(Not my screenshot - I just love the old “YOU DEFEATED” text)
Now that I’ve finally beaten Dark Souls (Gwyn is a motherfucker), I can give a kind of quasi-review type thing on it.
In short, this game was great. Not the best game ever, but definitely one of the best RPGs made in the last few years. The combat has variable pacing based your own playstyle and the methods of your enemies, so fighting is always interesting. The stat system is variable and allows for every playstyle imagineable to be viable, especially with things like joining religious covenants for extra miracles and perks.
The graphics are good as well; definitely not the best around, even for titles that came out in the same year, but the landscapes and scenery are breathtaking at times. There’s also very little skyboxing in the game - every area you see in the background is an area that you WILL explore later, and the in-game world is one massive sprawl that’s interlinked and worth exploring. Hidden treasures and areas are everywhere in Lordran, and the game encourages exploration by way of linking areas together so you can find shortcuts and new locations.
The game’s soundtrack is also top fucking notch, no doubt about it. Every piece of music in Dark Souls is beautifully composed, and perfectly highlights whatever area or boss they’re played for. The song for the game’s last boss is especially memorable.
On the downside… This game is fucking BRUTALLY hard, and definitely not something a first-time player will be able to finish in a weekend like most modern games. It took me over a couple of months to beat the game, and I was obsessively playing it (Sorry, Sam). The difficulty is very rarely unfair - nine times out of ten, when you died, you deserved it - but there are a few sore spots in the game that you WILL rage at. Blighttown specifically.
Also, the game does very little to guide the player on where they should go, and this is kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, no guidance or dumb little glow trail to hold your hand is liberating. You can go anywhere and progress in the game, because you will need to go there eventually. On the other hand, the game’s enemies don’t level with you like say, Skyrim, so there are areas in the game that are not meant for lower-level players to go, and you will get your ass kicked. Since the game tells you very little of what you need to do, having a computer or phone with the wiki open is almost required to find out what you’re supposed to be doing. Also, one last sore point for me is kind of a personal gripe, but the game’s curse affliction is probably one of the worst designed debuffs in the game. It does nothing but brutally punish the player by cutting their max health in half, permanently, and requires a very rare, expensive item to cure. Fucking. Infuriating.
As for the story and lore of the game… The game world and lore is very deep, but very little is outright told to the player. The little cutscene at the start of the game that establishes the gods and setting is about all you’re gonna get told to you. The rest you’ll have to find from unreliable NPCs who either don’t know the story or intentionally tell lies and half-truths to manipulate you (you will never know if your actions at the end of the game will actually save the world, or if you’re just a pawn for forces much more powerful than yourself), or through item descriptions and good old-fashioned guesswork.
All in all, Dark Souls is a great game, that will test you in every way it knows how to, whether you like it or not. It’s not for the timid or weak-hearted player, however, and it has just as much frustration as it does excitement. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try the game’s mutliplayer, so I won’t comment on that.
Game’s a solid eight out of ten for me.