Dark Souls Review
Dark Souls is something that feels very much like a product of generations long past. A game that makes succeeding hard and something only achievable by dedication mixed with a high amount of trial and error. In this respect it harkens back to games like Megaman or Ghouls and Ghosts for example; both very hard games for their day and even harder by today’s standards. Dark Souls feels like an evolution of the “this game doesn’t want you to win” formula.
It’s important that as an rather old school gamer my thoughts and experiences on this game may not match the newer generation of gamers and for that reason the video above has both myself and YouTube Arrazzan discussing the merits of the game.
So Dark Souls, much like the PS3 Sister game pre-ceding it, is a game of trial and error, death and rebirth, exploration and frustration! Your loosely guided through the first 15 minutes of the game, which is more linear then what the rest of the world has in store for you, and once the (very limited) tutorial is over, your dumped with only the loosest of hints on where to proceed next. For most players it’ll be easy enough, cause if the friendly NPCs don’t guide you in the correct direction, then the monsters that kill you in one hit will surely get the message across.
Yet perhaps in that is where the game shines most, as while enemies’ are hard, nothing is impossible and the best rewards in the game favour the bold and practical. You can, from the second you are dropped in, sequence break and go through the game in any order you wish. It’s a game that very much rewards you on a second play through, as well as New Game Plus, in wanting you to play out the game in different orders, and for the boldest of them all you’ll even see new characters or extra scenes happen. Everything you see and do has been expected, no matter how much you think you’re breaking the perceived flow of the game.
Now also like games of old the story seems on the more skint side, yet once again it’s very much there for you if you choose to seek it out. Every item you find has a description revealing a little more of the world or a character in it. Characters not only affect the plot but have their own side quests you can help them with and their lives often hang in your balance; as does their salvation.
However the game’s biggest feature is the online component; the game works best as an online game and it comes in two flavours; those who you summon to help you or those that invade to hunt you down. At any point in the game you can find yourself invaded by another player and forced to run or fight, they appear as red phantoms and they’ll continue to invade as long as you’re in human form. Being ‘undead’ is the only way to avoid them, yet to summon help you’ll also need to be human and keep a store of humanity as the more you have the more items enemies drop.
You can summon up to two white phantoms to help you out and while there’s no direct way to communicate, you have a variety of gestures to get across what you want to do or where you want to head. Some areas of the game later on feel like they’re designed to be tackled as a team the first time through, with other players acting as your guide as you descend into the really tough areas of the game.
There’s no beating around the bush however, Dark Souls is hard, much harder than Demon’s Souls, and in this day and age of gaming it’s quite the welcome surprise. It won’t be for everyone, but it offers the kind of challenge not seen much anymore and really hammers this home, which is why you’ll find yourself dying constantly in the game, although it’ll never be without reason. As long as you learn from your many, many deaths, you’ll overcome this game!
So play Dark Souls… and Prepare to die…over and over!