Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (PC) Review: No Pain, No Gain
The first Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
, released originally in 2010, was a weird game. It played similarly to God of War
and gave up the ability-gated gameplay the series became known for starting with Symphony of the Night
on the first Playstation. Its weirdness, however, came from it actually being a solid 3D character action game with a bizarre but fascinating story. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
tries to build on what the first game created, but unfortunately nearly everything Konami added takes away from the experience.
The lore and story behind the Lords of Shadow
series is the biggest draw to play it. The main character, Gabriel, has become a vampire known as Dracula, but he has been dormant for a long time. Lords of Shadow 2
actually takes place during the present time, with a few flash backs and dream like sequences, and has an extended cutscene near the beginning which explains everything players need to know about the plot going forward. Unfortunately the game does absolutely nothing interesting with its unique setting, and the story lacks all the fun twists and turns that made the original so much fun to play.
The combat is actually the one improvement Lords of Shadow 2
makes over its predecessor. The gameplay allows quick switches between Dracula's different weapons, the standard whip, the health draining void sword and the shield destroying chaos gauntlets. The sword and gauntlets drain Dracula's magic, which can only be gained after certain kills and keeping his combo meter high. It can be frustrating to start a sequence without any magic, but on the whole the weapon variety adds a lot to the game. The combat is fast and can be pretty challenging, and the many bosses are all different and satisfying enough to make the game fun to play even though it never achieves the depth of the more well liked games in the genre.
Quick time events, when poorly done, can get obnoxious in any game. Lords of Shadow 2
does not have good QTEs. But unlike any game I'm familiar with, they can be completely turned off. Nothing of value is lost without them and I highly recommend you do it immediately.
There is some minor platforming throughout the game that is heavily scripted and not at all challenging, but it does serve to break up the combat a bit. Throughout the story, Dracula, gains new traversal abilities allowing new areas of the map to be explored. The only backtracking to be done is for optional collectibles, but they were never worth the time investment to explore. The world is not quite open, but there is some fast travel, and different places to wonder around outside the main story, but there's little if anything to be found there.
Puzzles in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
are not inventive and are incredibly repetitive. Towards the end of the game, Dracula has to assemble a puzzle essentially, it takes five seconds total and must be done at least three different times. It didn't make any sense why that would be included in the game at all, let alone multiple times. Other times, Dracula will need to use his powers to quickly avoid and trick enemies into opening doors and the like. Events like those are either brain dead simple or require logical leaps and luck to actually pull off. More often than not they were simply wastes of time.
The most egregious gameplay offender is the stealth. Any non-stealth game attempting stealth is at best misguided, and Lords of Shadow 2
has some of the worst stealth sequences in any game ever. Midway through the game, Dracula attempts to steal an item from a creature of the forest. The creature hunts Dracula in an stealth event that involves loud leaves to jump over, bells to ring for distraction and no checkpoints. The worst of it is that immediately following the ridiculously difficult segment, you fight the same enemy in a rather easy boss battle. There was no reason for it to be there, and is indicative of the overall design of the game.
Lords of Shadow 2
runs great on PC and has all the visual options users have come to expect. There is so much blood in the game, and it is rendered extremely well for the most part, even though the sheer volume of it is strange. I was hoping the modern setting would allow Konami to make unique set pieces, but the game takes place either in a castle or a castle-like laboratory, and for the most part it is indistinguishable from past games.
It took me about fourteen hours to beat Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
, and I enjoyed a lot of it, but the good parts never got so good as to necessitate a playthrough for most players, but if you enjoyed the lore and story of the previous Lords of Shadow
games and enjoy 3D character action, there is a lot to enjoy. However, poor mechanics, combat aside, drag the game way down, and make large chunks frustrating and boring.