Based on a series of DnD style novels that have spawned countless media over the past 3 decades, the Record of Lodoss War series and its sequels had been something I had heard of but never actually seen. That is until out of nowhere a Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (SoTN) clone showed up on Xbox Game Pass. After some positive buzz from the gaming community, I figured I’d take a look and see just what this incredibly long-named title had to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Doing the Deed(lit)
The story in this game is both basic and confusing, as it is set after the original series of books and I think before the sequel series but in my research, I wasn’t 100% clear. The good news is, the game is so fun that you do not need to know anything about the series beforehand. It’ll be a bunch of weird but basic nonsense that flies by in the blink of an eye as this is not a very long game. You play as the titular Deedlit, a light elf who is in the love with the main protagonist of the original book series named Parn. It goes a lot of places and after completing it I did some googling to try and figure out just when in the canon this game took place.
The average completion of the main story is rough 5 ½ hours, but the map is enjoyable to clear so I went a bit longer. This game is a shameless rip-off of Symphony of the Night in all the best ways. It controls great, has completely broken builds that make you feel insanely powerful at times, and it has a great variety in all the key areas. There is a large number of weaponry, magic, items, enemy type, and solid biome diversity. It works on a save room system with teleport rooms allowing you to “quickly” traverse the map. Their placement generally means you will have to do a bit of backtracking, but it certainly cuts down on your wasted time. I do really despise save room setups that lack any type of checkpointing though. Few things are as frustrating as making one wrong turn and missing a save room then dying after 25 minutes of progress and losing it all.
The game fully relies on the classic Metroidvania style of finding keys which are either new abilities or just actual keys, to unlock progression blockers. There are some fantastic upgrades you unlock early on that make what can be a frustrating platforming experience at the start turn into something excellent. I almost didn’t stick with the game after the opening section as it felt so stilted movement-wise, thankfully though you quickly unlock a few moves that make jumping from platform to platform a breeze. There is a light leveling up and inventory system that is clean and easy to use as well. A few mini-games litter the labyrinth and add a bit of spice to mix things up with various rewards on offer.
Enemies will respawn every time you enter a room outside if a few exceptions, such as bosses. The basic control setup took a bit of getting used to as B is your jump button, A is for attacks, X is to cast magic or use items, and Y is your ranged attack. The left bumper is a dash backwards and the right bumper is to swap between elements. These elements are the key to the game as you quickly unlock the wind and fire elemental sprites to fight at your side. Many of the game’s enemies operate on a resistance/immune mechanic so you must use one element or the other to either do more or any damage to them. Color-coded magic attacks and barriers require you to juggle through your sprites on the fly and the entire system felt immensely satisfying to me.
2.5D Pixel Beauty, Auditory Cacophony, & Languages Galore
RoLW: DiWL, wow that’s a lot of letters, is a nice looking game. It’s under 1Gb in size as there is no voice acting and the game uses the classic 2.5D art style of that early Playstation/Saturn era from SoTN. It’s a rather basic art style with nothing too fantastical for the genre, but it is animated well and outside of a few areas it is very clean and easy to read what is going on during combat. The translation seems solid for the most part. There was no “all your base” moment, and I was able to guess/keep up with the story enough so that I didn’t feel confused about what was going on. It is quite different music-wise where things range from smooth/quiet to a very loud and non-stop punch in the ears. Each chapter gets its own biome and music lending a nice sense of change as you progress through all 6.
I ran into no bugs while playing and performance felt great on my Series X as one would hope. Accessibility wise there isn’t much on offer for game difficulty but there are a large number of languages available for the in-game text. On offer are:
- Simplified Chinese
- Typical Chinese
The only other options are one overall volume slider, controller vibration, and player afterimage. That afterimage slider is a good one as it can be quite distracting to have multiple images of everything you do linger for a split second as you jump around the screen.
As this is on Game Pass it’s an easy recommendation to anyone interested in the genre. It is $25 US at the time of this review if you prefer to “own” your games. If you aren’t big on a SotN clone then stay away, but if you are then this is a solid 6 or so hour experience that is well worth your time. I still may have little to no clue what Record of Lodoss War is, but I’m excited to see what developer Team Ladybug might do with the series next.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Playstation 4 & 5, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||December 15th, 2021|
|Developer||Team Ladybug, WSS Playground|
|Rated||T for Teen|