Review by Morpheme

"Dark Souls Is Lying In Wait--To Murder You"

You awaken, dead, wretched, and clinging to the last vestiges of any sanity you have ever possessed in your bleak, short existance, when suddenly you are saved. An infusion of Souls has revived you, and given you the tools with which to escape your dark fate.

Your only goal, at first, is to survive. Using a rusty old hilt, you must carve your way through the twisted denizens of an undead asylum to work your way to freedom. You are faced with impossible challenges, and then told to overcome them. You are afforded no mercy, no hope, and no company. Every bit of human comfort has been taken from you, and you are completely alone in a deep, dark abyss filled with the most unclean of horrors from every one of the darkest hells. Welcome to Dark Souls.

Loneliness creeps around your heart like the cold, colorless fog of the primeval world of Lordran. Every scratch you deliver to an enemy is a mark worthy of pride, and the enemies see you as a tasty snack. You are prey to be hunted, nothing more, nothing less. The dark ones come in droves... Your only respites, the Fires scattered around the landscape like beacons of a hope you thought could no longer exist, these are your only saviors, your only friends. But even hope in this world is a villainous endeavor; restoring yourself at these altars of warmth restores your hunters to their strength. The undead need no respite. Brutal skeletons, maniacal wizards, and the rotting mad bodies of what used to be men all want your blood, your souls, your very sanity. This is Dark Souls. And it. Will. Kill. You.

The Art of Combat:

Your body is disposable. Your body, like the world around you, is under constant onslaught from the Others who wish to take it. And they will, don't fool yourself. The enemy is vast and unending and most of all, unforgiving. A single step will lead to your demise. A badly-timed sword stroke, the preparation time for a spell, a single missed arrow will lead to your doom.

Your body is replaceable, even if it is disposable. There is a precious resource known as humanity. Pursuit of it will keep you sane, and within your own familiar flesh. The numerous and sacred bonfires throughout the land will gladly restore you to your body. This is but one of the many mysteries of Lordran, however.

The bonfires that nourish your soul are also a repository for souls themselves: using the collected essences of your fallen foes will enable you to improve your talents and powers so that you may survive longer... Only to be killed again. You can never truly die... The fates have given you a destiny, and will continue to revive you long after you have lost your body so that you may throw yourself upon innumerable swords.

You must learn from your mistakes, oh slayer of demons, and fight forever onward, using whatever equipment you can find. Slay a dragon and fashion a blade from his tail, slay a wicked knight and keep his shield for your own, find a sword on the ground and then refine its edge until it is a honed implement of the Gods Themselves to be used to mete out the fine justice of truth. The world opens itself up to thee, and you must be as the first men and create your peace and your strength for yourself. Nothing is more satisfying than watching your foes die upon the blades of your efforts in horrible agony. Nothing.

The world is populated by horrible demons that will stop at nothing to end any and all triumphs, and to quash that flame of hope you may carry.Triumph over the demigods and deep monsters of the land will earn you spoils, and will help you traverse the depths once more. A clever undead can spot ways to create shortcuts, so that you might make death less unpleasant.

Prophecy states that warriors from all worlds will fight to bring the flames of life back to the realm... These other poor souls offer their services to you in the form of white markings left on the earth. You might summon them so that you will fight together; fight both the demons and the crushing empty abyss that is your life. Not all souls are helpful, however, and few may invade your realm without warning and proceed to liberate your humanity from your skin through steel and blood and bone. The unknowable nature of corporeal reality has been corrupted by the Old Ones, and finding any companionship at all is difficult. Your friends, if they live, will be hard to discover. Strangers on their own are a rare breed, and one must treasure their every step. Such is the life of a slayer; do not falter.

The Illusory Senses:

Your weary eyes do not deceive you; though you may find yourself walking through the most twisted and tormented dreamscape imaginable, it is all real, I assure you. Your journey will take you from the sunlit heights of marble towers to deepest pits of oblivion, and it will always seem bleak. The sights exist here only for you to feel dead inside as well as out. Your minor happinesses and successes shall be short lived as you descend from the cliffs of madness. The world's atmosphere is palpable, as if you can feel the slaughtered souls within the very air.

And may the muses bless you with sound, as the musicians of other worlds may serenade you with the stunning triumph of victory and the calming anticipation of a new battle. Your swords sound perfect, and every noise is where it should be. Checking the senses should be of prime concern for the undead, lest ye resign yourself to the Hollowed.

A Hero's Journey:

There are no friends here; only those who wish to use you. The details of the world become apparent to you only as you go forward, with the various Covenants all vying for your particular murderous talents. They will trade to you, but like all religions, you must give of them a piece of your soul.

The path to victory has many forks, but they must all converge at some point. You will eventually fight your way, scarred and on your last breath, to the embodiment of fear and hatred at the bottom of the world. In the end, like all there is to be had in this journey's course, is up to you. Will you choose to become a wise wizard or a murderous flamelord? The answers must be found; by now you must know that the world in which we live has no quarter, and that the truth is a nebulous thing to be wretched from the Dark. Your story is your own. Go now, and inscribe your existence with your blade!

Your quest is one of folly; in your folly, you must find wisdom. Guide yourself to the heart of the world and rend the darkness with your blade. This quest is not an option, but rather, one that all true warriors must embark upon. Go forth. And bring more souls, Slayer of Demons!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/11/11

Game Release: Dark Souls (US, 10/04/11)

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