Review by jq816

"Weathering the storm"

Of the many games that I have played of late, this game has captured my attention and enthralled me with its wonders.

Dark Souls, for those of you who don't know, is not just a a typical Action-RPG, it is a unforgettable, twisted and yet rewarding experience. From its in-depth, strategy driven and at times frantic combat to the engrossing adventure and exploration, this game will have you on the edge of your seat. With your hands coiled tightly around your controller and your body and neck stiff due to pure focus, this game will wrap you around it's fingers and hold you tight until you weather the storm.

This is one of those rare Role Playing Games where the story just completely takes the backseat. In all honesty after beating the game, I can admit that I had no clue what was going on. Even at the very end, I still scratched my head in confusion, wondering what was this all about. If you we're searching for a deep, story driven game where the dialogue is a plenty and the narrative takes you into a whole new world, than you'll have to look elsewhere. The story is driven by NPC's who offer meek dialogue at best and offer almost no guidance. However, do not be dissuaded by this, I believe it enhances the entire experience. You aren't bound and chained by another person's whims, obeying orders like a mindless drone. You are an explorer, a true adventurer and thus this story is about your personal journey through a world of nightmares and beauty.

To put it simply this game centers around two major aspects. Combat and exploration. I'll split this into two sections to give each it's fair due.

The first time you run through the world of Dark Souls, you will have to brave such a rich, vibrant world that varies in size and scope with each new zone you come across. From the open causeways of a weathered and beaten castle, to the dreary depths of a cavernous ruin, there is just no end to the imagination or the horror that awaits. Each area is so well detailed and designed that you can't help but want to explore and overcome the dangers. This world is filled with so many paths to choose, some more difficult than the others, you are not bound to linear progression, you are able to freely explore this world as far as your skill will take you. As you start to progress into new territory a sense of curiosity and excitement will ultimately draw you in, demanding that you discover what is just beyond that door.

This is the true meat of the game, the staple and the lifeblood. This is what makes Dark souls the gem that it is. The combat in this game is so deep it requires absolute focus even on the most common of enemies. You can charge in there with a mighty axe or hammer, crushing your enemies with a single blow. You can burn them to a crisp from a distance with your arsenal of deadly magics. Either way this game allows you to tackle it's many foes in whichever method you like. If you find yourself wanting to hide behind a shield, waiting to counter attack or if you wish to dance about nimbly and dodge the enemies strikes, this game lets you decide. While the combat can seem rather robust and even dull from the first glance, the precision that is required makes it so satisfying. It is all about knowing your enemy, how they move, how fast they swing and how hard they hit. Being able to gauge your opponents abilities and knowing when to seize an opportunity and strike or even when to retreat is the key to victory. A simple mistake or a lapse in judgement can spell disaster. In order to gain the insight you need to survive, you must work for it and to be blunt, you must die for it. You'll spend many a times falling to your enemies blade because you were caught unaware. The real experience you gain isn't from the levels your character receives, it's from the knowledge you gain over your enemy. That is what sets this game apart from all the rest, you don't need to be the highest level or have the strongest of gear. You just need to know how to react when the moment counts.

Visuals and Audio:
The character models that they use in this game really helps create an overall lasting impression. Some of the bosses in this game are by far the most unique beasts that I've ever come across in a fantasy game. The detail that they put into them is stunning which in turns add onto the sense of dread you feel when you face them for the first time. My only complaint with the graphics are that some of the textures seem rather weak and at times even ugly. The most noticeable is the dragon's fire that you come across early in the game. After running away from the flames, I felt like I just stepped into a Playstation one game. It's a minor flaw, but still apparent. The biggest upset is the massive FPS drops that you experience in certain areas. This game can come to a crashing halt at times when the frame rates decide to plummet to single digits, fighting for its life. The sound on the other hand is nothing spectacular, there aren't many tracks in the game that stick to your memory when the day is done, however, the ambiance it leaves and the sounds you make as you traverse the harrowing corridors really enhance the experience.

This game has a few flaws: fps drops, unmerciful encounters, loss of direction etc. However, that does little to detract from the greatness that is Dark Souls. It truly is a rewarding experience to see the ending credits because this game will make you work for it with every fiber in your being. Yes it is a difficult game, but it is far from impossible and unlikely the hardest game ever as some would like to say. It is an Action-RPG at it's finest and one you will not soon forget should you fight with tooth and nail to the bitter end.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/12/11

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

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