Not For The Faint (or any) Hearted – Dark Souls Review

I should have known from the start…

I was introduced this game after hearing about it from a friend (in the lucid periods between onslaughts of obscenities towards whatever creature that had recently killed him) and issued myself the challenge to breeze though the game and claim the associated “what was so hard about that?” bragging rights. Oh how naïve I was.

From Software’s sequel to the critically acclaimed PS3 hit Demons Souls more than lives up to the company’s promise to be even tougher (and infuriating) but also at the same time extremely satisfying to succeed at, by punishing recklessness and rewarding careful planning and good timing the games’ combat system quickly roots out any notion of a quick, easy romp through jolly fantasy land filled with helpful cooperative people and puny enemies.

What my unfortunate undead hero (we need more of those) soon discovered is a dark twisted land populated by demonic monstrosities and undead who have become hollow (lost their mind due to being starved of humanity which is an actual substance in this world) with almost no idea on the lands’ history and lore but suffice it to say that most of the “people” you encounter are going to want your head on a pike sooner or later.

One of the most pulse raising experiences of the game are the immense and/or bizarre creatures that are the games bosses, almost from the start you will come face to face with a huge disgusting demonic creature that stands between you and the exit and it only gets harder from there as you spend hour after hour executing various methods of dealing with a truly fearsome compilation of creatures that only their creators would have dreamt of. And believe you me if you don’t have one or two dedicated friends who are willing to stay at relatively the same level as you and wait around for you to summon them to your aid you will most likely be facing them alone.

Dark Souls

“WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT IRON MAN?!?!”

Two of the most important things in Dark Souls are humanity and souls, the former is used to return your rotting corpse back to its living form, kindle bonfires (more on that later) and increase your drop rate and curse resistance, the latter is the games form of currency gained from slaying foes, however to collect any respectable quantity of these resources your going to have a serious time investment on your hands along with a significant risk of all your hard work coming to naught because of a cheap death.

However there are respites from the seemingly endless gauntlet of traps and monsters in the form of magical bonfires that restore your health, refill and sometimes upgrade healing potions in exchange for some humanity (refilling costs nothing upgrading does) and restoring you to human form which also requires humanity. You may also encounter the translucent spectres of players using or near the bonfire, this brings us to the multiplayer experience of Dark Souls which can be truly be called unique.

To begin with I should point out that there is very little voice communication between players in Dark Souls with most of interactions in the forms of emotes, messages written on the floor to help or hinder other players and general stabbing. This can make co-op play very difficult when you throw in a complicated balancing system and tedious requirements for a person to join another (ill do another article on online play in the future).

Dark Souls

“Hey who are you?” “I’m an undead looking to overthrow the demons” “Me too! Want to work together?” “…Nah”

Another way players can interact with each other is in the form of duels in which an invading player attacks your world in order to steal your souls and humanity along with various other rewards depending on your faction A.K.A. covenant which may reward you with items for helping or hindering other players depending on that covenants perceived morality.

Dark Souls

Undead Solid Snake strikes again...

The world of Dark Souls is immense and with very little back-story, history and lore players are essentially left to make their own conclusions as to the why, what and how of the things they encounter in the world, including vast amounts of hidden passages and loot that only people with the strategy guide, access to a decent wiki or spidey sense will discover on their first run though an area.

In conclusion I have found Dark Souls to be an enthralling dark fantasy game set in a vast interconnected world filled with creatures that will give me nightmares, challenges that will simultaneously thrill me whilst also making me want to throw my TV out of the closest window and players who I laugh at when I see the ghostly replays of their demise. I would recommend this game to anyone who has enough time to give this game a proper playthrough and enough dedication (foolhardiness) to keep trying against all the odds.

Good luck you’ll need it

Dark Souls

Seath the scaleless your going down!

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