Game Reviews

Prepare to Die!

  • Nov 17, 2011
  • by
A couple of years ago a game called Demon's Souls came around and was met with surprising praise. The reputation of Demon's Souls was that it was a ridiculously hard game. Those who played it and survived were quite passionate about the game. While those frustrated with it were equally passionate. Regardless Demon's Souls became a success. Dark Souls serves to be the spiritual successor. And it makes one thing clear right off the bat. You will die. Several times. And it's not exaggerating that.

You'll begin the game by creating your character and choosing between an assortment of classes. Each with their own strengths and weaknesses. While initially it's important to keep this in mind because of how the different stats vary, you'll eventually find enough equipment and items to really experiment with the class. But for the beginning this is your chance to figure out just how you want to play Dark Souls. You can be a well rounded warrior for instance or you can start off as a tank of a Knight... or a heavy hitting bandit or evasive thief. Or, if you're really gutsy you could choose to be deprived at the start where things ramp up considerably in the beginning.

After that you'll awaken in an asylum. There isn't much story given to you at the start of Dark Souls. What becomes obvious, however, is that you're playing a very different kind of dungeon crawler. Dark Souls has a small tutorial where you'll be able to learn the basics of combat. And you'll definitely want to take this time to read the messages scrawled about and learn the mechanics of the game. Because it's not long after that Dark Souls cuts you lose and you're on your own. And for the most part combat strings itself together really well. In several games the goal is about hacking and slashing through a ton of your opponents without much regard to what your doing. This approach will get you killed in Dark Souls. Combat is surprisingly strategic. It isn't just about landing blows but learning how to effectively dodge, strife, block, parry and go for the counter attack. Each of the game's various enemies have different approaches to them and different strategies. The game is incredibly challenging but it adds on newer challenges at a decent enough pace.

The game is, however, unapologetic about it's difficulty. Whenever you complete a specific area or down a boss you'll feel more accomplished than you've ever felt. And the rewards are usually worth it. You will find yourself in moments where you may have to grind. Each time you defeat enemies you gain souls which go toward leveling up your class. If you should die, you'll lose all your souls, though. You can easily continue, though, and if you manage to make it to your corpse before you die again you can regain all the souls you've lost.

The good news is that not everything done in Dark Souls has to be done alone. You can invite others into your world to help you. But more than that, Dark Souls utilizes a fantastic online component that most games don't offer (except for Demon's Souls). The first is that you can view apparitions of other players who may have tackled specific tasks. You can see what happened to them just the same. The other aspect that's nice is that you can leave messages to other players. Warning them of upcoming threats or giving them tips. You can also rate how helpful they were giving them a longer time to be around. The point is that it is a community effort. All you need to experience this is an online connection. Playing Dark Souls in offline mode makes the game a daunting one to play through. You won't get many of those helpful tips and you won't see any spirits of players who have already been where you are. The online aspect of Dark Souls is easily the best part about it. Especially because after the first small dungeon, the game pretty much lets you loose and doesn't offer to really teach you anything beyond that. You're at a point where you'll either be learning on your own or relying on other players to help you along the way.

It all comes together really well. The strategic combat and the way the online works make Dark Souls feel like a one of a kind game. The only major downside is that so many gamers may just find it to be too difficult. If you're an easily frustrated gamer, Dark Souls may not be for you. You'll find yourself dying several times. The bosses hit unusually hard and if you don't take the right approach to the right enemy they'll do you in easily. Some areas also feel like trial and error. If you don't take the hints you're given to heart, Dark Souls is going to punish you several times. The good news is that once you really figure out what your doing the challenge becomes less mitigating. But you'll die several times before this happens. And just when you master taking down a certain enemy, the game introduces you to new ones. Of course the end result is that you feel like you actually accomplished something the further you get. Dark Souls just requires patience and meticulous strategy to get through.

There are other things that make the game difficult as well. Everything about it is treated as though you are online. This means that you can still be attacked by enemies even if you're in the menu. You can't really "pause" the game, you can only find specific safe havens away from combat such as bonfires which serve as checkpoints where you can rest and heal up as well as level up or your character. Another aspect that can add to the difficulty is that other players can "invade" your game and engage you in combat. The good news is that the game tries its best to balance things. Often times you'll be invaded by someone of your own level. And you usually have a chance to escape from them. The emphasis, however, is definitely on helping out other players rather than competing against them.

Dark Souls is also a gorgeous game. In fact, from a production standpoint it's hard to really find any fault with the game. The environments are detailed and varied. The atmosphere is always setting the right tone, and best of all the music compliments it all brilliantly. There is also a lot of great voice acting to accompany things. It's a gorgeous game all around.

The difficulty might be a bit much for some gamers, but those who undertake the challenge and meet it head on are in for a treat. It's a well crafted game that offers up an experience unlike anything else you've seen. If you're looking for a decent challenge then Dark Souls is the game for you.

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December 02, 2011
sounds eerie....Hmm....I may have to ask for this instead of the new Batman game...
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review by . June 17, 2012
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


Dark Souls (ダークソウル Dāku Souru?) is an upcoming video game being developed by From Software, who will also publish the game domestically as an exclusive title for the PlayStation 3. Internationally, the game will be published on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by Namco Bandai Games. It was previously developed under the codename Project Dark and is the spiritual successor to Demon's Souls. Dark Souls is planned to be released in Japan, exclusively for the PlayStation 3, on September of 2011 and internationally, for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, on October of the same year
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Number of Players: Single-player, Multi-player
Publisher: From Software, Bandai Namco Games
Developer: From Software, Namco Bandai Games
Console: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: October 2011 (NA)
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"Prepare to Die!"
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