TGS ’10: Castlevania Lords of Shadow Hands-On


Well, it ain’t your grandpappy’s Castlevania

After the nostalgic re-issuing of Symphony of Night and the flawed experiment of Harmony of Despair, Mercury Steam and Kojima Productions are taking Castlevania in a whole new direction. We tried out the upcoming Lords of Shadow at TGS.

When you hear Castlevania, you think puzzles, platforming and exploration. None of these were anywhere to be found in the section we played. Cutscenes led us from one set-piece fight to the next with an emphasis on pure hack-and-slash action.

Starting out in a dark woodland village under werewolf attack, Gabriel Belmont must use his trusty whip to fend off several waves of baddies before confronting a big (bad?) wolf boss. The combat instantly recalls DMC and Ninja Gaiden: The guard button blocks, guard plus a direction makes you dodge, several attacks can be delivered in mid-air on a single jump, the wolf boss involved quick-time events … they may as well have called it “Medieval May Cry.”

It didn’t feel like an old Castlevania game, but it may well find an audience. Battles are fast and enjoyable, success coming more from well-timed dodges than mindless flailing of the whip. Also, the dark and gloomy setting mixed with frantic over-the top monster fighting recalls 2004’s horror cheesefest Van Helsing (a true guilty pleasure).

Meanwhile, the trailer doing the rounds at TGS listed a host of characters, yet still no sign of Dracula. At least there’s still a castle …

TGS 2010 reporting is done jointly by Fintan Monaghan and Lisa Gay.

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