Van Helsing was only one piece of salvation’s puzzle but little did the world know there were others holding the line of defense against the creatures of the night and their dark prince.
It was in 1986 that Konami introduced and unveiled another family lineage that was caught in an un-ending generational cycle of defending the world in a struggling war between the prince of darkness Dracula and his horde of unholy minions. The Belmont’s were among the first family’s that swore to defend the world from the prince of darkness, but were also the one’s responsible for starting the war and creating Dracula’s existence.
Across generations their lineage had defended the world from becoming manipulated by Dracula’s control. From ancestors to current members of the Belmont family they are forever cursed to repeat the cycle of defeating and preparing for Dracula’s un-ending return.
In 2010 Konami and Mercury Steam released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow the prequel title to the Castlevania series which explained the origin story of the Belmont’s first ancestor, Gabriel as well as how Dracula’s cruse became a heavy burden upon their blood line.
Now that 7 years have passed since Castlevania: Lords of Shadow’s release, Gabriel Belmont sweeps off the built up cob webs that have grown on him and returns for its sequel, but there is something terribly wrong with our hero. Gabriel what great fangs you have, what great claws you have, what great paleness complexion you have, Gabriel what have you become? Or should I say what has the sequel become?
After defeating the Lords of Shadow and sending Lucifer back to his prison, Gabriel Belmont became the thing he once hunted and took on a new form of devastating evil that would seem impossible to destroy. He became a new kind of darkness, an eternal prince of the night, something no one would dare to oppose, something that’s name represented true fear. Once known as Gabriel Belmont is now lost in the shadows, in his place stands darkness, a darkness known as Dracula.
Awakening centuries on to our present day, Zobek the Necromancer from the original Lords of Shadow informs Dracula that his old enemy Lucifer, is to return and extract revenge upon the once member of the Brotherhood of Light. Weakened by his previous encounter with Alucard and the Brotherhood of Light, Dracula’s mission is to now restore the powers he once had, and work with the Necromancer that once deceived him in preparing himself for a battle against the Fallen One and his army.
Getting into Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 we instantly realize the title shares the same platforming/hack and slash mechanics as the first two installments, however added with a little more colour, style and flair.
We are introduced to Dracula’s new combat mechanics which are the powers of ice and fire represented by the powers of Void (Ice) and Chaos (Fire). Each talent is equipped with their own fun execution combos and really brings out more of the combat when combined with Dracula’s new Shadow Whip, which replaces Gabriel Belmont’s Vampire Slayer.
Although equipped with new powers and potential, the downside is there is nothing really new to expect from combat and it stays entirely the same as the previous titles, or maybe it’s because I find all third person hack and slashes the same….well maybe not everything is the same, you can turn into a dragon, but its nothing fancy.
Castlevania: LOS2 has adapted on to a larger open world environment and invites players to explore and uncover secrets as well as potential upgrades and special items known as Kleidos Nails, which unlock special challenges.
Wowed by some of the new combat and exploration, that’s all for interesting gameplay as the rest falls on annoyance as well as letdowns.One being bosses can be defeated quite easily by using the same method of freezing used by the Void sword, then knocking down bars of health with the Chaos Claws before finishing off with Dracula’s Shadow whip to hack and slash, which is a bit of a letdown, and occasionally gets repetitive. There is no strategy to bosses and you tend to progress quite quickly.
I also found that the present setting takes away a lot from the title, basing it around a pharmaceutical outbreak that infects a city kind of resembles Resident Evil. Monsters that use machine guns does not really seem like an appropriate Castlevania title. Basing it around its original story and keeping it close to its origins would have been a better choice.
In terms of annoyance, the stealth section included in the game mess with the pacing. One moment you’ll be hacking away and using your awesome moves on a group of enemies then when you’ll be asked to sneak past guards you can’t even kill, slip up and you get blown away to start all over again, this happens more than it should.
Another is that enemies have unblockable attacks, which is really annoying when you are surrounded. You get knocked to the ground then more enemies use their unblockable attacks not giving you a chance recover and within seconds you’re dead.
Castlevania: LOS2’s controls are fairly straight forward and don’t really require a great deal of studying, though it may take some time to master the Void and Chaos power switch and combos, however it’s fairly easy to achieve second nature.
Visually Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 is a masterpiece to look out at including its character models, gothic environments and monarchs . The amount of detail put into the game really helps uplift the overall journey throughout the title.
Castlevania: LOS2’s orchestra soundtrack which is composed by the trilogy’s composer, Oscar Araujo, is so powerful and up lifting and really adds onto the games vibe. From light tracks that escalate to desperate thunderous tracks, it really moves the game exceptionally well.
After completing the well over 20 hour campaign, Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 has been kind enough to allow players to start over with a New Game+, which allows the player to carry over their unlocked potentials into another round of the game. This also allows players to enhance Dracula’s skills by increasing the chances of finding more upgrades that were missed in the previous game, as well as more Kleidos Nails to unlock further Kleidos challenges.
Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 is a brilliant looking game, with a powerful soundtrack, strong engaging combat. There are some mechanics lacking in terms of the annoying unblockable attacks and vibe killing stealth sections. Lords of Shadow 2’s setting and story arc feel a bit like a Resident Evil game, it takes a something away from the traditional Castlevania experience. This coupled with the ending and conclusion feeling a bit incomplete provokes a feeling of, “Is that it?”
Overall it’s wise to pick up a copy if you’ve gone through the other Lords of Shadow titles, just so you can be done with the trilogy and lay it to rest.