Review: Dark Souls

PREPARE TO DIE

Developer: From Software
Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Compatability (PS3): 8503KB Minimum Space | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | SIXAXIS Motion Sensitive | HD 480p / 720p / 1080i | Network Players 2-4
Compatability (Xbox 360): 9MB Minimum Space | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-4
Rating: 9.5

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And Again. And Again. And Again. Dying twenty times in the first twenty minutes of Dark Souls frustrated me to know end. However, I was unaware of the game’s rules. First rule of Dark Souls: Learn from Death. Dark Souls is a spiritual successor of Demon Souls, considered by many at the time to be the hardest game in the last twenty years. Dark Souls is like Demon Souls’ twin brother, equally hard if not harder. From Software changed many things from Demon Souls, all well, to make Dark Souls a much better experience. One of my favorite changes is the free roaming. What’s brilliant about Dark Souls is that everything connects to each other. The only thing that feels better than finding a bonfire with little health left is passing through an unexplored path or door that leads back to an already explored area. This makes freeroaming a lot less frustrating.

The first twenty hours of the game are the hardest. Aside from not fully understanding the rules of this game, players are ill equipped to explore this very dangerous world. Any enemy can kill you, and the game does allow players to explore any area in the game. A level five player can stroll along an area that is meant for a level forty player. This can lead to many broken controllers. Second rule of Dark Souls: Grind. Grind harder and longer then those drunk late nights at the club. This is a must to upgrade armor and equipment, as well as upgrading the character’s stamina, endurance, etc. Many gaming sites offer easy ways to grind. So before you try to take a dark knight with your little wooden shield at level ten, remember, you’ll die.

If you are into action RPGs, then make yourself a favour and give Dark Souls a chance. You won't be disappointed.

Not much story is given to the player throughout the game, along from a somewhat forgettable intro. This is easily forgiven somewhat by the amazing gameplay and RPG elements that make exploring the most dangerous world in video games fun. Which leads me to the third and arguably most important rule of Dark Souls: Patience. This is not a fast paced run and gun first person shooter. This is the total opposite of that. Every enemy should be approached one at a time, as any enemy can kill you. Depending on your upgrades, most one to two hits will kill you. Block, move around, attack the back. All these tips can make your experience with this game ten times more enjoyable. The combat sytem allows you to hold an item in your right and left hand. Also characters can use health poitons, known as estus flasks. Exploring the many areas of this game rewards you with these items, which you can use. Unfortunately item trading is non existent in Dark Souls.

I would like to take this time to tell you that this game is gorgeous. Enemies and especially bosses are extremely detailed, showing hours upon hours these developers spent designing the amazing creatures. It will be hard to find creatures that are this detailed in any other game. Upon fighting these creatures, if you have time, take a look around you. Walk to the edge of a cliff and look miles away at the castle in the distance or anything this games conjures up. If you can see it, you can be there. Sound is also amazing, from the loud sting of a sword hitting the wall, to a shouting dragon. Everything has a unique sound that furthermore captures you into this world. Unfortunately if you read my review after you explored the area of Blight Town, you would call me a liar. Once you are in Blight Town the frame rate drops tremendously low, making not only the area ugly to look at, but extremely hard to explore. It makes this area one of the hardest in the game because you can’t see what you are doing. It’s a shame, being this game could be perfect if not of the lowered frame rate in part of Dark Souls.

You cannot escape death in Dark Souls. It's inevitable.

The last rule of Dark Souls is the easiest of all to accomplish: Read other players’ messages with caution. I cannot tell you how much this game’s unique multiplayer has helped me safely explore areas. Players are allowed certain hints on the ground, so players in other worlds can see them. I say hint with the utter most caution, being just because a message from another player is on the ground doesn’t mean it’s truthful. A message next to an edge of a cliff saying, “jump off” could mean that there’s a treasure further down or it could mean a fall to your death. Approach everything with caution. Even other players who don’t even know you are out to kill you. The multiplayer here is quite genius as it allows the opportunity for players to help one another in a game where the player needs all the help he or she can get.

This game is really and truly an amazing game. To certain gamers it’s a masterpiece, to others, a hard and frustrating broken game. For a game to have this many rules in order for it to be rewarding, I completely and totally understand the criticism. To some people games are supposed to be fun and a break from the already ruled-filled real world we all live in. But I followed the rules, invested the time, and once I did, this game was one of the most rewarding games I ever played in my entire life.

Reviewed by Aaron Courville – December 2, 2011

Graphics
The game has got some frame rate issues, but still this doesn’t compare with the utter brilliance in the graphics of Dark Souls.
 
Sound
Dark Souls captures you, and this is helped by the massive sound effects it has. Some of the best around. Unique.
 
Fun
You may hate this game. But if you give it a chance and be patient, Dark Souls could be one of the greatest experiences in your gaming lifetime. Amazing.
 
Final Score

 

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