Dark, gritty and unforgiving are three words that quite well describe the new game Dark Souls. Although, if you give the game a fair chance and just don’t quit after the first few shameful deaths you will be awarded.
A difficult game
Over the recent 10-15 years the vast majority of new video games have lost something that makes them challenging. Some games don’t dare to really put pressure on the player; it is as if the developers are afraid that the players will stop playing their game if they are challenged often enough with tough tasks that take many tries to solve. Darks Souls is a game that totally goes against that. When playing it I feel like being back in an old adventure/action game from the old days of NES; Dark Souls have some similarities with old classics such as Castlevania in its relentless difficulty level and hard opponents. The first one to one and a half hour I played Dark Souls I probably died around seven to eight times, counting low… But I never got frustrated when dying because I knew it was due to mistakes from my side. The next time I came to the same place I had learned from past mistakes and could get a bit further. Some of you might think this kind of game is too hard, but if you keep trying and finally beat that hard part you will feel a nice sensation of completion, success and progress!
Gameplay and style
The game is presented in a third person view, which fits this game really well. If you play as an armored character the movement might feel a bit sluggish, but that is just realism. You can still make evasive rolls, but they are not as unrealistically fast as in most other games. The control is good and the character follows every push of the buttons; it is very much up to if you will be victorious or meet another death. If you thrust a sword you almost feel the movement in yourself; the developers have made a great job making the character feel alive and not like a superhero with unlimited powers that can jump over anything or kill anyone without an effort.
Graphically Dark Souls is not too crisp clear, but it has a more of dark, gritting and “hard” style which complies with the story and the game’s stance. The castle areas and surrounding nature is very beautifully rendered and you really feel like you are IN the game when moving around the environment. The sound effects are nicely done and the music is in sync with the happenings in the game.
Dying without dying
The character you play is an undead and the first thing you do in the game is escaping from a place called the Undead Asylum. Souls act as the game’s experience points; you acquire souls when you slay opponents. When you have gathered enough souls you can raise a level; this is done at fireplaces, which also functions as an “oasis” where you can regain health. There is a downside to regaining health at these fireplaces though; slain opponents are revived. This makes it hard to misuse these resting places; the strategy to first kill one opponent, then go back and heal before continuing is impossible, since by doing so you have to kill the opponents again.
Another downside to dying (besides the obvious ones) is that you also lose souls, equipment and treasures. After reviving at a fireplace you can go back to the place you died and reclaim your lost equipment and souls; this can be very challenging though if you died at a “hard” place. But keep trying; this game is all about never giving up.
Dark Souls is a game that certainly will give you a feeling of victory and success after almost every step you progress forward. It is very hard, but that is the nice part of the game. When you finally beat that incredibly hard super monster you will feel much better compared to other games which have a too low difficulty level. The character reacts well to your input and you move around the cool, dark, fantasy-like environment in a realistic way (for an undead). If you are up for a real challenge, play Dark Souls!
- Platform(s): Xbox 360 [version tested] & Playstation 3
- Developer: From Software
- Version: Release
- A real challenge
- Immersive visuals