Thursday, October 13, 2011
Dark Souls is an action/survival RPG (Role Playing Game) from the companies From Software and Namco Bandai. Although Dark Souls is made by two Japanese companies it takes place in a fantasy version of Europe's Dark Ages. The game is a spiritual successor to the 2009 game Demon’s Souls. Demon’s Souls became know for its high level of difficulty. Well, From Software is back and this time they turned it up to eleven.
Dark Souls, which came out on October 4, is one of the hardest games to come out for the modern day consoles; but like Demon’s Souls that is what makes it so good. The reason for this is because the higher difficulty allows for the player to achieve a feeling of accomplishment that no other modern day game can give you. The game’s tag line is “prepare to die” and that gives you a pretty good idea of what's in store.
Before I continue let me just say if you are faint of heart or just a casual gamer then this game is not for you. This is one of the greatest games I have ever played but not just because of the insane difficulty but also because of the mind-blowing designs for the "bosses," and the groundbreaking online features.
Dark Souls is an open world game, which means from the start of the game you can go anywhere in the game. The game has no map but you can tell after a few hours of playing it is a pretty big world you have to explore. The game divides the world into different areas or sections that the player must complete, and at the end of each section there is a boss. Now when I say "boss" I don’t mean bosses like the ones from the Dragon Age series or Elder Scrolls series where as long as you have good equipment and are high level you can take out the boss no sweat. I mean creatures that you see in the darkest fairy tales or in your worst nightmares. The bosses in Dark Souls are no joke. All of them could go toe to toe with any of the sixteen colossi from Shadow of the Colossus (2005 action game for PS2 featuring 16 colossi the player had to defeat), and on a good day the Dark Souls bosses would win. I don’t want to describe any of the bosses in detail so no one’s experience in Dark Souls is spoiled. But I would like to say one thing: there are also secret areas in the game that feature mini bosses, and my first time in one of these areas I found -- and needless to say was killed -- by a hydra. Now to some that might sound horrible but in what other game can you open a door and find a seven-headed water dragon laying in wait, I will never forget that moment for as long as I play video games.
I know these bosses sound like they are unbeatable but I assure you all of them can be beat as long as you embrace the tag line “prepare to die.” With every death you learn from your mistake and eventually you are educated enough to beat the enemy you are stuck on. But if you still can’t beat a certain enemy after dying fifty times or so then that’s when you turn to the great online features of the game. The first helpful feature is that anyone at anytime can leave a tip or message anywhere in the game. A great example of how this can help is if you are stuck on a certain enemy you can look around and find someone’s message, which could tell you where the enemy’s weakness is or maybe what element the enemy is weak against. The other awesome online feature the game has is that if you can find someone’s soul sign, which is like a portal of sorts that a player places on the ground, then you can bring another player into your world to help you. Now the only problem with this is that the online servers kind of suck right now, and sometimes summoning someone else fails or they bring with them a lot of lag. This could get fixed in a future patch but as of right now this is one of the only problems I have had in the game.
Although they are few there still are some problems with this game. Like I stated already there is some lag and server issues with the online but if you have a strong connection you should be fine plus the online could improve with future patches. The other problem that some people might have is that there is not much of a story. What the game does is give you a general history of the land you are dropped in and then through talking to NPCs (non-playable characters) the player can find out more about what kind of world Dark Souls takes place in. But in the end the game leaves it to you to make up your own mind about what you think of the world of Dark Souls. Some people may not like the lack of story but I thought it was good especially since what little you learn about the world is awesome in a dark fairy tale kind of way. It reminded me of the worlds created by Guillermo Del Toro in his film "Pan's Labyrinth" or by Peter Jackson in his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." Also the fact that Dark Souls serves up little story allows for the player to embrace the amazing game play. The last problem, which hasn’t really bothered me that much, is that the game suffers from occasional frame rate drop. This can be annoying but it isn’t a game breaking problem and it never slows enough to really effect the action that much.
In conclusion Dark Souls is a fair but truly challenging game that pushes any gamer to his/her limits but also heavily rewards the player for going that extra mile and pushing through. Dark Souls brings back a challenge unknown to the gaming community since the original classics like Mario and Donkey Kong. Dark Souls forces the player to slow down and learn that patterns of each enemy like in the older classics did. Dark Souls is a great and revolutionary game that anyone who calls themselves a hardcore game or who wants to push themselves to the limit should check out.
Tony Weidinger is a college freshman planning to go into gaming design.