Fear and Loathing on the Widower Circuit.
Originally announced only as ‘Lords of Shadow’—no reference to a particular long-standing Konami vampire-whipping franchise at all—this newest entrant to the Castlevania lineup is set in a high-fantasy Middle Ages Europe and is considered to be a reboot of the series. As such, the plot is not connected to the canon of the original series.
[image1]The new setup, then: A dark Force known as the Lords of Shadow is threatening the alliance between the Heavens and the Earth, and a bad-news magical spell prevents the souls of the departed from leaving their terrestrial digs. The result is an ill-fated planet crawling with evil monsters who prey on the living. Players take the role of Gabriel Belmont, an elite member of a group of knights calling themselves the Brotherhood of Light.
The job of the Brotherhood is to protect the innocent and weak against the supernatural monsters that now roam the countryside in bulk. It turns out that one of the humans recently slaughtered by said monsters was none other than Gabriel’s wife, now trapped in a shadow existence between life and death (since her soul cannot depart). With nothing else to do, she essentially plays Beatrice to Gabriel’s Dante, guiding him on his new, inherited quest to, well, save the world. No pressure.
Centrally important to Gabriel’s quest are two legend-shrouded Masks—the God and Devil Masks. One of them purportedly has the power to resurrect the dead—an obvious ‘wanna’ for our widower-hero. The Devil Mask… well, we’re not sure what that one does. Nothing good, would be my guess. As Gabriel roams the supernaturally-wasted land to defeat the factions of the Lords of Shadow, he will meet other major characters such as The Lady of the Forest, The Sword Master, and his own mentor Zobek (voiced by Patrick Stewart).
[image2]Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a third-person action adventure and features over 50 levels filled with platforming, combat, and puzzle-solving gameplay. Gabriel wields a chain-whip dubbed the Combat Cross; this retractable-chain number can be upgraded and is useful for exploratory purposes, such as attaining higher perches, climbing walls, and naturally swinging across chasms. Other usable items include stakes, knives, vials of Holy Water, and other more incidental, environmental weapons.
The idea was to have a 3D-experience worthy of current-gen systems and also to emulate the kinds of frantic, latching-on, whip-swinging action that defined Super Castlevania IV. In Lords of Shadow, there will at times be somewhat linear stages that serve to drive the story, but other game-areas are described as “quite open” and are to be filled with numerous hidden artifacts for players to collect. Really determined, completionist players will be able to revisit any previous stage in order to collect every single item in the game.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow will offer approximately 15 hours of gameplay throughout the 50+ stages, in a range of setting that will go ‘Well beyond the Castle’. While classic, staple enemies like werewolves and vampires abound, the game will include foes such as giant spider, trolls and goblins, as well as much more large-scale bosses such as the massive Ice Titan revealed in the game trailers. Taking one of these hyperthyroidal puppies down will yield valuable Relics critical to later sections of the game.
And yes, yes—the legendary Konami Code will be lurking around in the new game, too (for all you Symphony of the Night fanboys out there). Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is destined to rise from the gloom later this year, and we’ll be ready to whip our full review on you when it does.