Thinking of braving the hallowed halls of Dark Souls? Then you best be ready for a fight. Dark Souls will easily dominate your gaming skill making you submissive to its will. It's a ritual in frustration, yet one that is worth the journey, if you are OK with a little pain. So if this sounds the least bit pleasing then please read on to learn more about the tortuous Dark Souls.
Inspired by classic dungeon crawlers and pen-and-paper role-playing, Dark Souls is the “spiritual successor” to 'Demon's Souls.' If you've played 'Demon's Souls' then you should be prepared for what Dark Souls has to offer, and if not lookout because Dark Souls lives up to every inch of its reputation. While Dark Souls is basically refereed to as 'Demon's Souls II,' it's not a direct sequel to Demon's Souls. Similar in their feature-set you will embark on a macabre dungeon crawling experience wrapped in a ball of death. Critics and fans aren't kidding, this game is tough. However it is this toughness that has earned Dark Souls/Demon's Souls the respect they have gathered. Without a doubt Dark Souls easily formulates an atmosphere of anxious fear while testing your skill and patience.
It can't be that hard... oh yes it can!
From Software pulls off the difficult transition of making a tough, yet enjoyable game. The secret; balanced controls, steep character progression and fair enemies with solid, adaptive A.I. Sure, you will have to fight for every inch that you move, but even when you're getting beat down, Dark Souls has a confidence that is nonsensically alluring. Perseverance is key and instead of the quote “live and learn,” “die and learn” fits Dark Souls' malicious exploits better. The more you die, the more you will learn... and the more you will value your life within the game. This unique concoction of trail-and-error will make even the most brash player stop and think about their choices within the game. Dark Souls is smart and you'll need to put on your best “thinking cap” to advance.
We don't need no stinking tutorials... or do we?
Helping Dark Souls' difficulty is that exclusion of autosaves or step-by-step tutorials. Going against the grain, Dead Souls seems to thrive with its lack of direction and loosely presented narrative. You get little or no instruction how to progress, so it's up to you (and a little luck) to figure it out. It can be frustrating, but this along with the creepy atmosphere only amplifies the feeling of abandonment. Dark Souls is very traditional in this sense, although I am certain they could have given the player a little more clout on the events within the game.
It's written in the blood
Building on the unique online interaction in Demon's Souls, players can leave hints for other players, jump in and out of their world to help or hinder then. You can also view interactive bloodstains for a quick look into how other players have perished. Think of Dead Souls as Fable III's evil brother. You can enter other gamers worlds, but you're not going to be purchasing real-estate or falling in love. While it is helpful to have some incite into what is coming up ahead, the feature isn't totally flushed out. It is often too sporadic with its interactions and filled with too much pointless advice by trickster gamers.
Spinning the cycle again; perseverance comes through trial-and-error, although you will “hopefully” be levelling up along the way. XP (Souls in this world) are earned by vanquishing enemies, however if you die your souls are dropped and you cannot pick them up unless to travel back to the spot and pick them up. This sounds simple enough, but there is usually a reason why you died so you'll likely need to overcome that challenge before you reclaim your souls. If you can't be bothered... or are too scared (it happens) you can simply leave your souls at the cost of not using them to level up. An interesting choice you might ask yourself a few times during your travels.
Levelling up is done at the beginning and the end of Dark Souls, the Bonfires. Bonfires are scattered throughout the world providing a spawn-point and an area to level up and save your game. You can also “Reverse Hollow” by sacrificing some humanity (a in-game resource.) This turns you back into your human form, which allows you to bring players into your world, enables kindling (powering up) and improves drop rates.
No enemy should be overlooked
This "Dark Fantasy" world filled with gruesome creatures could only be from the minds of “From Software,” a developer notorious for their outrageous bosses and foreboding imagination. Although no matter how threatening or demure your foes seem, each adversary is highly dangerous and cannot be overlooked. Expect each fight to be your last because it most likely will be. Even common foes like Skeleton Warriors can be a pain. The A.I. is sharp and unlike Demon's Souls they will follow you, so don't even try to run. I found varied tactics works the best. This brings me to the one big negative in Dark Souls; regenerating enemies. After you kill and enemy and save the game, they should be gone. However that isn't the case here. So even if you slaughter a tough enemy, run all the way back to a fire and save, you'll have to do it all again, once you come around that corner. This ungrateful design choice makes Dead Souls needlessly tougher than it already is. Really they need to reward the player when its due. Frustrating... you got it.
Carrying on you have the typical RPG elements here. Spells for magic users (Pyromancers, Sorcerers, and Clerics.) Weapons and armour. All upgradeable and fixable. Extra items, magical objects, will also occupy a good amount of your time. However, I should note that your game doesn't pause when you are fiddling around with your inventory, so it is best to be prepared. Secondly, your equipment (including weapons) have weight, so it's a good idea to sell what you're not going to use. Don't be stingy here because a lighter body means better reflexes. Dark Souls isn't a "realistic" game by any means, but it does its best to make the physics within the world react in a realistic manour.
Dark Souls creates a one-of-a-kind world based around fear and despair. A world that mysteriously begs for your attention then punishes for every step you take. Dark Souls isn't a game for everyone, only those with a yearning to succeed through trial-and-error should enter this world. So if you are the type of gamer who doesn't mind a little frustrating pain then Dark Souls is an extremely rewarding experience. I hope you don't mind dying.