The only RPG series that’s ever really grabbed hold of me is Zelda. Even that isn’t a strong hold, it’s more that I’ve liked a few of the titles I’ve seen; it’s not really something I’d go out of my way to play time after time. There was a brief period where I thought I liked Final Fantasy VII, but it didn’t last beyond the end of the first disc.
Even as someone who’s never really fallen in love with RPGs, there’s something oddly entrancing about Lords of the Fallen. Perhaps its the fact that the whole thing looks rather wonderful, or maybe it’s the way that developers Deck 13 have decided to pretty much ditch classes in favour of a more natural feeling weapon based system.
Whatever it is, one look at the Dark Souls inspired title was enough to more than peak my interest. Of course that particular source of inspiration is enough to absolutely terrify me at the same time, although what I saw of Lords of the Fallen doesn’t look quite that brutal.
However the similarities between the titles are clear in both the game’s dark aesthetic and its fluid, close quarters combat. The combat also has the same measured approach to it, if you like to spam the attack button then this isn’t the game for you. However, if you like to watch enemy attack patterns and wait for you opening, then Lords of the Fallen should have something to offer you.
On first glance, it seems obvious that Desk 13 is aiming at next-gen platforms, along with the PC. The environments look simply gorgeous, and some of the particle effects on display are stunning. In particular there’s an odd fire-floating-in-the-air effect you get when the game’s bosses, the titular Lords, put in an appearance.
Facing these bosses is another highlight. While they don’t sound that unique in concept, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that their appearance changes and their attacks become more powerful and harder to dodge as you progress through the stages of the fight, in motion the fight is truly a sight to behold.
Lords are more than just cool bosses to fight though, having a deep hook into the game’s backstory. You see, in the fairly distant past, humanity rose up against their god. Humanity won, and the god became the Fallen. There’s actually a huge mountain range in the shape of a hand that’s meant to show where this god met his final fate.
Of course nothing lasts forever and now his servants, the Lords, are returning to the human world, foretelling the Fallen’s return. My guess is he probably isn’t too happy about the whole humanity overthrowing him thing.
As servants of the Fallen, the Lords have supernatural powers but don’t worry, so do you. What power you have is determined by your class, and they obviously require you to charge them up. However, once you’ve got them available they seem pretty powerful. For example, playing as a Rogue allows you to basically pause time, giving you the opportunity to get behind an opponent and backstab them for absolutely huge damage.
However, as mentioned previously, these classes aren’t really classes per se. Instead of selecting a class at the start of the game and working your way through that particular progression tree, your weaponry and gear determines your characteristics.
The characteristics you take on do still fall into three roleplaying archetypes, Warrior, Rogue and Cleric, but if you don’t like the way you’re speced then all you need to do is find a new set of gear to change into. Of course you won’t be able to do this from the off, but Deck 13 have said that the game will encourage you to come back and replay areas once you’ve completed them, looking for secrets scattered throughout each of the level.
In an almost Metroidvania style, you won’t necessarily be able to reach a secret the first time you see it, or even know how to reach it, but levelling up and working your way through the game’s skill trees, intelligence, vitality and endurance, might give you the ability to grab it later on, as may changing gear to invoke a new “class”.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the flexibility that the game’s gear based approach brings, allowing you to chop and change should you want to. On the rare occasion that I do play an RPG I often find myself regretting the class decision thrown at me at the start of the game, so centring things around the weapon you’re carrying seems a lot more appealing to me.
However, if you’re hoping to be able to customize your character in ways beyond their gear then you’re out of luck. Deck 13 have said they’ve got a particular story in mind for their character, and it includes some of his physical attributes, meaning they’ve got to keep him locked to their vision.
While I don’t know if I’ll have the patience or inclination to play through Lords of the Fallen when it arrives in 2014, it certainly interests me more than most RPGs. If, however, you’re a fan of action RPGs, particularly Dark Souls, then this is one that’s worth keeping an eye on.