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Lords of the Fallen Game review

Game review 17 October 2023, 00:00

author: Zbigniew Woznicki

Lords of the Fallen Review - Troublesome Reboot, Step in the Right Direction

The new Lords of the Fallen is definitely a better game than the almost decade-old original. More demanding and diverse, it offers a more interesting world. Still, it comes with a few problems.

The review is based on the PC version. It's also relevant to PS5, XSX version(s).

My main problem with Lords of the Fallen is that it didn't leave a lasting impression. This is true for both pros and cons. The game is by no means average, but at the same time, I have the impression that even fans of soulslikes will tend to forget about it rather quickly. Therefore, Lords of the Fallen might share the fate of Thymesia and Steelrising.

  1. Interesting character classes
  2. Stunning visuals
  3. Improved combat system
  4. Unique bosses
  5. Combination of Axiom and Umbral opens new opportunities
  1. Limited alternative paths
  2. Fighting bosses doesn't always seem fair
  3. Technical problems
  4. Artificial intelligence

During the gameplay, I felt both satisfaction and frustration, which is expected in this type of games. However, the emotions weren't strong enough to tip the scales on either side. Despite the heavy atmosphere and stunning visuals, Lords of the Fallen seems to be rather bland. In addition, the game suffers from technical issues that unfortunately impact all platforms it launched on.

At the same time, the new Lords of the Fallen is a definite improvement over the 2014 original. The developers have shown that they have something better in store and care about more than simply creating a soulslike clone. The world of Axiom is intriguing, expansive, and multidimensional. Unreal Engine 5 shows its power and it’s going to be interesting to watch HEXWORKS in the future. Hopefully, the developers will take another step forward and choose to improve the title, which has solid foundations.

Lords of the Fallen gives more freedom

The first sign that this year’s Lords of the Fallen is more extensive than the prequel is already evident in the character creator. Previously, we could determine the name of the hero, while the available classes were very similar to each other, creating a mere illusion of choice. It's different here, and the protagonist is simply nameless, but we get four new classes on top of the nine from the original – one for each of three endings and one available in the store.

All classes begin with different levels of experience, which impacts the difficulty at the initial stages of gameplay. Several classes are marked as meant for more advanced players. They have a greater potential in terms of damage, but this comes with a higher risk during the game. Keep that in mind especially if you don't have prior experience in soulslike games.

Freedom also includes the use of spells and items. In the previous installment of Lords of the Fallen, each class had an assigned type of magic they could use. This time, however, you can decide for yourself which spells you'll use during the pilgrimage. Some limitations are based on your stats, but it's still something that can be changed by developing the character in the preferred direction.

On the other hand, there isn't too much equipment to acquire. However, this doesn't change the fact that there’s plenty to choose from. For a long time, I wore a basic armor set because it was pretty sufficient, and I would change certain pieces of it, if necessary – for instance, if I needed more resistance to a specific element.

The game world, Axiom, is also more open, thanks to the Umbral. Various shortcuts in both dimensions or environmental puzzles make travel much more entertaining. Very often, I stumbled upon new paths waiting to be explored. However, it's worth noting that the opponents on these paths are sometimes much stronger than those on the main route, and the shape of terrain sometimes makes the combat more challenging.

Lords of the Fallen is all about combat

There may be many classes to choose from, and the character creator may be detailed, but if the combat in a soulslike game is poor, it can ruin the whole experience. There's no denying that this was a big problem in Lords of the Fallen (2014). Our protagonist moved very slowly, and not only were the bosses visually unappealing, but their design was also exceptionally rudimentary. Fortunately, after nine years, the situation has changed quite drastically.

There are many bosses in the new Lords of the Fallen, and each fight is a completely new challenge. Pieta, She of Blessed Renewal is a solid opener that will retrain everyone before continuing the journey. Earlier on our way, we come across two bosses named: Holy Bulwark Otto and The Lightreaper. These two bosses have now been merged into a single encounter. The first boss is relatively easy, while the second one is formidable, and the player is not expected to be able to defeat him. Therefore, Pieta becomes the first real challenge.

After that, the bosses in Lords of the Fallen stand at different levels. The optional ones (without an intro cutscene) are easier than the main bosses. Although this isn't the right way to distinguish them. Abiding Defenders can make your blood boil because you have to deal with two opponents at once, each with a diverse set of attacks.

However, there is no denying that the most interesting opponents are non-human. Great beasts like the Spurned Progeny are quite memorable. Umbral also has unique bosses, but there aren't many of them. The vast majority of opponents are available in both dimensions, which is actually a convenience since transitioning to Umbral provides another go at defeating enemies.

Unfortunately, there is one big problem with the bosses, at least some of them. The design sometimes gives the impression that the developers had no idea how to make them challenging, so they cheated a bit. In such situations, a seemingly easy opponent will inflict massive damage, but the real problem is Kinrangr Guardian Folard specifically, which is located in one of the starting locations in the game (you can encounter him at a later stage).

The boss is accompanied by two wolves, but that is the least of the problems. The opponent and his beastly guard are protected by the Umbral Eye, which must be inevitably destroyed. During this activity, our character moves slowly and is exposed to all kinds of attacks. And Kinrangr Guardian Folard often takes advantage of this. Once you are thrown down into the Umbral, an additional opponent awaits you there. The fight is definitely designed unfairly.

Unreal Engine 5 looks impressive

The graphics of Lords of the Fallen are exceptional. Visually, the production catches the eye, thanks to its interesting environment design. The progress here is noticeable. Ruined monastery walls, impenetrable caves, marshlands, mountain gorges, or palace grounds are delightful. Clearly, the developers had different ideas about the game's setting and wanted to implement them all. In many places, you can find a reason to stop for a moment and admire the sights.

Everything is complemented by the Umbral, whose styling makes the whole world change as if it had been taken out of a Lovecraftian nightmare. Twisted, desiccated bodies form landscape elements that are complemented by the skeletal bridges and pulsating, living tissue. This realm lives a life of its own, with creatures lurking inside ready to make the player stay there forever.

In the case of PlayStation 5, I didn't notice much difference between Quality and Performance modes, apart from a drop in FPS. Fortunately, Lords of the Fallen looks stunning on PS5. This game is truly next-gen, and if someone is looking for a visual experience, they'll undoubtedly find it here.

All the problems

The new title by HEXWORKS has its issues, some major and some minor. Unfortunately, these affect the overall perception of the game, especially the one I already mentioned, i.e. performance. Lords of the Fallen has issues on every device. It doesn't matter if you play on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, or PC. While playing on the PS5, I experienced noticeable framerate drops multiple times.

Pre-release updates have partially improved performance, but the problem is still there. This is particularly evident when playing at 60 frames per second. Even just looking around can slow the game down, but interestingly, I didn't experience any problems during fights after the updates. I can't blame it for dying to a boss. Unfortunately, Lords of the Fallen suffers from numerous crashes, which can be a bummer.


Overall, my experience with Lords of the Fallen was average. The game has its pros and is an improvement over the original from 2014. The combat is better, although in terms of bosses, you can see that sometimes the developers had to resort to controversial choices. In addition, there are numerous technical issues and a somewhat limited world, which is quite pleasant nonetheless.

You can find all our reviews on Metacritic and Opencritic.

Weird situations occurred during the exploration and fights with ordinary opponents. On a few occasions, where opponents would approach me from a considerable distance. I was literally chased without even being near them. This would sometimes result in another bug, causing enemies to get stuck in walls or other textured elements while running in place.

Troubles also have companions that can be summoned to fight against the main bosses. In some fights, they can be of great support, while in others, they may seem completely useless. And their poor artificial intelligence doesn't help, which is probably the reason why I encountered unpleasant bugs related to companions.

Sometimes they acted normally and supported me in the fight, just as they should have. However, it so happened that either they just chased after me and did nothing else, or even worse, in the second scenario, stood by idly, absorbing all the attacks - which was seriously annoying. Companions are poorly designed in Lords of the Fallen and only give the impression of being helpful. Currently, they frequently die in the early stages of the fight and become utterly useless.

Personally, I also have problem with exploration in Lords of the Fallen. Yes, the introduction of Umbral made exploring the world intriguing, and during your journey, you encounter various alternative paths with rewards. Though they aren't very thrilling. These paths are often very short and loop back to the starting point. There isn't much to explore, and the game is linear in that respect. There is certainly a lack of the excitement of exploring and the curiosity of what lies ahead. There are too few of such moments, and when they do happen, they can sometimes disappoint.

Final impressions

Overall, my experience with Lords of the Fallen was average. The game has its pros and is an improvement over the original from 2014. The combat is better, although in terms of bosses, you can see that sometimes the developers had to resort to controversial choices. In addition, there are numerous technical issues and a somewhat limited world, which is quite pleasant nonetheless.

The potential is there because the lore has already been established. Of course, Lords of the Fallen seems to be a closed story. There doesn't seem to be room for anything more. Moreover, the situation was similar in the case of the previous game, which might have been the reason why the decision was made to reboot it instead of continuing. However, I hope that this time, the developers will be motivated to create the next installment.

For now, we need more updates that will address the most significant issues and bugs, in order to increase the satisfaction of playing the game, which is definitely there.

Zbigniew Woznicki | Gamepressure.com

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