Lords of the Fallen – Review

Travelling between the land of the living and dead make for an interesting Soulslike experience.

Lords of the Fallen cover image
Release Date
October 13, 2023
CI Games
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Reviewed On
Review Copy Provided By
CI Games

When the original Lords of the Fallen came out, everyone dismissed it as being yet another cheap Dark Souls clone capitalizing on the popularity of the genre at the time. The game eventually got a reboot in 2023 which had to go through a few bizarre titles. Whether to call this game Lords of The Fallen 2, The Lords of the Fallen, or just Lords of the Fallen is anyone’s guess.

Lords of the Fallen is an Action RPG where you fight to prevent the resurrection of the fallen demon god, Adyr, in an interwoven world boasting to be five times larger than its 2014 counterpart. This reboot has you traveling between the lands of the living and dead to fight fearsome demons and madmen alike.

The issue with Lords of the Fallen is that it doesn’t do much to separate it from its Dark Souls inspiration. If you don’t like Souls-like games, then Lords of the Fallen isn’t going to be the exception to the rule you’re looking for. However, it does differentiate itself with a noticeably unique mechanic that keeps it from being just another Dark Souls clone.

What separates Lords of the Fallen from Dark Souls is its use of two planes of existence known as the Axiom and Umbral Realms. You technically have two lives each run but the catch is once you die in Axiom, you get transported to Umbral where death will send you back to the nearest Vestige checkpoint. What makes it interesting is that you can purposefully choose to delve into the Umbral Realm at your own leisure.

The longer you stay in Umbral, the more dangerous it gets due to more enemies spawning to hunt you down, but Lords of the Fallen incentivizes frequent visits to this realm by increasing the amount of Vigor you gain the longer you stay there. Vigor is the primary currency you use to level up. Of course, this will put you on your back foot as a death in Umbral means you’re going back pretty far.

One of the biggest problems with Lords of the Fallen is that isn’t generous on checkpoints. In fact, they get removed almost entirely on New Game Plus. Like Dark Souls, you can rest up on Vestige waypoints. Every time you rest, you’ll resurrect enemies previously encountered making the beaten path harder to retrace. You’ll also get sent back to Axiom, the land of the living.

There is this distinct lack of handholding present in almost all Soulslike games, and Lords of the Fallen does not deviate from that either. It seems keen on letting you figure out the mechanics on your own with only some short tutorials. Right from the start of the game, it’s easy to get lost with it letting you run off to do whatever you want on your own.

Carefully having to balance between being in the safer Axiom realm and the more dangerous Umbral is something executed rather well in Lords of the Fallen. Umbral sometimes offers paths you can take in order to progress which forces you into using the Umbral Lamp to voluntarily traverse between the two realms. The catch is that if you want to get back to Axiom, you can only do so by finding certain points that will self-destruct once you’ve used them.

Of course being a Soulslike, Lords of the Fallen is no slouch when it comes to enemies. They are brutal and unforgiving. If you’re the type to get frustrated with plenty of setbacks, Lords of the Fallen will test your patience. Enemy designs remind me of Blasphemous the aesthetic that seems to reflect Christianity, specifically Roman Catholicism.

Boss fights are no slouches themselves. Without a good degree of understanding of the mechanics, their attack patterns, and a bit of luck, you’re going to go down a lot. Blocking, dodging, and parrying bosses who sometimes delay their attack animations is a taxing endeavor. My initial preferred way of fighting involved parrying attacks to leave an opening and dealing a huge amount of damage once they stagger. That’s before I realized how much I sucked at it and went back to dodging.

Graphically, Lords of the Fallen is gorgeous if not a bit disturbing with its aesthetic. Having two dimensions you can travel between at almost any given moment does put a strain on the GPU but it also opens up several possibilities of different kinds of traversal. There are platforms only available in Umbral that you otherwise can’t get to without having to risk death.

Playing Lords of the Fallen on PC was in itself a frustrating experience. The game crashed on me multiple times with one time even restarting my PC entirely. It seems to have been patched during my playthrough but there are still lingering issues in terms of performance.

I don’t have the best PC rig with only a humble RX 5500 XT. But unless you have a more powerful GPU, you might want to consider getting this game on consoles instead. It runs smoothly on my machine though it does dip in frames whenever I enter the Umbral Realm.

Lords of the Fallen is a good game despite its issues and struggles to differentiate itself from the game that inspired it. Its mechanic of transferring between the Axiom and Umbral Realms is a clever feature that makes the game interesting. However, the issues on the platform I played it on make it a difficult recommendation, at least at the moment.

Lords of the Fallen cover image
Lords of the Fallen – Review
Score Definition
You better must choose if it’s worth spending your spare cash because it might not be the game for you and it might be for others.
Travelling between Axiom and Umbral realms is an interesting mechanic
Challenging boss fights
Frequent crashes on PC
Checkpoints can be a bit too far from each other