By Kristofer Hammer
“Prepare to die.” For the few readers on campus who may have played the Playstation 3 cult classic Demon’s Souls (released as a PS3 exclusive back in 2009), Dark Souls will be a very similar adventure through the nightmarish fantasy land of Lordran. Unlike Demon’s Souls however, everyone but PC owners can enjoy this spiritual successor as it was released on both the Xbox 360 and PS3.
One key difference between the two versions is that now the plot is a completely open world adventure, rather than the small broken world sections that players were faced with in the earlier game.
To make this work, checkpoints (called Bonfires) are set up at key locations that are, if anything, few and far between. This set up is much more fluid and helpful than separate world levels because it creates a greater sense of atmosphere within the world of Lordran.
The one major drawback, however, is that it is never quite clear where one should head. With very little guidance in terms of tutorials, item use or even item management, Dark Souls does not provide a map, or waypoint system like other games.
Given the benefit of playing the game post-release, one is able to read player forums or search YouTube for help, but for those who go into the game knowing nothing, it is very easy to head in the wrong direction right from the get-go.
Besides lack of navigation, the combat system (which is very polished and rewarding) requires that the individual first learn the location you’re fighting in, along with the enemies in that area. Dark Souls is a game in which you will die often, and if that is something you won’t be able to handle, then there really is no enjoyment value for you at all.
However, in the many times I had died (over roughly fifty hours of play time) there were very few instances where I can say that I died unfairly and would blame the game design rather than my own skill level.
Given the currency in the game, as well as the means for leveling up, there are plenty of reasons for one not to like Dark Souls. But the fact of the matter is that this game is so true and unyielding in its vision, that it is more like a game (in the literal sense) than most other releases in the past few years. There is a story (barely) which can be uncovered at one’s own will, but nothing is ever really forced upon the player in that department, aside from a few cut scenes.
The multiplayer also is one that is highly unique from other similiar games. One can summon players or be summoned by others, giving the chance for help against a boss or to gain humanity. If one chooses to ignore that though, while online you will see the ghosts of other players in the same area as well as notes left behind, either to help or hinder the players progress.
Occasionally, blood stains will also be found to show you how another player died, in the hopes it will prevent that same death upon you. When encountering a summoning the only communication you have with the other player is gestures, creating a somewhat more powerful bond then those on Call of Duty yelling into their mics.
To touch on humanity, the idea is that while in human form you can kindle Bonfires (which increases how many health potions you can hold) or summon other players. While on the contrary, if you are dead you can only be summoned and gain humanity if the player you are helping defeats the area boss. One can also invade a world to gain humanity by killing the host world’s player, but in a game where one of the strongest aspects is the community, this is mostly looked down upon.
With many other aspects that could be dived into, such as covenants (groups to join), upgrades, and the various characters you meet along the way, Dark Souls is a game that is a complete package. With no hint at DLC (until very recently), the developers made a game that was intended to not require any addition upon shipment.
If you are a person who has perseverance, then I highly recommend that you give this game a try. If you are on the other spectrum, I would still suggest trying the game to get a feel for it rather than just write it off as a game trying to make a name for itself because of how challenging it is.
Overall: Try it!