Lords of the Fallen is a good old solid Souls-like but some technical and balance limitations hold it back from its full potential

While remakes are a pretty common occurrence in games these days, reboots are a slightly different proposition.

The idea of taking a familiar concept and completely starting anew is a bold strategy. Especially when the original game wasn’t especially world-famous. But such is the endeavor of CI Games with Lords of the Fallen.

It’s not that the games aren’t connected in any way. This reimagining is set in the same universe, many years after the original and the consequences of the conclusion do set up the events of this game. But ultimately, you should imagine this is a mostly clean slate.

Here’s the pitch. If you’ve enjoyed a Souls-like over the last ten years, this one is probably going to resonate. It feels a lot like a greatest hits of From’s best, but also comes complete with its own ideas that give you some interesting ways to play.

Lords of the Fallen definitely leans more into the Dark era of fantasy with grotesque-looking creatures, heroic stalwarts and oversized weapons. This one feels like early Souls with the vibe and atmosphere feeling dank and decrepid. It focuses on methodical combat, gradual tempo and free movement with the level design open-sized, stunning environments. As I said, if you’ve played any of these over the last few years, you’re going to feel right at home.

But Lords of the Fallen takes a different direction through the alternate universe of Umbral. Throughout the game, you carry a lamp which lets you visit a more icy, colder, surprisingly more grey environment where your health drains away and you can die much more quickly. Probably doesn’t sound entirely appealing, but it also opens up the environment in unique ways, like creating bridges or ledges.

You can also only fight certain enemies by visiting Umbral. You might need to drain part of their soul in that world to make them vulnerable, or weaken them before fighting them back in the other world. This offers a really interesting merging of environments that not only gives combat a unique twist but makes traversal through the world an adventure.

Oh, and you can even set Vestiges – the game’s version of bonfires – anywhere on the map where you can find a flowerbed in the Umbral. Meaning you can actually customise your checkpoints. Which is actually an awesome touch that can really ease tension in some situations.

All of this sets Lords of the Fallen apart but by leaning so closely to the original formula that makes Souls-likes so vintage, it all flows together really naturally and gives the game its own sense of identity.

CI Games have also really leant harder into the story than most other Souls-likes, presenting boss battles in grandiose ways filled with soliloquies and large-scale entrances, but also centering on the lamp, entering the world of Umbral and the interest everyone seemingly has in your adventure. There’s a bit of a Lord of the Rings vibe to it all, actually, where everyone wants the lamp you have and it brings out both the best and worst in them.

This does present some minor technical issues, though, as the game regularly drives up load screens in between deaths, battles, and key story beats. It slows the action up a bit and in lapse, the frames do get a bit choppy and break up as a result. Never too badly, but certainly noticeably.

The other thing I never really quite got to grips with is the combat. On one hand, I love the ability of changing stances on the fly between one and two hand in between strikes, which allows you to create combos fairly naturally between light and heavy strikes. But it also feels a little bit soft at times with enemies never really feeling staggered and despite dodging, a lot of the enemy strikes still end up catching me by having excessive combat patterns or extended weapon reach.

There’s a bit of a lack of balance throughout that you usually have to work around and adapt to and it never really goes away. In fact, it gets worse over the course of the game with mobs attacking you from all angles and being overwhelming in number, while also mixing in the Umbral mechanic to really test the mettle. And while you expect a degree of difficulty in these games, this definitely ups the ante in ways that can really frustrate.

Fortunately, multiplayer does help a little bit with that. You can beckon apparations in the world to help with bosses but also bring other lampbearers in to help you if things are getting tight. Joining up with an ally did give me some occasional lag but it worked well in practice and got me through a boss or two when the scrapes were on the close side.

The problem is that progression is only tied to the host rather than sharing the wealth, which doesn’t incentivize much collaborative action and means finding someone to match up with that isn’t a friend is probably a little tougher than you’re expecting. It’s a whole lot more casual if you’re joining someone, but if you’re ok with that, you’ll be fine here.

Lords of the Fallen is a stunning-looking game at times, though. There’s some beautiful vistas to gaze out over and the use of lighting works masterfully in certain sections and scenarios. In boss fights, blinding lights can really add to the presentation and give the battle some extra spice. When venturing above ground, you can gaze out far and wide, blistering sun blazing down or feel the miserable nature of a shadowy world in high detail. CI Games have gone into great detail to really make their world feel distinct and alive.

There’s also a great range of weapons, items and armor to acquire and equip, making sure there’s something to suit every style, letting you mix things up but also so you’re not stuck with the same equipment over the course of the game.

Lords of the Fallen isn’t the perfect Souls-like but it has a good range of content which will keep you entertained, offers something a little bit different between its mechanics, and has some great action and visuals to connect with.


Lords of the Fallen is a fairly solid, enjoyable Souls-like that really finds the mood and atmosphere that was prevalent in early From titles. The use of Umbral offers some really clever mechanical ideas that keep things fresh, the dynamism to create combos also opens up a range of possibilities, and you’ve got a nice range of environments and bosses that provide a worthy challenge. There are some frustrations with combat though, between balance and abundance of enemies, as well as some technical hiccups and issues around the multiplayer component, but all told, this gets more right than it does wrong.


+ Stunning vistas
+ Dynamic combos within combat
+ Some smart new ideas within Umbral
+ Mood and atmosphere feels suitably Souls-like


– Combat and difficulty goes at odds over course of the game
– Some technical hiccups
– Co-operative progression only tied to the host

Lords of the Fallen is out now on PC, PS, and Xbox

Code Kindly Provided by CI Games for review purposes

Played on PS5

About the author

Brad Baker

Brad is an absolute horror buff and adores the new take on I.T. He also fancies himself as a bit of a Battle Royale master but never when anyone's watching.
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