Lords Of The Fallen Review – Dark Slog

There are a lot of elements that might be said to define Souls-like games, but high on the list has to be the genre’s particular approach to pacing. As a group of action-RPGs, they’re defined first by periods of growing, ratcheting tension. You fight through long areas filled with tough enemies, with each one dropping “souls” that you can spend to level up your character, which you risk losing if you die before you reach a safe place where you’re able to spend them.

Following the build of tension is the release, when you finally make it to the safety of a checkpoint, stopping to refill your health, enhance your character, and catch your breath before setting out into danger again. You’re constantly making the same difficult decision: Do you risk going forward for greater rewards, or return to safety and grow your strength, knowing you’ll have to fight through all the dangers you just faced once again?

Though Lords of the Fallen ticks off many items from the list of things that Souls-like games are known for, it’s the ebb-and-flow pacing, or rather the lack of it, that vexes the most. There’s a combination of elements at play–the game’s meandering level design, the spongy enemies you face as you progress, the uneven checkpoint and death systems–that creates a series of long and frustrating slogs. Lords of the Fallen is a game that has all the right Souls-like elements on-hand, but never quite gets the proportions right.

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