Cut­ting to the chase – with axes, swords and knives


The most sur­pris­ing thing about Deck13 and CI Games’ Lords Of The Fallen is how some­thing so tech­ni­cally ac­com­plished – even in its pre-al­pha state – could sneak up on us so com­pletely. When the game de­buted at E3 in June, fo­cus was pulled from its high­fan­tasy sword swing­ing and de­mon hunt­ing by eighth-gen launch ti­tles and its per­ceived com­peti­tor, Dark Souls II. Such was the bus­tle that people had lit­tle time for a pseu­dome­dieval third­per­son ac­tion ad­ven­ture that oc­cu­pies a space some­where be­tween the Souls se­ries, Peter Jack­son’s Lord Of The Rings and Warham­mer. And that’s a shame, be­cause our first look at Lords Of The Fallen re­veals a game filled with smart com­bat, strik­ing style and, most of all, prom­ise.

Lords’ story fo­cuses on an an­ti­hero named Harkyn, a tat­tooed quasi-Vik­ing who has been cast out from so­ci­ety for crimes un­spec­i­fied. The runes that cover his face each rep­re­sent a ‘cap­i­tal sin’ he’s com­mit­ted, sin­gling him out as what CI Games ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer To­masz Gop calls “a very bad guy”.

With­out friends, fam­ily or pur­pose, Harkyn lives as a pariah un­til an an­cient god (the tit­u­lar Fallen) over­thrown by hu­mans thou­sands of years ago dis­patches his Lords back to the hu­man realm to re­con­quer it. Nat­u­rally, Harkyn is the only one with the skills to pre­vent this, and so be­gins a so-far fairly stan­dard fan­tasy quest for re­demp­tion by way of lots of bru­tal sword­fight­ing.

Gop has no pre­tence when it comes to Lords’ nar­ra­tive am­bi­tions: this is not a game with an en­cy­clo­pe­dic back­story like Skyrim. “I don’t want to cheat any­body,” he tells us. “This isn’t a game that re­volves around story; it’s a game­play-fo­cused ex­pe­ri­ence.” For all its grand fan­tasy, Lords Of The Fallen is pri­mar­ily

Magic is avail­able, but it’s not com­pul­sory. Gop de­scribes it like an in-game dif­fi­culty slider, with cast­ing spells buy­ing breath­ing room in chal­leng­ing en­coun­ters.

The Rhogar are typ­i­cal high-fan­tasy vil­lains, all tar­nished ar­mour plate and twisted flesh. The Lords are more twisted still: tow­er­ing beasts that will serve as boss en­coun­ters.

While most bat­tles are one-on-one, oc­ca­sion­ally the game will pair two demons to­gether. In this case, Harkyn needs to pick off the nim­bler ag­gres­sor while avoid­ing the heavy brute giv­ing chase

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