Review by Unholy6
"A memorial game game that keeps on giving."
Hey there, lets start with some a little history lesson. Before Dark Souls there was demon souls, which wasn't expected to sell well in the US at all. However it met and exceeded expectations with it's unforgiving gameplay and it's innovative multiplayer style of phantoms and messages. So popular it resulted in it's spiritual successor Dark Souls, promised to be or greater difficulty and bleakness. The final product is a game that delivers on it's promises and keeps you coming back for more.
Now some people SAY it is too hard, but it isn't if you are patient. This game is all about patience, you don't run in and attack you have to analyze your enemies movements and deliver your attack at the proper moment. Because unlike other games, getting gutted with a sword is incredibly lethal for you and them. When you die (which you will, trust me) you leave a puddle of blood on the ground which contains all of your souls which is used for currency and leveling up, as well as humanity which you can use to turn human, kindle bonfires, and boost your resistances. The only trick is making it back without dieing again or it is all gone. Of course others may touch your blood stain and see how you die so they don't make the same mistake, as can you to them. However while death may happen, and happen a lot for some, almost every time I died I found itw as was due to my own impatience and risk taking.
One of the beautiful things about this game is while online play exists, you can play perfectly fine in offline mode although leveling up in some Covenants (in game guilds) may be tricky or nearly impossible but unessential to experience the full game.
The game is easy to play but difficult to master. You wander around killing different monsters which try to kill you. You can wear different armor that effects your movements, as well as different weapons that effects your swing speed, style, and damage. Magic exists in the form of Sorcery, Pyromancy, and Miracles, or Magic/Fire/Lightning&Divine damage. You have an attunement stat that allows you to hold multiple spells as you level it up. Ever time you acquire a new spell you can put it, and any duplicates of it, into the slots to use it. Each spell has a set number of uses which refills at each bonfire you rest at. You can go through the game being a pure spell caster (very trying I can assure you) but completely possible. Between magic and melee they are very balanced and perform differently but successfully separate or together. Although there are some enemies which as resistant to some forms of damage but susceptible to others, like dragon related monsters shrug off most physical and fire damage, are mildly resistant to magic, but weak to lightning. This Results in the player forming strategies and tactics for each area to clear. However never fear if you are committed to one path, options exist to allow you to branch into other type of damage to overcome areas. For example you can upgrade a few weapons to have fire/lightning ect. properties you can choose from. Magic users can find talismans that allow them to use their intelligence instead of their faith to cast miracles and vice versa . Combined this makes for fantastic gameplay, however it does have it's flaws. For example there are a few enemies where you can sit in an area and pump them full of a few hundred arrows to slay them in safety, but these are only minor and don't deride from the enjoyment at all.
Obviously this isn't Crysis, but the graphics are still great. Some minor concerns are that the feet tend to move around trying to find a solid area to adhere to instead of staying still, and the rag doll physics of dead bodies cause them to be kicked around like a soccer ball. However it only minor annoyances that doesn't effect the game at all, and most of the time you are too focused on not dieing to notice. Character customization is very broad in this game, with female or male characters with different body sizes. There are a few slowdowns in some areas (like 2) and they are so out of the way you might not even find them. In spite of this, Dark Souls really comes through with it's artistic vision of a dark and foreboding land where evil lurks in every corner so I can't complain too much about it.
Sound is a mixed bag, outside of boss battles you don't hear much in the way of music. The deafening sound of silence is almost unnoticed amidst the tension it serves to instill in the player. With you the background noise of music you might hear the sickly thump of a butcher blade slicing up human carcasses, the growl of a dog around the corner, or the ting of an arrow that narrowly hit you. I am not much of a sound buff but I can honestly say this is one game where you will find yourself listening to your enemies just as much as you watch them.
This is one area the game hurts in, but not too bad. The story itself is good, really good, if not a little vague and hidden. Outside of the opening cinematic from the beginning you are left with very little in the way of information aside from NPCs giving hints about what you need to do. However assuming you go through the trouble of playing the game a few times and probably end up searching the Web you will come across very interesting revelations and a thicker plot which ends up being great, but short of memorable.
Replay Value 10/10
This is by far the greatest strength of Dark Souls, I am going on my 4th or 5th playthrough right now and am still going strong. As a matter of fact I have been playing it for a near month now and still am not finished. Aside from the online multiplayer PvP, the single player solo is enough to make you come back for more. Once you finish the main quest, you are catapulted into a new game + with significantly stronger enemies and more souls to fuel your character, and this time around you can acquire items that you couldn't obtain in the first playthrough such as the armor and weapon of the last boss. Then the achievements/trophies and the various covenants to explore, and lets not forget the enigmatic Pendant which has most the dark souls community stumped on how to use it to find the alternate ending (which may or may not exist). Oh yeah and once you beat the new game +? Well the cycle continues to a new game ++ with even HARDER enemies that will keep your heroic character on their toes. For a first playthrough, I would estimate the total time could easily go from 60-100 hours as you try to find your footing, subsequent playthroughs can lower this to down to 40 and perhaps even 30 hours assuming you do everything there is to do which, once factor in replay value, keeps adding to the the fun this game gives.
In conclusion this game is great if you are willing to have the patience and meta-gaming skills to complete it. Overall I have more than got what a payed for, this game has given me around 200 hours of enjoyment so far and is still going, so in my opinion this game is worth every penny and then some.
Final Score 8.4/10 however due to it's incredible length brings this baby up to a 9.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/11
Game Release: Dark Souls (US, 10/04/11)
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