There were only a few encounters in the demo, which took place in a sprawling cathedral and castle. Gop tells us that he wants each encounter to feel "like a Tekken or Street Fighter battle." If Deck13 has done its job right, each fight should be measured, forcing players to plan out their attack and defense strategies. The first fight is actually against one of the Lords, an armored fellow with a large sword and shield, and a skin problem involving lava.
Gop takes us through the fight methodically. Here's where the game diverges from Lords of Shadow: wild slashing is not something you can do here. Harkyn has a specific swing time for his weapons, like Monster Hunter or Dark Souls. A mace has a windup, and in the middle of that windup, you can get hit by your enemy. It's better to watch your opponent for a bit. Dodge and observe. After a vicious sword strike, there's a three or four second window where the Lord's sword is stuck in the ground. Use that. The game wants you find these moments or weaknesses and make your move.
There's also room to explore a bit; the game isn't open-world, just large areas connected by a world map. Like Lords of Shadow, you can return to these areas at anytime and as you progress in the game, you may find new skills and items that will open new paths in earlier levels. In the demo, Gop used an alternate route to get behind a larger enemy and deliver a vicious backstab. He could've faced the foe head-on, but he was still in Rogue armor and the backstab evened the fight a bit. Again, Lords of the Fallen can be hard, but that's not its default state. The choice is yours.