MercurySteam’s 2010 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow eschewed many of the franchise’s beloved tropes and shared a closer parity with the gut-ripping escapades of angry man Kratos than the open-ended design that defined Alucard’s ‘90s adventures. And while Lords of Shadow was successful in its own right, the Spanish developer has attempted to rectify its shortcomings with a misguided sequel aimed at aggravated fans.
After the events of 2010’s Lords of Shadow left Dracula (formerly Gabriel) somewhat effete and living in the present day, the follow-up’s contemporary cityscape promises an expansion of venue in a return to the series’ explorative roots. Unfortunately, it’s a dilution of the original’s triumphs, often restricting action to boxy corridors between more interesting gothic locales.
Combat is still very much at the core of Lords of Shadow 2. Built in the sturdy frame of God of War, slaying demons is both ferocious and skilled, buoyed by swirling cinematic camera work. It fails to maintain the level of intensity found in its early brawls, though, sacrificing momentum for a string of misjudged stealth sequences. The presence of Patrick Stewart and Robert Carlyle adds a little authority to the (largely nonsensical) story but nothing can salvage the hammy dialogue, nor the rather offensive portrayal of female characters.
Lords of Shadow 2 is a frequently frustrating game. There are moments of style and confidence when it hits its stride, but most of the time it’s bogged down by awkward design. Dracula should’ve stayed asleep.
Reviewed by Bryan Murray