There are few games more powerful, more engaging, more challenging and more convoluted than games from the Dark Souls franchise. The story begins with the First Lords who found the first souls in the Fire deposing the tyrannical reign of the Everlasting Dragons. The story is continued by Dark Souls 2 and is finally wrapped up by Hidetaka Miyazaki (the creator of the game) in the third instalment. Dark Souls 3 is a masterpiece in its own right, a bombastic ending to Miyazaki’s symphony. The game is, if not revolutionary, then certainly a huge addition to the action RPG genre.
For Whom the Bell of Awakening Tolls
Speaking about the story, Dark Souls 3 sticks the old formula – as minimalistic as possible. All of the story is contained in item descriptions, character dialogues and cutscenes. The game’s story is highly convoluted, and you’d have to play at least the first game to understand what’s going on. The Linking of the Fire, the Age of Darkness, the Lords of Cinder, the old deities – all of this comes from the previous games, and all about the country of Lothric, where the game is taking place, are strewn items and weapons that remind the player of bygone times, and only the veterans will truly understand their meaning.
When it comes to the gameplay, this is a skill-based action RPG. The player starts by creating their character, chosen from several different classes. All classes have different weapons and items at the beginning, as well as different stats. However, Dark Souls is endlessly liberal, and you may use the souls collected from slaying enemies to level up any attribute you want. In the end, it doesn’t matter what class did you start as, you can make anything out of yourself – you can play as an axe-wielding warrior, a mage, a spellsword, sling bolts of lighting – anything you fancy.
I also said that the game is skill-based. Dark Souls is an extremely challenging game where timing, planning and observation of the enemy are of crucial importance. You can dodge roll to evade your enemy’s attacks, parry or block. However, armour will weigh you down, and you may not be able to evade the attacks, and some enemies possess such monstrous strength that they will break your guard and smite you. Parrying is the most difficult action, but done properly will leave your enemy open for a punishing counterstrike. Mistime a parry, however, and you take extra damage, which is bad – so VERY bad. In Dark Souls, enemies strike hard and fast, and are much more aggressive than in other games, with the most challenging being, of course, the game’s bosses. The game is riddled with optional and mandatory bosses that will test you to your absolute limit because one mistake means you take heavy damage, or you get crushed instantly.
Dark Souls 3 features a fairly open world. It consists of areas that interconnect at some point, with the Firelink Shrine being your main hub. The Shrine will contain all the important vendors and NPCs, as well as the Fire Keeper that will level you up and the Thrones of Cinder. The game features bonfires as checkpoints strewn about the world, to which a player is teleported if killed. Sitting and resting at the bonfire will respawn all enemies. The game rewards those willing to explore with secret areas and powerful items, but you run the risk of getting lost and dying. However, dying comes easily in this game, and you will either learn from your mistakes or keep dying again and again and again and again.
In the end, Dark Souls 3 is one of the greatest games ever made, and it spawned a huge fan base, and for good reason. It’s tough, it’s challenging, it’s punishing, but fair. Dying is your fault and your fault only, and, to avoid that, you have to do one thing and one thing only – you have to Git Gud.