The middling reviews for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 have been coming out since the game launched and its embargo has lifted, making many fans wonder why the game has received so much lukewarm, if not poor reception. Some that have already gotten their hands on it are saying very polarizing things, but the majority seems to agree:
Lords of Shadow 2 is literally living in the shadow of its predecessor.
Things have gotten very interesting as a few developers from Mercury Steam have anonymously reported on the game’s development, and how it was plagued with problems both from upper management and the CEO of Mercury Steam, Enric Álvarez. Most of the blame of the game’s failures have been pointed at the CEO, painting him as a megalomaniac, and that he constantly slowed development, sometimes even strangling it.
Apparently, his ego and need to control every aspect of the game’s development was so great that it drove away lots of the staff throughout the development of Lords of Shadow 2. One of the most notable and shocking of the resignations was of the art director, José Luis Vaello, who left the studio to work on the indie darling Rime, at the Madrid based Tequila Works. His parting was described as not amicable, as he directly conflicted with Álvarez, who constantly shot down his ideas.
The ego of Álvarez grew so big that he reportedly refused to talk to staff in hallways, communication broke down so much that many of the staff would find out about changes, tweaks, or new features via press releases. Many of the decisions that were openly voted against were still put into the game, like the widely panned stealth sections that felt tacky and totally out of place. There were never any meetings, and apparently there were never any words of praise from the upper management to the rest of the staff, either.
Since the original posting of the anonymous messages on NeoGAF, Spanish gaming site VadeJuegos confirmed the entire debacle via another anonymous source. Following these developers speaking out against the problems seen at Mercury Steam, Eurogamer Spain published an interview with Enric Álvarez, talking about the game’s critical reception, and how he felt about the public’s reaction. His words add credence to the previous reports of him being a toxic and egotistical manager.
He didn’t comment on the developers from Mercury Steam talking about the working conditions at the company, but he did say that the reactions from press are without merit, most gaming journalists shouldn’t be reviewing games, gaming journalists don’t live up to the games they’re reviewing, and my personal favorite – that there’s a tremendous lack of honesty amongst the gaming press. He made the statement that the gaming press frequently disclose their opinions, and not a downright analysis of a game.
So what do you guys think – is Álvarez a big jerk? Have any of you played Lords of Shadow 2 yet, and if so, how does it compare to the original? Oh and by the way, that screencap at the top of the article is literally taken straight from the game, a testament to how sorely José Luis Vaello was missed at Mercury Steam.