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Lords Of The Fallen PS5 Review: Attack of the Clones

A new reboot of the game Lords of the Fallen desperately tries to mimic Dark Souls but falls short in originality and performance.

In the realm of Soulslike games, there is yet another contender attempting to dethrone FromSoftware and their iconic Dark Souls series. This unlikely new reboot, which shamelessly wants to be Dark Souls 4, goes by the exact same name as its predecessor from 2014. The decision to reuse the name is absurd, especially considering that the original game was initially titled The Lords of the Fallen. The confusion only deepens with this choice, as the new game lacks any distinct personality and feels like a superfluous addition to the oversaturated market of Soulslike titles.

When it comes to buying knock-off clothing or other off-brand products, the main advantage is the lower price compared to the genuine article. However, this principle does not hold true for video games, especially those that are not indie titles. Just last month, we reviewed another Soulslike game called Lies Of P, which was a lackluster clone of Bloodborne with a unique steampunk puppet theme. Despite its flaws, at least Lies Of P had a distinguishing feature that set it apart from the game it emulated. In the case of Lords Of The Fallen, there is very little to differentiate it from Dark Souls. It desperately tries to mimic the look and gameplay of its predecessor, leaving no room for its own identity. Consequently, the only notable difference is that it simply isn't as good. However, because it is a competent copy, it still manages to provide some enjoyment, which only amplifies the frustration.

Interestingly, Lords Of The Fallen 2 was announced shortly after the release of the first game. However, due to multiple changes in developers, the sequel was eventually canceled, leading to this reboot. The convoluted plot of the original game is hardly memorable, and it is unlikely that anyone, aside from the developers themselves, would care about the continuity of the story. In this installment, players find themselves tasked with preventing the resurrection of a demon god, although this motivation is rarely emphasized throughout the game.

For those familiar with the Soulslike genre, Lords Of The Fallen offers little in terms of surprises. The combat mechanics, user interface, stamina and health management, fast travel and leveling systems, and even the loss of in-game currency upon death (souls in Dark Souls, vigor in this game) are almost identical to Dark Souls. Any features that deviate from Dark Souls are simply borrowed from other games, such as the ability to regain lost health by swiftly counterattacking, which is clearly inspired by Bloodborne and was also seen in Lies Of P. Additionally, the game introduces the concept of "Charred Fingers" for invading other players' games, a shameless imitation of Dark Souls' invasion mechanic. The only truly unique aspect is the ability to physically extract souls from enemies while in the dark world, which is crucial for defeating otherwise invincible opponents.

Apart from a self-set temporary checkpoint (which only allows fast travel from, not to), the game lacks originality. Even many of the bosses are direct copies from other games, with the first major boss resembling Malenia from Elden Ring so closely that players may question whether they are experiencing a new game or simply having flashbacks to the notoriously challenging original. Lords Of The Fallen's bosses, however, are considerably easier, with the most difficult moments occurring towards the end of the game, where hordes of enemies are thrown at the player, and previous bosses are reused as regular enemies. If not for these frustrating difficulty spikes, this game could have served as a more accessible introduction to the genre for newcomers. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

What truly frustrates us is not the lack of originality in Lords Of The Fallen, but rather the competent execution of copied elements. Nothing in the game surpasses the quality of the source material, but it is a professionally crafted imitation. Developer Hexworks clearly possesses talent, so it is disheartening to see them squander it on creating inferior versions of existing games. They understand the key ingredients for a successful Soulslike game, as evidenced by their meticulous level design. However, it begs the question: why put so much effort into recreating the same tired environments of dilapidated castles, underground mines, poisoned swamps, and snowy ruins? We have seen these settings countless times before, so what is the purpose of revisiting them in a subpar manner? It is infuriating.

Furthermore, the game suffers from significant performance issues. Despite a series of patches during the review period, the frame rate remains abysmal, rendering the game nearly unplayable at times. Texture pop-in is also prevalent, and the AI frequently behaves erratically. We are unsure if the lock-on feature is inherently unreliable or if it is affected by the other technical problems.

While performance issues can potentially be resolved through patches, the fundamental problem with Lords Of The Fallen goes beyond mere technical difficulties. Witnessing so much time, money, and effort being wasted on a derivative and unnecessary game is disheartening. Rather than paying homage to Dark Souls, Lords Of The Fallen feels like a counterfeit product. The developers could have utilized their evident talent to create something far more innovative and meaningful. Instead, they have produced a pointless forgery that fails to leave a lasting impression.

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