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Dark Souls is a Japanese action open-world RPG, developed by Namco Bandai; it is famous for its extremely difficult gameplay which can seem challenging to even an avid gamer. So now, let’s take a closer look at it…
Dark Souls allows the player to create a unique character: it offers ten base classes, all of which have their own specific abilities and therefore give the player the opportunity to pick a class based on their gaming habits. The physical development of the character offers an interesting variety of combinations, including selections of more interesting shades; for instance, one could have a fancy character with dark purple hair. Afterwards, the player is given a choice of a special item for their character, and each one is accompanied by a short description. Albeit the character setup is quite fun and engaging to complete, when I began the game, I was greatly confused by the various stats and the additional items that were offered, as I had little to no knowledge of the game, whilst the information included strange in-game references and titles which I couldn’t comprehend; for that reason, I ended up making almost a blind guess as to what item to pick, and ended up choosing one of the worst ones. Overall, this section is satisfactory.
This game, although an open-world, does follow a specific pattern, as ultimately the player will end up in the same area despite having taken different routes to get there. The varying environments harbour a number of different enemies, which range both in size and in difficulty; even though Dark Souls isn’t a horror game, there is a significant number of jump scares throughout the map, which have actually caught me by surprise a couple of times. The game features many bosses which are usually encountered at the end of each level: they are usually very challenging to beat, however they tend to have a pattern to their movements as well as a weak spot which, once figured out, allows the player to kill them relatively easily. One must bear in mind that they have a limited amount of health and stamina potions, and that they can only be renewed either at a checkpoint (in the case of Dark Souls, a bonfire) or brought from a local vendor, therefore one should resist the temptation of using up too many of them before reaching a boss. Personally, I must admit that I greatly enjoy playing this game, since I am able to level up my player and improve their equipment, which makes the game more varied, whilst the continuous difficult does add to the dynamic gameplay. Overall, this section is good.
As mentioned in the introduction, Dark Souls is famous (or perhaps, infamous) for its great difficulty: not only are the enemies hard to tackle, but also the checkpoints are scattered around the maps at very large distances from one another; another point to make is that upon resting at a checkpoint, all of the enemies in the level are revived. From my personal experience, I have raged a number of times whilst playing and even abandoned the game altogether once or twice, however I always returned to experience even greater torture. Overall, this section is good.
In this game, the non-playable characters tend to vary quite a bit, especially the vendors and other 'friends' whom the player may encounter on his journey. The enemies also range quite dramatically, all the way from poisonous rats to high-level knights. I must admit though that the bosses are wonderful as they never fail to amaze me: each once of them has a unique name and a specific fighting style, which adds credibility to the whole experience as the player constantly has to search for the enemies’ weak spots in an attempt to defeat them. Overall, this section is very good.
The graphics in Dark Souls are, in my opinion, marvelous, as they are not only varied, but also detailed: the player finds himself battling opponents both within castle walls and deep underground. There are a number of different pathways which can be chosen: some of them will lead the player towards the area boss, whilst others will uncover hidden treasures or special enemies; I always greatly enjoy the open-world offered by this game. Overall, this section is good.
The OST in this game is beautiful, further adding to a great gameplay experience, as the soundtrack is both elevating and soothing, depending on the area and the situation the player is in. Most of the time, however, there is no background music when the player explores the surroundings, which usually renders me uncomfortable, as only the sound of feet scraping upon stone or the clash of steel can be heard; it does indeed create an eerie atmosphere, as you wander around almost in silence, expecting an enemy to jump out from behind any corner. Overall, this section is good.
I'll admit that I'm not the best at keeping cool playing games. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me. And in my last 20 years of gaming a few pads may have been thrown. But not during this game. Why you ask? Well dying is important in this game.
When you start this game you will be overwhelmed. Everything is against you. And right from the beginning surprise encounter with a giant best that drops on you, you will think how will I do this. But in a strange way the game trains you. Because you will never die in a cheap way. Everything is fair. If you die there is nobody to blame but yourself. And it's because of this, that you yu just keep coming back. You start to map out in your head where all the monsters lurk. You start to figure out which best way to fight certain creatures. And before you know it you'll be running through areas with confidence. But be warned! Because just when you think you are getting somewhere you'll come across an area that brings you back down with a bang.
This game nearly broke my will a few times. Stuck at the bottom of BlightTown or totally lost in Sen's fortress...plus don't get my started on the catacombs. But I completed it. And it felt great. Truly one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had. So much so that I've started it again one. Guess I'm a sucker or punishment!
Graphics - mostly great. World is very detailed. And the scale is very grand. Only letdown is occasional slowdown in some areas
Sound - not much in the of music in the game, but excellent use of sound to create a tense environment
Gameplay - very hardcore but rewarding game. Controls feel tight and responsive
Longevity - game will take around 80 plus hours to complete. Once completed you have option to start game plus which makes game harder. DLC is also due out soon
I've gotten back into gaming at a great time. I picked up a PS3 about 6 months ago, after last owning an Xbox 360 about 2 years ago. Now, back then some great titles were out, but after 2 years away I've been catching up on some of the most highly recommended games (most recommendations come from a gaming obsessed workmate) to come out in the past couple of years. I worked through Skyrim. Declared it as the best game I ever played. Worked through the Uncharted series, then declared all three of those the best games I've ever played. Then, and for the past few months have been seemingly forever stuck into Dark Souls. Guess what? Its actually is the best game I have ever played.
Some will have heard of this game, some will have not - its almost a cult game. Don't let that give you the impression it might be poor visually, short or somehow not the premium gaming experience you might be used too. Its none of those things, infact quite the opposite. It looks great - VERY long and as high end, in every respect as you get.
Those who have heard of it might already have heard the one everyone says about this game (and let this be a warning to those not already aware of this) it is a very, very hard game. Well, people say hard but I think challenging is a more apt way to describe this. Its frustrating, tiring, rage inducing, control pad smashing, but its also amazing addictive and the gaming buzz this game gives off is class A.
Some background to the game, its a spiritual sequal to 2009s 'Demon Souls' and whilst the style and gameplay is very similar, the story and setting are totally different. 'Demon Souls' was plauded for being a very, very tough game to be but also an incedible gaming experience, and after 90 hours with this 'Dark Souls' the same can be said for the follow up.
'Dark Souls' has no rulebook. The story is vague, the controls are not really explained and as for how any of the RPG side of the game plays you're given nothing - you have to learn through playing the game how to level up, what the attributes mean, etc. You can pause this game, you can't save it whenever you like and it has no difficulty settings. There is no set route, no clues and the makers are assuming you have unlimited patience. There is no introductory section to this game, simply a boss just a few seconds in that until you figure out the secret will seem impossible. You've usually overcome the first hurdle if you don't get a look to get refund after the first hour.
Assuming you stick with it, and I imagine most gaming fans will - our of pure spite for the game, you're in for a treat. I mentioned there is no route to this game - its a simple case of work through it best you can - some sections come later, but the only way you're really going to know if a boss is not right for your character at this point in the game is if you really can't beat it. And considering most bosses are very hard at whatever level you are at, 'working you way through it' is more of a slog rather than patient trial and error.
Once you have picked your character, got over the first hour or so - you find yourself fighting through and spooky, medieval looking asylum. Full of traps, enemies, bosses and other lost souls fighting their way out. Some help you, some hinder you. Some help you, then hinder you. Most will at some point try and kill you. As you crawl through this game, more and more unfathomably tough tasks will be laid upon you - boss fights with creatures so huge and impossibly tough you wonder what how on earth you can ever win - its OK because after 5 hours on the same boss, 100s of deaths - you might finally figure out its weak spot or the secret to victory (you can always look at the 100s of videos on Youtube detailing the secrets to every aspect of this game). Or, you might find yourself in a hellhole of a section of the game - with no obvious route, no health and no where to rest - at your wits end, then you finally find a bonfire. Phew. Yes, bonfires. Bonfires are the mark of salvation in this game. Bonfires are scattered around the world of Dark Souls - some hidden some obvious - all a welcome sight. You move you character towards the bonfire and its finally a place you can save the game, rest (you character and yourself) and do things like level up and tweak your stats. Its not all hope though, because every time you rest at the bonfire, all enemies with the exception of bosses respawn. Imagine you clear a section - its taken you hours to fight you way through, finally finding the best route to the bonfire. You rest. You now have to fight your way in and out every time. Like I said, its tough. And these are not always easy enemies. Some can kill you in a split second - with one hit. Some will follow you till your dead, other will attack you in groups. Its a game that can only be played patiently, with planning and preparation - you can't just run into a room and hope for the best.
As you move through the game and kill pretty much everything you see before it kills you, you collect souls. Souls are the currency in the game and they are used to level up your stats (to become stronger etc) and to buy items within the game, or level up things you already have. Its with this graft - killing things to acquire souls, spending souls on levelling up - facing stronger bosses, that is the driving force in the game. Its how you'll eventually beat it.
For me, the most important aspect of any game is how it plays - the nuts and bolts in my book. How do players move? How intuitive are the controls? How much fun is it running about, killing things? Can you control you player with ease? All these things I look for in a game. Its what put me off Assassins Creed and made me love Assassins Creed 2. With the rare exception of the camera going bonkers and you loosing sight of you hero, this game is flawless. Once you get used to the controls, you have total control - hardly anything is done for you (with the exception of an auto-lock on when fighting that you have the option to use) and you can move very easily and freely in the game. Fighting a boss and want to stretch your tactical ideas as far as you can? No problem. Finally figured out the only way to kill a certain character is with a backstab after you parry his killer axe-swing? No worries - moving into position become a breeze once you figure out what you need to do. Thats when this game has its rare moments of ease - when you figure out how its done (or look it up)
A few workmates are also playing this game, and its become all we talk about, mainly because we are having such different experiences. Some have taken different routes - all of insist ours was the bast, different tactics for bosses and all know the secret you location for loot no one else knew about. Thats one thing I love about this game - there is so much do dig into to. Even after 90 hours it still felt like there was so much more...and there is.
Once you finish the game you have the option of New Game+ where you play again from the begging but you character has all the same stats and gears as when you finished. Sounds good? Its is, but its not easy. Everything is now much harder to kill, but gives more souls - progressing a second times is now an even richer experience.
As you can see, I can't recommend this game highly enough. Its makes Skyrim look like a round of Noughts and Crosses, and it leaves you wanting to cram play in wherever possible (as well as work, this game is also responsible for my recent time off from DooYoo)
Just make sure you have plenty of time, patients and I'd double check your blood pressure before picking this game up.
Dark Souls is the pinnacle of modern day video game difficulty. You cannot call yourself a REAL gamer unless you have atleast attempted to complete it.
Set in a dark fantasy world, you are tasked with defeating each of the worlds bosses in order to escape and restore the world to peace.
Sound easy? It isn't.
Dark Souls is bone crushingly hard. You WILL die. If you do not like the prospect of repeating the same level over and over only to be kill by a giant demon because you rolled into its spiky hammer instead of away from it, turn away now.
The gameplay is simple (in theory). You progress through the level, collecting souls, the form of currency in Dark Souls which drops from defeated enemies. These souls let you level up a character stat (health, magic, speed, attack, defence, etc). They also allow you to purchase new armour, weapons, arrows and other items from the games few traders. However when you die, you lose all of them. But don't worry! You will respawn at your last checkpoint (called bonfires in-game) and you will get a chance to go collect them. However if you die before you recollect your lost souls, you have now lost them all. Permanently. This means you can't by anything, can't level up and you need to spend another hour or two getting your souls back to their original level.
You learn how to defeat enemies through trial and error. You learn where and where not to stand, when you should and shouldn't roll and when its the best time to attack. However, if you mess up, the boss will just hit you, taking away a VERY large portion of you health bar.
You also have more to be worried about than the horrifyingly detailed monsters. If you are connected to the internet, Dark Souls will be online permanently. This introduces an interesting online system, where you can be invaded by other players, some are high level and would like nothing better than their axe in your head, some are your level and would actually like to help you out. However seeing this is Dark Souls where everything that walks, crawls, flies and runs would like to kill you, chances are other players will want to aswell.
Now I might seem a bit negative, you must be wondering why me and many other gamers around the world love Dark Souls. The answer is pretty simple. After spending hours trying to defeat a boss, a boss you have fought dozens of times after fighting all his minions hundreds of times, you may just be successful. And when that happens you will feel a rush of emotions that most of you have probably felt, from a game atleast. I know I did. Its a great feeling, you feel like you actually accomplished something in a game, rather than it being spoon-fed to you like man developers do nowadays.
The graphics are astounding for console. You can tell this beautiful world has been lovingly crafted by the developers. The monsters are in my opinion the best part of Dark Souls, each one more disgustingly, horrifyingly putrid than the last. Each one looks like something taken from a nightmare. The cinematics also are a nice touch.
The music is also great, it really sets the games dark, depressing mood.
While there isn't much replay value aside from new game + (Starting the game again with all the gear you had at the end, plus a even HARDER difficulty), the game itself is pretty long, especially if you die alot.
Dark Souls is an almost unique game (While I haven't played it, I have heard its predecessor Demon Souls is even harder), a game that gives you a feeling that not many other games can. This game is only for those who play video game daily and are looking for a challenge, anyone else need not apply. That's not an insult, I just don't want you to buy it and not be able to get past the tutorial.
Also a bit of advice if you do get it, remember to block and roll.