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Dark Souls 1 can be pretty janky at times, but is still a must-play classic

Content of the article: "Dark Souls 1 can be pretty janky at times, but is still a must-play classic"

After beating every boss in DS3(including the DLCs) and getting all the achievements in Sekiro, it only made sense to jump into Dark Souls: Remastered. In some ways I think DS1 is similar to Deus Ex 1; both are genre defining games that had a tremendous influence and still outshine their sequels and influenced games in many regards, but both games have aspects that haven't aged very well.

The combat is probably the most jarring thing for a new player given how clunky and slow it is, especially with DS3's fast and sleek combat is and how Sekiro's combat is almost perfect imo. It made me appreciate how far FromSoftware has come in terms of designing combat systems in these games. However, the combat actually works pretty well once you get the hang of it. You may be slow and clunky, but so are most of your enemies. IMO, DS3's biggest flaw was the lack of input cancelling, but it doesn't feel out of place in DS1. Parrying is also a lot easier in DS1 than in DS3 due to the slower speed.

My favorite aspect of DS3 was the level design, and DS1 definitely did not disappoint in this regard. The first half of DS1 is a masterpiece in level design. The first areas you encounter, the Undead Burg/Parish, interconnect brilliantly within themselves with horizontal loops and shortcuts mixed with various open and claustrophobic areas as you progress through it. And the way the levels interconnect with each other was a stroke of genius that was unfortunately missing in DS3 (Sekiro does have instances where levels interconnect with each other, such the shortcut from Ashina Outskirts to the Demon Bell in Senpou Temple via the Headless cave, and dropping from Senpou Temple to the Sunken Valley, but these were far less prevalent than in DS1). One of my favorite moments was seeing Ash Lake, a hidden area in the game, in the distance from Tomb of the Giants.

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With that said, the quality of level design unfortunately drops in the second half of the game. The later levels rely more on gimmicks, annoying enemies, and gravity to frustrate you than clever level design. In the Demom Ruins after you beat the first boss, it seems the developers just said "fuck it," copy-pasted two early game bosses in groups all over the place, reskinned the first boss at the end of it, and called it a day. New Londo Ruins has great atmosphere, but the potential for getting ganked by ghosts, darkwraiths, and ghosts and darkwraiths together made it the most infuriating level I've faced in a FromSoftware game. While DS3 might not have hit the same highs as some of DS1's early levels or world design, its quality and difficulty definitely feel more consistent throughout imo.

One aspect I was pretty disappointed in going from DS3 were the boss fights in the base game. I managed to beat most of them on my first or second try, and that wasn't just due to my experience with DS3. Most of the bosses have pretty simple move sets and leave themselves wide open for attacks. Parrying made the final boss laughably easy. The only bosses in the base game I struggled with were gank boss fights(which I honestly detested) and bosses with poor design(Bed of Chaos is the most hilariously bad boss fight I've ever seen. Capra Demon might have been a good fight if the arena was bigger than a shoebox). Fortunately, the DLC brought in what felt like proper Dark Souls bosses to me. Knight Artorias is up there in the top five bosses in the series for me.

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I didn't get to beat Manus or Kalameet in the DLC because I didn't realize beating Gwyn would automatically take me to NG+, so I have some unfinished business to take care of. I don't know if I'll want to go through the last levels of DS1 and beat it again anytime soon though. I'm on the fence about playing DS2 given the prevalence of gank bosses and the supposed steps backward in level design. I would be playing Bloodborne right now if Sony would just port it to PC already. In the meantime, I'll probably binge-watch Vaatividya videos to figure out what was going on in the story of these games.


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