“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.” – Al Franken.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was a finely crafted art piece, built by passionate hands and a desire to deliver visceral, compelling combat, awesome scale and earth shaking boss fights. The first downloadable content to extend this vision was Reverie, a cobbled together experiment reflecting one of Frankenstein’s own. The second piece of content has arrived and Resurrection is more polished and more direct. It rights some of the wrongs found in Reverie, but unfortunately, poor platforming and two boss exchanges might not be enough to justify the purchase.
Resurrection and I got off on the wrong foot. It’s upsetting that my major complaint with everything Lords of Shadow related has been its poorly implemented platforming segments and out-of-place puzzles, making the opening levels for Resurrection seem like its deliberately trying to push my buttons—although I’d never think myself so special, nor be mad enough to assume an AI would try to torment me (anymore).
As soon as Resurrection begins, you’re immediately greeted with in-engine cutscenes (a departure from the comic book art style of Reverie) that illustrates Gabriel’s arrival into the Forgotten One’s prison. Following this brief cinematic, you are rewarded with a combat piece that feels like it was there for formality. Give them a room and chuck in the enemies. Don’t get me wrong, the combat continues to feel powerful and exciting, and nothing can change that. Mercury Steam nailed its hack and slash and they shouldn’t be afraid to show it. However, once this brief exchange has dwindled, we’re back into what Lords of Shadow and Reverie both failed to pull off.
That’s right, Resurrection has continued this folly of introducing more and more platforming, without addressing any of the fundamental flaws within the game’s controls. Gabriel just isn’t equipped for jumping with any kind of precision. His movement is still twitchy and still sensitive. The direction in which he jumps remains a bit of a guessing game, and the fixed camera doesn’t do a lot to help. It is admittedly quite fun clambering up the walls, trying to hide from the Forgotten One as he attempts to escape the bonds that once bound him, but this doesn’t eliminate the source of the problematic control scheme.
As if to provoke you further, the game challenges you and Gabriel to jump across a stream of lava, hoping to land on a piece of rock before it crumbles beneath your feet. This requires good timing and more importantly, precision jumping, something Gabriel does his best to screw up like some spoilt teenager sabotaging the chores given to him, out of spite. Following this unfortunate episode of poorly implemented platforming, we get into what’s good about Resurrection – the boss battles.
Gabriel confronts the Forgotten One in the first of two levels that come with this DLC, and it’s a nice change of pace. Resurrection remembers what Lords of Shadow was good at and you’ll have a lot of fun here. Not only is the Forgotten One large and intimidating, his beautiful design mirrors the same skilful art direction that Lords of Shadow possessed. These battles have everything the original game had in its boss fights, bar one thing – great context. Despite Gabriel’s efforts to spell out the meaning of this fight, it’s difficult to buy into it. The Dark Lords that populated Lords of Shadow had the benefit of real character development. We were in their domain, we knew what was coming and we knew what it meant. Here, the Forgotten One doesn’t feel as important—despite the fact his existence will decide the fate of the world.
The Forgotten One quickly becomes the most difficult enemy throughout anything Lords of Shadow had to offer though, and he is the perfect enemy to test out all your upgrades and skills you have likely acquired by now. Admittedly, this exchange does boil down to a, “dodge this, now hit that.” exercise, but it doesn’t make it any less fun to relish in battle with Gabriel’s “Vampire Killer”.
Once the excitement of the final showdown has simmered and you have taken in the final cutscene, you’ll appreciate that Mercury Steam are more than capable of creating worthwhile DLC. There is potential shown in Resurrection and it becomes glaringly apparent that Reverie was rushed and unpolished. Although the boss exchanges offer spurts of fun, the platforming elements that Resurrection refuses to let go of still drag this experience down.
The two mediocre sections of gameplay offered throughout the DLC, coupled with the short lifespan, hardly makes Resurrection a recommendable purchase. I bought both expansions because I loved Lords of Shadow and I wanted more, and if you’re in the same camp, you might consider this approach. If, however, you feel the need to catch up on any plot prior to Lords of Shadow 2’s release, I’d advise you to steer clear. Nothing of major importance is revealed in either of these episodes.
To check out our review on the first DLC, Reverie, click here