Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is an upcoming video game in the Castlevania series, and is a reboot of the franchise. It will be an action-adventure game in a fantasy setting in Southern Europe during the Middle Ages. The game is being developed by MercurySteam and Kojima Productions to be published by Konami in 2010. Hideo Kojima, producer of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, will be involved with the title, albeit in a small role.
The game was originally announced as Lords of Shadow with no connection to the Castlevania series mentioned. According to Konami, this was to keep their plans to radically change the direction of the Castlevania myth a secret and to keep the announcement of the game from upstaging their other series release at the time, Castlevania Judgment.
Lords of Shadow is a third person action adventure title featuring 50 levels with combat, platforming and puzzle elements. The combat will utilize a retractable pyrokinetic chain whip called "The Combat Cross". The commands consist of short range and long range attacks, and interactions with other items in the player's inventory such as knives, stakes, holy water and other potential environmental weapons, which includes a fragile wooden hammer. The whip is upgradeable and is not only used for combat, but also for exploration purposes like scaling walls and swinging across gaps. The player will also be able to find items that can increase health or boost abilities.
The developers have tried to reach out to new audiences by distancing this game from previous Castlevania games, but have kept some elements intact as to not alienate current fans. For example, vampires and werewolves are recurring enemies in the game, but other existing enemies include trolls, giant spiders and goblin-like creatures. The in-game enemies can be defeated for experience points, which can be used to purchase combos or to augment the player's abilities further. Lords of Shadow will have large scale, fully interactive bosses reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, which includes the large ice titan shown in the trailers. When the player defeats them, they will receive items known as relics, which can assist them with other challenges in the game. There will also be Light and Dark spells, which are aimed at defense and aggression, respectively.
David Cox stated the game is a reboot of the franchise and is not a part of the original series canon. The setting of Lords of Shadow is during "the end of days". The Earth's alliance with the Heavens has been threatened by a malevolent force known as the Lords of Shadow. A dark spell has stopped the souls of the deceased from leaving, while evil creatures inhabit the dying land and attack living people.
The main character, Gabriel Belmont (voiced by Robert Carlyle) is a member of the "Brotherhood of Light", an elite group of holy knights who protect and defend innocent people against the supernatural creatures. Gabriel's wife Marie (voiced by Natascha McElhone) was brutally murdered by one of them, and her soul cannot leave as it is trapped in limbo. Because she is now neither alive nor dead, she realizes what is at stake and guides Gabriel to his destiny to save the world as he investigates the dark spell. He travels the destroyed land, meeting other characters such as his mentor Zobek (voiced by actor Sir Patrick Stewart, who additionally narrates the game). Two masks referred to as the God and Devil Masks, lie at the centre of the plot, with the God Mask having powers to resurrect the dead. Gabriel intends to defeat the three factions of the Lords of Shadow in order to obtain the pieces of the God Mask, and bring back his deceased wife
There were a number of prototypes in parallel development competing to continue development as the next Castlevania title. Konami chose the pitch for Lords of Shadow. The original concept for the game was to remake the first Castlevania starring Simon Belmont, but it was later decided to make a reboot of the franchise. Lords of Shadow still draws inspiration from earlier titles in the series, most notably Castlevania for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Super Castlevania IV.
Lords of Shadow runs on a proprietary MercurySteam Engine. Kojima's involvement in the development of the game allowed him to "fix things based on his creative viewpoint." Examples include advising Cox's team to redesign some of the lead character, Gabriel, who he felt needed a "more heroic face". Originally, Gabriel's design resembled a classic barbarian, before Kojima advised the staff to refine him into a character that was more relatable for the player. David Cox mentioned "you can see a little bit" of Robert Carlye's visage in Gabriel, who provides the voice for the character. He stated that Kojima has otherwise allowed him a lot of freedom with the project. MercurySteam wanted to depart from the art style of the other games in favour of one that was more dark. Cox elaborated, saying "The old games had this boyish depiction of vampires and monsters and we wanted them to have a darker edge this time around." The developers avoided the use of Quick Time Events during combat, stating it distracted the player from the action taking place within the game. When the game was 60% complete, MercurySteam were aiming for 30 frames per second performance, as opposed to 60 frames, which they said was not a priority at that stage.
The game's musical score will be composed by Óscar Araujo using a 120-piece orchestra. Cox has said that some previous Castlevania musical themes will be used throughout.