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Dark Souls
Dark Souls

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: FROM Software Official Site: http://www.namcobandaigames....
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date:
6th October 2011
Dark Souls

Genre: Action
Developer: FROM Software
Official Site: http://www.namcobanda...
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date:
6th October 2011
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Dark Souls Review
Review By @ 03:15pm 12/10/11
To say that Dark Souls is simply “difficult” is possibly the understatement of 2011. After sinking quite a few hours of my life into this human misery tool, I’m quite certain the developers designed a game that only the most diehard of masochists would possibly finish it. Even the box warns you in no uncertain terms that you should start writing your virtual will. Let me elaborate.

Dark Souls is not by any means a bad game. My introduction may have sounded slightly dramatic, but this is one of those titles, like its spiritual predecessor Demon’s Souls before it, that is created purely for the die-hard gamer. DS requires patience, futility, concentration, strategy and most of all, determination to complete. There is no hand-holding, outside some basic instructions for movement and combat, and absolutely no mercy. You are given save points in the form of very sparsely scattered bonfires, where you can bring back health, but at the same time, respawns all of your enemies.

You begin the game as your chosen hero, created out of a standard pool of RPG stalwarts such as Warrior and Thief. Each class is provided with a default set of stats and beginner equipment, both of which will be upgraded (or crafted) throughout the game. After a short intro, you’re simply dropped into the shoes of your avatar, literally stumbling through the tutorial level of the game, only barely getting on your feet before you’re smashed into the ground by a sub-boss.

That first experience of death you’re likely to encounter definitely won’t be your last. The game almost banks on it; forcing you to tread carefully and methodically throughout the world that is rolled out in front of you. As you die, you will start to learn that every single movement is important and memorising enemy placements and types is imperative to surviving each section. You can’t simply sprint through each castle, mountain top or village; you aren’t as fallible as you would normally be.

Fear eventually becomes the only motivation you have to push through, as the thrill of surviving each wave of undead soldiers, or gradually finding the pattern and weak spot of the boss that has maimed you again and again, becomes your fuel. The unforgiving nature of Dark Souls is arguably its greatest strength, since each death is not unfair but wholly dependent on your actions. Should you have blocked instead of attempting to parry? Was it worth taking on the group rather than luring individual enemies to fight solo?

What makes the experience so fulfilling is the feeling of accomplishment gained for simply clearing an area. Many players will simply fail to get anywhere at all because the game does not allow you to simply grind your way through. Every methodically planned movement, sword strike, spell-cast and blocked strike is on par with an RTS rather than an RPG, and since the currency of souls resets on death, whether you are able to gain the strength needed to continue onto more difficult areas.

What makes things even more difficult is that once you have cleansed an area of the scourge, where to go next is even more of a mystery. There is no path-finding in this game, no map and no objectives or indicators of any sort. From Software have done a stellar job of creating a dreading sense of isolation and confusion, alongside the already depressing sense of fear and adrenaline. Even exploring a tiny old hut can prove disturbing, when anything could be standing around the next corner.

But it’s never impossible to find your next objective, since the developers have provided clues in the way of interactive hints. If a door is locked, then there must be a key somewhere. If there’s an enormous dragon you’re barely able to scratch the surface of, then it’s probably likely that you shouldn’t be taking it on just yet. It can be a blessing and a curse that other players have the ability to leave messages for you, since some of them can be grossly misleading, while others are likely to prevent you from taking an arrow in the skull. But you’ll generally find yourself relying on them to uncover items and prevent you from the odd death or seven.

Death is, if you haven’t figured it out already, a key part of the game, and it’s an onus to the developers in that it’s used so cleverly. Dying is frustrating, especially at first, but it reminds the player that in this world, like the real one, they are as fragile as any other human. Piling on buckets of heavy armour won’t protect you from being set on fire or pushed off a cliff. Taking a second to scout your surroundings and prepare yourself for anything will reward you with a larger haul of souls and the ability to level up and purchase rewards that make continuing just that little more tolerable.

I know I haven’t elaborated on the usual suspects, like graphics, sound and story. But to be honest, none of those things matter in a game like this; sure, it looks pretty enough, sounds alright and the story is... OK, yet you’re not going to pay attention to those aspects of the title. When you’re toe to toe with a 60-foot tall giant trying to flatten you with a mallet, whether the lighting is accurate or the sound of your bones crushing is far from your mind. It’s just one of those titles you need to experience to truly understand its appeal, and to appreciate its sheer balls in taking such a massive gamble with the standard risk/reward system found in most RPGs.

DS is not for the casual gamer, since success and gratification do not come easy. It’s certainly one of the most difficult games I have ever played, but it’s clear that every single element of it has been designed meticulously to reward the cautious and clever participant. Each player will develop their own set of strategies and mechanisms to help them power through; digging deep to find the persistence and drive to make every hit count. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re looking for the gaming challenge of your life, Dark Souls is a very good place to start.
What we liked
  • Incredible attention to detail
  • Fantastic combat that’s easy to learn and difficult to master
  • Great risk/reward system
What we didn't like
  • Incredibly high difficulty curve for beginners
  • The open world can be difficult for path-finding
  • A little bit glitchy in parts, including in combat
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 03:31pm 12/10/11
number of dummy spits would probably be more relevant than a score out of 10 imo

i only played the first one for a couple of days recently and it has this odd way of drawing you in and spitting you back out but you keep coming back for more
Posted 03:53pm 12/10/11
No mention of the covenants, of which there are 10. Good, Neutral and Evil ones. In a nutshell they can be broken down into 3 real purposes.

Good - Rewards you for helping players. and gets better access to matching when using/being summoned for online play. Blades of the Darkmoon lets you become a avenging player, able to invade the world of people who have "sinned" by breaking their covenants, killing players and so on.

Neutral - Usually based around providing yourself with bonuses, Like the Chaos Covenant which gives you access to powerful pyromancies in exchange for humanity.

Evil - Based around stealing humanity/souls from other players or just plain griefing them. Darkwraith covenant is a good example. Joining gives you a "darkhand" item which can act as a shield or weapon. Using a strong attack on a player absorbs their current humanity which you can then give to the dark gods for gifts.

last edited by DM at 15:53:37 12/Oct/11
Posted 04:06pm 12/10/11
I'd be interested to know how it compares to Demon's Souls. Is it more of the same? If not, what are the key differences?
I played through Demon's Souls (on my brother's Playstation) twice on my Wanderer character and enjoyed it immensely (more games should have this level of difficulty). I'd seriously consider buying that 7 year old piece of hardware just to play this game, but not if it's too similar.
Posted 04:26pm 12/10/11
It feels simillar to Demon's Souls. There is no central hub like the Nexus any more. The world is seemless with many branches. As you move around the world there are many campfires at which you can rest and level up. The last one you touch becomes your spawn point. It works really well.
I'm trying to remember and compare starting out in Demon's Souls and I think Dark Souls is harder. Anyway, if you liked Demon's Souls you'll love this. More of the same and then some.
Posted 05:01pm 12/10/11
Just got it today. i think i prefer this system over demon soul's nexus, though i do miss the tenancy thing, that was cool
Posted 06:12pm 12/10/11
I only disagree with 1 part of the review, that being:
"Incredibly high difficulty curve for beginners "
Demon's Souls was known for it unforgiving gameplay and learning curve, and Dark Souls, as it successor would be expected to feature the same core components.
Posted 06:21pm 12/10/11
hmmmm.....probably going to have to buy a playstation.... damn haha
Posted 06:23pm 12/10/11
Speaking of which, anyone know where i could pick up a cheap PS3? haha
Posted 06:45pm 12/10/11
APK - Since the game has gone multiplatform and had a much wider release, its reach has gone beyond cult thus making it more viable to be purchased by someone who is unaware of its insane difficulty.

That said, I agree with many that is a lot more forgiving than Demons Souls, but not by much.

DM- There were lots of gameplay mechanics I wanted to mention, but I found a lot of my enjoyment was in finding out these features as part of the gameplay's evolution. Since Dark Souls's appeal is based purely on your hard earned advancement, i didn't want to spoil any of the content for anyone.

My aim was to prepare people for what they were buying and to give my perspective on the raw gameplay and design.
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