First things first: there are a few choices that must be made before venturing forth to fulfill Harkyn's destiny, and all of them have to do with what kind of combatant he is. You must choose a magic scheme and pick your class. There are three of each, but regardless of which ones you choose, you're bound to have a balanced experience that is different each time you start a new game.
The three magic types are Brawling, Deception, and Solace. You probably have a good idea what to expect just from the names alone. Brawling magic is offensive in nature; from damage buffs to devastating area of effect attacks and even a near-suicidal ram attack; Brawling spells are intended for aggressive players. Deception magic allows Harkyn to shift the world around him in an attempt to gain the advantage over his enemies. For example, he can go into a fully cloaked stealth mode by casting Shift, or he can summon an ethereal cutthroat to dash out of nowhere and deliver a powerful strike. Solace magic is for the defensive player who wants to make the conditions for attack perfect and relatively risk-free. So defensive buffs, attacks with status effects (fear, slow, etc.), and an instant reprisal ability are the hallmarks of the Solace mage. Common to all three magic types is Prayer, an ability that allows Harkyn to create an ethereal motionless clone to draw aggro and, depending on what kind of mage you are, regenerate health, energy, or magic.
Governing Harkyn's equipment aptitudes is the class you choose from the outset. Warriors are capable of donning heavy armor and wielding a sword and shield combo. Rogues lie on the opposite end of the spectrum, opting for the mobility afforded by light armor and daggers. Clerics lie somewhere in between the two, bestowing the ability to wear medium armor while wielding hammers.
Mechanically, Lords of the Fallen has more than just a touch of Souls DNA. Youíve got your heavy and light attacks, as well as a handy lock-on mechanic for all the circling youíll end up doing.
Harkynís experience accumulates as he kills Rhogar. If he dies, he drops all of his experience on the spot. But if he returns to it before dying again, he can reclaim it. Sound familiar? Of course it does, but hereís where it changes a bit: if he reaches one of several red shards littered around the world, Harkyn can invest his experience into one of two pools. One dictates his magical abilities and another his physical abilities. By investing Harkyn's experience in each pool, you can earn Spell and Attribute points, which ultimately improve his effectiveness in combat via swinging melee weapons around or using magic.
Experience carries with it a risk/reward dynamic: you see, each time Harkyn kills an enemy, his experience multiplier increases. And the more unspent experience he has on his person, the higher the likelihood is that higher quality items will drop.
Regardless of how you played Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, you're going to have to learn to be a jack of many trades in Lords of the Fallen. And you'll want to: the magic, melee, and defense create a synergistic triangle. Everything feels like its in its right place, and if you develop a balanced character, you'll never feel like you're missing the right tool to advance forward.
Lords of the Fallen is one of those special dark horse titles that show up with very little fanfare and quietly surprise those who are paying attention. I'm among that number; this is a very good game that should be played by as many people as possible. It might not be as punishing as Dark Souls, and as a result, it may lack the prestige associated with its inspiration, but if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, From Software should be blushing.