Spanish studio MercurySteam was met with harsh criticism from the press when Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 released back in early 2014. Its stealth sections seemed misguided, its narrative was somewhat unfulfilling, and its world was surprisingly dull. Director Enric Alvarez and producer Dave Cox are willing to admit that the game didn’t meet their own (or some users’) expectations — but they have some choice words for their haters.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Cox says that the lower-than-expected quality for Lords of Shadow 2 was of MercurySteam’s “own making,” and that by limiting the narrative to only a few locations (one being inside Dracula’s mind), it no longer felt like an “epic journey.”
The stealth sections, which see Dracula turning into a rat, often to avoid robotic guards, were among the game’s most reviled features, but Alvarez says that they were blown out of proportion when the game released.
“But some reviews made it looks like that was all that matters. I never agreed with that,” Alvarez adds. “It was like, the game was trashed because a few sections weren’t the best ideas in the world. I full admit that. If I could go back in time, probably we would solve this a different way.”
Though the game wasn’t as popular as the first Lords of Shadow, which is the most successful game in the entire series, it still attracted relatively positive reception from users. A select few longtime series fans, however, overreacted just a hair to their favorite series being rebooted.
“We received death threats in the studio,” Alvarez says. “One day we got a letter written in a way that the first thing we did was call the police. You can imagine what it was like. The first Lords of Shadow was well-received by critics, but don’t forget that we have tons of criticism and also very bad reviews about that game.”
The negative reception, particularly to the sequel, had former MercurySteam employees pointing the finger at Alvarez. An employee, who Alvarez says had been fired, said that “every design idea [had] to be monitored, taken away, and mutilated by Enric Alvarez,” and that developers would often find out about features in their own game through the press.
“When that happened, we decided to stay silent. We thought, ‘nobody is going to give credit to this, because it’s obvious this guy is taking revenge,'” Alvarez says. “But I’m still scratching my head about how people gave credit to someone who is not going with his face and accusing people. It’s a lie.”
MercurySteam and publisher Konami parted ways after the game’s development, with a suggested Contra reboot never getting off the ground due to Konami’s lack of interest in console development. Instead, MercurySteam is self-publishing its latest game, the online shooter Raiders of the Broken Planet.