Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review

This reboot of the Castlevania franchise has a lot going for it but also a lot holding it back.
Author: Kyle Heimbigner
Published: October 26, 2010
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Castlevania returns to the realm of 3D and next generation consoles in the form of a reboot. It has been 5 years since the debut of Curse of Darkness which was merely okay. In that time we have had some fantastic 2D Castlevania games for the Nintendo DS that used the same formula as Symphony of the Night, but Lords of Shadow takes a completely different path. Inspired heavily by the God of War series in terms of gameplay both positive and negative, high production values, an all-star cast of voice actors, and some inspiring level design, does this bold new reboot of the hugely popular and long running action series finally give gamers a 3D game worth playing or should we stick to our Metroidvanias?


[Story]

The world is literally going to hell; Zobek (voiced by Patrick Stewart who I can listen to all day) sets the tone for the entire game right off the bat with “these are dark times”. These are dark times indeed. Gabriel Belmont, a warrior for the Brotherhood of Light, has been tasked to set out on his own to stop the lords of shadow and their servants who are ravaging the land. This is also a tale of revenge, as Belmont has his own personal stake in combating the forces of evil. We come to learn that his wife was murdered by the evil forces plaguing the world, two days before the start of the game.

The story is primarily told through Zobek who provides the narration during the load screens. Cliche dialog that does a lot of telling rather than showing, and this is an issue for the whole story and presentation of the games lore overall. As you traverse the world you’ll come across your fallen brethren who were also tasked before you in defeating the lords of shadow but have failed. Where they failed however, is where you will hopefully succeed. Even in death they can still be helpful, as they have left behind clues in the form of journal entries that give information about the environments you are in, the puzzles you will need to solve, and the monsters you will need to slay.

I am okay with the information from your fallen comrades, as you don’t have to read what they have written, the world provides enough information visually to tell you all you need to know. What I take issue with is the important parts of the story line. There is far too much tell and not enough showing. This makes for a boring story, no matter how well it is delivered. The characters that are supposed to be human are very much so, and the monsters that are evil are very much evil and believable. The problem comes when most of it is told through Zobek during loading screens. We just simply are not given enough time with each character, no one is really fleshed out and we rarely ever see Gabriel grow nor are we explained why he apparently grows more and more hateful and determined to destroy the Lords of Shadow. We are just merely told this a number of times through Zobek. Yes, this is a fair assumption to make, but the player is left to make to many assumptions that are and are not explained. Instead of being told this, it would have been nice if we were shown his anger, hatred and determination to avenge his dead wife through more of his own dialog. For the main character, he is really lacking in character development.
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