Dark Souls features robust roleplay via gameplay; it has ten starting classes and you can play as a sorcerer, thief, knight, and cleric, etc. which gives the game a lot of replayability. The game features a lot of side characters which add depth to your roleplaying ability as they are literally tied to your class progression. Those who may find melee combat tiresome can do the entire game with ranged combat so the accessibility curve is not too high for people who dredd close combat. The game is optimally balanced for each class. Your class choice may change your perspective towards the game. I played nearly the whole series without using any magic, miracle, or pyromancy technique and when I switched to ranged combat I found the game a little less tiring and I sense the camera movement in close combat has a lot to add to that tiredness.
Art Design and Direction:
The art direction of Dark Souls is jaw-dropping. It features gigantic forests, castles, catacombs, and lava pits to name a few, and takes inspiration from world heritage monuments like Angkor Wat. It features a medieval setting which gives vibes akin to a synthesis of eastern and western medieval culture.
Enemy Design of Dark Souls is incredibly diverse. The game never stops surprising you. It has Dragons, Dark wraiths, Ghosts, Gargoyles, Knights, Snake people to name a few and the list is very very long. At times you are fighting mushrooms, at others you are engaged with giant rats. The game keeps it afresh till the very end.
Dark Souls does no handholding in telling you where exactly to go, what exactly you need, where to get what you need, and how to use the item that you need to use. In that sense, the whole game is a giant labyrinth with enemies lurking at unknown corners. This is where the game becomes truly difficult. It becomes too difficult at times that you have to read stuff on the internet in order to know what you are supposed to do in the game. For those who like this kind of exploration, Dark Souls is a must-play game as the exploration is frustrating, wonderous, and rewarding at the same time.
Dark Souls does not feature a map or a checklist of objectives and there is no minimap to keep track of where you are coming from. This is intentional but that does not bode very favorably for the game design. The navigation in dark souls is bad. It features many checkpoints in form of bonfires but they can become very hard to find. The bigger problem is however indistinguishable pathways and pitfalls. You may be staring at a staircase and never know that it's there. This is simply bad design, something which the later games in the series improve upon but here it is very bad and indubitably frustrating. Some may like this frustrating aspect as to them this naturally adds to the exploration aspect, this is where the masochist aspect of the player base comes from, but even they can't deny that the frustration is there, they just simply enjoy it. It is not slavery if you are into it.
Combat is Slow, Tactile, and Fair. What do I mean by that?
Dark Slow features natural-paced melee combat which is close to that of the real world. For ranged combat, the game also involves slow realistic casting animations like an old priest blessing you in real life. It's not a hack and slash game.
Every armor you wear and every weapon you wield changes how your character moves i.e. it affects the expense of your stamina bar. The clashing of weapon have a realistic sense of weight behind it.
In Dark Souls, the core gameplay loop involves one vs one standoff i.e. you and the enemy are on equal footing. You can heal and so do the enemies. You do get to face multiple enemies at times but more or less it has to do with where you move while being engaged in combat. You may trigger a second enemy in that fashion. You can take advantage of your enemy position by stabbing them in the back and enemies can do the same to you. You can make different builds each with its own advantages with certain types of enemies and disadvantages with certain other types of enemies.
The only negative aspects of combat are parrying mechanics which are non-tactile and texture or object clipping of enemy weapons which gives them the ability to hit you through walls.
Graphical Fidelity and technical performance:
The original launch of the game was mediocre on Console and absolutely disastrous on PC where it became playable only due to community efforts. But after the release of remaster all the woes related to technical performance are gone now. The graphical fidelity of the game is good but it doesn’t do art design and direction justice and falls a little short on it. However I have to note that I played it on 4K, as such the experience was a notch higher for me on a personal level and I am not disappointed, however, compared to Dark Souls III, the game shows its age speaking purely in terms of graphical fidelity. The game does not feature pause which is a gimmick move to add flair to the hype of this game being one of the hardest to date. Games can be just as hard with a pause button, Sekiro a later game by the same developers proves that. The camera is janky at times and can ruin some moments of playtime.
The Soundtrack features melancholic tunes as ambient music and heavy choirs as boss music which gives this game series a distinct sound template. It's beautiful and loud at times but for most of the game, it's minimal and adds to the silence and mysteriousness of your in-game surroundings.
The story in Dark Souls is good but storytelling is very inconsistent and mediocre at best. The game has rich lore but you are better off watching it on youtube. A YouTuber named Vaatividya has made a career out of it. Many players are definitely obsessed with the game's lore which may come off as pretentious at times. However, it's certainly not a game you will keep playing due to its story, no definitely not. It's most likely that you may get no sense of a cohesive story (which is there by the way) in your first playthrough. In short, it's good but nothing special for any seasoned reader or film watcher. I will say for the western audience it brings more freshness to the table in terms of lore to obsess over than to the eastern audience since the developers are Japanese. On a personal level, I do find the lore quite in-depth and intriguing.
Verdict – 9/10
- Dark Souls 3 – Too much Bloodborne, not enough Dark Souls, but that’s okay. Mild Spoilers
- Critical Dissonance on Demon’s Souls vs Dark Souls 2
- Dark Souls 3 vs Demon’s Souls (the PS3 Original since I haven’t the Remake) What are the pros and cons of both? And which one did you enjoy more? (My opinion down below)
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