A demo for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 became available yesterday on Steam. It’s a fairly short one, but to coin a phrase, it goes right for the jugular and wastes little time getting you deep in the action and showing off a lovely visual mix of shadowed interiors, piercing light rays, and shiny metal. But what does this preview say about the full game?
The demo begins with the Prince of Darkness, Dracula, sitting upon his throne as his castle is besieged by the forces of the Brotherhood of Light; an organization he served in his previous, mortal life. A series of combat tutorials highlighting the most basic of mechanics starts things off, but they lack any detail regarding the important chain combos that only a veteran player will even know exist.
The combat in Lords of Shadow 2 feels much slower-paced than it did before and Dracula’s movement is annoyingly stiff. The enemies pouring into the room are quick and resistant by comparison, but are also a source for health-restoring blood, extracted either by use of a vampiric sword or good old-fashioned neck biting. After that, an introduction to climbing serves as a bridge in the action that, once crossed, has you facing a large golden knight with dual flaming swords that hounds you for the remainder of the demo. Dodging the attacks of this boss character is not very easy and expects quite a bit more from a new player than they’d likely be prepared to handle at this moment. Accompanying this knight in the attack on the castle is a massive mechanical automaton that you must then scale to destroy.
Players who dislike quick-time events may not be happy to hear that there are many at this point in the demo, and are a large part of the entire game. However, looking through the games options menu reveals that you can turn these off with, apparently, no penalty. But whichever way you play it, success against the giant automaton will result in it collapsing into the castle, killing many Brotherhood of Light soldiers in the process. Here, the golden knight challenges you again, but the demo cuts off without a conclusion.
The Lords of Shadow series is an obvious but very good amalgam of things other games have done well. The combat of God of War, acrobatics of Prince of Persia, and the slaying of giants in Shadow of The Colossus are only a few points of reference. But the first Lords of Shadow managed to maintain it’s own soul and artistic environment in spite of this. The demo for Lords of Shadow 2, however, is nothing more than a high-action series of awesome events in an all-out war. This is, of course, only one small scene in a much grander play that certainly will have many unique elements all it’s own. But in terms of setting the stage, this demo fails to offer anything a fan of the original game, or some others, will find compelling.
Personally, I was pretty close to pre-ordering Lords of Shadow 2. Having played the demo, I’ve decided to wait. Ultimately, I feel the demo was much weaker than what the full game will likely be, but I now have no immediate need to play it. While I’m no less excited for the game, the demo simply failed to persuade me to lay down money right away and is a prime example of how an uninteresting demo can negatively affect day-one sales.
What do you think? Give the demo a try and let us know in the comments whether it did anything for you.