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What did the first AAA Souls-like (Lord of the Fallen) get so wrong?


Gold Member
Mar 21, 2013
I'd debate whether it classes as 'AAA' personally - but this was interesting ahead of LotF II

Doesn't take elements like other games inspired by Dark Souls, it takes 'all' of them (bonfires, estus, weight affected rolls, Sword and board, bosses, loot chests, losing souls on death);
Environments and settings are the same throughout the game, generic dark fantasy;
Why does the author single out LotF? Because when mechanics and aesthetics are so similar why would you play it instead of Dark Souls? - For example Ashen is visually striking, has a unique town building mechanic and has more focus on exploration so carves out its own identity.
It's a watered down Dark Souls - The game is all of the Dark with none of the Soul;
The story uses cut scenes and more direct storytelling but still manages to fall short when measured against the minimalistic stories in Souls;
Animations feel stiff, clunky and artifically slowed down;
Bosses aren't great. Generic design so when recalling them they all blend into one (think Pursuer from Dark Souls II). Too many fall back to circle strafe despite having glamour moves;
Bonfires have an interesting mechanic where the souls multiplier gets reset at bonfires, you can choose to increase the multiplier or 'rest' and cash in;
Graphically it holds up with games at the time (2014), but the art design is generic and is a mishmash of other fantasy IPs. Camera shake is way overdone and annoying;
Several key moments require the player to make a choice but they don't matter, even going onto the same cutscene afterwards;
Combat had lock on and auto aim, subtle but is noticeable when slowing down and watching enemies and yourself skate towards each other. It is inperceivable during gameplay but when watching back you can see enemies slide into range after attacking etc.
Timer on souls burning away when dying before recovery was daft when you can't really run past enemies like in Souls. The longer it takes you to get back to your 'bloodstain', the less percent of Souls remain to be collected;
Magic was a mistake and terribly implemented - unlimited stamina as a warrior means swap out heavy armour, tank the bosses. Breaks he game from an early stage and last 12 seconds;
Throwaway side quests with NPCs that lack puzzles and/or logic;
Get sent back to all the starter areas after battling to head guy, was this where the game ran out of budget?
Enemy design is artisitcally generic but doesn't give you any insight in how to beat them or their resistances which seem random;
Enemies are just damage sponges, despite their design, most boil down to spamming attack;
Game is serviceable and middling but utterly joyless. It was profitable and sold over 3 million copies (more than any Metroid title) which makes youtuber bitter so his criticism is relevant to this in order to improve the game. Will the devs change/improve or just churn out a sequel?
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And they made him a Lord of Cinder. Not for virtue, but for might. Such is a lord, I suppose. But here I ask. Do we have a sodding chance?
Sep 1, 2006
All I can say is that I really hyped this up to be as good (yes, DkS2 was good you dorks) DkS2 but I got the jankiest of all janks. I remember the animations stuttering mid combo and I could never figure out when the moves were finished. Same with enemy animation.


Mar 27, 2020
I loved that game. I like the genre, but Souls and Bloodborne are nothing for me. I hate hours of trial and error and doing trash over and over again. The difficulty and savepoints were perfect for me-.
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Currently Gif and Meme Champion
Dec 25, 2019
Prague, Czech Republic
My first Souls-like game and I gotta say without it, I would probably not buy Bloodborne on launch, so eh? 🤷‍♂️ Probably a good gateway drug, with low bar of entry.
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Sep 9, 2018
Yeah it was a AA game from a AA studio, although graphically the game was AAA level (at the time).
I thought the game was alright, but its a janky Souls like. It was certainly a game that could scratch that Souls itch if you were desperate for some more Souls like gameplay.
The Surge games are way better though.
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Mar 9, 2020
To me it didn't feel good to play.

I don't know if it was the animations or what was it.
Because everything felt like it was underwater while playing as mr.generic Fortunately they clearly learned from the game with the surge


Feb 24, 2012
United Kingdom
Caught this on my recommended videos yesterday and it’s a great video. Explains everything about the bad gameplay really well. I couldn’t play the game for more than 20 minutes, and I’ll never play it again.

Forget age ratings, I want camera shake warning labels on games so I can avoid games like this one in the future.


Aug 13, 2020
I wanted to say that, even if I adore Miyazaki games, not even original Dark Souls (not any From Software game) is a AAA game. So imagine something so mediocre and with so low production levels as Lords of the fallen.

Elder Legend

Jun 10, 2019
Describing Lord of the Fallen as an AAA is fairly generous to begin with.
It was a mid budget game from a studio that had only mediocre low budget titles before.
As someone who platinumed this game and was the 2nd or 3rd in the world to do it (don't remember the exact spot I got on the PSNProfile leaderboard) I have too 100% agree. Lords of the Fallen was never a true triple A souls-game. It was more AA and a studio that was lacking a lot of qualities in the technical department.

Lords of the Fallen had interesting ideas, cool world but was lacking a something that made it a slog here and there.