I have dedicated hundreds of hours to the Dark Souls franchise and I have never played a game quite like it before. Part adventure game, part RPG, part unrelenting stress test. A completely different game like Dark Souls comes around once every generation, and it turns hardcore gamers like myself upside down, changing the landscape of challenging video games in its own original way. With the die hard fan base that Dark Souls brought along and its critical acclaim of course other developers will try to recreate its success. With Dark Souls 3 on the brink of arrival in the States, I saw a game that seemed too Souls too be true. Lords of The Fallen was free on XBone for Games With Gold so I decided I wanted to refresh some Souls spirit in anticipation for its release.
Enter Lords of The Fallen… possibly the first Souls clone I have seen yet. Lords starts out with a cutscene showing the “hero”…”antihero”…piece of shit who is mankinds only hope…fighting an enormous beast with a warhammer. Our, Hero, (I’m just going to call him a hero at this point), Harkyn battles this beast with some real jaw dropping cinematics and graphics. He throws out a spell that splits him into 4 Harkyns, 3 of which being clones and takes the beast head on. Obviously he wins, but I’m just going to ask you one quick question before we get into the nitty gritty. How many times do you think we see anything from the opening cutscene in the actual gameplay? Rhetorical question folks! The answer is never. We never see this beast again and that clone spell Harkyn drops…yeah you get a similar spell but it makes one clone and it just stands there. I was so impressed with the opening cinematic, and my desire to play another Soulseque game, mistakenly gave me high hopes for what was to come. Oh I will tell you what came form Lords of the Flimflams…I’LL TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS GAME! I’LL DESCRIBE TO YOU IN GREAT DETAIL HOW BADLY I NEVER WANT TO PLAY A SOULS CLONE AGAIN. IF IT IS NOT SOULS, IT IS NOT FOR ME.
Let me describe Harkyn to all of you who do not know him. Harkyn was the worst criminal in his lands and was released because of…demons… The Lords of the Fishheads apparently opened a rift from their Rhogar world to allow for their Rhogar demons to cross over into Harkyns world. Needless to say Harkyn is their last resort. Harkyn looks like a deleted Gears of War COG who slipped into a wormhole and fell into a medieval
dimension. He is enormous and wears huge bulky armor and runs like a thick COG. He has the attitude of Kratos with non of the luster that our beloved God of War brought to the table. As much as I would love for your character in Souls to have some spoken lines rather than being the silent protagonist, I still would have rather had Harkyn never speak. To me he is just a petri dish of a dozen AAA gaming characteristics that all try to compete with each other making him an ultimately unlikable character. Beyond my sheer distaste for the protagonist himself, the plot of the game is completely overused and does nothing to separate itself from any other game in which, “you are the worlds last hope you criminal asshole, we don’t want you, but we need you”. There are demons, there are some knights, and there are super underwhelming bosses.
The visuals of this game are pretty amazing. The graphics show how far next gen gaming has come. Every piece of armor and weaponry looks amazing, making me think the vast majority of the development team spent far too much of their time dedicated time to looks and not nearly enough time into gameplay and story. Cloth and cape movement when wind is blowing or Harkyns is moving, flows tremendously, easily being one of the best examples of how to create realistic cloth graphics in gaming. The landscapes also look magnificent. Castles look like castles, mountains look like mountains and so on and so on. The major problem with this is, there are basically only two different major areas in the game, your castle in Keystone, and the demon castle in the Rhogar realm. Yes, you heard it right there are two major areas in the game, both being snowy castles; thankfully they look good enough to pass as snowy castles, however, the complete lack of varying atmospheres is frustrating. The Souls franchise is known for not only it’s amazingly difficult combat system, but also it’s sprawling environments. In Souls, you go from ruined castles, to beautiful wooded areas, to scorched demon hell grounds soaking in the atmosphere at every turn all the while exploring every hidden detail the developers could fit in. In Lords of the Froghats, you start off in a snowy castle, you battle through said snowy castle, there is a graveyard you spend 3 minutes in fighting a shitty boss, then you go into the long awaited demon portal that takes you to…another snowy castle. There is so much promise in such a beautiful game that is such an unbelievable let down due to its totally lacking environments.
Gameplay in Lords of the Fogcutters is sub par. It plays similar to the Souls combat style, but tries to move two notches too fast and still manages to feel clunky and cumbersome. You are only given 3 different classes to choose from, Warrior, Cleric, and Rogue, each giving you 4 different “spells” to access and use as you level up. All of the spells do similar things just in a manner more related to your class. Being a Souls veteran I wanted to give myself a different playstyle that may have been a handicap on my part. I chose Rogue, which, just a heads up it is not the class to play as in this game. Lords of the Flanplatters edges you into building into heavy damage and vitality, which is very restricting. Enemies hit hard and fast and the worst part about the combat is how enemies do not have the same cooldown period as the player. Enemies can string together chains of attacks and can immediately raise their shield in defense, however, players cannot do this. There is a latency period after each attack that leaves you somewhat vulnerable to enemies, which makes some type of enemies feel unfair to fight. Another huge problem with combat is, a solid 75% of the time you are fighting in tight hallways and corridors, so flanking and backstabbing becomes nearly impossible. I have found myself pulling well armored enemies quite a distance just to get into a room wide enough to get around them. One good addition to the game was the experience multiplier bonus. If you choose to not save at any of the crystals and restore your potions, the more enemies you kill, the higher your exp multiplier will be, making for a great risk vs. reward system.
Bosses are an entirely different flaw in this game. There are a total of 10 bosses and 8 out of the 10 bosses are essentially the same. That is correct, 80% of the bosses are the same. The names are totally unoriginal ranging from The Warden to The Champion to The Commander. The only real difference between the bosses is if they use a shield, or the differing weapons, or sometimes the level of aggression. None of the bosses present much of a challenge for heavy hitting builds with Clerics and Warriors, but they were just not designed to be fought by Rogues, same as most of the enemies. Rogues do not put out enough single hit damage to stagger enemies so combat revolves around tedious bait, poke, retreat, repeat, and this makes certain boss fights last for quite some time. In my opinion the Rogue class should have been left out of the game entirely, because it just does not fit with the lumbering heavy hitting playstyle of this game.
This game is not overly difficult, but it is extremely frustrating. There is no hand holding in Lord of the Friedeggs, so you are basically off to discover everything yourself. The is no map to view where you need to go and some of the most mind fucking infuriating moments come from running around the same area a dozen times until you find the hidden pathway that takes you to the main quest. A hidden pathway that takes you to the main quest…. A HIDDEN PATHWAY THAT TAKES YOU TO THE MAIN QUEST! Hidden pathways should be reserved for loot or side quests, not actually progressing through the entirety of the game. I was stuck in one location for 6 hours repeating the same cycle of killing everything in around and scouring the area for any clue what to do next. It took me dying on my 15th attempt, 1/3rd of the way through this cycle for the camera to pan over revealing the HIDDEN PATHWAY THAT TAKES YOU TO THE MAIN QUEST.
Besides the ridiculous hidden pathways, there are a number of glitches that ruin any joy in this game. There are dozens of invisible walls that I have gotten caught on and died thanks to, some of which are in the middle of wide open areas. Enemy AI can range from decent to down right atrocious. The witch casters in the game decided to completely glitch out their visuals, so their magic missile attacks would come flying out of nowhere at me and I would lock onto the air and have to hope for the best. Easily the most annoying glitch I came across this game was the audio cut out glitch. For the entire middle 1/3rd of the game the cutscene audio completely quit on me. I would read the text and see the characters mouths move but there was absolutely no audio. In game audio would be fine, I could hear my armor clank and my daggers wiff through the air, but cutscenes for 33% of this game were a silent movie for me. This game had potential and unfortunately fell far too short of its promising possibilities. The characters are forgettable, the gameplay is bad, and the glitches are terrible. I would not play this game even if it was free. Thankfully a different development company is making the sequel, so there may be some hope for the series in the future…even if I don’t necessarily think the game deserves a sequel.
Lords of the Flagstaffs Final Score: 1 Hidden Pathway out of 5
- Some beautiful graphics
- A lot of potential as a Souls clone
- Brilliant armor and weapon design
- Only 3 classes to choose from (Rogue class basically not needed)
- Barely any variance in spell casting
- Uneven and unfair combat
- Enemies are all the same
- Vast majority of bosses are the exact same
- Only 2 major locations in the game (2 Snowy Castles)
- Most of the game is spent in hallways and corridors
- Tremendous number of glitches
- HIDDEN FUCKING PATHWAYS FOR THE MAIN QUEST