Let’s be honest here, when the teaser trailer featuring a battle between Alucard and Dracula first dropped almost two years before the game’s release, we all hoped the final chapter of the Lords of Shadow saga would star everyone’s favorite brooding vampire, Alucard. Revelations gives fans a succulent taste of this possibility and leaves you with an unquenchable thirst for more.[youtube http://youtu.be/5v_RoMvX7ts]
In many ways Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 wasn’t the grand finale fans were hoping for. Confusing game design choices and a general lack of uniformity damaged the fantastic reputation the previous games fought hard to attain. Revelations completely disregards the atrocious stealth sections and clunky platforming that plagued the original campaign and focuses on solid, fantastic gameplay that rewards players for more than just mashing enemies into pulp.
Revelations puts players in Alucard’s sleek, sexy shoes as he prepares for the return of his father, Gabriel (Dracula) and the inevitable battle against Satan. Maria, Alucard’s mother, informs him that Dracula’s castle has become aware of their plan to free Gabriel from his curse and in attempt to protect itself and keep the Prince of Darkness ensnared in evil forever, it hides the Void and Chaos powers deep within its treacherous walls. Your duty is to guide Alucard through the madness, find Dracula’s necessary powers, and place them somewhere safe before he awakens.
If you haven’t played through the main story of Lords of Shadow 2, there are HUGE spoilers pertaining to Alucard’s involvement in the resurrection of Dracula. Its highly recommended that you play through the original story before starting Revelations, but if you can’t wait for some Alucard action, you can learn one of the game’s larger twists in substantially less time. This bit of DLC doesn’t reconcile the mediocre plot of Lords of Shadow 2, but it remains very straightforward and satisfying. You aren’t forced to endure painful melodramatic cutscenes or interepret overly complex underlying themes. You simply focus on the task at hand, which allows the gameplay to truly shine.
Our immortal protagonist possesses three simple, yet functional vampiric abilities. Instead of using a swarm of bats to slightly annoy robots like his father, Alucard can use his bat-like reflexes to teleport to various ledges, completely streamlining the tedious platforming Lords of Shadow 2 suffered from. Alucard can also summon a spirit wolf which is used to make miraculous jumps and traverse through metal grating. It’s a beautiful fusion of the wolf/mist form from Symphony of the Night. His final and possibly most impressive power, is the ability to reverse time itself. When Alucard comes across a demolished structure or blocked doorway, he can summon magical clock to reconstruct and remove or repair these obstacles.
Alucard reminds us that being a vampire should be a completely glorious and satisfying experience. His vampiric abilities are far greater than anything the mighty Dracula possessed and frankly, they just made more way more sense. Not once did I question why I had this power or why I didn’t I have this power. Everything felt incredibly organic. These were the types of abilities I expected to find in Lords of Shadow 2.
Combining your unique vampiric abilities to solve some rather intricate puzzles ended up being one of my favorite parts about the Revelations DLC. Instead of mindlessly button-mashing from point A to point B, players must actively consider the potential of their powers and use them to navigate the castle. Every single one of Alucard’s abilities are necessary keys required to solve the well-crafted puzzles throughout the campaign. Smart puzzle design and incredibly strict timers make for some truly stressful and ultimately, rewarding moments. There were a generous number of head scratching puzzles that only became increasingly difficult when I eventually figured out I needed to do.
Combat with Alucard isn’t very different from your time with Dracula. Basic combos and attacks have the same button mapping, but the whip is replaced by a lengthy sword. The Void and Chaos powers are essentially replaced by the Glaciem and Igneas powers. Activating the Glaciem power steals life and freezes enemies, just like the Void sword, and the Igneas power breaks enemy defenses, just like the Chaos power. Defeating enemies will earn you experience points which you can use to upgrade your abilities as well, but unlike Dracula, Alucard eventually learns a series of ultimate moves that basically destroy enemies in a single hit. I truly felt like a powerful vampire badass while playing as Alucard, something I unfortunately never quite felt as Gabriel.
Revelations is beautifully crafted and executed, especially considering the rocky development process of Lords of Shadow 2. Alucard’s 3 to 5 hour adventure is an amazing peek at what could have been that furthers my disappointment with the original campaign. Nothing about Revelations is confusing or lacking and the incredible stage design reminds me of my time spent with the original Lords of Shadow. The level of dedication and detail in the this completely affordable piece of DLC ($7.99) almost makes me wonder if Mercury Steam actually intended to create a Lords of Shadow 3, but lost rights or the contract due to delays or development issues. One thing is for sure, any fan of Castlevania should spend their time and money on this bitter, sweet taste of remarkable potential.
Miles is the mad commander of TEAM XBRO. He is a Seattle native who recently moved to the sweltering heat of Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming an avocado farmer. When he’s not up writing until his eyes bleed, he likes to play a Prince level of instruments and listen to terrible death metal. Follow him on the official What’s Your Tag? Twitter page – @whatsyourtag