Castlevania Lords of Shadow


by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 85/100

Castlevania Lords of Shadow Review
Developer: Mercury Steam
Publisher: Konami
Format Reviewed: Xbox360
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

Welcome to Castlevania Lords of Shadow. It is my pleasure to introduce you to a wonderful new action-adventure, starring Gabriel Belmont as your host for many hours. Some of us girls like to control men, so why not take the virtual control of Gabriel? And there are girls that love to play with handsome male characters. Again Gabriel could be just the type of guy for you.

 Castlevania Lords of Shadow female gamers review

In Castlevania Lords of shadow, you’ll step into an action-adventure in which it is Gabriel’s task as a member of the Brotherhood of Light to destroy the Lords of Shadow. Why? Because the Lords of the Shadow are responsible for turning the world into an evil place with all kinds of nasty enemies to conquer. Worfs, orgs, vampires, apes with bombs, fighting skeletons, knights, zombies, titans and other terrible monsters need to get destroyed with all available weapons, power, energy and reflexes in order to make progress. Not only will the story evolve by killing all enemies that will come on your path but another benefit of dealing with enemies is gaining experience points which can be traded to improve your skills. For example you can trade experience points for new advanced moves / actions and secondary weapons, all required to deal with all kinds of enemies in the future, to make combats a lot easier or to make special moves to solve puzzles such as bashing certain buttons or releasing power to break through walls. Another benefit of fallen enemies is that they often drop rewards like daggers or other helpful objects. Fight, conquer, improve skills and move on is the main gameplay.

 Castlevania Lords of Shadow female gamers review

Thankfully the gameplay contains more than fighting one enemy after another. It also contains solving puzzles, collecting gems and climbing activities. The puzzles vary from using the correct type of magic (more about that later) on the correct activation spots to playing chess. Sometimes you need to figure out how to place a bundle of light in a certain direction, connect bridges or find a special lens or key to open a door. The puzzles are a nice distraction from the usual fighting, and not too difficult either! Personally I loved the chess puzzle as it reminds me of the PS3 game Eye of Judgment. Collecting gems is another nice distraction but also lucrative for Gabriel and your knowledge about the story and solving puzzles.


 Castlevania Lords of Shadow female gamers review

While exploring the environments, you’ll find a lot of fallen soldiers. Like a thief you’ll go through their stuff to collect gems which can be stored in a medallion to upgrade your stamina. For example the green life gem medallion upgrades your health while the red magic medallion upgrades your magic usage bar. Gabriel has no inventory with potions, but if you need to increase health or magic you can restore the bars at certain fonts placed in various places. Plus you can observe orbs from fallen enemies to increase the health and magic bars. By activating the magic bar you can either deal more damage for a short time or increase the health by hitting your enemies. Enough possibilities to keep Gabriel on his feet till the end.

Besides gems, you’ll take scrolls from the fallen soldiers which can be read. You don’t have to, but it gives you some inside information on why the soldier is fallen, what his quest was and useful information on how to solve a puzzle or what to look for specifically in an area to make progress. The fallen soldiers are shattered all over the place, but some lay on places that are hard to reach, which brings us to the active exploration gameplay. Gabriel needs to climb building and walls to reach certain spots. He also needs to use his weapon to hang on, or to swing from one side to another. It’s not difficult at all, you just need to look where you can lead him and how.

 Castlevania Lords of Shadow female gamers review

From a female point of view, Castlevania Lords of Shadow contains a few important female characters. In first couple of hours playing this game, it’s Gabriel’s primary task is to find a solution to bring his wife Marie back to life. In his quest he meets Claudia, a telepathic and acrobatic girl, who is willing to help him out. Gabriel wins the trust of the girl by beating a huge female titan, the last in her kind. Together they wield a fearsome power and seem to be a perfect match to deal with any enemy. Nevertheless, it won’t take long before Gabriel has to leave another girl behind. While proceeding in the story, Gabriel also will meet an evil witch and Laura, a girl who likes to play chess. She has the body of an innocent child, yet the wits and cunning of a predator. But in the end it is not Laura who’s the most evil one; it’s her mother we should deal with! No more to be said as I don’t want to spoil the unexpected twist in the game.

 Castlevania Lords of Shadow female gamers review

While playing this game, it’s easy to see similarities with other games, so here are my thoughts; the climbing reminded me of Assassins Creed, the fighting of God of War, the light bundle puzzles of Zelda, the enemies reminded me of Fable, some environments of Devil May Cray and Lord of the Rings. And the list goes on and on. Is it bad that these types of thoughts came up during gaming? I don’t think so as it includes truly good elements of all these different titles. Of course the game contains also some minor disappointments; there’s no real free-roaming / paths are restricted, no control over the camera view ( to view some beautiful environments), irritating Chupacabra’s characters which steal all of your magic and play hide and seek, and last but not least it contains only one save file which saves automatically during the game but what if the save game ends up damaged? Well than it’s all over, and starting all over again! So don’t forget to make back-ups from time to time.

Castlevania, I admit that I never was a fan of your games, but you can count me in as a true fan from now onwards. Experienced castlevania fans even don’t call it a true Castlevania game, but it rocks big time! It was a pleasure playing this game and already looking forward to a new adventure.