Whether you were for or against it, the Castlevania franchise is one of many that has found itself in the reboot camp as of late. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was a complete re-imagining of not only the mythos, but also the gameplay. Rather than following the trend of the Metroidvania games of old, Lords of Shadow instead leaned more towards the God of War formula with a touch of Shadow of the Colossus. It was very different is what I’m getting at here and with the advent of a 3DS spinoff and full-fledged sequel, it’s clear that it’s not going away anytime soon. I had a chance to spend some brief time with the demo of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and I’ve gotta say, things seem to be heading in the right direction.
As the demo opens, the camera pans in on Dracula as he sits upon his throne (which I’m going to assume is something you end up spending a lot of time doing when you’re a vampire). Suddenly, an army of soldiers crashes in in an attempt to slay the lord of vampires. After a quick quip about looking forward to some fresh blood, the player takes control of Dracula and the battle officially begins.
If you felt like the game seemed similar to God of War before, it really shows through during the combat tutorial. Dracula’s blood whip attacks even leave the same arced streaks behind. You get both direct and wide attacks and stunning your assailants gives you an opportunity to grab one of them and give them a nasty bite on the neck before tossing their limp bodies aside. As the fight continues, you’re introduced to a sword weapon that drains the health of enemies when you land blows, as well as flaming claws that can break shields and penetrate defenses. In this way, the game leans more towards the DmC end of the genre spectrum, though given how much I enjoyed that title I could get behind this concept.
While there were some platforming segments that followed, the combat was really the key thing I was looking for improvements on and I really thing they nailed it with Lords of Shadow 2. It flowed much smoother than the original game and enemies actually seemed to react more to your blows. Of course, this looks to be just the beginning of the game, so a lot can change in the final version. But based on what I’ve seen, things seem to at least be heading in the right direction.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 will be released this winter for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.