Strange Background Guys In Lord Of The Fallen
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Lords of the Fallen review – A new standard has been set

YOU DIED... twice?

Lords of the Fallen has shown me again why I absolutely adore the Soulslike genre. Since completing Dark Souls 3, I’ve been looking for a good fix, and each just about falls short of the experience that Dark Souls 3 provided me. Lords of the Fallen, however, has provided me with a new benchmark, one that I’ll be chasing for a long time.

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Is Lords of the Fallen a good game?

Lords of the Fallen is awesome. It takes everything I love about the Soulslike genre and improves upon it. All of the tried and true staples of what makes a Soulslike game great, this one does and more. What’s better yet, is that the onboarding process is perfect for those who have never played a Soulslike before, without impeding on the difficulty and challenge of its bosses and enemies.

Vestige In Lords Of The Fallen
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Despite the game being almost a direct parallel to Dark Souls 3, I will avoid the game journalist trope and not make any comparison between the two titles, even though it would be very fitting in this case.

Lords of the Fallen masters the tried and true Soulslike formula

Everything you can expect from a solid Soulslike: the environment, the lore, the fighting — Lords of the Fallen does very well.

Fighting through the beautiful yet gloomy world of Axiom is satisfying and always threatening. Exploration is intrepid yet fun; each step is laced with a readiness for whatever the game will throw at you next — and it’s exciting! The varied environments and masterful artwork really make the entire world feel cohesive, plausible, and alive, which only enhances the experience of traversing down forested roads or across ancient cliffs that are ready to collapse.

Strange Background Guys In Lord Of The Fallen
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It is down to personal preference whether you think the environment and enemy design are good or not, but I can personally say that I love all the denizens of Axiom, and Axiom itself, even if I am mercilessly slaughtering them at every junction. The lore and story that’s baked into every character and every structure and every sight is marvelous; I truly feel like I’m walking through an ancient world still reeling from Adyr’s (the main bad demon guy) tyranny.

Naturally, you don’t have to be told that the combat is responsive, sharp, varied, and fun. But one thing that is cool, is that certain enemies really hold no quarter. It’s as if they are aware of all the attacks they possess, and they are committed to using them. You will absolutely need to brush up on your fighting skills if you are to beat them. Alternatively, you could run away, but where’s the fun in that?

Exacter Dunmire In Lords Of The Fallen
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You will feel relieved to know that the leveling up and gear stat systems are mercifully coherent, clear, and make sense. There wasn’t really anything special to do here aside from keeping it perfect, which is what they did. You will be able to clearly understand the build that you want and fine-tune as necessary.

But the game doesn’t just excel at what most good Soulslikes do. The game builds upon it and makes it even better.

Lords of the Fallen also builds upon this perfected baseline

Lords of the Fallen really shines to me for a number of reasons. It builds upon the core mechanics that we can expect from a good Soulslike game, adding a number of mechanics that make the game stand out from the rest. Allow me to go on a spiel about the ones you need to know to get you excited.

Umbral creature in lords of the fallen
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Most important is the Umbral realm. A realm of the dead that runs parallel to Axiom, you will visit this dreaded place after death to have one last shot at success. It is difficult to express how well-implemented and complex this feature is without rambling on and on about it. You will either be in the Umbral realm, through choice or by death, or you can peer into the Umbral realm using your Umbral Lamp.

This allows for an incredible juxtaposition between Axiom and the Umbral, as you will have to traverse both to get past certain barriers and obstacles. It isn’t too complex, but this allows for secrets and illusionary walls to be far more exciting and difficult to access. One of the things I love the most about this Umbral realm, is that you are an intruder, and the creatures from the shadows will only grow more hostile as your time there drags on.

I’ll move on before I spiral into my love for this mechanic, and I’ll let you figure out the complexities of the feature yourself.

Rifting In Lords Of The Fallen
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One of the things I really praise the game for is its accessibility to newer Soulslike players without making it an easy game for more seasoned Soulslike players. All tutorials are stored in a special tab in your inventory, for easy recapping. This is rather necessary, as there are many new mechanics for you to explore, and new and veteran players will definitely need to revisit some tutorial slides.

Also — stances! I love stances in games like these. You can swap from two-handing the sword to one-handing the sword, with both stances having their pros and cons. I selected the Condemned Class, so essentially, I had nothing to my name but rags and a couple of buckets for weapons. Having the stance options to change my fighting style really helped me out in a number of encounters!

Soulflaying In Lords Of The Fallen
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One last thing — tincts. Tincts change the color of the metal, cloth, and leather elements of your gear, and you can decide which gear dons which tinct. You will find and can trade for tincts, allowing you to express yourself in your style. This is a minor addition that I adore.

Now that you should be suitably excited, let’s move on to the headline of any Soulslike — the combat.

How Lords of the Fallen revolutionizes combat

The mechanics of fighting have changed for the better, thanks to the implementation of withered health.

This is a mechanic that imbues itself into a lot of the functions of combat. It is a cost for certain actions, but also a gain. Withered health is fragile, so upon getting hit, you’ll lose all of the health that has become withered alongside receiving regular damage. However, hitting enemies regenerates withered health into health. This revolutionizes combat.

Multi Hit Attack In Lords Of The Fallen
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Being able to use your Umbral Lamp to gain withered health, and then being able to fight to convert that into actual health provides a multi-step way to heal for free, but this is incredibly risky and requires you to be skillful. One wrong move and all of your withered health will go, meaning you’ll have to start again from a lower health point.

Also, your blocks and parries will naturally negate damage from enemy strikes, but in Lords of the Fallen, any extra damage doesn’t reduce your health, but withers it. This means that you have an extra chance to regain the health dealt by an enemy, but also makes parrying and blocking all the more precarious. It’s like a buy-now-pay-later scheme, where if you keep blocking, it’ll just take one ounce of damage to crush your hopes and dreams of gaining any health back.

Light Attack Umbral Enemies In Lords Of The Fallen
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Now, if you’re skilled enough, you can really use this to your advantage. I thought this would make combat super easy, but it instead made it more stressful and tense. Having to be extra careful not to lose the withered health, I had to avoid enemy strikes whilst trying to get in as many hits as I could, exposing me to more enemy attacks. It’s a delicate balance that really mixes up the formula of combat for Soulslike games, and I love it.

Naturally, this isn’t the extent of what withered health does, and there’s plenty more to be explored and realized about all of the listed mechanics. How these features blend together and interact with each other is magical, and allows for very varied and dynamic combat.

The bosses of Lords of the Fallen

Yeah, they’re awesome. Enough said, really. Every Soulslike game should have incredible bosses, and Lords of the Fallen delivers, even having minibosses thrown in to challenge you a little more before you can move on. I know this isn’t the first Soulslike to have minibosses, but it’s my favorite implementation of the enemy type so far.

Dying To Pieta In Lords Of The Fallen
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The bosses really don’t hold back. They are tough, and they will come at you with everything they have, which is a lot. You will need to be prepared, and you will need to know each of your moves inside and out if you want to properly best them in combat. Each victory is a triumph, each death a lesson.

So… is Lords of the Fallen a good game?

For all of the reasons above? Lords of the Fallen is an excellent game. The mechanics and features all blend together so beautifully that it sets the benchmark of what future Soulslike games should strive for. It doesn’t just excel at the basics but builds upon them to create a rigorously new experience whilst keeping the solid themes and thoughts that make the originals great.

If you like Soulslike games, or simply combat games in general, then Lords of the Fallen is a huge recommendation from me. It simply won’t be better than this for a while.

I hope you found my review helpful, and I sincerely hope you give Lords of the Fallen a chance. If you want any Lords of the Fallen help, then you can look toward PC Invasion.

Lords of the Fallen
Lords of the Fallen sets a new benchmark for all Soulslikes out there. It masters what we love about the genre, and adds to it in many ways. It won't get better than this for a while.

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Aidan Lambourne
Aidan Lambourne is a contributing writer for PC Invasion, with almost a couple years of experience in the industry. He has written about Roblox extensively, although has keenly covered new releases and indie games. A passionate writer and gamer, he still can't really believe he gets to indulge in both for a career.