Review: Dark Souls - User Reviews - www.GameInformer.com
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Review: Dark Souls

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This is my first review. I don't know much about reviewing games but I did my best.

Prepare to Die. Again and again.

   Dark Souls, From Software’s spiritual successor to Playstation 3 exclusive Demon’s Souls, is an intense third person action RPG set in a world where anything and everything is trying their best to kill you. Like Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls is often heralded as one of the hardest games of all time, and rightly so in some respects. The game is downright unforgiving at times but not so much so that it seems unfair. The basic premise of the game is to slowly make your way through the dark, dank world by killing anything in your path. You’ll fight your way through undead mobs throughout the world and often be forced to get your gaming self-esteem ruined by getting annihilated by the game’s fantastic boss fights. You will die. A lot. That should be apparent before ever selecting  “New Game” after picking this title up. But with equal punishment comes equal reward. Dark Souls can truly get under your skin but once you’re hooked on it it can be one of the most rewarding, fun, and deep gameplay experiences modern games can offer.

   Presentation

   The most important thing about playing through Dark Souls is also your undoing: Death. When you die in Dark Souls, you lose all of your souls, which is the main currency in the game. It will be dropped where you died for you to pick up if you can make it back. But if you die before retrieving it, they’re gone forever. It teaches and shows you your mistakes throughout the game ever so blatantly. It is a masterfully crafted game. As you progress through medieval castles, poisonous swamps, and claustrophobic caverns deep under ground, you begin to appreciate things as simple as a moment of safety before turning the next dangerous corner. The game is beautiful in its own dark creepy way. The farther you get into the game the more you begin to notice the gorgeous environments, even if everything there wants to kill you. At times, being stuck in the middle of a pitch black cavern, you’ll want to give up. However you don’t. The game, after beating you down and spitting in your face of course, gives you that feeling like you MUST finish the task at hand, as if you cannot and will not let it destroy you. This it does very well.

Story

   The story in Dark Souls is essentially non-existent. There is very little narrative during the game to give you any real clue as to who you are and what the heck is going on in this rotted world. The game gives you little direction as what to do next because of this. It adds to the ever-present feeling of being alone in a terrible, dark world. If you want to learn anything about the story you can do so by either talking with fellow players about what they know or forming your own speculations as to why the world is the way it is. More story clue actually come from descriptions on items than from any NPCs throughout the game. Nearly every item in the game gives a description as to where it came from and why it exists, another thing that makes Dark Souls unique. Rather than picking up and using an “Iron Sword” or “Steel Shield”, you get items with very detailed descriptions as to why that single item is unique. A welcome feature among the genre that is so often overlooked.

Gameplay and Controls

   This is where the game truly shines. At first glance, Dark Souls comes off as just another action game. Most potential players are scared off by the difficulty of the desolate, lonely world you must traverse. However, after spending some time with the game you begin to see that the gameplay is actually somewhat genius. The combat is the game’s focus point. At no point through the entirety of the game should you ever blame the game for dying. The controls are crisp and animations are so well done that if you die it is because you made a mistake, and you will most likely die. Fret not, for after a few hours with the game you will find your comfort zone as far as equipment goes and you’ll start to realize that you are indeed powerful enough to destroy your enemies. With the controls being so well done you feel right at home when you swing your great sword or cast a spell. Everything feels fluid and flawless. Most weapons throughout the game have their own unique move sets so finding your play style is a must. You may go with a very light, quick hitting katana, or a heavy damage, slow broad sword. You may go with very light armor to allow you to move around quickly and dodge enemy attacks, or go the tank route and wear the most heavy protective armor there is. Once you find your play style, you feel right at home with the game.

   The only places of solace in the game are that of bonfires, think of them as checkpoints as your progress through the world of Lordran. Activating a bonfire saves your game at that fire. So if you should die, and die you will, you will be returned to that bonfire. The only downside to resting at a bonfire is when activated, it re spawns all the enemies in the world except for bosses. This is where even more challenge comes in. Not only do you get thrown off a ledge by a boss, you now have to fight your way to said boss through enemies you just got done fighting. Fun right?  While at the fire you may use a special item call humanity to kindle the fire or restore you to your human form. Kindling a bonfire is always a good idea because it allows you to carry more healing items. Restoring to human form has some pros and cons. While in human form, you may summon phantoms to help you fight bosses. If you are playing with an internet connection then you may summon other players who have put summon signs down that are relative in level. Sounds nice right? On the flip side of that as long as you are in human form, other players may also invade your world and kill you for humanity. So becoming human is as much risk as reward, true to the game’s nature.

   There are also covenants in the game that can offer unique rewards. Some covenants focus on helping other players while others do solely on invading and killing other players. Some items in the game may also only be obtained from certain covenants. Joining a covenant can offer unique rewards but betraying a current covenant for a new one will reset your status within that covenant if you were ever to join again.

   As far as dying goes, when you die all of your souls and humanity will be dropped on the spot where you died. Souls can be obtained by killing enemies and is used as the main currency in the game. It can be used to purchase equipment from certain merchants, buy spells, and most importantly: level up. You will leave a bloodstain upon dying with all souls and humanity waiting for you to go pick it up. If it were only that easy. Starting at the last bonfire you had sat down at, you must make your way back to where you died. If you die before picking your souls back up, then they’re lost forever. If this doesn’t give you incentive to survive, I don’t know what would.

Graphics

   The graphics in Dark Souls aren’t anything special. The game looks good but doesn’t really shine in the graphics department until some late game areas. Where it does shine is in the animations. Your character responds to every command given with perfect stride and the animations reflect it very well. Spell slinging or sword swinging, it looks flawless on the screen. The enemy animations are no different, especially the bosses. You can tell that a lot of care went into creating the boss fights for this game as they are some of the most detailed, unique enemies I’ve ever faced off against in a video game.

Sound

   Sound can affect your mental stability during the game about as much as getting stabbed in the face repeatedly. During most of the game sound is practically absent save for  the slicing of your sword into and enemy or a spell exploding. Like animations, sound is best during boss fights. Beautifully orchestrated music picks up during the boss fights to get your adrenaline pumping, the game does this very well. Fighting giant rats to nothing but the hum of your footsteps can be nerve-racking, but fighting a near inside out dragon to a sadistic sounding violin and opera is much, much more satisfying but equally scary.

Replayability 

   For me, this game has near infinite replayability. With the game being moderately long as it stands as a single player game it also offers some of the most satisfying multiplayer around. Some player simply enjoy beating the game and beginning new game+, which starts the game over with all of your equipment save for a few key items. Each time you start a new game with that character, the game becomes harder and harder. I, however, enjoyed the multiplayer aspect of the game the most. Either helping new players defeat bosses or invading to kill the players, it is endless fun.

  Originally there was to be no DLC for the game, but players spoke out to have it made and it has happened. The PC release of the game includes all new content apart from the original game which is set to be sold as DLC in the future for console users.

Verdict

  I was a bit bitter when first starting this game. I died. A lot. Once you get past the unforgiving nature of world then you begin to see what a unique experience it can be for any gamer. However, if you’re someone who likes an easy-going, relaxed experience, than Dark Souls probably isn’t for you. If you’re someone who wants a challenge in one of the darkest, most unforgiving worlds imaginable, then it is for you. As much as that may scare you don’t hesitate to pick this game up and give it a try. Put in the time to get in the same mindset as Dark Souls, reap the rewards for completing its gruesome challenges, and it is one of the most absorbing experiences a video game can offer.

Dark Souls available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.

Publisher: Namco Bandai

Developer: From Software

by Danny Rowan

 

Comments
  • No idea why the "Normal 0 false false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE" is at the top. Anyone know why? o.O