A throwback to the days of old — before hand-holding and frivolous do-overs in big-time releases — the Dark Souls series pushes gamers to their limits with its brutal challenges. The latest entry, Dark Souls III, continues thte tradition in devastating fashion. Punishing missions meld with devilishly clever storytelling and clever multiplayer integration to reach a new pinnacle for the franchise.
Game: Dark Souls III
Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: April 12
The Dark Souls games began as outliers, but now have inspired enough followers to inspire a sub-genre of its own. The likes of Bloodborne and Lords of the Fallen have not only copied what made those games great but nudged the standard forward, wiht innovations such as stronger narratives and better systems for saving, loading and menu navigation. Dark Souls III captures those improvements in stride and provides countless enhancements of its own. The boss fights alone, which force players to forget everything they thik they known and craft clever solutions on the fly, lift the series to a new standard. The thrill, after numerous failures, of finally taking down some of the biggest baddies who lurk in the game’s dark recesses, surpasses nearly any gaming-related thrill out there.
Dark Souls III wastes no time grabbing you by the scruff of the neck and forcing you into the fire, wasting little time to familiarize you with the gameplay mechanices. The insinuation from the get-go is that you are on your own, and it’s a matter of your own resolve as to whether you give up or persevere. As you march through the chain of one devilishly designed challenge to the next, it’s tough not to take a step back and stare around in awe at the detail in the backgrounds and environments, many of which conspire to ensnare you in surprise traps. You rely on the slow, steady upgrade system to help you chip away at the unforgiving world and grow into a force as formidable as any you confront. You accept from the outset that you will die often, but net incremental improvements along the way that get you closer to grasping the elusive goals that taunt you.
In terms of graphics and performance, this is not only the strongest Dark Souls game yet, but one of the most cruelly beautiful games you are likely to encounter. For proof, check out the free download of the original Dark Souls that comes with the Xbox One version of the new game to see how far things have come. Dynamic lighting and partical effects make nearly every frame worthy of an expressionist painting of its own, and refined combat mechanics ensure that whenever you fail, it won’t be the fault of sticky animations or sluggish hit detection. Some may gripe that this is just another rendition of the same story of a lone cursed hero that we’ve seen before, but that’s missing the point and takes nothing away from stirring dialogue and shocking plot twists. Multiplayer griefers will find themselves in heaven, thanks to the ability to invade other players’ games to mess with them and greedily grind their way up with levels and loot.
Dark Souls III is most definitely not a game for everyone. Tourist-type gamers looking for some low-resistance thrills just so they can keep up with the chatter on reddit threads will be out of luck here. Even with the assistance of online walkthroughs, you won’t find any measure of success unless you put in the work and focus to hone your skills to the sharpest of levels. A game that beats you over the head with hard knocks and humiliation is just as easy to hate as it is to love, and it’s no shame to just ignore these games and move on with life. These are titles for a specific fraternity of masochists who seek out the joy of overcoming nonstop punishment to succeed in the face of adversity.
Dark Souls III Reviews Around The Web:
“The pace of combat is faster and the enemies move faster, too. Instead of throwing lots of aggressors at you, Dark Souls III prefers to confront you with individually challenging opponents.” –Kotaku
“I can honestly say that the mixing bowl of Bloodborne and Souls elements in the Undead Settlement made for fantastic exploration.” –Game Informer
“From Software increased its diversity of enemies, environments, and dangerous situations to an even higher degree with the first few hours of its next outing.” –GameSpot
Dark Souls III Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.