Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Reverie Review
The first DLC level pack for the gothic-action reboot adds some exciting new gameplay but is not as satisfying as it could be.
In my earlier review for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, I praised the game’s intense and varied combat, exciting platforming, and mind-bending puzzles. However, the major complaint I had was the “twist ending” epilogue that came out of nowhere and left me feeling more unsatisfied than excited. Reverie, the first DLC level pack from Konami and MercurySteam, attempts to help bridge that gap between the game and its epilogue, while adding some additional scenarios following the same winning gameplay formula. Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!
After defeating the Lords of Shadow, hero Gabriel Belmont finds his victory unsatisfying and hollow (sound familiar?). Unexpectedly, he is summoned by the creepy vampire girl Laura, who was left without a mother after Carmilla was slain by Gabriel’s hand. Upon arriving back at the castle, Laura tells Gabriel that in destroying the Lords, a greater enemy they held in check is now on the brink of escaping its bonds and utterly destroying the world. With no other choice, Gabriel joins forces with Laura to somehow stop this new threat.
Players may wonder how, after collecting so many devastating upgrades in the original game, they could possibly get upgraded further. The answer is they can’t, and the game doesn’t attempt any such course of action. Instead, you are presented with an additional three levels of familiar combat against familiar enemies in some gorgeous new, although also familiar, locations. Not that the combat isn’t cool and fun; it just would have been nice to see some additions. While the fighting is for the most part “same old,” things get changed up a bit with a couple sequences where the player takes control of Laura. With abilities totally different than Gabriel’s, including shooting dark electricity, teleporting in mist form, and sucking blood from ghouls, this is a cool and welcome new element to keep things from being a total retread.
Another minor woe I expressed in my review of LoS was that I would have liked to have seen more “danger platforming,” where speed, timing, and good reflexes were necessary rather than simply going from point A to point B. Thankfully Reverie delivers with a handful of these types of intense sequences of climbing, jumping, and whip-swinging. Most notable is a portion where Gabriel must shimmy and jump along a clockwork-integrated wall while Laura changes the speeds of spinning blades that he must dodge through.
There are also a few new puzzles that are just as brain-busting as those that have come before. Familiar abilities must be used in new ways, and trial and error mixed with good memory and intuitive strategy must be utilized to win the day. As before, if you find a particular puzzle too tough, you can “chicken out” by having the solution handed to you at the cost of the experience points you would have been rewarded.
One minor note regarding the art is that while the new cutscenes are done in a kind of “motion-comic” style rather than the fully-rendered scenes from the main game, they are pretty cool and stylish. Otherwise the game’s regular graphics are just as gorgeous and breathtaking as before, and the sound effects and voice work (sans Patrick Stewart this time around) remain solid.