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Posted March 14, 2014 by Amy in Books
 
 

The Art of Castlevania – Lords of Shadow (Book) Review

9781781168950_p0_v1_s260x420
9781781168950_p0_v1_s260x420

“From sun-kissed abbeys to the darkest, dankest corners of grand gothic cathedrals and castles…”

The Art of Castlevania – Lords of Shadow is a love affair – not just with the fairly recent Lords of Shadow universe, but with Castlevania itself. Though the newer iterations may differ much from its classic roots, both its art and development pay homage both subtle and overt to one of the most popular series in video game history. This is a massive hardcover book, featuring the artwork, stills, and concept art that went into the Lords of Shadow universe. But it’s also an homage to Castlevania as a whole, as the art team and directors take pains to explain the influences and reasoning behind their decisions to take the Castlevania name in the direction they did – both visually and story-wise. It’s a unique look inside the making of the game that happens to come paired with some truly fabulous artwork that would look equally at home gracing the walls of your home as it does in the pages of this book.

I’m an art junkie, and nothing makes me happier than seeing a game that obviously treasures the visual experience, and Lords of Shadow fits that bill perfectly. It begins with a Foreword by three art director – Juan Antonio Alcazar Redondo, Jose Luis Vaello Bertol, and Rafael Jimenez Rodrigues – and then moves on to a five page introduction that really gives you a look at how Lords of Shadow began. Lords of Shadow was truly a risk – taking on a beloved series and injecting new blood (see what I did there?) isn’t often well received, and MercurySteam takes the Belmonts to truly unexpected places. Different though it may be, if you look benenath the surface you’ll see many similarities to the older games.

The book is divided into sections, beginning with an in depth look at Gabriel Belmont, including the influences behind his look and costume, stunning artwork, and beginning sketches. Gabriel’s section naturally flows into Dracula (his alter ego, if you will). Great care was taken to link the two characters, but also make them distinct in important ways. Naturally, with such a well known character spanning a variety of media through the years, the team had a lot of possible influences to choose from, resulting in a final character who is both terrible and familiar.

The Belmont family gets the next look, as artwork featuring Marie, Trevor, Alucard, Sypha, Simon, and Victor each gets their place in the book, along with more explanation from the team as to how and why they are used in the games, followed by a look at the Allies & Antagonists the players will encounter in the Lords of Shadow games. The whip just says Castelvania to many, and Gabriel’s Combat Cross is given an inside look next, followed by pages and pages of the terrible Supernatural Bestiary one encounters. These are shown in a mixture of eye popping artwork, sketches, and looks at the pieces that make up the final character. Horrible though they may be, this chapter contains some of the most creative artwork you’ll see. The book ends with an in-depth look at the locations in game, including explanations for everything from the lighting used to the real life places that were used as inspiration.

The Art of Castlevania – Lords of Shadow is a must-have addition to any Castlevania superfan’s collection. Featuring stunning artwork and developer insights into the making of the games, it’s a unique look at an incredibly well done gaming world. Featuring a sturdy hardcover and full color illustrations on every page, it’s the perfect coffee table book for your gamer den.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)