Lords of the Fallen has already had its share of comparisons, and it’s easy to see why. Being treated to a demonstration of a level following the anti-hero Harkyn, the new game from Deck 13/CI Games could easily be accused of ‘ripping off’ other franchises like Dark Souls, Darksiders and the like. Even the executive producer Tomasz Gop was formerly involved in The Witcher series. So it’s something they freely recognise but want to distance themselves from.
However I saw something different. I saw a game that, whilst with RPG elements, owes a lot more to its action and its combat. The player’s ability to have choices in how to handle a situation (gung ho, using the environment, using magic) makes the combat look very easy.
It’s all about timing, learning to use the combat system and followed up by how you want to you use it. In fact, I would say that as a game, its gameplay owes a lot more to franchises like Dynasty Warriors than its visual credentials portray.
“With the art direction, this definitely isn’t dark fantasy… It’s more of a high fantasy,” Tomasz told me.
Seeing the current build on a big high definition screen certainly helps to show how good it is.
“The old pen and paper Warhammer series was also an inspiration… but we want it to be more arcade, [in the] Dark Souls/Tekken kind of way.”
You can see what he’s getting at as well. The third person, almost hack and slash, style of the game certainly gives you a very easy pick-up-and-play atmosphere, which is where I got the echoes of Dynasty Warriors. Even just watching it, you could see that as an introduction game for someone who’s never played one before this would work excellently.
That’s not to say that the game is too easy. There’s going to be, depending on the gameplay style, around 20 hours of play in the game. That being said, once you’re in the rhythm though, it’s easy to see this becoming an Internet speed-run favourite. The way the game sucks you in though isn’t its story, or its next gen graphics or enjoyable smashing of nasty skulls. It’s that your anti-hero Harkyn has ‘credibility’.
The game’s lore and entire creative side has been started from scratch, so everything in here is brand new.
“What’s important is not realism but credibility, and the credibility in here means that we want people to believe that Harkyn is actually a guy who can learn things. He could actually wield these weapons, he can actually fight them because he knows what it takes to survive.”
That is something that comes across and makes you connect with Harkyn despite the RPG element of the game being rather secondary to the action and tactical nuance needed for the combat system. Again it means that things are not just there to be powerful or to make yourself heavy or affect your gameplay, but it can just look cool and be fun for, as I put it, kicking ass.
“I’m really fond of the design of the armours of this game,” Tomasz pointed out. “There’s so much detail, I love looking at this and hinting towards people ‘you might want to try this because it looks cool.’”
This could be, if you forgive the two MMO games coming soon, the first fantasy action/RPG to land on the next generation consoles. Its combat is easy to pick up and play, like Ryse you could surmise, and its RPG element isn’t so deep that you need expert advice on a D20 and a history of mages to embrace it.
Due in the winter months of 2014, you can expect Lords of the Fallen to fall quite literally into your Christmas laps for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Of course at the moment there’s no word on if the Xbox One version will hit 1080p. But if it’s a choice between the game being finished and the resolution holding up other releases, we got the feeling the release would be more important.