Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dark Souls (PS3) - Prepare to die, or don't pick up this game at all.

The mantra of Dark Souls is also its official website address: preparetodie.com.  This game is not for the faint of heart and it's not for tourists or people who think they can grind their way to victory. Elder Scrolls is a game for tourists, so if you want game with lots of exploration where you can pause anytime you like to enjoy your surroundings, play Oblivion or wait for Skyrim. I'm not being disrespectful saying it like that, I love Elder Scrolls for what it is, a big open world exploratory RPG.

I'm not going to repeat all that has been said about this game in reviews by Gamespot, 1up or any other website that you can find on gamerankings.com. The game is also available on the Xbox360.

I loved Demon Souls and it's why I got Dark Souls, because I expect more of the unforgiving, no nonsense challenge -- an action RPG where every fight requires attention and care. Sure enough, I am not disappointed.

There are no easy monsters in this game. All of them are dangerous if taken lightly. The game is hellishly unforgiving but doesn't play unfairly. If you die in this game, it is your own fault. There is no cheap death. There are no cheap victories either.  You won the fight because you knew what you were doing. You died because you didn't.

The game environment is beautiful and detailed, worth going over carefully, and not just because there might be traps and pitfalls; careful exploration may reveal a shortcut or a treasure chest. Monsters are all formidable at first and some even seem impossible, but the game isn't impossible, you just need to persevere, to observe, learn from your mistakes, take your time, strike at the right time and keep your head about you. Each fight is a duel. Each step you take, there's a sense of risk and danger. Every milestone and bonfire you reach, there's a sense of accomplishment few other games can match.

As for the RPG elements, you can improve your character's stats as you level up using the souls you collected from defeated monsters. You could direct your character build any way you want, no matter what starting class you picked. Equipment can make killing certain monsters easier. However, the game is not about grinding or kewl loot. There is no point where you could become an uber character invulnerable to even the lowest ranking skeleton warrior. You'll die for your mistakes and carelessness in this game, makes no difference what level you are if you don't learn to play skillfully and thoughtfully.

Personally, to me, playing a character in this game is like being in hell. I feel like my character has been sentenced to a nightmarish dimension, doomed to fight over and over, wounded and killed repeatedly until she learns to deal with each encounter.

I think I'll try a few character classes before I stick to one.  I've got a long hard journey ahead.




(It's worth picking up Demon Souls if you are not sure about this one, as one can probably find the earlier game in bargain bins or used. Demon Souls is not related to Dark Souls in terms of story and world, but the gameplay style, challenge and character building system are exactly the same. Dark Souls seems to have better enemy AI. )

2 comments:

squeaker said...

Great review. Pretty much reinforced what I've read in other reviews. I'm intrigued but hesitant. I did pick up Demon's Souls a few days back and I think I'll start from there and see how it goes.

Ravenblack said...

Yeah, play that first and see how you like it. Demon Souls offers the same challenge and demands the same dedicated attitude. You are in for a visual treat -- I can't imagine anyone who won't or isn't awed by art and realistic action. But not everyone likes a game that so unforgiving. If you don't enjoy Demon Souls, you won't like the new one either and vice versa.