- Lords of the Fallen is shaping up to be among the best Souls-like games, and its highlight is the insanely detailed realm mechanic.
- The ability to transition between two worlds to solve puzzles and creatively tackle enemies is something I’ve always enjoyed, and games like Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, and Legacy of Kain brought excellent iterations of it.
- The 2014 Lords of the Fallen was a mediocre entry, and now its successor looks ready to go above and beyond to make amends and present a peerless Souls-like experience.
Who doesn’t want the ability to shift between two worlds? I know I do, and I’ve always loved it. Admit it, messing with enemies by suddenly disappearing, discovering secret routes and shortcuts, having two worlds to traverse instead of one, and watching in awe when the changes in one affect the other is a truly sublime feeling. Now, imagine this in a Souls-like game, but instead of all fun and games, it’s more of the suffering we enjoy in this genre.
Look no further as Lords of the Fallen‘s upcoming reboot is about to scratch the dual-worlds itch, but with a brutal, very souls-like twist. What’s better than a punishing world with enemies at every corner? Two such worlds, of course, with twice the danger and twice the thrill. Instead of being all-powerful and in control of two worlds like in Dishonored 2, the odds stack up against you quite effectively in Lords of the Fallen.
The Realm Mechanic Is Lords Of The Fallen’s Most Promising Feature
The impressively dark and gloomy world of Lords of the Fallen hides an even scarier secret. The game features two distinct realms superimposed that both exist simultaneously. These include the standard human world, the Axiom realm, which is also your starting world. However, you’ll soon discover that a vile and creepy realm of the dead, the Umbral realm, is always lurking around.
Watching the Umbral realm unfold in the trailer was genuinely impactful. It’s the same impact you felt when discovering the invisible Amygdala that always existed in the Cathedral Ward of Bloodborne, but you couldn’t see them without sufficient insight. Similarly, Lords of the Fallen has managed to create a strong sense of originality with its unique mechanic. I eagerly look forward to how this discovery hits me when I experience it myself.
The presence of two different worlds gives a whole new outlook to the secrets and hidden paths; the staple of the souls-like genre. The game plays to its strengths and makes the realm-shifting an important part of traversal. You’ll need to switch between the two worlds when your path forward comes to a halt, to discover hidden routes and secrets. This also means instead of one, you now have two worlds to scavenge for easter eggs and rare treasures.
What’s more, the two realms are a visual marvel. Each world is graphically distinct in its presentation, fitting the next-gen hardware’s prowess. Designing a game world is an impressive feat; designing two that simultaneously exist on a single screen is a highly challenging venture, yet it seems Lords of the Fallen is pulling it off with a great deal of expertise. And its 60 fps on consoles creates a crisp gameplay experience.
The enemies of the Umbral realm are especially troubling since you can’t see them unless you put up the lantern, but they can hunt you down anyway. One saving grace is the possibility of two lives. If you die in the Axiom realm, you won’t return to the last checkpoint but will be given a second chance as you’re taken straight to the Umbral. However, as expected this also has a brutal twist. Willingly going into the Umbral realm or getting hit by an Umbral enemy while you hold up your lantern will insta-kill your Axiom life.
Being in Umbral also has its demerits. Staying too long will cause you to hallucinate as you hear the echoes of the dead, and enemies start spawning at a ridiculous pace. But it’s not without merits, either, as your loot multipliers will also increase and you’ll get much more rewards in this state; a high-risk-high-reward gameplay. All in all, I believe this mechanic has the potential to be the best system for a Souls-like if properly executed.
Dual Worlds Has Always Been An Exciting Concept
Have you ever relished in the sheer possibilities two realms bring to the table? If so, you’re surely not alone. The best thing is the high degree of control it gives you over how to approach a particular situation. I’ve always found this concept to be highly intriguing and it is the major reason for my anticipation of Lords of the Fallen. And when I initially witnessed the trailer, I couldn’t help but think about Dishonored 2.
Dishonored was an epic take on the first-person stealth genre and its sequel was no different. One of the series’ major charms is the freedom it provides to the player. You have excellent powers at your disposal that can aid in hiding, quick traversal, and creative attacking. Using these, you can either stealthily approach a situation and kill only when necessary, or go on a rampage with your superpowers; the choice is yours.
A game that was already a fun playground introduced a level with an even better mechanic. You arrive at a citadel that was flourishing in the past, and so are given the ability to switch between the two time periods on the fly. This opened up a myriad of new horizons. It created two different worlds that you could switch between, confusing enemies and solving puzzles to move forward. It was truly an epic mechanic.
A similar system can be found in another beloved game, Titanfall 2. The Effect and Cause mission manages to stand out even in a highly memorable campaign. You visit a ruined base and get the ability to shift between its present and past states. This gives the freedom to play around with enemies as you completely disappear right in front of them, and also make changes in the past that are surely reflected in the present.
As a scienceman, I can say definitively that the most creative, “holy sh** this is awesome” level I’ve ever played in a video game is “Effect and Cause” in Titanfall 2. Still thinking about it. pic.twitter.com/RujogMWS4s
— Kyle Hill (@Sci_Phile) December 3, 2021
Regrettably, Titanfall never received a continuation and I would give anything to see it return. Moving on, the common aspect in both Titanfall 2 and Dishonored 2 is that the dual-worlds system appears only on a single level, as it’s a pretty difficult thing to pull off, designing two unique worlds and seamlessly switching. This is all the more proof that what Lords of the Fallen is doing is something of a vastly gigantic scale.
In that sense, Lords of the Fallen is more similar to Legacy of Kain than the prior 2. The classic vampire adventure was a masterclass of character writing and voice acting among other magnificent features like the existence of the two different material and astral planes. It is a series that truly deserves a modern revival, and the Embracer Group’s eagerness to bring it back is a glimmer of hope I’m willing to cling to.
Lords Of The Fallen Needs To Do Some Damage Control
After all that praise, you’d think why am I saying it needs to do some damage control? It is because of its predecessor. You must remember hearing about Lords of the Fallen in the past too, and you’re right. This new iteration is a reboot of the 2014 game of the same name, albeit a project that seems to be a vast improvement over its predecessor. Still, the people who remember the past game need to be convinced once more.
The 2014 Lords of the Fallen was not a bad game, it was just lost. It wanted to both be a Souls-like game and also try something new and distinct, and got lost in the process. The considerably easy difficulty and an attempt at more accessibility did more harm than good, and the boss fights and overall mechanics seemed lackluster too. The issues were more apparent since it was near giants like Bloodborne.
However, looks like CI games took the easy mode complaints a little too seriously, and made sure Lords of the Fallen 2023 is a brutal challenge, and I’m loving it. Taking cues from games like Dishonored 2 and Legacy of Kain was a great move. What makes dual worlds fun is the ability to mess with enemies, and it seems Lords of the Fallen knows that very well. Amidst brutally challenging encounters, you can have brief moments of joy by throwing enemies off the ledges with the Soul Siphon ability.
In conclusion, although the predecessor was plagued with mediocrity, the 2023 Lords of the Fallen is shaping up to be an excellent addition to the souls-like genre. And we know nothing less than the best will work in a post-Elden Ring world, so it is surely great news for us fans. The game has a strong point that can take it to towering heights, and I hope this mechanic is even more fun to play around with than what’s been shown so far.
Lords of the Fallen releases for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on October 13, 2023.
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