Dark Souls for PS3
Posted: July 27th, 2016, 9:25 pm
Well now, what can I say about Dark Souls that hasn't been said a thousand times already? Probably nothing, but here we go anyway...
Dark Souls is an action RPG that is known for being brutally difficult. Made by the same company that made Demons' Souls and, more recently, Bloodborne, Dark Souls is the rare gem of a game that everybody wants, even though they know they probably won't beat it. It is also the rare kind of RPG that has a rather weak story, at least on the surface, but succeeds in spite of it- or rather, some might say, because of it.
Set in the world of Lordran, you are one of the unfortunate suckers cursed with the undead brand. That means that when you die, your body will go insane and kill anything it sees. For everyone's protection, you've been sent to the north to the Undead Asylum, where you'll waste away, never dying until the day the world ends... that is, until a mysterious figure gives you the key to your cell. Now it's up to you to escape the asylum, explore Lordran, and discover your own destiny. Who knows? You might just have more possibilities in the afterlife than you did amongst the living.
Like I said, Dark Souls is hard. This is a game that doesn't hold your hand. It explains the controls to you, sends a couple throwaway baddies your direction, and then drops the biggest, fattest, ugliest monster you've ever seen right on top of you (literally). And unlike most tutorial bosses, this sack of lard will actually kill you if you're not careful. And it only gets worse from there on out. Here's the crazy thing, though: it may be as hard as an idiot's skull, but it's a GOOD kind of hard. It's challenging, but fair. With very few exceptions, every time you die it will be YOUR fault. The game didn't cheat, it didn't glitch, you just messed up, and now you're being punished for it. That's a rare thing in games these days, which either feel like you're playing on permanent easy mode, or just dump a crap ton of enemies and traps on you and tell you to git gud, son.
That's quite a feat in and of itself, but it wouldn't mean anything if the gameplay wasn't any good. Luckily, Dark Souls is one of the least glitchy games I've ever played, which is integral to the "dying is your fault" part I mentioned earlier. You're not going to fall through the floor, enemies aren't going to attack you through walls, and the hit boxes feel JUST RIGHT. Dark Souls doesn't like you. In fact, it hates you. It does NOT want you to beat it, but by God it's going to beat you fair and square.
At its core, Dark Souls just looks like a normal hack and slash fantasy game, but that impression only lasts until you try out a new weapon. Each weapon class feels entirely different than the others, and your character's animations change with them. You'll perform wide, sweeping swings with your axe, far reaching thrusts with your spears, and rapiers perform quick nimble jabs. You're given the option between a slew of different classes at the beginning of the game, each of which have different stats that make you more proficient at one type of weapon (or magic), but again that only lasts until your start leveling up. Unlike other RPGs that level you up automatically according to your class, Dark Souls lets you increase whatever stats you want, when you want. Don't like playing as a physically weak spellcaster? With a little work, you can beef yourself up, equip some armor and a melee weapon, and BOOM! You're freaking Conan the Barbarian. Dark Souls may not have the go-anywhere-do-anythingness of a game like Skyrim, but it's still wide open and full of choices and possibilities in its own way.
And Dark Souls isn't a strictly single player game, either. Ideally, the game is played online, and while you're not technically playing with other people, you can see them running around their game worlds as transparent ghosts. When they die, they leave behind bloodstains that you can touch and watch a replay of their last few seconds, possibly giving you a clue as to what might be around that next dark corner. You can use a certain item to write clues on the floor for other players to find, and they'll do the same for you. Be careful, though, a lot of them think it's funny to lead you over cliffs with promises of hidden items... and to be fair, it kind of is. When you die, you're put in hollow (zombie) form, but you can revive yourself with humanity. While human, you can summon other players into your world to help you fight bosses, but you're also susceptible to being invaded by hostile players. If you don't feel up to a little PvP, there aren't any real drawbacks to staying hollow, but there are a couple bosses that are almost impossible without teaming up with somebody.
There's not a whole lot else I can say. The graphics and environments are pretty, ranging from battered castles to caves made out of crystals. The enemies are just as widely varied as your weapons, all of them requiring different tactics to defeat. The bosses are, with only a couple of exceptions, incredibly cool. And yet, despite all this praise, I can't recommend it to everyone the way I'd like. You get out of Dark Souls what you're willing to put into Dark Souls. The game is hard, too hard for most casual players. Beating it requires time, patience, and hard work. If you're of the opinion that games shouldn't require work, then you'll hate it. If you go in trying to play like it's God of War or Devil May Cry, you won't make it past the tutorial. Dark Souls may allow you to play it however you want, but you still have to play by its rules, and if you're not willing to do that, you won't have much fun at all. For those of you who are willing to meet Dark Souls' on its own terms and put in the blood, sweat, and tears needed to see it through to the end, you'll find one of the most polished, addictive, challenging games you've ever played.
I give Dark Souls a 9.5/10!