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Dark Souls Review

Dark Souls Review

Death can be described in many ways, its a tragic event, a sad event, often a frustrating event in games but never before have I heard death be described as addictive. And that is exactly what it is in RPG titles, Dark Souls.

Anybody who has played 2009's Demon Souls will have a pretty good idea of what they are getting themselves into with Dark Souls, and you aren't wrong. For those who haven't played Dark Souls predecessor, Dark Souls is a crushingly difficult hardcore RPG that isn't for the weak willed, or weak tempered. You will die an uncountable amount of times, you will become incredibly frustrated, you may even break a Xbox pad or two but you will always come back to it for 'one more try' no matter how broken you are.

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Why would anybody take that kind of punishment from a game I hear you cry, well because it is a damn good game. You start out being able to choose your class in a similar way to many existing RPG's with choices such as Warrior, Pyromancer, Cleric and Hunter. If you are new to this kind of game, do not do what I did and go strait for the unarmed, naked character class the Deprived. I did so out of pure curiosity and despite the fact they start out at level 6, it was still ridiculously hard. I have since learnt that The Deprived are the expert character class, for those familiar with Dark Souls and are wanting an extra challenge from the game. I call these people, crazy people.

Once you have grabbed your class and made your character look as you want them too its onwards into the brutally difficult tutorial level. It is here that you are introduced to a lot of the systems in the game along with how to attack.

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Instructions are given via lit up scribbles on the floor, these are very basic instructions however such as press RT to attack, press X to drink health potion, what they will not do is hold your hand and lead you in the correct direction. In this tutorial level alone, you are faced with a giant demon, several locked gates and an NPC with important items semi-hidden in a broken through wall all of which you have to figure out on your own. The difficulty of the skeleton attackers you will face in this area are far more difficult than the usual array of utter pushovers you get in starting tutorials in other games, this will catch you off guard and you will die several times.

Once you die in Dark Souls, you face the task of starting back from the last checkpoint campfire area and killing your way through to where you died last time and beyond. This can be hugely unforgiving, especially if it has been quite some time since your last campfire as you have to do everything again upon death.

These campfires are your check points essentially, this is where you can regain your health, level up your character with new skills and attributes, refill your Estus Flasks - your health potions and many other character enhancing options. Using these campfires can mean the difference between life and death and are often a hugely welcome sight but they come at a price, upon using one every monster besides bosses that you have previously killed respawns making things a nightmare especially if you need to back track.

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In some situations, although your first instinct may be to run to that campfire and grab your health back asap, sometimes you need to think before doing so. Do I need to backtrack for a certain item? Do I take my chances on what is in front of me? Do I grab full health and just cut through them again. It adds some strategy to the game and really makes you think about how you are going to attack the situation - Spoiler Alert: No matter what you choose, you will die.

As you continue throughout the game, things only get more difficult. You are given just enough information about your surroundings and lore to keep you going then you are just abandoned, left to wander around dark, dank surroundings for what sometimes feels like hours until you find the item/boss/whatever it is you were looking for, then you are fed a little more information and left to your own devices once again.

So far this must all sound very grim to you, the reader. And it is, it is a very grim game but that doesn't make it terrible to play. Quite the contrary actually, the punishing difficulty makes you come back for more constantly, and fills you with a great sense of pride and achievement when you do finally complete said objective or kill that gigantic demon that's been stomping you time after time.

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If you are playing online, you are aided/hindered by the sometimes helpful, sometimes sadistic xbox live community. The multiplayer aspect of Dark Souls isn't what you may think it could be, two players fighting their way through hordes of skeletons, dragons and other abominations together, watching each others backs. No no no, that would be far too easy. Instead, there is a contact-less multiplayer system.

As you run throughout the world, you will see glowing scribbles, much like the ones found in the tutorial section, these contain little hints from players who have traversed these roads before you. They could be anything from be careful, hidden boss up ahead! From the more helpful guys but it is advised not to follow these pointers blindly as some will just try and mess with you with 'helpful' messages such as Attack that monster, only to watch it one hit you. It is a really great way to do the multiplayer in my opinion as throughout the game, you are made to feel alone, having eerie messages on the walls/floor reinforces that fact, you know somebody has been here before, but there is nobody here now...creepy.

class select

As previously mentioned, you are only ever given enough story to keep you going and to ensure you that there is a reason why you are putting yourself through this hell, as you wade further and further in you piece together more and more of the story. I do not want to spoil the story, so I wont talk about it in too much depth but it is an interesting one. The following description is mentioned before the tutorial even begins and is, as such, not really a spoiler. In life, there are certain people that are branded by something called the 'darkbrand'. The people that have this are destined to live out the rest of their days as an animated corpse, and undead. These undead are locked away in a prison type building, left to rot away for the rest of time. Legend has it that one day, one undead will be chosen to leave the prison and embark on a pilgrimage where the undead races true purpose will be revealed. As you may have already guessed, you are that chosen undead. After you have completed the tutorial, you are scooped up and carried off by a giant raven, this is where the story truly begins.

Graphically, Dark Souls at first look just looks dank, dark and depressing, which it is but if you take the time to look beneath the gloomy first layer, you can see that the graphics are actually pretty good. Not fantastic, but definitely do a good job in giving you believable and atmospheric surroundings. If I had to pick fault, it would be with the character models, specifically the facial animations. Something which you notice the most when you come to create your character, scrolling through the different face types you can see that all of them are pretty much the same and are a little sub par. Voice acting and music is done well, really maintaining the isolated and scary atmosphere the rest of the game delivers to you.

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However, no game is without its problems and Dark Souls biggest issue is with its difficulty. There is a massive difference between difficult, attacking a group of enemies that take an age to cut down but you can do it, and just unfair, running into a lone soldier skeleton who's kind have presented you no problem in the past only to be one shotted over and over again.
The game is really punishing, some will thrive on that and crave more and others it will scare away.

I also noticed some frame rate issues whilst playing the game both in normal play and viewing cutscenes. Often, these wern't too bad and could just be ignored but sometimes they did interfere negatively with your gameplay especially in places you need to be precise with your combat.

My other issue is with the character development, statistical side of things. You are pretty much left alone when you level up to put points in whichever stat you want to boost, which would be fine if you were offered a little explanation of what exactly does what. Sure you can press the back button on your Xbox controller and get a one sentence explanation but for those who are like me, unfortunately just not that bright, you mayl find yourself sticking points in any where and hoping they work because you cant change it once you've done it. I appreciate that this isn't a hand holding game, but a little more information would have been very helpful.

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Overall, if you were a fan of Demon Souls then you will find a lot to love here, as will people who are hunting for something a little more hardcore than your Final Fantasy or Fallout RPG titles. Be warned though, this game will beat you down time and time again and the completionists among you may end up dying a little inside with each death but it is a good fun game, I'd advise small doses of it to those who struggle with temper!

7.50/10 7½

DARK SOULS (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Overall, if you were a fan of Demon Souls then you will find a lot to love here, as will people who are hunting for something a little more hardcore than your Final Fantasy or Fallout RPG titles. Be warned though, this game will beat you down time and time again and the completionists among you may end up dying a little inside with each death but it is a good fun game, I'd advise small doses of it to those who struggle with temper!

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Sarah Nicole Collings

Sarah Nicole Collings

Writer

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COMMENTS

Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:37pm, 3rd April 2015

Playing through this game at the moment. Well, when I say playing through I mean that I am playing it for 10 minutes, dying and nerdraging at the TV and stopping. I will then go back about 20 minutes later like "I can do this." and repeat. Great game but my god do I ******* hate it.

Reply
Ex0dUs-1428097470
Ex0dUs-1428097470 - 11:37pm, 3rd April 2015

[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/ggSkO.jpg[/IMG]

Reply
Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:37pm, 3rd April 2015

[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/ggSkO.jpg[/IMG]

Exactly!

Reply
Angelfromabove
Angelfromabove - 11:37pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

Exo, thats amazing! It really is very very true :D

Reply
Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:37pm, 3rd April 2015

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnUGxY_b00Y"]Rage Quit : Dark Souls - YouTube[/ame] This. This and ******* THIS!

Reply
Angelfromabove
Angelfromabove - 11:37pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

I lolled hard at this! Ive got a club, a shield AND A HAIRCUT FROM THE ******* 60's!

Reply