Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is an action-adventure game in which you play Dracula, the Lord of Shadows himself. Will this new chapter a offer satisfying conclusion to the 3-part Lords of Shadow series, debuted in 2010? Sharpen your fangs, because things are about to get bloody!
An uneven gameplay experience
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 invites you to throw Dracula's cape over your shoulders once more. The vampire, who we all took for dead, reawakens after the events in Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, the 2nd part of the trilogy released for Nintendo 3DS.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 alternates between combat and exploration. The game from Mercury Steam gets the combat spot on, with tense fights, a challenging, but accessible, combat system, and a great variety of enemies. You'll need to pick between Dracula's 3 weapons to tackle the bestiary you'll find in the castle and on the streets of Castlevania City.
In addition to Dracula's traditional Shadow Whip, the vampire is also able to use the Void Sword, a weapon that replenishes the user's health while freezing enemies. Also on the menu are the Chaos Claws, fiery gauntlets that are essential for defeating the tougher enemies.
Ultimately, the Castlevania Lords of Shadows 2 fights are frenetic, fun and more than worthy of comparisons to gold standards of the genre like God of War,
Unfortunately, the last chapter of the trilogy is lacking in other respects. The exploration phases, sandwiched between the fights, are tedious, boring and bland.
Add that to the mystifying (and not in a good way) architecture, dangerous climbing sections and horrible stealth sequences in which the Prince of Darkness looks more like a miserable rat and, well, the mind boggles.
Between the shadow and the light
The dichotomy between the combat and exploration phases of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is echoed in the level design - the player is constantly navigating between the shadow and the light.
Levels that take place inside Dracula's castle are beautiful, with extravagant decor and bombastic music. Unfortunately, this contrast makes the bleak, soulless streets of Castlevania City even more disappointing. The most frustrating aspect of the whole thing is that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 ris bursting with potential that just hasn't come to fruit.
The gameplay is lit up with good dialog and there are little flashes of genius from Mercury Steam, like the hilarious Chupacabras and the awesome illustrations that dot menus.
The final count isn't great
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is frustrating. When playing, there are glimpses of perfection, but the whole thing fails miserably by trying to graft together bits of other titles in the franchise. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is at it's best when it sticks to the Castlevania cannon - a captivating story, demanding combat and quality exploration sections. It's too bad that in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 these elements do stand out - except here it's because of their rarity.