Oh, they fallen’ alright
Thousands of years ago, people defeated god. They believed evil could be excised from humanity. Sinners were marked with tattoos and exiled. People also believe vaccinations lead to autism and that How I Met Your Mother is a good television show. Point is, people believe dumb, wrong things.
Fast forward to Lords of the Fallen‘s present and the demons have returned once more. The good, upstanding people of civilized life turn to the man who committed the most deadly sins, the man whose facial tattoos make Zell and Tyson cower.
That man is you, naturally. What, did you expect to play a shivering townperson? Maybe a frightened townperson simulator where you keep running away from relentless, disgusting demons and every time you die you just jump to the perspective of someone who isn’t dead yet and you’re just endlessly, brutally murdered until everyone is dead and the game is over. That would be a different game. This one is about punching monsters with big claws.
Yes, you are a cool man with anvil shoulders who twirls his staff around nonchalantly during idle animations as if to say, “Hey, look how cool I am. I am wearing this cleric robe despite being a warrior because I want to dazzle my enemies with cloth physics and staff spinning. The kids laughed at me when I twirled the stick in marching band. Who’s laughing now?”
This Lords of the Fallen demo was hands off, so I had a lot of time and mental space to make these sorts of observations. Executive producer Tomasz Gop (The Witcher) led anvil arms to some blind “Infested” enemies easily dispatched and then some other Infested equally easily dispatched except they come back from the dead once so you have to kill them twice. Why not four Infested in the next area instead of two that die twice? Why not twice as much health? I don’t know.
Then a more formidable looking opponent was fooled into walking over unstable planks and falling to his death. It’s a sneaky, easy way out for the player, though you miss any loot. I’m wondering if that was just a novel instance or if things like this will be frequent. It would seem a bit tacky to keep putting weak planked pits before areas with larger enemies, after all. There is some promised non-linearity in map design — doors that you might not want to go through until halfway through the game, but could earlier — but I’m not sure how much or how far that extends to the mechanics. Can’t let that combat system go to waste.
Aside from your weapon of choice, you also have a magic gauntlet that can be continually crafted and upgraded. There is a pool of multi-use spells, but also spell trees specific to the warrior/rogue/cleric classes. The rogue has unique spells like invisibility with a boosted attack coming out of it. The warrior has a battering ram and other combat oriented spells.
Like Dark Souls, you’ll leave a ghost when you die that contains your experience. You can also store experience points you don’t want to use yet at save points. Your soul will slowly leak experience as you make your way back to it, though, which could add to the loss even if you’re banking regularly.
To round out the demo, Gop took a pair of claws and some magic to a big bad boss. The boss hit hard and the fight took a couple of tries. But quick claws and massive combo damage won out in the end. The disgusting monster thing was destroyed and his family shamed.
I like that Lords of the Fallen isn’t a grind-heavy, padded action RPG. It’s meant to be about big, tough encounters. But I still need to play it to go beyond anything but optimism and being impressed by it looking nice. Here’s hoping.