Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dark Souls

Rating: 9/10

Happy Price: $45-50

This is certainly late for a review, but I would argue that there's rarely a time too late to get into Dark Souls. With the announcement of Dark Souls III, it's good practice to look at the series' roots (sans Demon's Souls).

Dark Souls is a game series that focuses more on punishing bad plays and reckless behavior in games. That's the main reason the game has been considered notoriously difficult by many. If you decide to run around without using a shield or swing your sword at an enemy without managing your stamina, then your death is typically on you. The game gives the player the means to survive in the world, and it's up to the player to use what they must in order to survive. RNG (Random Number Generators or the sense of chance) has little to no involvement. Which means that the methodical player who is attentive and quick to respond is sure to pass through the game with little difficulty. To be fair, a decent amount of patience is necessary as occasionally enemies will kill you in one blow and lingering hurt-boxes do exist in inconvenient places. Which will lead to that famous panicked dash to reclaim your souls (unless you frequently spend them). But with Dark Souls, the message is that even if you lose everything, as long as you have the will to keep going then you will be sure to win eventually. Victory isn't always guaranteed, but perseverance and trying multiple paths to victory may lead to the best way for you.

Standout points:
Dark Souls' storytelling deserves its own topic as it's largely interpretive. If you go through the entire game -  never reading any item descriptions and thinking nothing to explore every single area - your view of the story will be completely different from someone who has read everything on a similar playthrough. Different even still for someone who has done everything without reading everything. So really the best way to get the most out of the story is to play through a couple times, read everything, do everything and even THEN it's largely left to your own interpretation.

Sounds like too much of a pain, huh? If you like really deep stories, then this is perfect. And then you can join the community in discussing these narratives and where it will show up again in future games. Though if interpretive narratives aren't your thing, then it's still fine because the base narrative is perfect for you. You are the chosen undead who will save the world if you gather souls and gain enough strength to conquer all.

How Dark Souls handles multiplayer is interesting as it's mostly handled with in-game features. If you wish to partake in multiplayer and engage in jolly co-operation, you have to be in human form. You can summon people who may or may not exactly help you to beat the area boss. However, being human allows for other players to enter your world in order to fight you. In these instances, there are a few typical types of invaders depending on your level: The ones who will joke around and use tactics to inconvenience the player resulting in an inconvenient death; the ones who take invasions seriously (most likely using katanas) and will either bow or use disrespectful gestures if they win; and the neutral players who do it for fun (though they may or may not be on their way into either of the previously mentioned groups).

Aside from that, the people love the game and do actually want others to play/continue to play despite any and all complaints about "noobs" and spammers.

Would I buy it? 

If you love games that challenge you to master skills and don't mind possibly dying thousands of times until you figure how to best apply said skills? Then you need this game.
If you hate losing in games or don't want to invest time into learning something, then don't seek this. You may not like it.

I would honestly suggest to everyone to try it, not just to make the Souls community grow, but just so everyone can enjoy a game that challenges you to be a better you. That honestly wants you to win despite throwing death at you at the turn of every corner.

Dark Souls has the kind of storytelling I wish more games would incorporate. Where you're given the baseline narrative and you as a player question why you're doing these things. Then you do something else, and something else happens. It may be significant, it may not be. You could discover that you're doing some great thing or you're committing some horrible atrocity to all mankind.

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