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The recent news that Dark Souls 2 will be more "accessible" and "direct" than previous games in the series has many veteran fans worried about the future of the beloved franchise. Let's take a moment to remember the ways that Dark Souls achieved success by laughing off many modern gaming conventions, and hope that From Software continues this wondrous tradition in the future. Checkpoints
Bonfires are cool. Unlike most modern games that pepper you with checkpoints around every corner, in Dark Souls you have to earn the safety that bonfires afford you. The onus is on you to seek them out, and some are very cleverly hidden behind false walls.
Gray And Brown = Grim And Serious
It stands to
reason that mature games are for tough, gritty people. This means that
the vast majority of the color spectrum cannot be present in any game
that expects to be taken seriously. Why then, in Dark Souls, can a
pretty clam with cute little green legs eat you alive and break all of
your equipment in one bite? Why can you be annihilated by a gorgeous,
giant butterfly boss if you're wearing kickass, scary knight armor?
Because Dark Souls can be pretty and scary all at once, and that's
Co-op Is ParamountSolaire is a neat guy. He gives you a White Sign Soapstone and offers you to enjoy some jolly cooperation with himself and any other random soul willing to help you out. Most games are more than happy to let you bro-op throughout the game with your bestest friends, but not Dark Souls. First, you have to be in human form, which requires you to sacrifice precious humanity. Next, you have to find a summon sign in the game world. Finally, you can be invaded by a potentially powerful player who can easily wreck your day and ruin your carefully planned session. It's beautifully brutal, and makes it clear that players who want a helping hand must be prepared for some bumps along the way.
Status Effects Are Temporary InconveniencesStatus effects have
been a staple of RPGs since... well... forever. From lowly poison to
critical bleed and temporary slowdown, just about everything that can go
wrong with a character in Dark Souls is life-threatening. Then there's
curse, which kills you instantly, cuts your maximum HP in half upon
respawn and blocks your humanity meter until cured with an expensive
purging stone or a dangerous expedition to New Londo. So yeah, curse
Multiplayer Needs Voice ChatBefore the game released, some gamers demanded that Dark Souls include voice chat for co-op. In the Prepare to Die Edition, those demands were finally answered... with Gough's carvings. Each saying only one or two words ("Hello!" "Thank You!" "Very Good!") in the breathy and deep voice of giant warrior Hawkeye Gough, the carvings prove that From Software has made denying consumer demands into a humorous art form.
Humor Cannot Be SubtleA boar-head helm, sack helm, Deprived
class, and an emote that is literally "Come at me, bro" are just a
handful of the goofy, entirely missable jokes existing within a game.
Unlike recent titles like Borderlands 2 and Saints Row 3, where humor is
evident in every facet of the game, Dark Souls's oppressive world makes
the light-hearted nuggets of comedy easy to appreciate without being
Story Cannot Be SubtleEverything in Dark Souls's lore goes against this idea. While most fantasy games jump at the chance to beat you over the head with exposition and lore, Dark Souls relegates most of the information on it's story and characters to item descriptions and optional dialogue. If you want it, it's there. If it doesn't interest you, you'll never be asked to bother with it.
Gamers Need Extensive TutorialsAs you exit your prison cell at
the start of Dark Souls, you are immediately greeted by a series of
developer messages informing you of the controls. Immediately after?
Boss fight against a club-wielding, obese dragon. Forget four hour
tutorials and constant explanations of every item you pick up (Zelda
series, take note), Dark Souls gives you the basics you need to survive,
then sends you on your way.
Decisions Don't Have ConsequencesFrom the covenants you join to the items you use, NPCs you kill and powerful enemies you take a chance against, literally everything you do in Dark Souls has lasting consequences thanks to the game's constant autosaving. Join an evil covenant? Your former guide may bid you good day. Tell a man with eggs on his back that you aren't interesting in being a servant? "Be gone!" he says, blocking the bonfire behind him.
Women In Games Must Be Unnaturally SexyQuelaag. Her upper-body
is typically attractive, but Dark Souls lampoons the sexy video game
stereotype by... making her lower half a giant, lava-vomiting spider.
Take that, sexism!
Hidden Content Is A WasteWe all know that development costs are getting higher and higher as games become more ambitious. Because of this, developers want to be certain that, if they put time and effort into programming something into their game, players will get to see it. The days of hidden levels in games are over... but not in Dark Souls. Entire levels are hidden, requiring complex sequences and acquire bizarre items to access. Even the game's DLC makes you jump through some exciting hoops to reach the new content.
Cover-Based ShootingCover has become an integral part of any
game with ranged combat, to the point where plenty of gamers are sick of
nuzzling up to a chest-high pile of bricks for half of their playtime
in any given modern shooter. You know what doesn't give a damn about
cover? A freaking hydra. There are two of these optional bosses in Dark
Souls, both of which bombard you with blasts of water at medium and long
range. Hiding behind rocks won't save you thanks to the massive area of