Castlevania: Lords of Shadow didn’t leave a very good impression on me back when I played it. While it didn’t bother me much that the game used gameplay elements from other well-known titles, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow didn’t utilize them well. Combat was rather static, there was a large utilization of QTEs, and the story and characters weren’t at all memorable. Due to this, I’m on the fence with the soon-to-be released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 of which the demo is now available and I have tried it as you may surmise.

The demo itself doesn’t offer you much. It sets forth with getting you acquainted with the controls and combat more than anything else. If you haven’t played the first game, then it could be nice as a little crash course but for those who have played it, the control scheme is more of the same.

You start out with Dracula sitting upon his throne sipping some ginseng blood from a chalice when a bunch of rude knights break his door down and start pouring in. This section of the demo is meant to get you used to the basics of combat. You run through the usual ‘press this button and that button’ followed by learning about your two new weapons: the Void Sword and the Chaos Claws. The Void Sword, much like your Light magic from the previous game, helps you gain health through successful hits and the Chaos Claws fill the area of almost every heavy weapon in these types of games–a weapon to break defenses and deal heavy damage.

After learning all this and clearing the room of foolish little knights, Dracula heads out to a section of gameplay where you are introduced to climbing around the environment. Upon exiting to the outside, Dracula gazes out at all the fiery destruction below him and mutters a line that many may find quite familiar:

“What is a man? A miserable pile of secrets.”

Followed by your introduction to a boss battle against a flying golden knight with fire swords. After that little bout, the demo throws you into the fray of one of those epic boss battles à la God of War and Devil May Cry. This involves you climbing around a giant mechanical titan, killing soldiers, lifting gates (of which they continually prompt you to do if you don’t do it when they want you to. I can’t remember if that was in the first game, but I’m hoping it’s not in the actual game since it did break my combat flow), and getting the golden knight to shoot arrows at spots that are destructible to gain you further access.

Control during combat seemed slightly more fluid than the last game, but not by a whole lot. Part of this may be because Dracula’s dodge maneuver is to teleport but it’s still something I can’t quite put my finger on. Other than that, it seems pretty much the same as the last game which, to me at least, is not especially great as it was one of my qualms with the first title. Changing through your weapons, much like the magic from Lords of Shadow, is still effortless thanks to mapping them still to the L1 and R1 buttons. The new weapon additions beside the whip will make combat a little more interesting I’d imagine–especially since I get the feeling that you can unlock several combo moves for each to use in tandem. I do wish the developers had found a different button for the dodge or block since they are on the same button (you dodge using the analog with the button).

Based on what the demo presented to me, I’m not very enthused about the upcoming game. It feels and plays the same as Lords of Shadow, a game that I feel needed some improvement, and it doesn’t offer you much outside of basic combat control. I’d imagine the demo would take most people anywhere around 15 minutes to complete which isn’t a lot–even for a demo. Personally, I would’ve liked the chance at trying out two or three different scenarios instead of just the one presented.

Those are my impressions and synopsis of the demo. If you tried it out, tell me what you thought of it. Did it gain your attention for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2?

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 will release on February 25 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.