Dark Souls, by From Software, is an intense open-world RPG that can be defined by the words used to market it, Prepare To Die. Dark Souls is the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, only because it brought the beauty of difficulty to more than just one platform. From Software managed to turn difficulty into an art form, through Dark Souls hard-to-master gameplay and die-hard boss battles.
The difficult nature of the game combined with just enough story, can be seen as somewhat of a throwback to old-school games back in the 80’s and 90’s, where some games just offered snippets of story combined with extremely challenging gameplay.
The strange thing about Dark Souls is that when death comes, and it comes often, it is a learning experience. As a player, you have to face the fact that it’s your own fault you died. In this case, where some games would cause you to rage quit, strangely you feel eager getting back into the fray and succeeding where you have failed, even after numerous attempts.
The gameplay is another part of the challenge in itself. The combat requires strategy, patience, and attention to your surroundings. That moment when you look away or you let your guard down, even for a second, is when the game punishes you. Dark Souls pushes you outside your comfort zone and refuses to let you rest unless you are at a bonfire. Resting at a bonfire is the only place where you can breathe a sigh of relief. That is where you can level up your attributes and spend all the souls you’ve collected. The downside of resting at a bonfire is that all the enemies you’ve killed (except bosses) respawn after your done resting. Souls function as both your experience and your currency in Dark Souls, so collecting them from fallen enemies is important. But when you die, you will drop all of the souls you’ve collected. Your one saving grace, however, is that you have one chance to recover the souls you lost by returning to the spot where you died and picking them up. If you die before you are able to get to them, they are lost.
The boss fights are another challenge altogether. Boss fights require strategy, patience, and timing in most cases. One small mistake can leave you wide open for a relentless pounding courtesy of the Taurus demon or the giant wolf Sif. The battles though can be won by learning to use your environment, your equipment, your abilities, the aid of another random player, or any combination of those. But nothing is sweeter than seeing the words “Victory Achieved” displayed across the screen when a boss finally goes down.
Dark Souls is another experience from this generation that definitely shouldn’t be missed. Just make sure you have a nearby pile of pillows to throw your controller into, or at least some extra money to replace the broken ones. Praise the Sun!