It takes a special breed of gamer to enjoy
Dark Souls. Those who’ve cut their teeth on titles like Contra, Ninja Gaiden
and Ghosts and Ghouls, perhaps. If you’re not one of them, this game isn’t for
In the beginning, you’re given a choice to
what class you want to be, but apart from starting skills and stats, you can
mold just about any class as you see fit, as you progress through the game. The
only things you need are enough souls to level up your stats. After you reach
the main game proper, you’ll immediately see how tough the game can be.
In Dark Souls, magic and sword-fighting
exists hand-in-hand. Everybody can use magic (via scrolls with a set number of
users), as it’s all up to you how you play. You want to hold a sword and
shield? Use a bow? Or dual-wield? Or just hold a two-handed sword for extra
power? You can do all. The only downside is that the game doesn’t really
explain itself clearly. Binding magic, summoning other players, invading other
realms; all never explained. You have to figure it out yourself.
Combat in Dark Souls is rather simple. You
have a variety of attacks depending on your weapon, your stance, do backstabs
or roll to dodge blows. You can even block attacks if you have a shield. Every
action you take costs stamina (run out and you can’t block or attack) though,
so being conservative and making everything count is important.
Enemies have no qualms about ganging up on
you and rarely will you fight foes solo. They hit fast, they hit hard and they
are merciless. If you run away from them, they will chase you down and beat you
to a pulp. To survive, you need to be good but most of all, be able to see
patterns to your foes’ attacks. If nothing else, at its core, Dark Souls is a
memory game. Once you get down how each enemy attacks, you’re well on your way
to victory. If you’re good enough, you can even counter your enemies attacks
and do massive damage (as well as look damn cool).
‘Other players can invade your game. survive these
invasions, and you get rare loot’
Dark Souls’ threats don’t just stem from
the enemies; they come from other players too. In Dark Souls, you exist in two
states; Undead and Human. Every time you die, you become undead. To become
human, you need to sacrifice humanities at bonfires (trust me; it’ll make sense
once you play). While you can play through the whole game as an undead with
little ill effect, playing as a Human also gives you bonuses. Drop rates for
enemies are increased, which can make a huge difference. The downside to being
human is that other players can invade your game, hunt you down and kill you
(or if you’re good enough, you kill them). Survive these invasions and you get
Death in Dark Souls is a given. You will
die, numerous times, there is no avoiding it. when you die, you lose the souls
you have, your humanity and your human status (if you’re human). Fret not, if
you manage to get to the spot you died (there’ll be green mist to mark it), you
can regain everything you lost. If you die before you reach you corpse, it’s
gone for good. It’s a tough but fair system but is infuriatingly frustrating.
If you can’t stand challenge, I say again, don’t play this game.
Bonfires act as checkpoints to the game;
they refill your health, Estus (health potions) and spells. There’s a huge
(though I rather like it) drawback though. Every time you use them, enemies
respawn. If you’re like me, this is an awesome feature (since you can farm
souls easy) but it can be daunting having to defeat foes you barely scraped through
the first time.
Dark Souls is a really pretty game. The
architecture and level of detail in the game is astounding. Nearly everything
you see in-game, you can go to. This game is massive which makes the visuals
all the more impressive when you see how they scale (check out Demon Ruins and
see what I mean). Sadly, the framerate can be unstable at times (and
notoriously so in the Blighttown). It’s nothing major but it’s easily
noticeable when the game runs smoothly most of the time.
I have never played a game as hard as Dark
Souls (and trust me, I have played a lot of games) so if you’re not up to the
challenge, stay clear. Only the hardest of the hardcore need apply.
At a glance
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Action RPG