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Another Look At The Twisted World Of Dark Souls

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At this point, a mere couple months before launch, Namco doesn't have much left to reveal about Dark Souls in terms of actual gameplay. Today at Gamescom I was able to check out a brand new level of the game, though, and it was a pitch-perfect match of the things I loved in Demon's Souls.

The level on display today was the archive tower, a vertical area with winding staircases and shelves of books lining the walls. The player began the level locked in a frozen jail cell -- clearly this isn't your average library. Upon exiting the jail cell, a cutscene showed a group of long-necked lizard men who seemed to be guards pulling a switch. An odd gramophone-looking device rose from the ground and began emitting a screeching noise that called forth a foe even scarier than the lizard men.

On the bottom level of the archive tower, a large group of octopus-headed monsters emerged from a cell. These Lovecraftian creatures are guardians of the archives and immediately began climbing the stairs to reach the hero. The Namco representative playing the game attempted to take them on one-on-one, but despite playing as a slightly beefed-up character, one of the octopus monsters quickly killed him in the most horrifying way possible: by attaching itself to the hero's head.

Taking a lesson from his failure, in his next try the representative left the cell and immediately bolted up the stairs, climbing a ladder to avoid the octopus creatures, who apparently did not have the capability to climb. Up top, he encountered a large locked door. Clearly he needed a key to proceed, but the only way to find one was venturing back down where the powerful monsters waited.

Rather than risking going back down the ladder, the Namco rep tried jumping off the ledge the door was on to a scaffolding below. He lost a little health in the process but was able to proceed. He pointed at this as an important lesson in how to properly play Dark Souls: take risks and don't worry too much about dying.

Making his way back down to the bottom of the archive floor through some hidden passageways, the rep ran past the swarming monsters and up a ladder to the noisy device that had summoned them. He took out the lizard guards and used the combat to show off Dark Souls fast weapon swapping, a feature that has improved greatly from Demon's Souls. Afterward, he pulled the lever, the noise stopped, and the creepy Cthulhu monsters returned to their lair on the bottom. As the character passed by said lair, he glimpsed all of them huddling together in the room, and they turned to look at him and even lashed out when he got too close.

Both the vertical nature and the Lovecraft-inspired monstrosities in this level reminded me a lot of the Tower of Latria, my favorite level from Demon's Souls. Clearly From Software still has a special touch for creating wildly atmospheric and unsettling locations.

Namco also briefly showed off an outdoors section beyond the tower. Immediately after exiting the tower, the character entered a wide open forest. This level looked bigger and less guided than any of the levels in Demon's Souls. After exploring for a bit, he found the entrance to a huge underground cave filled with giant ice monsters.

This portion of the demo really highlighted the way in which the separate areas in Dark Souls connect into one large, seamless world. Going from the isolation of the archive tower to the wonder of the forest and crystal cave in such a short span of time was amazing to behold. I can only hope the full game includes more similarly exciting transitions.

For even more Dark Souls, check out Namco's latest trailer for the game released for Gamescom.

Comments
  • If this game is anywhere in the same ball park as the original Demon's Souls, then I will be playing this for years too come.

  • I can already see myself hitting Continue at the death screen over and over and over again...

  • This sounds awesome! Man I hope they go all out with the openworld, I'm hoping for something like Shadow of the Colossus, only with tons of monsters.
  • So wait, you have to be smart about choosing your battles and paths to take. All I have to do is be myself then! I'd run from most enemies, and I'd take the safest alternative route.

  • Sounds awesome. I literally just beat Demon's Souls like a minute ago. I'm super excited for this game. Demon's Souls was one of the best games I've ever played. I'm sure Dark Souls won't disappoint.

    Also, the Tower of Latria was my favorite level as well. The prison part freaked me the hell out, though.

    P.S. Xbox 360 owners REALLY need to check Dark Souls out. Demon's Souls was a phenomenal game. Xbox 360-only gamers should be celebrating that Dark Souls is multiplatform.
  • I'm not sure how but I've more anticipation for Dark souls than I have for Elder Scrolls - which says a lot.

    Cannot wait for this game, especially the multiplayer aspect.
  • Phil's favorite level was the Tower? I hated that place, and those octopus headed magic jerks. Personally, I liked the Shrine of Storms best. It is interesting to see how there are going to be elements other than combat to deal with enemies. I'm intrigued to see how other foes can be beaten or mitigated using alternative methods.
  • All I want to know about Dark Souls is, are there still purposefully hidden and/or archaic systems in place? The whole light/dark for different worlds thing... your stats being merely symbol. Didn't like having to deal with all that, honestly. Straight forward information is good in RPGs...
  • I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS GAME!!!!

  • I'm admittedly curious about this game, but it still leaves one major question unanswered - Why should I pay $60 for for this fantasy RPG, when Skyrim is right around the corner? I see myself maybe giving this a chance sometime after the new year, but I can't see it doing huge sales with so many great games coming out this fall. Plus, I still haven't heard whether or not the "black phantoms" feature (arguably the best feature of Demons Souls) is going to make its way into this game. That will probably be a huge deciding factor for me.
  • Man, and I thought the original was hard. It sounds like the sequel is going to be even tougher!
  • I really want to try Demon's Souls but I have a feeling it'll just frustrate the crap out of me and make me throw my controller through the tv.
  • I've had Demon's Souls for about a year and a half now and I'm still not fully done or bored with it. There's so much to do and finding people to actually play with was one of my best multiplayer exeperiences up there next to CoD. I'm super excited for this game to come off soon.

  • I completely ignored Demon's Souls (sorry, Atlus), but I feel like I cannot ignore this series anymore. I'll AT LEAST Gamefly this one.

  • Is it bad that I'm giving up on this and the Ninja Gaiden games, bc I'm not good enough?

  • Can already see myself getting way too frustrated with this game. Better pick up an extra controller or two and line my bedroom floor with pillows, just like I had to do when I played through demon souls.

  •      I'm a 360 owner but do not have a playstation.  I regret not being able to play Demon Souls and am excited to learn that the series is coming to the 360.  After I started reading the information on Dark Souls, the game was quickly added to my fast growing wish list. My "most wanted" list includes Mortal Kombat, Skyrim, Rage, Arkham City, and the upcoming Rayman platformer.  I have Skyrim reserved and nearly paid for.  I would still like more information but it appears that Dark Souls will be my next purchase.

         It seems that Dark Souls possibly has several exciting and unique features.  First, the game reportedly will have around 100 unique enemies.  In comparison, the monsters in Oblivion became pretty redundant by mid-game.  Second, the online play will not be just the typical capture the flag or slaughter-the-opposing-team experience.  I like the idea that offline choice of alliances will affect your online experience.  Something along the line of another player entering your game as a phantom to kill you at some random point would also add an interesting dynamic.  Third, the game looks like it will be *** hard and will offer a serious challenge for many, many hours of play.  However, one may avoid frustration and gain ground through trial and error and thoughtful use of the environment.  As an older gamer, I find it refreshing to be able to use intellect and resourcefullness to bolster my slowing reflexes.  

         I'm going to start saving my pennies for this one right now.

  • I'm scared.

  • I would place real money on the fact that this game will make the last gen Ninja Gaiden's feel like a walk in the park.