Lords of the Fallen (2023) – Review
Follow Genre: Soulslike, Action, Adventure
Developer: HEXWORKS
Publisher: CI Games
Platform: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC

Lords of the Fallen (2023) – Review

Site Score
Good: Atmosphere, Responsive controls, Fun world to explore
Bad: Minor bugs, Bosses recognizing a deceased player as a target
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The 2023 version of Lords of the Fallen is basically a reboot of the series, which only saw one game released back in 2014. The bar was raised, and a completely new development team was hired to make this brand-new title that shares the same name as its predecessor. We were curious to see if this new approach to the series would be successful or not. With a messy development history, we didn’t exactly have very high expectations, but we were proven quite wrong. We enjoyed this original Soulslike from start to finish.


As is the case with most Soulslike titles, the story is rather vague and there is a lot of optional lore that can be explored. In this case, we see an introduction where a knight holding the Umbal Lamp does his best to fend off a great evil, but sadly perishes when doing so. Before meeting his untimely demise a second and final time in the Umbral realm, he throws away his Umbral Lamp, hoping someone more powerful will find it and can pick up the mantle of pushing back the forces of evil. You happen to be this unnamed warrior, and the story picks up after you acquire the lamp. From here on out, you’ll gather bits and pieces of what is the overarching story by talking to NPCs and by triggering events in the Umbral realm. All in all, even though things remain rather vague, the story does manage to pull you in.


Graphically Lords of the Fallen looks amazing. Not only are the character and monster designs great, but the overall decor and backdrops are stunning to look at. More than once, even though we were constantly being hunted, we stopped to take in the sights. The shift between Axiom and the Umbral realm was also handled in a perfect way, as some more beautiful sights from the ‘normal’ world turned into something more ghastly. The animations are also very fluid, which is important for a game that revolves around combat. There were a few occasional rough edges and clipping issues, but nothing that truly broke immersion.


The overall sound design is also quite great. The soundtrack helps set the mood, and the sound effects provide great audio feedback. The impact of the weapons sounds as if you’re truly hacking away at flesh and bones, and the other more standard sound effects also help set the tone. The game also has full voice-acted dialogues, and the somewhat grim characters again help with setting the overall atmosphere of this dark title.


Lords of the Fallen could best be described as a Soulslike title with a unique twist. The unique twist is that you’ll play the game in two different realms, namely Axiom and Umbral. You could basically say that Axiom is the normal world, while Umbral is a spirit-infested netherworld that is dangerous to survive in. Of course, the normal world also has more than enough monsters that would happily gut you. The offset is easy, but finding your way in both realms will prove tricky at times. Just like any good Soulslike, you’ll have your work cut out for you if you wish to make it past some of the game’s stronger enemies. Luckily, you can tackle what the game throws at you with a friend or with a stranger. Keep in mind, however, that only the host will save their progress and only the host can pick up specific items. Players that join another player will still retain their gained experience and items, and they will not risk losing anything when they perish in combat.

The game has a few classes you can choose from, which all basically offer different starting gear and different starting stats. As you level up, you can still transform any of Lords of the Fallen’s classes into a character that suits your playstyle. As you level up, you’ll be able to assign your stat points. In LotF some items will also scale depending on your stats, which means that some weapons may deal more damage when you level up your agility while others dish out more damage when you level up strength. Combinations also exist. Overall, it’s fun to mess around with the stat system, and you can also respec later in the game if you have the necessary Vigor (experience) to trade in. As is common with most titles in the genre, you will lose your Vigor if you die and cannot recover your lost Vigor before dying again. This game does give you a second chance, as when you die in Axiom, you’ll still be able to continue the battle in Umbral. If you die in Umbral, even if it’s your first death, it’s game over, however, and you’ll have to retrace your steps to recover your Vigor.

We found the controls to be very responsive, and most weapons were also handled differently. It was a matter of getting used to the different weapon classes when it came to range, fluid motions, and so on. We loved that attack animations changed when dual-wielding, and it was simply a lot of fun trying out different builds and weapons. Ranged weapons are also handled nicely in this game, as they all work with an ammo meter, much akin to a mana meter. Depending on the weapon, your ammo meter will also scale with your stats, and this makes certain ranged builds more viable. When resting at a Vestige, your ammo will be replenished. If you are going for a ranged build, you’ll also need additional ammo pouches which you can find in various locations, or you can purchase them as well. Magic builds are also interesting to mess around with, as you have different viable builds that once again scale with different stats.

Even though the game plays pretty much like any other Soulslike, the gameplay revolving around the two different realms is handled perfectly. You’ll often have to switch from Axiom to Umbral in order to progress, as obstacles may block your way in the normal world. In Umbral some gates may not exist, or you may find bridges and drained lakes that will help you traverse the world. Staying too long in Umbral, however, will cause more and more monsters to attack you, until you probably kick the bucket. The Umbral Lamp, which is also your tool for going to the Umbral world, is a fun mechanic that proves to make the game more intriguing. The Umbral Lamp will also be able to aid you in combat.

While Lords of the Fallen proved to be extremely entertaining, especially when playing with a friend, the game does still suffer from quite a few minor bugs. We noticed a few hit detection issues, some buttons not always being that responsive, and bosses that kept wailing at our deceased beckoned friend. The latter would even be so bad at times that we were able to cheese our way through boss battles by simply stabbing bosses in the back while they kept hitting the dead player’s spirit.


Lords of the Fallen is probably one of the best Soulslike games we have played in recent years, even with a few of its rough edges still showing. We loved the mechanics with the different realms, and simple things like the ammo system were also heavily appreciated. With responsive controls, a gorgeous-looking world to explore, and a fairly interesting cast of NPCs to meet, Lords of the Fallen is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre.

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Aspiring ninja.

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