Coming around on Castlevania: LoS

Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -

I've gone back and forth on the new 'Vania game. I'm not the type of person who's upset because it's not a 2D game, or that it was made by a Western team. I love SotN, but that formula has worn a little thin. I'd pick up a new HD side scrolling 'Vania if one came out, but I'm in no hurry to pick up the iterative DS sequels that Konami keeps shitting out. That said, I wasn't a huge fan of Lords of Shadow when I first started playing it. It's pretty and it has some good ideas, but it just didn't click. The game doesn't do a great job of showing you how it wants you to use their combat mechanics, which is especially frustrating in the early game when you haven't found many collectibles and your life bar is tiny. Plus, the game sometimes chugs, which does not help at all when you're struggling with a boss. 
 
But then the game started to click for me. The land of the vampires is far, far more interesting than that of the lycans. There's absolutely gorgeous gothic castles that you're shown in these sweeping establishing shots, and run down, Germanic looking villages that you creep through in the middle of a blizzard. It's beautiful and subtly creepy, and it just feels right. Castlevania isn't a series about jungle ruins. It's about exploring dark and dusty castles with grotesque monsters around every corner. 
 
Once I bought more combos, the combat clicked as well. It reminds me more of Devil May Cry or something similar than God of War. At the default difficulty in GoW, you can button mash and generally do okay. Here, there's a constant back and forth with you balancing your damage (shadow magic) with healing (light magic), while trying to mix up your moves so as to get focus to keep your magic up. It can be punishing, especially in the early game when you don't have many moves and it's hard to keep focus. Now that I've got a handle on what's going on though, I'm feeling much better about it. 
 
So the game is flawed, but I'd still recommend it. It's a shame that it's such a slow burn, because I have a feeling that it's going to turn a lot of people off initially. It's a long game, almost shockingly so, and it seems like they reward people who stick with it with the best of their art. It's absolutely stunning, and should have been in the beginning of the game. 
 
Also, fuck those platforming sections. Seriously, what the hell. I just finished the clockwork tower, which is great for it's 'Vania flavor, but jesus christ guys. Your character has a fair amount of inertia and weight when he moves, but you're going to make me jump from tiny moving platform to tiny moving platform with garbage camera angles? Ugh.  
 
What a weirdly inconsistent game.

#1 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -

I've gone back and forth on the new 'Vania game. I'm not the type of person who's upset because it's not a 2D game, or that it was made by a Western team. I love SotN, but that formula has worn a little thin. I'd pick up a new HD side scrolling 'Vania if one came out, but I'm in no hurry to pick up the iterative DS sequels that Konami keeps shitting out. That said, I wasn't a huge fan of Lords of Shadow when I first started playing it. It's pretty and it has some good ideas, but it just didn't click. The game doesn't do a great job of showing you how it wants you to use their combat mechanics, which is especially frustrating in the early game when you haven't found many collectibles and your life bar is tiny. Plus, the game sometimes chugs, which does not help at all when you're struggling with a boss. 
 
But then the game started to click for me. The land of the vampires is far, far more interesting than that of the lycans. There's absolutely gorgeous gothic castles that you're shown in these sweeping establishing shots, and run down, Germanic looking villages that you creep through in the middle of a blizzard. It's beautiful and subtly creepy, and it just feels right. Castlevania isn't a series about jungle ruins. It's about exploring dark and dusty castles with grotesque monsters around every corner. 
 
Once I bought more combos, the combat clicked as well. It reminds me more of Devil May Cry or something similar than God of War. At the default difficulty in GoW, you can button mash and generally do okay. Here, there's a constant back and forth with you balancing your damage (shadow magic) with healing (light magic), while trying to mix up your moves so as to get focus to keep your magic up. It can be punishing, especially in the early game when you don't have many moves and it's hard to keep focus. Now that I've got a handle on what's going on though, I'm feeling much better about it. 
 
So the game is flawed, but I'd still recommend it. It's a shame that it's such a slow burn, because I have a feeling that it's going to turn a lot of people off initially. It's a long game, almost shockingly so, and it seems like they reward people who stick with it with the best of their art. It's absolutely stunning, and should have been in the beginning of the game. 
 
Also, fuck those platforming sections. Seriously, what the hell. I just finished the clockwork tower, which is great for it's 'Vania flavor, but jesus christ guys. Your character has a fair amount of inertia and weight when he moves, but you're going to make me jump from tiny moving platform to tiny moving platform with garbage camera angles? Ugh.  
 
What a weirdly inconsistent game.

#2 Posted by ESREVER (2700 posts) -

I loved this game. It was pretty fantastic from beginning to end.  
A lot of people were turned off from it because the demo didn't give the players the light and shadow magic. So they were stuck in a chapter before chapter 4, where the game really starts to pick up and require more strategic uses of your inventory. 
My game only chugged at one part, and that was when you were riding on Pandora in the second level of the first chapter.

#3 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -

I guess chug isn't quite the right word maybe. I'm used to my action games being pretty silky smooth, and the frame rate can be fairly variable. It doesn't chug, but it can get choppy, especially when there's weather effects, more than 3 or 4 enemies on screen and lots of particle effects and such. My first thought on booting the game up was that it looked choppy as hell. It's just not terribly fluid. 
 
I didn't try the demo, so I can't really comment on that. I just felt like the game was unnecessarily difficult in its first few hours. I had to try the lycan lord at least 8 times, just because I didn't quite have a handle on things and because my life bar was tiny. It was a huge pain in the ass. 
 
Don't get me wrong, I think it's rapidly becoming pretty fantastic, but like I said, it's pretty inconsistent. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through and really enjoying it so far. Also, the combat cross? Really guys? Really? What a terrible name.

#4 Posted by Rockdalf (1293 posts) -
@ESREVER said:
"My game only chugged at one part, and that was when you were riding on Pandora in the second level of the first chapter. "
When did that happen again?
#5 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@Rockdalf: I think he means Pan. Not Pandora. Riding Pandora would be kind of hilarious though.
#6 Edited by xyzygy (10030 posts) -

The only area where my game chugged was once - right before Pan appeared and a little after Gabriel awakes from his first dream. That was literally the only time I noticed a framerate issue. This game is my second favorite game of the year behind Alan Wake. It was absolutely beautiful, had wicked characters, an awesome story, and addicting gameplay. I loved it so much I S-Ranked it too. Plus, it has the best ending of probably any game I've played. Just awesome. 
 
@GloomyTangent said:

" Also, the combat cross? Really guys? Really? What a terrible name. "
It's just the name. You should have gotten to the point by now where it was unoffically christened ANOTHER name... actually wait maybe not. You'll see.
#7 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@xyzygy: Are you talking about the "Vampire Killer" thing when you get the stake? Yeah, that's not any better, really. I enjoy the corniness of Patrick Stewart reading those hilariously overwrought monologues at the beginning of every level, but the 'combat cross' thing just seems like laziness. I don't care if it's bad, but bad and boring is terrible.
 
Once again, not chugging, but definitely drops sub 30. I'm just used to having a locked in frame rate in these types of games. I should say I'm playing on 360, I've heard it has more framerate issues than the PS3 version.
#8 Posted by xyzygy (10030 posts) -
@GloomyTangent: Do you even know what the Vampire Killer is? How is that not cool? Gabriel's Combat Cross becomes the Vampire Killer that the Belmonts use! How is that not awesome? When you leave the land of the Vampires they mention it again. Even still, it's just a name. It's not like the name of the weapon affects gameplay. 
 
And I had my game installed to the hard drive, do you? I played the game in 1080i and noticed nothing but beautiful smooth gameplay. I have no idea why you're having sub-30 FPS problems.
#9 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@xyzygy: Haha, it's not making me like the game any less, but I still think it's a dumb name. 
 
No, I don't have it installed. These aren't constant drops or anything, but in certain open areas with certain effects I've noticed it. I'm used to action games running at 60, so it already seemed a bit choppy at 30. And when it does have those occasional drops it really bugs me.
#10 Edited by MarkWahlberg (4606 posts) -

I keep going back and forth on whether I want to play this or not... maybe if I can get it for cheapsies. Good to know that it gets better, though. They should really put "slow burn" warning stickers on games, it'd save people a lot of trouble.

#11 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@MarkWahlberg: I picked it up for 30. I'm satisfied with it as I'm enjoying it quite a bit and it's quite long. 
#12 Posted by carlthenimrod (1596 posts) -

I just finished the game and thought the entire experience was mediocre. It is basically Dante's Inferno. Lots of shimmying on ledges and not so great combat. The framerate is pretty awful. It runs well below 30 FPS most of the time.

#13 Posted by Vorbis (2750 posts) -

I can't work this game out. Sometimes I'll get on it for a few hours and really enjoy it, other times I logon for 20minutes before getting fed up. I guess it's that some areas just drive me crazy, stuff like the Vampire garden maze, the camera in that place was infuriating.
 
As for technical issues I havn't noticed any, from what I understand the PS3 was the lead platform so that might be why.

#14 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@carlthenimrod: I would say that it's vastly superior (thus far, not having finished it) to Dante's Inferno, which I thought was trash. The combat is more interesting and the art design is far, far better. That said, I feel like I'm done with the God of War action/adventure formula for a while. 
 
And yeah, Digital Foundry's analysis of the game is pretty damning for both platforms from a frame rate perspective.  http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-castlevania-lords-of-shadow-face-off?page=1 
On the 360 that opening scene runs at 20, with the PS3 running at just a few frames more. I failed a quick time event there due to the choppiness, which immediately disappointed me. The game does not put its best foot forward. Like I said, though, it does pick up.
#15 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@Vorbis: Yeah, I've definitely had that problem too. The maze didn't bother me, but there were other areas where the camera would shift in the middle of a fight, pinning me against a wall while an enemy gave me a TSA style patdown with their claws. They definitely prioritized a cinematic perspective over playability in some cases, which makes the game incredible to look at, but also occasionally makes me want to throw my controller against a wall.
#16 Posted by CaLe (4018 posts) -

It's a strange complaint to have, but I must say, this game is simply too long. Even though I'm enjoying it, I just want it to be over with. Some of the puzzle and platforming levels need to be stripped out completely. The part in the clockwork tower where you have to wait for the middle section to contract to an exact position before turning the handle was simply terrible, terrible game design. I honestly thought my game had glitched and was stuck for at least 15 minutes just trying to figure out what was going on.

#17 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@CaLe: ...Huh. Apparently I lucked out then, because I just pulled the lever and it worked. One thing I did notice is that a lot of the levers don't work quite right if you hold the trigger. It's press once to get on, then once to get off. Maybe that was the issue? Or maybe I'm just super lucky. 
 
We'll see if I get burned out on it. I've been trying to mix it up with Fable 3, because with it's length I could get completely sick of it by the end. Hopefully not though.
#18 Posted by carlthenimrod (1596 posts) -
@CaLe said:
" It's a strange complaint to have, but I must say, this game is simply too long. Even though I'm enjoying it, I just want it to be over with. Some of the puzzle and platforming levels need to be stripped out completely. The part in the clockwork tower where you have to wait for the middle section to contract to an exact position before turning the handle was simply terrible, terrible game design. I honestly thought my game had glitched and was stuck for at least 15 minutes just trying to figure out what was going on. "
I definitely had that same complaint. Everything seems to take a little longer then it should. Boss fights, opening doors, recharging my light/dark meters, etc.
 
About your clocktower incident, I had the same problem and found out that you're not suppose to hold the button but instead just press it once. It's weird because I held the button for every other lever in the game but that one single lever would break the platform as I tried to turn it.
#19 Posted by xyzygy (10030 posts) -

Reading all these comments makes me wonder if I was actually playing the same game as you guys. Like I don't understand any of these complaints. I guess maybe I'm too much of a Castlevania fan.

#20 Posted by GloomyTangent (195 posts) -
@carlthenimrod: Ah, okay, similar to my experience then. I don't really have a problem with the game's pacing, other than the fact that I wish that maybe some enemies had slightly less HP. Those damn doll things take forever to kill. 
  
@xyzygy: You never once had a problem with the camera? Really? I can see brushing it off because you're really into the game, but you had to have at least noticed that the camera solution isn't always ideal.
#21 Posted by xyzygy (10030 posts) -
@GloomyTangent: To be honest I never remember myself thinking anything about the camera, I didn't mind it at all. And that's a good thing - when the fixation of a camera isn't on your mind, the camera is doing it's job.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.