Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

April 5, 2015

castlevania 1One of the games that I accidentally stumbled across after I have acquired a better laptop with more powerful graphics was Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. I was intrigued by the story, the graphics, the music and, of course, the voicing parts. Not being included in the whole Castlevania series, this game stands out by the fact that it has a good story. Loosely based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Japanese gave it a unique twist, creating the Belmont family, set out to kill vampires whenever they rise again.

This game is set in 1047, years before Dracula appears, the story is centered around Gabriel Belmont who is a member of the Brotherhood of Light, an elite group of holy knights who protect and defend the innocent against the supernatural. After his wife Marie is killed, he sets out to defeat the Lords of Shadow, the evil counterparts of the three founders of the Brotherhood of Light whose good parts of their soul have risen into Heaven, leaving behind their wicked side and filling the world with darkness. Armed with his sacred Combat Cross and in mourning for his wife, whose soul cannot rest in peace, he’s ruled by grief and sorrow into a self destructive mission in an attempt to defeat the three factions of the Lords of Shadow in order to obtain the pieces of the God Mask and bring back his deceased wife.

On his journey, he encounters several characters who are helpful in his mission. Zobek claims to be an older member of the Brotherhood of Light and a good friend of Pan – a mythical creature that helps Gabriel communicate with his wife and a materialized figure of his conscience. He’s a particularly interesting character to watch, seeing as he narrates most part of the story; even though he’s not always by Gabriel’s side, Zobek knows what he’s doing and how tormented he feels and even goes as far as calling him friend. Claudia is an especially sweet character with a sad story. She is mute but can communicate telepathically with her golem, the Black Knight who protects her, in exchange of evil souls. Claudia can read Gabriel’s mind and offers to help him in defeating the Dark Lord of the Lycans, Cornell. Sadly, the story has a different turn of events, as she becomes a sacrifice so that Gabriel can acquire the Black Knight’s gauntlet. Laura is the Vampire Dark Lord’s daughter, who takes pity on Gabriel and doesn’t kill him. I particularly liked the fact that she has a human side, even though shecastlevania 2 is a vampire, and also her twisted playfulness made her very easy to like.

Without giving too much away, the game has a twisted turn of events which only leave the player amazed at how good a story a game can have. But besides that, the actors voice the characters beautifully. Gabriel Belmont is voiced by Robert Carlyle, who does a wonderful job at depicting the sorrow and fatality of this character. Gabriel is just a puppet whose strings are pulled by forces beyond him and that’s what makes him so tragic. Also, the game tackles the good/evil side of things and Gabriel is conflicted because of the fact that he wants to do good, but in doing so he becomes evil. Also, Robert did such a good job at doing the voice over for this character that I really didn’t see the actor behind the voice, but a fully fledged animated character with a story to tell.

Laura has a lot of things in common with Gabriel. She, on the other hand, is supposed to do bad, but ends up doing good instead. Even though this leads to Gabriel’s downfall, she does help him save the world. The voice of Grace Vance made this character very royal and noble in her demeanor. Zobek is voiced by Patrick Stewart, and again, I didn’t see the actor behind this character, because he’s so twisted and confusing, you’re struggling to figure out in what relations he really is with Gabriel. Satan is voiced by Jason Isaacs and, as much as he played villains along the way, this one seems the most terrifying to me, lacking entirely the irresistible charm that Isaacs has when he plays an evil character. Other actors who contributed in creating the magic of this game and I found particularly important in the story are Natascha McElhone as Marie Belmont, Aleksandar Mikic as Pan, Emma Ferguson as Claudia and Sally Knyvette as Carmilla, the Vampire Dark Lord.

Also, the graphics department did such a good job with this game that I truly adored it. The beautiful book at the beginning of each chapter of the game, the wonderful designs of the scenery, the expressions of the characters, everything was perfect to me and it really made me feel like I was reading a book and visualizing everything in my mind.

The main musical theme of the game is composed by Óscar Araujo and it’s a very suitable theme for the game indeed. Tragic, grandiose and with plenty of feeling.

castlevania 3The game may not be the best of the series according to diehard fans of the franchise, but if, like me, you stumble across this game without knowing the previous ones, you immediately fall in love with it. Yes, people say that it’s a God of War rip-off, but I personally find it beautiful, deep and with an interesting story to tell and that’s what kept me playing it until the end.

If you don’t want to play the game, to find out the story watch this video along with the DLC with the cut scenes that make it look like a movie. Thank you for reading and enjoy!

by Mihaela Axinte

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