Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Reverie (DLC) – PS3 (PSN)
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Release Date (NA): March 22nd, 2011
Developers: Mercury Steam, Kojima Productions
Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10
Reverie is the first of two download packs for the first Lords of Shadow game and translates to a quick, 3-stage “Chapter XIII” in the main game’s chronology. If you watched the post-credits scene after finishing Lords of Shadow proper, you’ll realize that there’s quite a bit of Gabriel’s story left to tell, and Reverie offers up a small but pivotal piece of the puzzle.
After all of his time spent in the Land of the Dead, Gabriel somehow finds himself back in the castle where Carmilla was vanquished. Approached by Laura, Carmilla’s “daughter,” Gabriel finds himself able to sympathize with this dark creature, and she tells him of a great demon imprisoned beneath the castle. With the three Lords of Shadow put out of commission, Laura fears that the demon will escape. Truthfully I’m a little confused about how or why evil was keeping evil at bay, but whatever.
Anyway, Laura accompanies Gabriel through the castle and finally through the secret entrance to this area of the castle unbeknownst even to the vampires. It’s a fight fraught with puzzles, new locales, and a few new enemies, and though Gabriel and Laura reach their destination, there’s an extremely interesting plot twist as the chapter ends.
By and large, Lords of Shadow Reverie plays like Lords of Shadow. The transition of gameplay is absolutely seamless, as it should be. The most striking new feature is the ability to play as Laura, a vampire character, the first time that anyone other than Gabriel is at the helm. Her powers and abilities are different enough from Gabriel’s to add a freshness to the game and give the DLC a real selling point, though the companionship between the two feels a little forced after the events of the main game.
Since the main game includes all of the regular collectibles, Reverie has its own set of things to keep an eye out for; five “fingers of Frankenstein” are scattered about the 3 stages. Unfortunately they don’t really do anything once you get them all other than contribute to completion percentage. It seems a bit pointless to even bother finding them, but I can understand Konami not wanting anyone who didn’t purchase the DLC feeling like they were “missing something.” Collecting the gems, scrolls, and arks is such an important part of the first Lords of Shadow, and cheapening the process with useless collectibles feels like a misstep.
One thing that becomes evident as the player moves through Chapter XIII is the increased difficulty. The “blade wall” is probably the most prominent example (it looks like a puzzle at first, but it really turns out being an extremely intense and precise platforming exercise), though dashing and jumping through the Leviathan Spawn waters is no picnic either. There’s also a moderately rough platforming segment thrown in when ledges and beams begin crumbling almost as soon as they’re touched, forcing lots of quick and nearly blind actions to be performed in order to survive. Reverie also includes one of the most convoluted puzzles of the entire game; admittedly it’s been the only puzzle I didn’t even try to solve on my own. Why the marked increase in difficulty? I don’t know, but it’s damn frustrating. The most difficult tasks revolve around demanding platforming sequences, something that was rarely an issue prior to Chapter 13. This shift in emphasis alters the tone a bit too much and makes Reverie feel a little too much like an expert level for expert players rather than “just another chapter.”
Although the DLC is well integrated into the main game from a technical standpoint, there is one glaring modification that’s tough to overlook: the cut scenes. Instead of the beautifully animated, nearly cinematic story snippets from Lords of Shadow, we have weird comic-esque stills done in chiaroscuro style. Moreover, our characters are drawn in a strange, exaggerated manner bordering on caricature status. It’s quite disappointing after the treats we’ve been used to from the main game, especially as we begin to uncover and illuminate the gap between the end of Chapter XII and the post-credits scene. At least we still have the voice-overs.
Is Reverie deserving of its spot alongside the majestic Lords of Shadow? Yes, but just barely. What begins as a faithful continuation is plagued with small changes that will always set it apart. There’s not anything inherently wrong with Lords of Shadow Reverie, but it has trouble living up to its source material. Were this and the second download pack, Resurrection, combined and slightly expanded upon and branded as more of an expansion pack or gaiden, I think they’d feel less out of place. However, with the direct connection to the first Lords of Shadow game, they come across as somewhat underwhelming. I’d have no problem recommending the download for anyone fond of Lords of Shadow, yet I’d be obliged to also recommending keeping one’s expectations in check.
Apparently, the Lords of Shadow producer admits that both downloadable chapters were a mistake. While they definitely could’ve been better, “mistake” might be a stretch. But hey, it’s cool that they admitted to a shortcoming and were honest about it. Check out the statement over at Gameranx – Castlevania Lords of Shadow Producer Admits DLC was Mistake.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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