Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2010
I have never played a Castlevania game before, so I was hesitant to buy this at first. However, each trailer I saw for this game looked great and when I played the demo, it kinda reminded me of God of War 2 (one my most favorite games of all time), so I had to give this one a shot. After I finished it once, here is what I thought.

PROS.

SOLID AND FLAWLESS ACTION: The combat system in this game is just perfect. Last time I enjoyed punishing enemies was in Devil May Cry games. Everything works just as you want to. Controls respond very well. Tactical use of dark and light magic adds whole new dimension to the combat. Once you master the different moves, the joy you get punishing the enemies using them, is just indescribable.

SPECTACULAR SUSPENSEFUL STORY: It has been a while since I have experienced a story in the game that makes me go wow. While the game does starts out a bit abruptly, things will make sense in the end. Don't want to spoil much.

UNANITICIPATED AFTER CREDIT ENDING: If you are familiar with character names than you may see this after the credits ending I am talking about, but I sure as hell did not see it coming. I was very surprised by it and quite frankly could not get this ending (LONG VIDEO) out of my head for days. Don't want to spoil much, but please FINISH THE GAME, trust me, after the credits will make it worth your while.

BEAUTIFUL GRAPHICS AND ANIMATION: This game will make you go through jungles, valley, barren towers, huge castles etc. etc. Frankly, they are very nicely designed and the game looks great in 720p.

GREAT VARIETY IN ENEMY: It has been a while I have seen SO MANY different types of enemies in the same game. Different types of werewolves, vampires, goblins, deads and other creatures I can't remember names of. All of these gothically designed. I am telling you artwork in this game is just magnificent.

RIDING HUGE ENEMIES GAMEPLAY: I personally loved it. Once you weaken huge enemies such as big warewolves, spiders etc, YOU CAN RIDE THEM. Use them to unleash devastating attacks, solve puzzle etc. etc. Truly remarkable.

TONS OF CHALLENGING BOSSES: Slaughtering hordes and hordes of enemies and moving forward in the game will reward you with some really compelling boss battles. Just like levels and small fry enemies, these bosses are also very aesthetically animated. To me boss battle was the third strongest aspect of the game (after story and art). As soon as I defeated a boss, I look forward to the next one. Such anticipation and mysterious story really drives you forward in this game.

ACROBATIC GAMEPLAY AND PUZZLES: If you like puzzles there are tons and tons of them in this game. If you don't like puzzles no worries. Spend your experience points and you don't have to solve them. HOW WONDERFUL IS THAT? I salute this game for providing that option. Genius! The acrobatic gameplay, which would be hanging from cliff, then jumping from cliff to cliff, is pretty good. Kind of like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time games. What I particularly found interesting was use of the chain to do acrobats. There points in the game you can jump off of cliffs, use chains to hang somewhere, use the momentum of chain to break through weak structures etc. You have to play it to get a feel for what I am saying.

UPGRADABLES AND HIDDEN ITEMS: In this game you can buy new combat moves and upgrade them by trading your experience. While most of the moves can be purchased through the first gameplay (assuming you don't trade experience for solving puzzles), to get all moves and all hidden items, you will have to play different chapters in the game over again.

TREMENDOUS REPLAYABILITY: The game itself is long enough. If you want to go for 100% of the items, it will even take longer since you will have to revisit chapters and use your upgrades. In addition it comes with 4 different difficulty levels and a minigame. This will keep you engage for a long while.

OH DID I MENTION FREE CASTLEVANIA SOT GAME WITH THIS GAME?

CONS.

MINOR ISSUES WITH PUZZLES: Honestly the only con I found in this game was I was too used to God of War 2 controls. Because of that I was stuck in puzzles such as clocktower puzzle. Fortunately I figured out the difference in controls and was able to solve the puzzle. An example: In clocktower puzzle, ever time I tried to raise a platform, it would rise halfway and then fall as my character would let go of the lever contrary to the fact that I was holding the button. THE KEY IS TO LET GO OF R2(or L2 whichever is to hold the lever) once you hold the lever. The character will hold it himself without you having to hold the button. Other than this I think some puzzles are a bit too challenging. But again every one of them is solvable and if not, YOU CAN ALWAYS SOLVE THEM BY TRADING EXPERIENCE.

CONCLUSION:

I frankly am quite impressed by this game. As listed above, Pros. easily outweighs Cons. My score for this game would be 9.5/10. God of War, Prince of Persia and Devil May Cry fans, THIS IS A MUST BUY. Only thing I recommend is play it on the hardest mode possible for those of who are veteran to God of War type of games.
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59 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Graphics:
Opening with some cut-scenes as many games do, I was slightly disappointed with the graphics. While for the most part they were beautiful, great scenery and fine details, there is a sub-par looking rendering of water, hair, cloth, and facial definition that took it down a couple of pegs. After putting several hours in with the game though I was greatly pleased to find that the actual gameplay is gorgeous. The environments are rich and imaginative, comparisons to Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth have been mentioned periodically to which I'd agree. For the most part many of the areas fit the feel of Castlevania despite a couple of stinkers, but if you took the more traditional Castlevania castle and simply spread its locations around then the better half of the game feels appropriate.

Sound:
Lords of Shadow has been knocked here and there for not feeling much like Castlevania, a sentiment I don't personally share at large, but I'd so far have to agree with in regards to the score.

The music is, as far as I can tell, high quality orchestrated music. My personal 'problem' lies in what I feel is a failure to maintain the heart of what Castlevania music was. There were no cheesy electric guitar symphonies, no eerie choir, and really not a lot of blood boiling music. The music never once stood up and demanded attention. There are most certainly songs recycled from the past but they have been re-tooled to what I would call a more generic sound. This will probably go both ways for fans of the series, some may appreciate the progression of the music, and others may find themselves waxing poetic about the good ol' days along with me.

The voice acting is good; you get typical Patrick Stewart along with some serviceable performances from everybody else. Generally you're only going to be dealing with it in cut-scenes and I think the storytelling there is good enough. Again I think the not-quite-right character models mar the delivery more than the actors themselves. There is however sporadic occurrences of NPCs nagging you through the levels which can be nerve grating when all you're trying to do is explore.

General:
The game unfolds in chapters and stages. Individual levels present themselves in different ways, some are longer combat areas, and some are really short with only a boss fight, and so on. Each individual level has a completion percentage which can ultimately be maxed out by playing the level on max difficulty, finding all of the hidden objects (which is tracked, nice), and completing a trial for that level. Out of the gate you can access 3/4 visible difficulties (don't know if there's any 'secret' difficulty) and switch them on the fly so as you progress and backtrack you can flesh out some of that completion if that tickles your fancy.

It took me roughly 15 hours to beat the game on normal with relatively minimal backtracking. I'd say I skipped probably ¼ - 1/3 of various unlockables and skipped over the challenges entirely. I'm thinking I probably have 5-10 hours more of gameplay to get the missed items and probably much more than that in challenges. The game has its hairy moments on normal but a person looking for a challenge could probably start off on Knight difficulty without too much added frustration.

The camera can be highly problematic at times. Nine times out of ten it's going to be fine but in the one time when it isn't the frustration can be high. Some of the more minor things are a constant jitter to the camera and a poor correction to the analog controls as you switch areas but the single most irritating to me were enemies hanging out of your field of view. The enemies being out of view typically wasn't a problem but there were a couple of boss fights which forced me to play conservatively because of the camera which kind of took my head out of the fight. It's not game breaking, and turning on enemy life bars helps a lot, but it's certainly what I'd call a problem with the game.

Achieves/trophies aren't too crazy, basically finish the game 100% (or 110% as the games suggests). I personally have no desire to play on higher difficulties unless I uncover some incentive for doing so but it looks like even a normal play should be able to get the majority of them.

Combat:
The core of the combat is Gabriel's weapon, the combat cross which I'm just going to call a whip. With your whip you have direct attacks mapped to a button and area attacks to another which you can string together in various ways as you unlock combos to execute... er combos. It's very straight forward, a little button-mashy, but since the two attack types perform in very different situations you'll generally be methodically timing one or the other. Many of the combos manifest themselves in a situational sense such as direct attacking after a grab, charging an area attack, and so on. I feel this contributes greatly to avoiding an indiscriminate faceroll of the controller since most combos have a pretty particular use and using it is mainly a matter of timing and positioning.

In addition to Gabriel's whip you have secondary weapons and magic. All of the secondary weapons have a primary function but can also unlock additional abilities and combos. The magic is used sort of like combat states; you can hop in and out of light mode or dark mode provided you have enough energy to use attacks while in either. In their raw form light mode causes your attacks to heal you and dark mode causes your attacks to do more damage but their use doesn't end there. Each school has its own unlockable skills, which are quite powerful, but they can also be combined with certain secondary weapons. As an example you get fairies as a sub-weapon which serve as a distraction tool but when used in light magic mode they become seeking kamikaze fairies. The secondary weapons have limited uses and require occasional replenishment from kills and the environment. Your magical energy is replenished either from kills, fighting well and filling out your focus meter, or refilling at neutral energy wells. It's also worth noting that you can over-charge your magic up to an additional full bar but this bar will deplete itself over time regardless of whether you use it or not.

In addition to the magic and sub-weapons Gabriel gets a small handful of additional relics. Some of these also serve as weapons or lend more combat abilities but they have more nuanced uses and can be a little difficult to effectively use in combat at times. They generally grant you some very cool moves but I personally found it difficult to find much reason to use them over the whip but it was nice to have them available for situational opportunity.

Certain enemies also open up opportunities when weak to execute them via a simple button sequence while others can be ridden which is generally a progression tool. Riding a troll for example will let you smash walls, and you can certainly fight with it, but you're pretty caged in with the creatures you're allowed to ride making them have limited use as a mount. It's fun, it's there, but as I said it's mostly used as a tool to access new areas.

Platforming:
It's about what you'd expect I guess, lots of climbing and swinging. To me it feels mostly like a segue from one combat to another, which is fine because finding your way around is fun, but there doesn't really seem to be a lot of danger in doing it which adds to a sense of going through the motions. So far the majority of my failures in getting around have been to poorly defined barriers of where you can go or jumping in a pit because I didn't see a really obvious exit. Failing in the platforming isn't instant death, you just respawn at the last solid point you were on and take a bit of damage. Only if you repeatedly fail or find yourself low on life already will you actually die from a failed jump.

Periodically you will be fighting titans which are really big bosses done Shadow of the Colossus style. You enter these fights and you're tasked with scaling the creature and attacking specific weak points. One could almost consider the platforming before these guys to be practice of sorts. You'll be using all of your jumping/swinging/climbing skills in conjunction with quick time events to methodically disable the titan as you traverse its body. It's quite a bit of fun but again it feels more like a game of memory and less like there's any real risk of dying.

Story:
It wasn't New York Times Best Seller material but I was certainly engaged from start to finish and towards the end my desire to unfold the next chapter ramped up so I'd call it a success. The ending wasn't what I expected at all, and I'm still gathering my opinions on how I feel about it, but it will certainly have Castlevania fans talking I believe. Be sure watch through the credits (assuming there's an option to skip).

Pros:
Gorgeous gameplay
Good voice acting
Fun to play

Cons:
The camera can be weird at times

In closing I'm a big fan of Castlevania and I enjoyed the game a lot. It's a genre that doesn't find its way in to my house much but I had a blast playing this. If you're coming in to this game after having played the numerous similar games to come out this year it may be prudent to find a more discerning opinion on how this compares to other games in the genre but I assure you this was a very well done and fun game right out of the gate. I'd strongly recommend this game.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2010
CONCEPT:
Lords of Shadow is a third-person action-adventure game.
You are Gabriel Belmont, a widower member of the Brotherhood of Light, an elite group of holy knights who protect and defend innocent people against the supernatural creatures.
3D Castlevania Reborn, although there are remnants of influences from modern 'hits', LOS sets itself apart with "classic" Castlevania mythology, powerups, enemies and plot.

GRAPHICS:
Richly detailed immersive environments, and meticulously designed enemies bring the 1047AD "end of days" era presented in the LOS to life. Some of the human characters aren't as well designed during certain cut scenes.

SOUND DESIGN:
Epic orchestral arrangements replace the old school castlevania tunes. The voice actors add a nice element too. Not really a lot of ambient noise within environments though...

CONTROLS:
The controls are quite simple and satisfying during combat... there are over 40 unlockable combos executed with various button tapping sequences.

ENTERTAINMENT:
The games first 2 chapters may start slow, but once it starts rolling it snow balls into a fury that is surely one of the most memorable endings in the franchises history if not from any game this year.

REPLAY VALUE:
High
With four difficulty settings (difficult can be an understatement), unlockable battle moves, multiple hidden power ups, and challenge "trials" for each of the 50 levels, LOS is loaded with hours of action beyond the playthrough.

OVERALL
Castlevania Lords of Shadow is a beautiful looking Rebirth for the castlevania franchise. This game is big, and playing it becomes more and more satisfying as the story progresses. I would've prefered to have some control over the camera angle, but overall the view is never entirely lost within the action.

FINAL RATING : 9/10
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
I can't even begin to describe how excited I was when I saw this game was in production. It brought back many nostalgic emotions, as the Castlevania games were some of my favorites to play on Nintendo and even the Super Nintendo (Super Castlevania IV is one of my all-time favorite games!). All of that aside, I feel this game is good, but falls short of my expectations in the sense (as many people have argued), it doesn't really feel like a Castlevania game; primarily because of the score. To me, the music made the Castlevania games more engrossing and dimensional, but it is severely lacking here. Other criticisms I have are the controls and the camera angles. There are many instances in the game when being able to use the right joystick to adjust/move the camera would have been useful, but unfortunately, there is no mobility there and it can wear on you throughout the game, especially when you get caught behind an object and there is no way to get away from it. Often times, I found myself having to restart the game because I was stuck and couldn't do anything else. I didn't really care for all of the cut scenes and puzzle segments in the game, but they were tolerable. About halfway through the game, I found myself getting bored due to the monotonousness of all the button smashing.

There were certain elements of the game I thought were really wonderful such as the voice acting of Patrick Stewart and the graphics. I found the graphics to be some of the best I've seen on the Xbox360 to date. Without giving too much away, I also thought the cut scene sequence at the end of the game was great. I thought it was a pretty good ending to the game and it had me completely sitting on the edge of my chair the entire time.

Overall, this is a pretty good game but features quite a few unforgivebale flaws, especially the controls and camera angles aspect of it. It also feels quite similar to Ninja Gaiden II (on the Xbox360), the God of War series and Dante's Inferno, so if you enjoyed those games, chances are good you'll enjoy this as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
I love the castlevania series. I remember playing them in the NES and playstation 2. However, Lord of Shadows just didn't cut it for me. The boss battles were nicely done with some amazing graphics, but the game itself were very constricted. There was barely any exploration to be made. The game consisted of different missions. I did not particularly like that. I did not want to go through "missions". I expected it to be more like an adventure game as the other castlevania games. I decided to return the game since it was not fun after a few hours. Some people really like it, but to me, it felt constricted as compared to other castlevania games.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2012
ros: great magic and combat system (hack n slash-like)
Story is fantastic and dark
Graphics are great
Ability to grind for xp but not necessarily needed

Cons:
Platforming can be iffy in spot buit overall is alright
I did have a few stalls in loading (xbox version)
Father in law played a bit and it did not save hos progress - xbox problem but was patched

Estimate game length: 14-18hrs for a single story or 45+ to complete all the challenges/achievements
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2011
Graphics are ok. That's it.

The rest of the game is a disaster. Controls get far too complex too early. Camera angle is pathetic and cannot be changed. The story and play is completely linear. Linear to the point that in any given area, often manuever is limited to forward and back - cannot take more than 1 or 2 steps laterally. (Who makes linear games anymore????) The dialogue is forced, no options. Mobs/enemies are cut-paste of the same graphic, sometimes enlarged to be a 'boss'.

If you like a game where you press forward on the control and hit X or Y a bunch of times - you will still likely be sorely disappointed. Throw the disc in the microwave for 5 seconds for more entertainment than is offered by playing.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2010
This by no means is anything close to a Castlevania game. It is more like a God of War knockoff with the Castlevania name slapped on it to increase sales. I am a huge fan of the Castlevania series and I thought the earlier 3-D Castlevania games were still enjoyable. This "reboot" if that is what you want to call it carries basically nothing over from the Castlevania storyline. The whole time I played the game, not once did I feel like I was playing Castlevania. As I stated earlier, it felt more like God of War than anything.

Being a longtime fan of the series dating back to the original 8-bit Nintendo classic, I am more than disappointed in this game. There are more cut scenes than there is action in this game. It's shame to see that this game keeps nearly nothing that made the Castlevania franchise so awesome in the first place.

I guess going forward in the future I will have to do some research on any new Castlevania games before just going out and buying them when they are released like I used to. If you are a die hard fan of the Castlevania series, be prepared to be very disappointed with God of War.....errr, I mean Lords of Shadow.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2012
I've never been a huge fan of the Castlvania games, the only exception to that is Symphony of the Night, that is until i purchased this game. The rest of the games seem to have decent gameplay, and a fairly good premise of story, but the difficulty of these games combined with the everchanging story lines, and the fact that i've never seen anything extremely innovative led me to believe the franchise was just to boring. When i purchased this I wasn't expecting much, in fact the first couple of levels were not impressing me, however I kept playing cause i bought it and i will beat it. True the first couple of levels are loaded with tutorials, and meaningless simple combat, with not much difference from other games. It wasn't until I recieved the first upgrade i started to sit up and take notice. Something was different about this game, I mean its not entirely new concepts, but they are presenting in a way I wish was presented in other games.

I just made it through lycan country, and still have plenty of game to go, but already i'm hooked. If i'm not playing it i'm thinking about it, and if you manage to get this game without seeing any spoilers prepared to be surprised at everything. Like me I hadn't heard much so playing through it with virgin eyes, and low expectations made this one of the most exciting finds I've ever made.

The visuals are breathtaking, the gameplay although simple and unoriginal at first, becomes more complex and creative, the puzzles are fantastic, perfect amount of difficulty, and the story, although i haven't finished yet, is more interesting than anything i've seen since DMC3. The enemies and bosses are all fantastic, and if your a fan of Shadow of the Colossus, you will find a couple of bosses that bring back good memories. I highly recommend this game, not just for everything i just listed either, be prepared for tons of replay, the game purposely set things in early levels that cannot be retrieved until you unlock upgrades later in the game, and they did an absolutely fantastic job of hiding small upgrades. Hidden enough to make you have to play the level two, three times to find. Oh and one of the best parts of this game, they actually have branching paths that lead to the same areas, so if nothing happens down path one, go back try path two, I don't know why but that alone is one of the coolest things that makes me excited to start a new level. BUY THIS IMMEDIATELY, you will not be disappointed!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2012
Story:
I have no intention to give away all of the games massive story: first, because it is way too large of a tale to fit into what I'm sure will prove to be an equally too large review: second, because I do not wish to spoil it for someone who wishes to learn as the game progresses. So, with that in mind, I'll focus in on what the game lays out in the beginning and give a more vague description of what the story is.

The main character is names Gabriel Belmont, who is superbly voiced by the actor Robert Carlyle(see 28 Weeks Later or Stargate Universe). Gabriel, is a member of a legion of Knights that are sworn to protect the innocent from evil supernatural creatures, this legion is called the Brotherhood. The supernatural creatures take the form of many different beings, but the three main bodily forms are the Lycans, the Goblins/Orcs, and the Vampires.

Although the game doesn't get into great detail on how this happens, it is the creatures that have claimed the life of Gabriel's wife. Even though this incident causes great pain to Gabriel it is still his task to set out and find her spirit that still hangs in limbo. He must find her to collect a key piece of information that she possesses and along the way will attempt to find a way to release her spirit to the heavens.

Along Gabriel's journey he will have to fight three main levels of combat in order to eventually take on Satan himself. These three journeys are not simply to occupy his time and make for a good game, but a teaching experience for both the character and the player. Along the way both will learn new feats and strategies that will make each a tougher opponent to the bad guys.

In the end the questions that arise during the game are answered and those things that seemed set in stone turn out to be anything but. Friends will become enemies, enemies will be come friends and along the way Gabriel will be the wiser for it.

Graphics:
With colors and detail that leap from the screen, there can be no doubt that Castlevania: Lords of the Shadows is a top tier game. The attention to both character and environmental details are outstanding. With this attention to the finer points the player is quickly cast into the historical setting where the game takes place. The mid-evil era, with its castles, monuments to fallen Gods, and its folklore come to life make for some extremely compelling eye candy. The computer assisted graphics and digital painting are beautiful in full 1080p Hi Def and add a massive amount of credibility to both the people who worked, what must have been endless hours, on the game and the publisher who spent, what must have been considerable amounts of money, on its development.

Audio:
To accompany great graphics one must have a great soundtrack as well, and during the game's cut-scenes is where the vast majority of the compelling music can be found. If you are familiar with the music in Lord of the Rings you will find a likeness to the music you will find in the game. The operatic singing and the heavy use of bellowing drum beats make for a heart pounding affair during more dramatic action. However, during standard play the game leaves behind a musical track and leaves the more tedious gameplay in virtual silence. For this aspect of gameplay the sound effects start to take over. Here you will find more focus on the character reactions with grunts and groans as he flings his chain of destruction into the faces of his rivals. Leaps are accented with grunts as the character stresses to jump wide gaps and land large falls. True to form combat scenes are also well done with groans and moans as the bad guys are struck down with extreme brutality.

Controls:
The button layout is pretty good making for a comfortable character control. The only problem I had was a tendency to hold a button down to keep the character holding on to an object when it wasn't needed. When climbing up your characters chain to scale a wall you need to pull the left trigger to engage the climbing act, I had a tendency to keep holding the trigger when I didn't have to, this made for some frustration as the trigger being held down kept me from achieving some goals.

Button Combos:
Those who may have played the Star Wars Unleashed franchise will know well what I speak of when talking about button combos, but this game has made the combo action much more simple and forgiving. Its common these days for a game to contain combos and this game has a bunch. The combos are very simple to follow and if you screw up the game makes it easier to get back to where you were without you having to go through the whole scene again.

Weapons and Upgrades:
The main weapon of choice will always be your chain. As the game progresses the story will have scenes to point out the upgrades to it, but there are other weapons available and as the game goes on you will have the chance to purchase new fighting combos. As you kill enemies you get points, save enough points and you have the chance to buy upgraded moves for each weapon and upgraded fighting combos to make yourself a better combat character.

Level Challenges:
Each level has bonus challenges for extra points. Complete these challenges and you will be rewarded.

Camera:
At times the camera can be your worst enemy, but most of the time you will not notice it. You have no control of where the camera focuses, which can be frustrating at times as it twirls around and hinders your movements, but the level maps are set up so that you will not fall off cliffs or walls if the camera should interfere with your interactions with the map.

Blood and Gore:
The game can be very graphic. Blood and guts are seen throughout combat and the game even uses it to expand the interaction between player and enemy. At times you will be asked to combine button combos for slow motion combat where you will rip heads off your enemy in a shower of blood or used your chain to explode the heads of your enemy with cinematic awe.

Nudity:
There is nudity in the game. One of your most powerful weapons is a nude woman atop a dragon like beast. This weapon is given a very cinematic introduction. I'm not a parent and I'm not your child's parent so I won't be passing judgement on the game for its inclusion of nudity, that is up to you.

Religious Undertones:
Although the game isn't a Christian affair it does contain quite a bit of religion.

Overall the game is very fun. Some aspects are incredibly frustrating as the game gives little clue as to what it takes to solve a challenge ore beat an enemy, but with the help of google I was able to figure everything out after trying it out a couple of times on my own.

Based on Amazon's star scale:
1 star = I hated it
2 star = I didn't like it
3 star = It was okay
4 star = I LIKE IT
5 star = I loved it

I give it a solid 4 stars.

Recommended.
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