Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Ultimate Edition

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Ultimate Edition

First off, I’m a huge fan of the Castlevania series. So that foundation may color my opinion of this game and it’s ensuing interquel and sequel (which I’m currently in the midst of). Something about medieval through Enlightment era Europe with a heavy gothic/baroque aesthetic, corrupted through dark forces that threaten the world? Awesome. Tons of monsters pulling on a multitude of inspiration from the myth cycles of antiquity through the modern Universal monsters? Yes, please.

Konami struck gold initially by creating these dark adventures that took a quite serious tone for the early Nintendo systems, offering a beefy challenge of vintage Nintendo difficulty through several increasingly impressive platformer games. They then evolved into the famed Metroidvanias with the release of Symphony of the Night on the Playstation - trading a bit of the reflex-intensive difficulty for massive sprawling environments that took forever to explore and fully unlock - and followed this formula with several excellent installments on Nintendo’s handhelds where they found their most sustainable home and success through the late 2000’s. Then Konami, sensing the increasingly stagnant nature of the series as it became mired in repeated iterations of SotN’s sprawling platformer/RPG hybrid, started searching for a way to revitalize the series again, just as SotN ignited a sort of Golden Age for the series.

Real player with 98.7 hrs in game

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(Important note: This game, for whatever reason, doesn’t like being set to fullscreen + max res on a display other than that which Windows / your video card identifies as Display 1, regardless if it’s your primary display or not. Weird bug but easy to fix.)

Lords of Shadow is a flawed but polished masterpiece and a triumph of artistic direction. It’s shortcomings are forgivable. That said, since you can expect to sink upwards of 40hrs into this, I’ll go into some more detail.

Presentation wise, this game is stunning. Masterful visuals paired with smooth and optimized 4K performance make for an eye-popping experience. The art team went all out on this and it shows. I’ve never taken so many screenshots of a game before. Two major detractors though: 1. Some of the cutscenes were pre-rendered for console are unimproved by modern hardware (they still look passable but they’re jaggy af); 2. Godrays are a weak point. The score is powerful but not iconic; you’ll love it in the moment but try to recall the music later and you’ll likely struggle, for the most part. This isn’t objectively a bad thing, as it simply means it’s enhancing the experience without overpowering it but I was disappointed by the lack of iconic singles and the abscence of a Bloody Tears revamp.

Real player with 47.4 hrs in game

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Ultimate Edition on Steam