Review by Cortolio
"An Adventure Worth Dying For"
Dark Souls is a game that will show you exactly what kind of a gamer you are, what you want from games, and what kind of commitment you can give to gaming. It will test you on a level that only its predecessor has done before. There are no other games like this franchise.
It's difficult to review Dark Souls on an impersonal level. This is a unique game, and everyone who plays it is going to have a unique experience. I think with the fact that it was simultaneously released on PS3 and 360 signifies that everyone should at least try it.
The official tagline for Dark Souls is: Prepare to Die. I think another good tagline could be: Bend Over.
Yep. You read that right. I cannot, in all good intent, fault Dark Souls on its story or lack thereof. In fairness there is a rich lore to the Souls games, but I didn't spend any time following it. This game needs no reason for its madness, it simply exists.
The opening cinematic is really cool, though.
This is an artistically dynamic game. The rendering is lush and gives a very whimsical sheen to characters and environments. Level design is predominantly dreary and gives the player a sense of hopelessness that simply suffocates you the longer you play. There are dungeons deep, and caverns strewn with decay that will make you despair in hopes of finding the next bonfire. Yes, even on a psychological level Dark Souls will break you.
Character design is intricate and enemies all look fantastic. Seriously, the imagination that went into crafting this world reaches beyond what sane people could fathom.
Giant alligator mouth cats is all I have to say.
Dark Souls has some of the best foley work I have ever heard in gaming. When your character moves, depending on what her or she is wearing the sound changes dramatically: be it leather, plate or chainmail armor. Footsteps are mixed well and represent nicely what textures the player trudges upon.
Weapon sound effects are deep and resonant. EVERY weapon has its own twang, slice or chop. The sound of metal bonking off of wooden shields, or glancing of a brick wall is something I've never heard before in a videogame.
Dark Souls' soundtrack is beautiful in contrast to the game's gloomy visuals. Real instruments, and strange but serene vocal work paint a pretty picture as you get your rear-end handed to you in the game.
The game's voice work definitely leaves something to be desired, but it is kitschy in almost a funny way.
This is where the men are separated from the boys. This is where the meat of the game lies. You will die, and you will die in many different and spectacular ways. You will be baptized in fire, ice and shadow all at once. This game will break you. If you're reading this review you know how infamous this game is for its difficulty.
Without a doubt Dark Souls has some of the tightest controls in third person gaming history. This is the epitome of action RPG finesse and most other games don't come close. Dark Souls will reward you for your timing, memorization, and above all else determination. It will punish you mercilessly for anything less. It's tough to say whether or not the game pulls any punches at points, however to survive you definitely will have to.
I could spend an entire page talking about all of the intricacies to weapon handling and armor stats so is the level of detail put into this game. If you have a sword equipped it will swing either horizontally, vertically, diagonally or thrust depending on what type of sword it is. Shields will block, parry, or smash depending on type as well. Heavy armor will slow you down, and light armor leaves you vulnerable. There is a plethora of loot in this game and it's most definitely an endeavour gathering even half of it.
Boss fights are an art form in Dark Souls. They range from challenging to wallpunchingly %$^&@!# hard. Whoever orchestrated the Capra Demon boss can go ahead and take their place as gaming's biggest sadist. In comparison to Demon's Souls, Dark thankfully has bonfires placed SLIGHTLY closer to boss fights.
Dark Souls has an intuitive and certainly distinctive style of multiplayer. It's always fascinating reading other players' messages strewn across the environment constantly hinting (or tricking) you of what is to come next. As well seeing the ghostly forms of your comrades die before you is a chilling reminder of how you're not alone in your plight.
Though the game is completely playable offline, it's a lot more fun to be connected with the rest of the world as you're getting killed.
This is a near perfect game for those who appreciate its intent. Dark Souls is neither for the faint of heart nor for the casual gamer. However, should you choose to try it you will be rewarded by a gaming experience unlike anything else and that is something all franchises should aspire to do.
Dark Souls is now selling pretty cheap new and used, so I heartily suggest you add it to your collection.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/16/13
Game Release: Dark Souls (US, 10/04/11)
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