Castlevania: Lords of Shadow New Trailer ImpressionsBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Apr 12, 2010
First of all, apologies for not actually having the trailer so you can follow along with what we’re talking about. Konami’s being stingy with video about the game (weirdly so, since it was their Gamers Night centerpiece and you’d think they’d want people to start getting excited), but it looks like that’ll have to wait for E3 in June.
What Jake and I got to see was a fairly lengthy trailer of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow in action. It started of with some moody music and character intros, then went right into a gameplay montage. Here are our impressions:
Andrew: What struck me most about the trailer is that despite producer Dave Cox touting Lords of Shadow as a “love letter” to Castlevania, actual elements of Castlevania were the last things I noticed in the trailer. What I saw was a battle system like God of War, environmental climbing and navigation akin to Uncharted 2 and Assassin’s Creed II, Shadow of the Colossus-style “Titan” battles…basically, MercurySteam’s wearing their inspiration on their sleeve. Not that I’m criticizing, as each sequence actually looked pretty good…but I’m worried about just how far they’re taking this “reboot” concept to heart. I mean, the lead character’s last name still is Belmont...
Jake: All I could think of while I was watching the trailer was “And this is a Castlevania game, why?” The game clearly takes significant cues from God of War, Shadow of the Colossus and even Dante’s Inferno for that matter with all the holy imagery and its story of trying to reconnect with your slain wife who is stuck in purgatory. What’s more concerning though is that Konami appears totally content with being unabashedly derivative. Of course, the original Castlevania games inspired an entire generation of gothic platformers, including the ones Lords of Shadow is now borrowing from, so it’s a strange position for Konami. They just better hope that Sony puts off remastering Ico and Shadow of the Colossus the way they did with the first two God of War games, or at least hope that Lords of Shadow comes out before it.
Andrew: The Titan battles were shown out of context with the story, so we could be missing an important explanation of why something like that is in the game, but just seeing it in action (Belmont grabs onto giant beast, climbs around to glowing weak point and attacks) feels like someone said “hey, this was cool in SOTC, we should do it too.”
I’m not going to argue that Castlevania doesn’t need a reboot, quite the contrary. I’ve always wanted to see it work well in 3D, and despite the “sampler platter” approach, they seem to be taking the right items from the right menus. Unlike the previous 3D games, Lament of Innocence for example, the battle system and level design seems incredibly vibrant and flexible. But you can’t honestly tell me that the essence of Castlevania platforming is balancing and slowly walking across a wooden beam.
And here’s a question…is there room in this new universe for Dracula? Or is that too old of a trope now?
Jake: I agree that Konami is looking to a solid set of games for inspiration, but those franchises are so fresh in gamers’ minds right now that it could end up hurting them. Maybe Konami is hoping people will have forgotten about Dante’s and God of War III by the time Lords of Shadow comes out, and that could prove to be a wise perspective. At this point though, I’m not seeing a whole lot here that I haven’t seen before, and that’s disconcerting, because, like you said, I’m jonesing for a kick-ass next-gen Castlevania game. Like I said before, Konami is in a weird position in terms of the whole “where are we drawing our inspiration from?” situation because the original games inspired so much of the kind of free flowing, whip-based gameplay made popular by series like GoW.
I’m also a little bummed that I find myself more concerned with how Lords of Shadow will differentiate itself from other hack-'n-slash adventure games than I am with the game itself. I wish I could be all “Wow! That Titan battle looks crazy!” as opposed to “Wow! Is it me or does that Titan battle look like that one from that other game?” Having said all of this, the game does look visually striking, and the level and character designs look pretty fantastic, as does the combat. I’m just not entirely sold at this point, but that could easily change as we learn more.