Dark Souls. The very title itself makes gamers tremble with fear, reminding them of the countless screens of “YOU DIED”. Every. Single. Time. For players of the game, it beckons them to try again, only to fail miserably at every mistake. For the triumphant, going through the numerous gauntlets of Dark Souls are medals, worn with pride to shine proud upon those who couldn’t.
For those hungering (or shying away) from the franchise, well, here’s another one. Just a year after the release of blockbuster, Bloodborne, FromSoftware has again meddled with our wits with Dark Souls 3.
Dark Souls has a plot? In case you missed it, the lore of Dark Souls revolves around a vicious cycle of rulers and curses. Same here with Dark Souls 3. Once a certain period has passed, humanity is hexed again and again with the vile plague of undeath. Being an undead sounds fun. But in Dark Souls, it ain’t. Going through life after centuries devolves the victim into a brainless, soulless husk. What’s left is nothing short of inhuman.
“Break the cycle!”, says one man wearing a shitage (Japanese Underwear). Depending on the choice of prior lifestyle, the character that the player controls has a backstory that matters not in the grand scale. What matters is that the player character has been raised alive and clawing out of the grave. The only mission is to break the cycle and be served with a hot savory dish of death.
Dark Souls is a franchise that banks on its design. It still remains the same here, albeit with greater concentration on improvements and learning upon the mistakes in the spin-offs and previous installments. Everything is bigger, more in quantity, or more difficult. Veterans of the series might find it challenging and neophytes, well, can expect broken controllers.
The player is a knight, or a mage, or a wanderer, or a bandit, or a nobody. The player can choose what backstory or initial stats of the in-game avatar. Once done, a very extensive character creation screen is brought up. After fiddling with the character’s eyebrows and jawline, then it’s off into the world of Dark Souls 3.
Get an opportunity to swing Berserk’s iconic Dragonslayer!
Controls are pretty basic. There’s the joystick for movement and the other for the camera. For the buttons, we have a “SWING THIS SWORD” button, one for use, and another for rolling. Other buttons are for the secondary armament and for menu navigation.
Large Corridors. Check. No Enemies. Definitely. Epic fog. Yup. This is certainly a boss fight.
Dark Souls 3’s clunky controls are the first thing that players are expected to contend with. Numbers are key and the spirit of the game. Everything is MATH! From rolling distance, damage, and walking speed. The player’s stat points dictate those things. And where can you get stat points? From killing large beasts and surviving hundreds of traps.
Sometimes patience is really the key to solving everything. Enemy in-fighting occurs, saving the player the trouble of going through the motions.
See, in Dark Souls 3, whenever the player kills something, a number of “souls” are rewarded. Think of it as the game’s currency. These “souls” can then be used to level the player’s skill or buy weapons and consumables. If, for the most part, the player dies, the souls that were carried are left at the last spot of death. Should the player die again, which is very very usual, the souls are gone forever. This is the draconian punishment in Dark Souls 3. If you can’t make it, you’re not cut for it.
One of the hardest bosses in the game. Difficulty but winnable.
The merciless approach of the game is paradoxically what makes it wonderful. Enemies and the challenges are unpredictable. Unless you take time to study them. FromSoftware designs these games to make players think, react, and be satisfied. Running into the tiniest enemy or the longest hallway should always spell doubt as the unknown can kill. Boss fights become viewing decks perfect for scientific methods, and trial and error. Once beaten, fist pumps and a shout are surely to follow.
The game is already difficult on its own, so why not add the merriment of having other players ruin everything? Dark Souls 3 features a fairly limited multiplayer, introduced as other players invading or helping defend other players’ worlds. This unexpected disturbance happens when the player has satisfied two things: he/she is online (duh) and he/she has done something to trigger the invasion/defense.
To access multiplayer, the player must align him/herself as a member of a pact. There are several pacts present in Dark Souls 3 with each having their respective beliefs and dis/advantages. For multiplayer to happen, a player online must trigger a condition. For example, a certain pact calls upon players to attack those that step into a certain part of the game world. Whenever someone does, members of the pact are called upon to eliminate the trespasser.
For those that succeed in defending / invading others, rewards are sure to be doled out. They differ depending on the participating player’s alignment, and can be used to gain significant advantage in both multiplayer or singleplayer if done in abundance.
Graphics and Music
Some moments make you think about the important questions in life. Like, “Why am I punishing myself by playing this game?”
If you were able to experience Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3 might feel familiar as it uses the same game engine. The models and the player’s immediate vicinity are a mish-mash of low and high textures. Liquids such as blood stain walls and cloth flutters realistically. Technically, the framerate for the PS4 stands at an acceptable rate, having little or no drops even during taxing moments.
See that place? You’ll go there in a while.
Towering spires, long cobbled roads, and withering trees, are the usual doodads in Dark Souls 3. They stand as silent backdrops during epic bossfights or as witnesses to the player getting slain or pummeled to death. Continuing the trend, every level’s facade shares a story and for those willing to dive into the lore of Dark Souls 3 (which is still pretty sparse, by the way), the surroundings are the clues.
Sights like these are tiny oases in the Dark Souls 3’s perfectionist combat.
For music, expect the theatrical bursts during boss fights. The feel of being in a regal dance as the choir reaches the crescendo adds to the epicness of each encounter. The choir continues until one side wins. This kind of approach has always been part of Dark Souls and is again found in Dark Souls 3. Every boss fight is a struggle that befits the music and vice-versa.
I rarely let out cuss words. This time was one of it.
Dark Souls 3 is a tale of failure and subsequent success. It’s a weird void of difficulty continues to ensue entrance the curious, only to be eaten and devoured by it. But time and time again proves that that void is so amusing and entertaining that we can’t help but stare at it more than once. The mechanics, surroundings, and the overall game help in developing an experience best told hands-on. Dark Souls 3 rewards when it is due, punishes when foresight is absent. The game is a great take on the platform that its predecessors have set for itself. Minus the faults and carefully trimmed to perfection.
This fight took me dozens of attempts. Nonetheless, I won by a hairline.
And of course, nothing beats downing a boss in Dark Souls 3.
Should you have it? For participants willing to be patient and to experience a satisfying conclusion after each fight, yes. For those with the tendency to hurl their controller like a monkey throwing a tantrum, no.
We have reviewed his game using the Sony PS4 and we haven’t had any problems or crashes with it. For online play, one requires PS Plus to participate. The game is available for the PC and Xbox One, but if you’re simply wanting to jump into the game with immediacy, best get the Sony PS4 version.