Originally published on Pixelitis.net on June 15, 2013.
“What is a man, but a miserable, little pile of secrets?” utters Dracula near the beginning of my Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 demo as he looks out into the distance to the throes and throes of human enemy combatants that begin their assault on his domain.
Fans of Symphony of the Night are sure to get a kick out of that throwback to one of the series’ greatest entries, meanwhile I’m left wondering what was going through voice actor Robert Carlyle’s mind as he was asked to recite that gloriously cheesy line.
Spanish-based developer MercurySteam is back with a sequel to 2010’s Lords of Shadow, a game that breathed new life into the series with a capable 3D action adventure that changed things up by adhering to a new timeline and setting that incorporates aspects of Spanish mythology with some of the usual tropes found in Castlevania.
Drac has some new weapons at his disposal, including a magically-formed Combat Cross and a “Void Sword” that heals him with each successful blow.
Those who’ve played the original will see that the control scheme has carried over, with some minor changes. Dodge-rolls have been replaced by a more badass dash move that knock back enemies, giving you an opening to unleash some flashy combos. As vampires are wont to do, Dracula can sink his extended canines into the necks of stunned enemies, allowing him to recover some health in return.
Those worried that harnessing such a powerful array of moves means there will be less of a challenge can breathe easy: boss fights are still as difficult as they’ve been, forcing you to think quickly or risk some significant health bar loss. Such was the case with my fight against a heavily-armored Golden Knight, who was both hard-hitting and crazily fast.
The cinematic platforming and combat set pieces of the previous game return two-fold: following that Golden Knight fight, Dracula is forced to climb up a siege tower in a segment that’s infinitely more manageable and fun than those ham-fisted Shadow of the Colossus-styled battles from the first game. The bombastic score by returning composer Óscar Araujo aided in inducing that epic feeling as I made Dracula time his ledge jumps so as not to get cut up by turning gears.
The demo was a very early build of the game, which was obvious given the game’s incredibly jagged appearance. Unfortunately, I fell victim to a game-breaking glitch in which Dracula fell some distance after accidentally running into some spikes high up on the figure he was climbing, which caused him to sink like quicksand through the floor, thereby impeding my ability to reengage in my climb to the top.
Nevertheless, Lords of Shadow 2 is looking mighty promising, and with the fresh concept of playing as the villain against the Belmonts and Alucard, I’m truly excited to see how the story pans out. Expect to wine and dine on the napes of human necks this winter. Mega64 DLC not included.