Review by maximus86
"I would rather get T-boned by a train than play through this game again"
I am going to get straight to the point in this review. I have completed this game and it is extremely difficult and unforgiving. You will wish you never bought or rented this game on the first day of playing it. Depending on your personality, you will either sell it to some other poor soul or turn the console right back on to soldier through the brutality of this monstrosity. The words in this review can not explain the horror and rage that you will experience, especially if your precious time is limited by a full-time job or education. I'll begin this list of horrors chronologically and let you decide if you want to play through this adventure.
Once you create your character and begin playing, you will most likely find the combat slow, cumbersome and boring. Your character seems to swing slowly and react like your grandmother. Compared to many action-RPGs Dark Souls is a more realistic game when it comes to human movements as opposed to lightning quick action games. It definitely takes getting used to. The learning curve is brutal. The game explains little and its introductory tutorial is pathetic. You will have to research almost everything through outside sources as the main concepts of this game are left unexplained and up to you to figure out. Legend has it that some people completed this game without any help or guides whatsoever, but you will most likely not follow that path as you will find your journey absolutely frightening to continue without assistance.
Once you leave the introductory stage you are left to fend on your own with little direction whatsoever. Common enemies can kill easily and a group of 2 or more attacking you can be devastating. Dying in games these days usually doesn't do much. In Dark Souls it will make you cry. You lose all of your progress and have to fight through the enemies all over again from your last checkpoint which are few and far in between. Enemies will jump out of nowhere and some will kill you in one hit, leaving you no chance of survival whatsoever. There are no checkpoints immediately before a boss. If you die at a boss fight you will have to fight through a legion of mobs to get back to the boss from which you will most likely die again. These boss fights will test your will to keep on going like no other game before. Dozens of attempts are not uncommon and some people will give up at these points in the game from the sheer frustration of dying so many times.
Apart from the difficulty of the game and lack of explanation to people new to the series, this game also has several technical problems. Some areas will see horrendous frame-rate issues dropping down to about 10-15 FPS at its worst points, only adding to the nonsense of the difficulty. During other points in the game where corridors are tight and obstructions to the camera appear overhead while you are walking on a thin tightrope, the camera will pan quickly causing a sudden change in your walking direction which will cause you to plummet to your death. Another example is a flying wasp attacking you from up above your head. Depending on which weapon you use, in this case a spear, you won't be able to hit this wasp because your spear only thrusts forward. Even though you are locked on to the target your character will mindlessly jab at hip level, missing the flying wasp, and you'll have to wait until the enemy lowers down to ground level. These issues are rare and brief and should not concern a potential buyer.
What is troubling is the story and the online play. Forget about character development. The amount of dialogue in this game is less than a kindergarten storybook. Online play is atrocious and a challenge just to get started. It requires in-game items to launch which is absolutely ridiculous considering some items can be difficult to acquire. If you are lucky enough to launch online play it is extremely brief and basic. By modern standards it is not well put together at all and perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game.
Saying all of that, I have to give the developers some credit. Dark Souls has an extremely in-depth and beautiful world. There are countless items and equipment to acquire and to play around with in terms of upgrading and customizing. Your paths are countless and the settings diverse. Character classes are numerous and there are a variety of ways to play with them. Boss fights are epic and brilliantly designed. Once you complete the game you can begin again with the same character you used and all of his equipment from the previous play-through. The value is unparalleled. The most important thing is that after enough deaths and combat with the enemies and bosses you become familiar with what to do and what not to do, making the game more manageable and progress faster than the earlier stages of the game.
The bottom line is this: Dark Souls is not necessarily going to be an enjoyable experience for most people. There will be moments where you will defeat a boss and you'd think the game could not get any worse. Minutes later you will find yourself in an even more difficult dungeon dying from the smallest errors imaginable. This game was purposely designed to challenge the player and make you quit in rage. For those looking for a fun game with competitive multi-player; you're better off ignoring this game for your own sanity. To those that finish the campaign it will be a rewarding experience.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/07/11, Updated 11/09/11
Game Release: Dark Souls (US, 10/04/11)
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