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Dark Souls Review

publisher: Bandai Namco
developer: FromSoftware
genre: RPG

ESRB rating: M

release date: Oct 04, 11
» All About Dark Souls on ActionTrip

Video games are different in Japan when compared to most games being developed for the European and US markets. The differences between Eastern and Western cultures are vast in so many instances, but strangely enough, there are always certain things that remain universally loved by one and all. This philosophy applies to gaming as well. Japanese developer From Software seems to have hit the nail on the head with its PS3-exclusive role-playing game Demon's Souls; a game noted for being incredibly difficult and yet vastly rewarding at the end of the day. Dark Souls was created to continue this trend, even though it has nothing to do with Demon's Souls, plot wise.

In the very beginning, the world was dominated by dragons, until The Fire of Lords came along with the human race. The dragons were challenged by four: Nito (the undead), Gwyn (the knight lord), a powerful sorceress and a furtive pygmy (so easily forgotten). Following the demise of the dragons, the human race was devastated by a disease known as Darksign, which turns men into walking undead or, as they are referred to, Hollows. Having escaped the Northern Undead Asylum, you emerge hungry for strength and life, still retaining some knowledge of your own humanity. A prophecy has been made that an undead will come to ring the bell of the Cathedral of Lords. Ringing both bells shall open a certain gate, although this goal is not easily achieved. The mysterious, ghostly surroundings around you are filled with unexpected dangers.

So, that's the pickle you're character is in. You are an undead warrior, stuck in a dark and dangerous world, hoping to restore what's left of your humanity. Before you step into this world, you may choose one of the following character classes: Warrior, Knight, Wanderer, Thief, Bandit, Hunter, Sorcerer, Pyromancer, Cleric and Deprived. The choice really depends on what type of play you prefer: evading and parrying, or defense and pure strength, or back-stabbing and knife-throwing, or magic and healing, etc.

With that out of the way, let's get a few things straight for those of you who have no idea what Dark Souls is. This game maintains the spirit of Demon's Souls. For the most part, it doesn't do much explaining. It doesn't offer you any sympathy or assistance, apart from providing you with the basics of combat and character movement. After the initial Northern Undead Asylum area, which serves as a bit of a tutorial, you're on your own. Improving your character's skills requires a lot of work. You'll be spending most of your time farming for souls throughout the areas, which are extremely difficult to traverse. Souls are very important because they represent the only means of currency in the gloomy and spooky world around you. Enemies shouldn't be underestimated, from a powerful, sword-wielding undead knight to an ordinary sewer rat.

Dying in Dark Souls occurs probably more frequently than in any other game we know. Persistent enemies and challenging boss fights lead you to your inevitable doom perhaps more often than you'd like. In fact, you'll be dying in this game so much that you're bound to curse your face off to the point when you're actually ready to toss your console right out the window, after a long night of playing and replaying various enemy encounters. Enemies are resurrected each time you die or rest.

You don't inherently know how to play Dark Souls. You essentially learn how to survive and that takes a lot of time and practice. Most of the time you'll experience pure, honest-to-God frustration; the kind you'd experience in a lousy marriage or when the government raises taxes. Make no mistake, you are going to hate this game. You're going to yell and scream your lungs out, almost every step of the way. Actually, even when you think you've finally mastered this game, it flips things upside down and stabs a knife in your back. That means you have to pick yourself up and try all over again. Just remember - enemies are tough, when you rest enemies respawn and when you die enemies respawn. You collect souls in order to improve the character or purchase items from merchants. When you have, say 25,000 souls in your possession, you can do quite a lot with that, albeit it take a very long time to collect. If you die, the souls are taken away from you and you only have one chance to travel to the spot where your character got killed, thus retrieving all those lovely souls that were so hard to collect. Should you die again and fail to reach that spot, you'll lose the souls permanently. Tough you say? Hah, you have no idea! Not until you've tasted the pain and frustration yourselves.

The key in Dark Souls is to prepare yourself and find the right time to strike at enemies. Attacking an opponent that clearly outmatches you by strength and speed is often a mistake. However, there are always ways to outsmart and eventually overcome even the toughest of foes. Each boss or enemy has a specific set of moves it uses according to your own actions. The AI works pretty well in combat, taking the time to assail you when you're most vulnerable. Using appropriate attacks to weaken your defenses, each enemy fights with incredible ferocity and skill. That's why you have to time your power attacks and make an effort to block or evade whatever the enemy throws at you.

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9.0   Excellent

Challenges and surprises around every corner, creepy and captivating locations to explore through, a lot of hidden secrets to discover, rewarding to say the least, this is a game you'll play and never forget;

Technical issues kill the thrill of the ride and make the game look really bad at times.


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