You'll love it if:
- You like souls-likes and want a slightly quicker pace
- You really enjoy stutters
- The horror theme and artstyle are visually pleasing for you
Not for you if:
- You get nightmares easily
- You enjoy a smooth 60FPS experience
- You want an easy game and can't face adversities in life
Lords of the Fallen is a reboot and a continuation of Lords of the Fallen. Just to make everything as simple as possible, Lords of the Fallen has the same name as Lords of the Fallen. Still with me? Probably not. Lords of the Fallen was already released in 2014, and Lords of the Fallen 2023 is a sequel to Lords of the Fallen while maintaining the name.
Surely Intel feels great adding a number when it is completely unnecessary (click the link if you missed this reference, good on you if you got this joke, fellow Geek). But I sure wish Hexworks and CI Games had decided to add a number to Lords of the Fallen.
Just give Lords of the Fallen a couple of months to iron out its terrible performance on the Xbox Series X. That‘s the TL;DR for this whole review. The chunky TL;DR is as follows: Lords of the Fallen has an amazing dual world with insane art and quick combat that really pops off if you aren’t fighting the camera and targeting system. Lords of the Fallen has some big difficulty spikes, but grinding out levels and upgrades is fairly easy. If Lords of the Fallen decides to run properly that is.
Lords of the Fallen is plagued by stutters, FPS drops, and crashes, and these are all devastating for a souls-like, where every iframe matters and timing is crucial to your survival and victory. More than once, I ended a session after getting a stutter that ended in my death, fed up with not only fighting the bosses but the technical struggles as well.
Lords of the Fallen Xbox Series X Review
Lords of the Fallen is the epitome of a love-hate relationship. I love the art and playing Lords of the Fallen. I hate the way it runs and how some encounters become a struggle. When I sat down to play Lords of the Fallen, time flew by as I navigated Mournstead and explored every nook and cranny. Up until the frustration got the better of me after a stutter took me out or got clipped into another wall.
Mourning in Mournstead
When the cinematic trailer dropped at Gamescom 2022, it did not lie. The art style in Lords of the Fallen is simply sublime. Mournstead is a dirty, scary, and rugged world that is so detailed and beautiful it crashes my Xbox Series X. Everything from the armours you find, enemy design, and weapons fit that holy and unholy vibe the story is going for.
Not only do we have the world of Axiom where Mournstead is located, but layered upon, or under, depending on how you look at it, is the Umbral world. A dark blue-greyish world is rendered simultaneously with the world of Axiom and Mournstead. This Umbral world is filled with horrors that make the horrors of Mournstead look like bonafide cuties. Umbral is the world of the dead and the Umbral Lamp you carry can take you there when you want to, or when you die.
The Umbral world serves as a second chance to overcome your death. It also serves as a way to overcome some obstacles in Axiom, bridges are formed using skeletal pathways, or doors are opened in this other world. Using the lamp, you can peer beyond the veil and search for shortcuts and loot. Umbral comes with its own risks, you are constantly hunted by smaller horrors that are pretty weak. They can overwhelm you eventually. After a set amount of time, a red reaper will come for you, while these can be killed for amazing Exp and rare materials. This is not for the faint of heart or freshly created characters.
The Ultimate heretic
The opening cutscene shows off the Dark Crusader fighting the Lightreaper. This monster is desperately seeking the lamp he carries. The lamp carries immense powers, the biggest one being the ability to revive when dying in the Umbral world.
This Dark Crusader discards the lamp, deeming himself unworthy to carry out the task beseeched upon him. The lamp falls on your discarded casket and slowly revives you back to the Axiom world. You awake to the realm of living as Exacter Dunmire helps you get back on your feet. He is part of the Dark Crusaders and your guide from this point forward. You are unwillingly recruited to the Dark Crusaders and deemed a heretic to the world as the lamp bearer.
The story takes place 1000 years after the first Lords of the Fallen, the tyrannical god Adyr has been vanquished and sealed using the power of five beacons that prevent his return. Over the years, followers of Adyr have slowly corrupted the beacons, and the holy ordos that follow Orios have been slowly corrupted. These extreme followers are deemed sinners and stand in your way. The worlds of Axiom and Umbral are beautiful, dangerous, and strangely enthralling.
Fighting horrors and systems
Lords of the Fallen’s combat is faster, snappier, and ultimately somewhat flawed compared to FromSoftwares souls-likes. The biggest struggles you will encounter are the sudden difficulty spikes, be they coming from sudden damage spikes from enemies to bosses that suddenly get a 10th gear and kill you before you even processed their intro movie.
Some other inconveniences are the targeting system and inconsistent movement. Or certain terrains and objects in the world. Mainly the targeting system has its own mind and decides to target an object you can interact with for a puzzle in the middle of combat. Or targetting the enemy furthest away instead of the one right in front of you. Couple this with your dodges, sometimes not dodging in the direction you want, or attacks swinging in a different direction you are pointing to. And you sometimes get the feeling you aren’t really controlling your character.
On several occasions, I even got pushed inside a wall as an enemy in Umbral spawned beneath me. Only fixable by dying or rebooting the game. Certain small bumps in the terrain can completely block you, that tiny pebble sticking out can fully block your dash away from an attack.
There are some weird design choices as well, the sparse placement of your re-spawn points is tedious. There is a workaround to plant your own spawn points using seeds in flower beds. But you can only have one at a time; these seeds are rare. You can still buy these seeds, but they are expensive enough that they get in the way of character progression. Certain boss enemies you encounter the first time suddenly become normal enemies afterwards. They are slightly weaker, but their tactics and approach remain the same. Now fighting this enemy and the clutter becomes an even greater challenge, and not a fun one at times.
Underperforming on the technical side
When I started playing Lords of the Fallen for this Lords of the Fallen review, the game was in a terrible spot performance-wise. While it went great at first, after the tutorial, it became unplayable in quality mode and barely bearable in performance mode. Over the course of the week, every day was met with a patch improving performance, new game plus, and bugs. Performance got gradually better as well, and I was amazed at the dedication to fix things at this pace. Unlike Starfield, it still desperately needs a performance upgrade to run a bit smoother.
Nonetheless, Lords of the Fallen was released in a tremendously bad state and has surely lost many players because of this. I only battled through because I was reviewing Lords of the Fallen, and it only felt fair that I tried to look beyond the technical issues and see what Lords of the Fallen had to offer. But it even got to a point on several days where I just had to put down my controller and do something else. The frustration and anger of struggling with the technical issues and earlier mentioned inconveniences just being too much.
Lords of the Fallen Conclusion
The short of it is really in the TL;DR. Wait until the end of the year or when the state of the game drastically improves. If you see a window in your gaming time and are looking for something new to dive into in a couple of months. I wholeheartedly recommend you pick up Lords of the Fallen, then. Lords of the Fallen is a good game hindered by terrible performance right now. But it is so pleasing to explore Mournstead and the Umbral world, collecting the beautiful gear and fighting the horrors Lords of the Fallen throws at you.
But right now, I cannot recommend you pick up Lords of the Fallen. Put it on your wish list and keep your eyes on Lords of the Fallen, give it a chance when Lords of the Fallen is fixed.
Thanks to CD Media for this key, I loved and hated playing Lords of the Fallen at the same time.