Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Impressions

Konami shows off a new trailer of its highly anticipated Castlevania reboot.

As a Castlevania fan, when a new trailer starts with the opening music from Super Castlevania IV, it becomes clear that the people at Mercury Steam--the developers behind the game--are also longtime fans of the series. Of course, that becomes even more apparent when Dave Cox, a Konami producer on the game, says that not only will that song be in the game, but it (as well as several other classic Castlevania tunes, like "Vampire Killer") will also be performed by a full orchestra. In fact, much of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow functions as what Konami calls, "a love letter" to fans of the series, but at the same time, Mercury Steam has made great efforts to produce a game that newcomers can enjoy just as well.

The trailer starts with a camera panning through several environments, ranging from the snowy and bleak outskirts of a dilapidated castle to the lush and green plants of a junglelike area. It's at this point that we hear that Lords of Shadow won't have any direct connection to any other game in the series. In other words, it doesn't necessarily function as a prequel or sequel to any other game in the series. That being said, there are obviously characters and enemies (like Death) that are nods to previous games in the series, like the name of Lords of Shadow's protagonist, Gabriel Belmont--a member of the Brotherhood of Light sent on a quest to stop the Lords of Shadow. These evil beings have somehow found a way to prevent souls from finding peace in the afterlife, forcing them to roam in some kind of purgatory for eternity.

Armed with the combat cross to defeat his enemies, Gabriel ventures forth, but he later learns of an artifact that can bring the dead back to life. Such an item would be incredibly useful to Gabriel because his wife, Marie, had been murdered. Naturally, the pieces of this artifact are scattered throughout the land, forcing Gabriel to travel to new lands outside the realm of the castle.

Gabriel Belmont hunts down evil with the combat cross.

As far as combat and general action goes, Lords of Shadow bears some resemblance to the God of War games, which certainly isn't a bad thing. Gabriel's combat cross functions as a whip (a great relief to longtime Castlevania fans) that enables him to produce up to 40 different kinds of combination attacks, which are unlocked as you progress through the game. Within these combinations, there seem to be attacks that are stronger than others. For example, one of Gabriel's ranged attacks is great for dealing with a large number of enemies just outside of his immediate area, but these attacks are weaker because of their added reach. Naturally, Gabriel also has access to the classic secondary weapons of the Castlevania franchise--we got a peek at the holy water, as well as the dagger, but there will be more, and it's worth mentioning that all secondary items can be upgraded in some manner. Gabriel also has access to a light and dark magic system. While we got a brief glimpse of it in action, we don’t quite know how it functions, just yet.

Many of the environments we've seen so far look great.

But we do know that platforming will also be a big part of the Lords of Shadow experience. In quite a few scenes, we saw Gabriel taking long leaps across enormous chasms. We also saw him using the combat cross to scale objects and repel down walls. All of this comes in handy when you have opportunities to explore the environments and find hidden areas that may contain useful items you can use later. Some of these items may prove to be quite useful when battling some of the boss characters known as Titans. As you can imagine, the Titans are massive creatures--so massive that Gabriel has to scale them to find their weak points, which he has to smash in order to take these Titans down. If that sounds a little familiar, it should--the sequence Konami showed looked quite similar to the way the Colossi are defeated in Shadow of the Colossus, and it actually looked pretty cool to see that kind of gameplay in such a detailed setting.

Surprisingly, Lords of Shadow also seems to have a fairly strong puzzle-solving element to its gameplay. The puzzles in the game range from fairly straightforward physical puzzles, such as where Gabriel has to use his dash move to light up a series of panels beneath his feet, to some that require a little more brain power--like the puzzle that requires you to line up a series of mirrors to properly reflect a beam of light. It's not clear just how often these puzzles appear, but from all indications, these occur when Gabriel needs a specific item, like a key to a particular room.

Everything we've seen so far from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow looks mighty impressive, and Castlevania fans should have every reason to be excited that this new game is coming from people who have a genuine love for the series. It's also clear that Kojima Productions' involvement with the game, which included significant refinement on Gabriel's design, had a positive impact. At any rate, we're excited to get our hands on the game at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, get a feel for the combat, and see just how massive the game really is--especially if Gabriel needs horses and eagles to traverse the landscape. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is scheduled for release later this year for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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224 comments
chirumbolo
chirumbolo

This looks like it is going to be a blast and the inclusion of heritage elements is should only make it better!

Kle0
Kle0

Someody's excited...

naraku2099
naraku2099

@Hirockem: I doubt that about as hard as it is possible to do so. Alucard is good and always has been. I hope he is there to help Gabriel, and/or is a playable character, like he was in Dawn of Sorrow.

Hirockem
Hirockem

Alucard is going to be the final boss in this one.

studfly
studfly

Alot of you may not remember, but were is Simon Belmont from Castlevania from the original NES day........because that was the last time i played Castlevania........One of my favorite all time games.....oh and.....I will be getting this on day one.....you can bet your kester on that

flawless_blade
flawless_blade

ALUCARD?! WHERE?! And what in the world is a "combat cross"?! Where's the Vampire Killer?! Watch those "Pieces of Artifact" actually be parts of Dracula's body. XD

Rheinmetal
Rheinmetal

What I would really love to play is a new and high definition side scrolling game, like the previous titles of the series. 3D environments don't quite match with the spirit of Castlevania.

xpilotos
xpilotos

Alucard is not mentioned. Where is he? We want Alucard to be the main character of the game, just as the "symphony of the night". Actually Alucard is the only warior that eventually can have all the Dracula's power and abilities for the final battle.

blaze_raiden
blaze_raiden

i really only have 1 thing to say and maybe someone can help me out, but the tagline said this game would feature the return of alucard and i didnt see any mention besides that.

Buck_Swaggler
Buck_Swaggler

All of the best Castlevania games out there let you use more than just the whip. They also have leveling systems. I hope these things make the transition.

whitemute
whitemute

I'd pick this up in a heartbeat if they would go back to the side-scroller formula. Without the side-scrolling action, this game is no different to me than a Devil May Cry or God of War. While both good games in their own right, Castlevania always had something special that separated it from the crowd...but now, it just blends in.

Lightsyde
Lightsyde

Really wish they would make Alucard the prontagonist...

marcosdlerma
marcosdlerma

Had Lament of innocence not have that teleportation system to reach new stages and made to the point where you had to explore like you did in the 2 N64 games and Curse of Darkness, have complete control of the camera, then it would have been flawless. The combat in LOI was really fun and all; it was the lack exploration is what made it mediocre. You bet your bottom dollar Mercury Steam is taking notes.

SKErwin
SKErwin

The red color of his clothes don't convince me. ¿Maybe his powers?

megamanx666
megamanx666

Making it a 3-D game will not be that hard. Devil May Cry, God Of War. They are going take notes from those games.

Koushin
Koushin

I am a bit concerned (being a Castlevania player since the original NES title). The 3D Castlevania titles have never been as solid compared to their 2D counterparts. Here's hoping that I'm proven wrong and that this will finally be the jump to 3D that Konami is trying to provide to us! :)

Redwolf13
Redwolf13

I hope there will be pork chops in the walls. :D

tremor33
tremor33

BTW imagine how much a sequel to Symphony of the Night would sell if it were done in 2-D but was made to be enormous and use the full power of next gen consoles. WE NEED MORE 2-D GAMES. There's no reason why we can't have both a 3-D game and a 2-D game set in different time lines or universes for our home consoles

tremor33
tremor33

I can't freaking wait. I've played every Castlevania up until now and I agree that the 3-D Castlevanias did suck (especially the ones on N64). My favorite are the ones for the DS/GBA in the metroidvaina style, but this one looks too good to pass up. They better put in plenty of secrets and an alternate ending or two

bullsharkowski
bullsharkowski

This game looks amazing to me, being a LONG TIME fan. I own every game in this series and I will say this: For true fans, it's the Castlevania mythos that creates the experience. Regardless of system, regardless of style, I have enjoyed every single entry into the Castlevania library. All the "3D Castlevania sucks" naysayers need to stop looking at critic reviews and try them out. They're not revolutionary, but far from the blasting they're receiving here. I think this game has some serious potential. This game looks to take the series into 2010 by using the epic storyline, adding to it, making adjustments, and building a great looking game around it. And as for the "GoW clone" comments- Seriously, almost every single game you see released these days has to piggy-back off of something already existing. Almost every game could conceivably be a "clone" to a different game that came out before it. 'Tis the nature of technology...take what you have, and make it better/different. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed GoW, but to take that syle and put it into a Castlevania setting? Why WOULDN'T I have fun with that?!?

jazzyrider
jazzyrider

very nice. i haven't played a castlevania game since the nes days. this new one looks promising.

hi-buzz
hi-buzz

it seems that Konami is doin' this new Castlevania just like what Nintendo is doin' wit the new Metroid :Other M......give it a more refined gameplay/control combined with great visuals and hopefully a great soundtrack (Super Castlevania had an excellent musical score...actually it's the best one in the series) and they need to keep that Castlevania sensibility and essence that made the 2D series a huge success....now i do admit that there hasn't been n e good "3D"castlevania....so hopefully Konami will make this one a success.....jus don't rush it n ruin it.....

comb5
comb5

@trenton_huggins Yeah, Symphony of the Night sorry. I had just took a four hour test beforehand so my brain wasn't fully functioning yet.

chaos269
chaos269

sounds interesting hey could be a good game, lets wait and see later on how it looks like when we see some gameplay

maximo
maximo

god of War type combat? boring

elancion
elancion

guys its a 3d action adventure plat former game ,action that takes place in 3d so it cant be helped if certain game play elements are similar to dmc or gow,which are also action games that are in 3d ,if we are going to make any comparisons lets not forget to mention these titles Mario 64 and Zelda64 Ocarina of time ,these games successfully made the conversion from 2d to 3d and help pave the way for this genre to be at the level its currently at . As long as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow's game play and control are tight/solid and it has that authentic castlevania feel or essence about it,i'll roll with this title.I have a feeling that this games story will be better and more fully developed than GOW3.

arcfear
arcfear

Time to kick Dracula's ass again:)

ToneLoki
ToneLoki

The graphics look amazing, nice looking environments. Yet they should also give a nod and a wink to God of War 2, since thats what the images look like (balance beam walking, white glowing anchors for swinging) Could have made a sweet 2D adventure too! You had the advantage to go old school a la Bionic Commando Rearmed, which is a real baddass reboot

nini200
nini200

Bring out a new 2.5D Side Scrolling Exploration Adventure game like the DS versions to the Wii with Classic Controller Option as well as Motion and you have me sold Konami.

wackyw3
wackyw3

All I'm gonna say is that I've played the other 3D Castlevania's and... Yeah. I'm skeptical. I'm very skeptical.

huntervaneg
huntervaneg

Konami/ Mercury Steam should talk to Retro Studios guys, maybe they can give some useful tips to make a succeful transition from 2D to 3D..!!

pajislav
pajislav

maybe we will not get an gow copy finally XD

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

@carraco52. Actually, I played all of them up till IV and symphony. None of the new ones though. I'm pretty excited about this as Castlevania was one of my favorite series as a kid.

carraco52
carraco52

hey come on, has anyone played even castlvenia IV or anything before that?, how can you say they are doing a reboot, if symphony of the night was already a reboot, and look what it did for the series, great, just wait and see, this is more of a going back to its roots rather than doing another rpgesk game. its not change, kill enemy, go next level, kill more harder enemies, next level, then dracula. castlevania has had many changes, back and forth during the entire series, just maybe all of u haven't played them....

comb5
comb5

If Konami insists on doing this then I want Symphony of Darkness in 3D. Not some generic hack and slash with Castlevania makeup on it.

protoroc
protoroc

Not really interested, why does Castlevania need a reboot? Id rather have a new dungeon crawl with HD makeup ala Shadow Complex.

Sarrom_Fin
Sarrom_Fin

Its good to see that the series is finally going to have a decent 3d game. Anyone remember Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness?

Barighm
Barighm

Meh. A lot of copying going on here. Elements taken from this and that game all over the place. I'm not gonna say going all the way back to the old school design is better, but some of those elements would be welcome, or at the very least more original.

BlackDiamond81
BlackDiamond81

Never was a big Castlevania fan so I can't say i'm excited for this game. I can say however that it does sound like it has promise.

solidstein
solidstein

this is def on my radar cant wait to E3 to see if its gonna be as good as the hype i really hope so need a good 3D castlevania just hope it doesnt come out around reach

QueenOfGaming
QueenOfGaming

This has the potential to be a very good game! Let's wait and hope :)

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

hopefully they took their time making it, i guess we'll see

nineironriot
nineironriot

Oh great, another potentially great game that looks like it's going to jump on the GoW bandwagon. Please no QTE's, please no QTE's...