20 September 2020

Dark Souls Review

Dark Souls was originally released in 2011, developed by From Software and published by Bandai Namco. Dark Souls is the spiritual sequel of Demon’s Souls, which was an exclusive PS3 game back in 2009. Though Demon’s Souls wasn’t very popular worldwide, it was a huge success in Japan, and eventually became a game of cult. Dark Souls features challenging gameplay that demands the player to learn the enemy’s weaknesses and exploit them. It also features pretty good graphics and sounds, a fantastic plot and huge open-world to explore.

Introduction

The world of Dark Souls is big and dangerous, players will surely die dozens of times while exploring it. No worries, this an in-game mechanic that works together with the plot. In Dark Souls whoever who dies lost his/her humanity and respawn in a bonfire (the game checkpoints) as an undead. Undeads can regain their humanity by defeating strong demons, steal it from the living ones or take it back from the last place where they die. In terms of story, this is a metaphor, the undead who fails to recover their humanity lost all senses and become hollow, condemned to spend the eternity living as an empty vessel with no soul until they find their tragic end.

Some players may find this mechanic annoying and frustrating, but those who like the challenges will surely enjoy it. The feeling of overcoming a huge challenge after some good old trial and error technique can’t be described with words. Beware though, there’s no pause functionality in Dark Souls, not even when you’re changing your gear, so keep your eyes open for enemies!

The game includes some multiplayer features, although they may be a little bit confusing. While playing the game, the player can use certain items to write messages for different purposes. Some messages gives information about the game, like the advice of a hidden treasure or enemy. Others can summon other players to aid you in battle or trade items. Finally but no less important, messages can be used to challenge other players and take their souks and humanity.

Gameplay

Dark Souls is an action RPG with a vast combat system in which you will use weapons, spells, and items. When you start a new game, you will need to create a character, edit its appearance and assign a class to it. The classes define the initial stats and equipment at the start of your adventure, but you can upgrade both later on. So you can build strength and stamina-based knight or faith and intelligence-based cleric, the choice is yours. And if you feel like change your playstyle later, you can try upgrading other stats and equipment.

In order to properly use weapons and spells you will need a specific amount of stats, otherwise the object in question will not work as it should. Unlike Demon’s Souls, there’s not magic bar gauge in the UI, only health and stamina bars. Each spell has its own number of uses that resets every time we rest at the bonfire. There’s also the humanity meter where you can see how many humanities you have as well as the soul meter.

Dark Souls user-interface (UI)

Every time you die in Dark Souls you will lose every humanity and souls you had. You can retrieve those if you manage to get to the place where you died. Be careful though, if you die before retrieving your souls and humanity you will lose them for good.

Players can also join “covenants” which are factions in the game where they can rank up. These covenants provide benefits in both single-player or multiplayer matches. Players must find the covenants in the world and fulfill the necessary requirements to join. Lastly, players can only be in one covenant at the same time, penalizations are in order for those who quit or break the rules.

Graphics

By 2020 the game might be outdated in terms of graphics but you can always try the remastered version released in 2018. That aside, the environments and effects were outstanding for 2011. Buildings and structures look good enough, the landscape is gorgeous the enemies and gear designs look pretty good too. The game makes great use of illumination, shadows and lights are essential in most of the areas you will explore.

Beautiful environments and gear details.

Enemy designs vary from undead knights to huge monsters and dragons. Each one with their own strengths and weaknesses. Weapons, armors, and items designs are great, the unique gear may look so cool that you will want to collect them all. Also, special mention to Anor Londo (the city of the gods) wich looks just incredible.

The soundtrack is great as well, each boss has its own theme that will keep in your mind for long.

Side-content

There’s a lot of optional stuff to do in Dark Souls. If you want to fully complete the game and understand the story of course. There are a lot of special events that activate once certain requirements are completed. So you can either help or kill one NPC and that will trigger special events later on. If you are completionist you will want to obtain all unique weapons and magic spells, miracles, and pyromancies. To do so, you will need to join and rank most covenants, complete certain tasks for some NPCs, make a deep exploration in each stage of the world and defeat a lot of powerful demons.

There’s “Artorias of the Abyss” DLC which adds new content and a new plot to the main game. It’s to this day the most beloved DLC of the Dark Souls franchise among fans, a totally must-have.

Artorias of the Abyss DLC

Replayability

There are still people who play Dark Souls since the release date, so that can give you an idea. Apart from the challenging gameplay and all the side-content, the game gets harder each time you beat it. Yeah, that’s right, each New Game Plus add makes enemies more vicious and strong, of course, the rewards for defeating them also increase. This count towards NG++++++ and after that the game will not improve the enemies anymore.

There’s also the online modes, the community is not as big as years ago but you can still find people. You can join covenants to challenge or help people throughout the game a more. It is impossible to see all Dark Souls content in just one playthrough so be ready for some new game plus action. Finally, the challenge on defeating stronger enemies each time you start a new game is addictive, to say the least.

Story

The world was once in darkness, and trough all that darkness dragons reign, until Gwynt finds the first flame. With the flame came knowledge and power, wich Gwynt share with few others. Shortly after, these flame holders acquire the power to defy and defeat dragons, these beings will be later known as “The first gods”. Once the age of darkness ended and most dragons were defeated, these gods disappeared. Some say they died, others say that they are hiding, waiting for their time to come back. This was the beginning of the “Age of fire”.

Centuries after that war the tales about it are mostly myths. Is here where the main character is trapped in an undead asylum after dying, waiting to become hollow. Saved by a mysterious knight, the protagonist learns about the prophecy of the chosen undead. An undead who will appear at the end of the age of fire and undertake the pilgrimage to ring the “Bells Of Awakening” in “the Land of Ancient Lords,” Lordran. Will your actions save the age of fire or bring back the darkness? Forge your own tale.

The story of Dark Souls is described by many aspects of the game, such as places and items. Items descriptions give you info about characters and events from a time previous to the game. Also the back-story of the many places we will traverse, Anor Londo is a great example. So if you want to really know the lore of Dark Souls you must pay attention to little and not so little details. This is such an amazing way to tell a story since it’s very immersive and enjoyable.

Pros

  • Epic story-telling.
  • Inmerssive gameplay.
  • A ton of interesting side-content.
  • Replayability.

Cons

  • Outdated graphics,.
  • Too hard for some people.

Dark Souls Review
Overall
8.6/10
8.6/10
  • Gameplay - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Graphics - 8/10
    8/10
  • Side-Content - 9/10
    9/10
  • Replayability - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Story - 9/10
    9/10

Summary

The Dark Souls franchise is one of the best-selling and most acclaimed of the last decade. Most fans of the franchise ensure the first game is the best one, it is indeed a challenging experience every gamer should at least try. If you want to test your skills and get captived by an immersive story Dark Souls is a total must-play, but do yourself a favor and get the complete edition that includes “Artorias of the Abyss” DLC, since is by far, the best DLC of the franchise. Also, if the game looks a bit older or outdated to you, there’s the 2018 remastered version which improves the graphics and visual effects.

 

uchihasnake

Gamer, software developer and recently reviewer ;)

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