Lords of The Fallen PS5 Review: Beautifully Hollow
As someone who has been a fan of the souls-borne genre for many years now, Lords of The Fallen had me curious. I have journeyed through the varying worlds of Dark Souls 3 to Lies of P, and I was looking forward to the world of Axiom within HexWorks’ entry into the genre.
After trudging through both the world of the living and the dead for many hours, it saddens me that Lords of The Fallen doesn’t quite land on its feet. The game has some good aspects, but what it lacks outweighs the positive.
“Lords of The Fallen immediately nails the aesthetic of a world already leaning into chaos, filled with gloom and darkness.”
The game’s opening cutscene captured me, showing the grim world of Axiom and what I would be getting myself into. The player character, known as a Dark Crusader, is on a mission to light the five beacons across Axiom. Doing so will prevent the emergence of the dark god Adyr, wishing to cause total annihilation. Lords of The Fallen immediately nails the aesthetic of a world already leaning into chaos, filled with gloom and darkness.
HexWorks’ impressive use of Unreal Engine 5 does show throughout the game in both the living and umbral worlds. Lightning strikes highlighting monstrous cliffs to foggy wisps of the world of umbral, Lords of The Fallen visually looks incredibly striking. The different environments made me and my character feel like a small fish in a big pond, and it was great to experience it.
While the dark aesthetic tone and gripping visuals are always welcome to see and are a huge part of the game, I kept being taken out by another element that is equally just as important and began to hinder the world I was experiencing around me.
“A game’s performance and how it runs is greatly important to me and many players, and Lords of The Fallen has many issues with this department.”
A game’s performance and how it runs is greatly important to me and many players, and Lords of The Fallen has many issues with this department. I prioritize playing performance or quality in many games, and for this title, it seems like the latter is a better option. Many times throughout when I have been playing the game, the framerate was dropping drastically. This typically happened when multiple enemies were present on the screen, which is common in the umbral world; additionally I encountered massive frame drops during boss fights, which can be jarring, especially when dealing with timing.
Another prominent issue throughout my playtime was different bugs and gameplay inconsistencies affecting me. Examples such as floating and stuck enemies being more prominent than I expected took me out of the game a lot. To make matters worse, many enemies can be manipulated through the bugs they get caught in, taking away from the game’s overall challenge. While bugs are fixable, it wasn’t aspiring to see them so prominently within the game’s first hour.
“While the game plays it safe with many familiar mechanics, it shines in its own right by utilizing a dual-world feature.”
Regarding the gameplay, Lords of The Fallen plays a lot like other soulslikes, and will see you collecting soul currency (in this game, it’s known as vigor) and then going to designated checkpoints to level your character to overcome challenging bosses. While the game plays it safe with many familiar mechanics, it shines in its own right by utilizing a dual-world feature. The mechanic allows the world to change between the living realm of Axiom and the world of Umbral through the use of the Umbral lamp. It opens up new areas for exploration and progression by revealing new paths only available in the other realm. Allowing for even more replayability.
Another great feature concerning Lords of The Fallen and its Umbral realm is that it allows players a second chance if they are downed during their playtime. If players are in the world of the living and killed, they will be resurrected in the Umbral realm, offering another chance to persevere. It’s a great addition to the game and helps establish it with a piece of its own identity to stand out from the crowd of other souls-borne titles. But even with the promise it brings, there is one element to it that brings it down a peg for me.
While playing in the Umbral world, you can quickly become overwhelmed by simple thrall-like enemies. When presented with this scenario repeatedly, it becomes tiresome, and I feel like I’m playing a horde mode. I found myself at most times just running from point A to point B in the Umbral to avoid the nuisance of fighting entire groups over again. If the game had a more sparse spawn rate for enemies, it would greatly benefit, but as of now, it dampens the new mechanic experience.
“The game can be played entirely in co-op in a seamless experience that beats other games like Dark Souls and Elden Ring.”
Lords of The Fallen features different ways to play, either solo or through multiplayer means, featuring both co-op and PVP. The game can be played entirely in co-op in a seamless experience that beats other games like Dark Souls and Elden Ring. While the latter has players leaving a co-op session after a boss fight, Lords of The Fallen allows for a more consistent experience. Playing with others to persist throughout the game allows for more gameplay and less downtime. The experience itself is simple, as players can search for players or sessions through the bonfire system known as vestiges.
As with other RPG souls games, players can fight in PVP by invading another world. Invading is as simple as searching for a co-op session by visiting a vestige and selecting the multiplayer section. While I had not been invaded while playing, I experienced playing the co-op aspect. The functionality of co-op play plays well, in my opinion, without any hiccups or interruptions.
However, while trekking through Axiom by myself, I noticed that the game seemed to feel not challenging but tedious. As previously mentioned, the enemy spawns are overzealous, especially in the Umbral, making a solo experience feel like a chore. Many instances in both realms showcase to me that the game is better suited as a co-op title, and that feels like a letdown, especially for those wanting to take on the challenge of completing the game without assistance.
“Lords of The Fallen faces a lot of competition in the soulslikes genre and doesn’t quite do enough to stand out.”
Overall, Lords of The Fallen has many ups and downs to its inventory, with the cons slightly outweighing in my mind. Although it introduces some unique features, including the Umbral world and second-chance system, many gameplay bugs and performance issues currently plague it.
The game benefits from adopting many soulslike features, including its checkpoint system and overall style of challenging, skill-based gameplay. Lords of The Fallen also features an incredible co-op system that allows for great fun with friends. However, making it feel sluggish for solo players makes the game feel like it was designed as a mostly multiplayer title, with the single-player aspect being on the backseat and less enjoyable. Lords of The Fallen faces a lot of competition in the soulslikes genre and doesn’t quite do enough to stand out. This will take a considerable amount of fixing before it can stand toe to toe with the likes of Elden Ring.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PS5; code was provided by the Publisher.
Lords of the Fallen Review
Lords of The Fallen is another entry in the souls genre that offers seamless co-op between players, a unique dual world mechanic, a gorgeous art style and a gripping story. Unfortunately, the bugs and performance issues and over reliance on familiar souls tropes bring it down, making it struggle to stand out in the overcrowded soulslike genre.
Seamless co-op experience
Beautiful and detailed world
Umbral and living worlds are unique and refreshing