Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Reverie
With the Lords of Shadow vanquished, one might hope the Gods would take pity on poor Gabriel, affording him a moment to rest his shattered mind and weary legs. Immediately following his climactic battle, Laura, the child-like vampire cries out for Gabriel’s assistance. Sensing The Forgotten One’s impending resurrection, she decides that she and Gabriel are the only souls capable of putting a stop to the world-ending event.
Reverie adds a thirteenth chapter to Castlevania that spans three stages and begins in the familiar confines of the Vampire Castle. Like Claudia or Zobek for portions of the main campaign, Laura follows Gabriel through the new chapter and assists by zapping enemies with her various lightning based attacks. Unlike his previous helpers though, players are able to take direct control of Laura on a pair of occasions for some light moments of puzzle solving and combat.
Laura plays fundamentally different than Gabriel as she’s incapable of blocking. Her style of combat relies more heavily on hit-and-run tactics, utilizing her teleporting mist-form to evade oncoming attacks and dash – think Nightcrawler. The change of pace is welcome but using Laura effectively becomes difficult with the amount of mist effects that begin to clutter the screen, making it challenging to see the enemies that populate Reverie. Her one saving grace is the ability to grapple weakened opponents and rip into their necks with her fangs, which further weakens the enemy while replenishing her own health. The feeding has an intrinsic risk, which requires the player to dump the body before the last drop is sucked.
The most surprising aspect of Reverie is the high-concentration of puzzles jammed into its three stages. Puzzles played a large role previously, but the abundance and general quality is much higher than Lords of Shadow proper. Many of the new obstacles use the existing principles established in the base game, but there is some clever refinement in place, leaving each feeling unique, rather than arbitrary, or repetitious.
Balancing the DLC out are a handful of the platforming and combat segments Lords of Shadow is perhaps best known for. Although there are a few particularly exciting environmental sequences, Reverie never seems to match the majesty achieved by its predecessor. This is partly because it starts in a familiar locale, but also because it recycles the entire Vampire Castle motif – although the location is technically new, it doesn’t feel that way. The same can unfortunately be said for the creatures you encounter, which primarily consist of packs of small poison spitting enemies, a simple goblin variant.
The fundamental issue with Reverie is that it never lives up to the epic feeling of Lords of Shadow. Understandably it’s difficult to replicate that scope in such a short amount of time, but it’s also due to the cheap, incomplete feeling it leaves you with. It introduces a short, interesting narrative through its concept art based cutscenes, but doesn’t ever follow through; Reverie is not a standalone piece of content, but rather a precursor, leading immediately into the yet-to-be-released Resurrection content. This revelation leaves the journey’s overall value in question, as you don’t really feel like you’ve accomplished much of anything, but you’re still compelled to see Gabriel’s ultimate fate.