Reviewing Dark Souls 3 Years Later
Dark Souls has ensnared the people that play it unlike any game that’s come out in the past few years.
The massive open world has thousands of secrets crawling just beneath the skin, begging adventurers to unlock them. Crumbling structures hold treasures that can be obtained by those brave enough to defeat the viscous monsters that stand guard over them. Fellow adventurers help you overcome impossible odds or add to your misery by invading your world in an attempt to take your life.
Every NPC you meet in the game has their own agenda and will try to steer the player down the path that serves their own purposes. The only clues given about Dark Souls’ rich lore are written in the description of items you find scattered throughout the world. Even then nothing in the game is spelled out, forcing the player to determine for himself what is good and what is evil.
Dark Souls also features some of the most memorable enemies and boss battles in all of gaming. The design and attention to detail put into your opponents mirrors the environment you fight them in perfectly. Ornstein and Smough for example, the golden clad warriors that protect the Lord Vessel, are the perfect climax to your perilous journey through Anor Londo.
The same can be said for conquering Gravelord Nito, Gaping Dragon, Seethe the Scaleless, Sif the Great Grey Wolf and Chaos Witch Quelaag. Half the joy that came from playing Dark Souls was making it through the area you were exploring to see what the boss would look like.
The environments you explore during the course of the game are also masterfully crafted. Who can forget their first trip to Anor Londo, walking down those stairs to take your first steps into a land bathed in golden sunlight? That's what's so impressive about the game, anywhere you see you can travel to. No part of Dark Souls is added in just to flesh out the environment or to look pretty, every inch of it is explorable.
Despite these overwhelmingly unique qualities the thing that is most often discussed when talking about the Souls series is its crushing difficulty. Many people who don’t play the game say that those who enjoy it, love playing because of the sense of achievement you get when you overcome a particular boss or situation, but for me this has never been what defines Dark Souls.
The point that the game is hard cannot be argued, it can be very difficult to progress.
As you explore From Software’s masterfully created world you will die often. But, when you die in Dark Souls, you aren’t failing, you’re learning. Death isn’t a penalty, it’s a necessary mechanic that teaches you how to approach a situation. That Black Knight has a particular attack pattern you weren’t ready for. The next time you fight him, you’re prepared for that upward swing, so you back away before he connects and manage to slay him on your next encounter.
Dark Souls has a special way of speaking to its players and just like veterans of The Legend of Zelda can look at a crack in the wall, knowing they’re supposed to place a bomb there, Souls players can see the potential dangers lurking behind every corner and know how to avoid them. If you talk to a Souls player they’ll tell you, the game isn’t hard, you just have to get used to it.
The reason Dark Souls had me, and thousands of others like me, returning time and time again to log hundreds of hours is because once you become accustomed to the world’s uniquely dark atmosphere it ignites a sense of danger and adventure that can’t be matched by any other game.