully lashes at every little failure… but you know what?  Maybe they’re right.

Lord of Shadow (it took me way too long to not put an ‘s’ at the end of Lord or Shadow) sets to impress at first:  You’re introduced to battle mechanics at a nice pace, and quickly learn to kick butt.  Combined with the lovely graphics, it seems the game is going to be a fun ride.  However, after getting through Chapter I, my opinions quickly changed.  Instead of expanding, combat becomes more convoluted, requiring you to be able a few too many things at once.  Unlocking new combos can be exciting, but the times that you’ll be able to execute them (or remember to) dwindles as you find the few good ways to actually deal with the hoards of same-looking enemies.

Exploration is a pain; the camera tries to hide hidden paths, which isn’t the problem, but if the camera doesn’t cooperate AFTER you’ve found the spot, that is a problem.  Sometimes, if you go one path, you’ll realize too late that you can’t go back, making it that you potentially miss a secret and have to replay the level to get it.  Levels typically aren’t long, but the ones that you’ll be most likely to miss something on can be confusing, leading to frustration.

I thought the bosses are cool, at first; but running into the Ice Titan at the end of Chapter I dampened my mood a bit.  Having to play a Shadow of the Colossus battle was not something I was expecting, and it was far from fun.  However, despite that hiccup, the bosses are probably the best part about the game.  They require you to change it up and use different combos, so it’s almost a refreshing change of pace when you bump into one.

I really hope this game gets better.  I’m in Chapter II right now, and the level when you go inside the tree is very annoying (spiders hit HARD), and there’s a lot of game left to go.  There’s potential for the game to branch out a bit and become better, but I do worry that it’ll stick to its current, boring old tricks.

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