Few games in the modern days are brave enough to give a real challenge to players. Most games nowadays are either about story, or giving the player a sense of being a dominator to boost their egos. In fact, most games won’t even let you figure out which button to press by yourself, or allow you to spend a bit of time contemplating a puzzle-like environment. Demon’s Souls was perhaps a game that swayed away so much from this convention, that it was either over-loved, or over-hated for being so excruciatingly challenging and almost mischievously hilarious.
But the many that loved the game for its dark nature and twisted humor, and those who have a taste for challenge will be excited to know that Dark Souls follows the same footsteps of Demon’s Souls, and only makes it more fun, darker, and more mischievously unpredictable – only.
Dark Souls is basically an extrapolation of Demon’s Souls, being almost exactly alike in-terms of gameplay, but with a darker and perhaps even more challenging approach. Unlike Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls will take place in a more open environment, allowing for many more possibilities of dying and the game mocking you with its challenges.
So basically, you’ll be dying a lot. But the sadistic nature of the game is surprisingly not frustrating, because one can’t help but enjoy the number of ways a player can die. You’ll be fighting monsters and creatures such as fire-breathing wyverns, ridiculously heavily armored sword-wielding knights, axe-tailed gargoyles and a heck lot of kamikaze zombies.
As an exploring knight with a life-saving shield and a few weapons, you raise your shield with its respective trigger (right for right hand, left for left hand), and use the D-pad to equip your weapons and special items. You might look and sound ready for battle, but truly it’s impossible to be ready for each threatening situation in the game.
At times you’ll get incinerated by a wyvern’s fireball, while other times you’ll be over-killed by a horde of arrow-shooting zombies that came unexpectedly from a closet; it’s a cruel world and it only takes a few hits for your character to say good-bye to living.
Most games encourage exploration; they’d want you to see the good little bonus item they hid in a camouflaged closet, or pull a mysterious looking lever that would almost certainly open up a hidden pathway. Dark Souls does exactly the opposite. The fear of the high probability of dying always makes you think twice about pulling that lever, or even going into a certain small room. It’s not just the enemies that will take every opportunity to slay you – the environment itself is as unfriendly as your beastly foes.
Sometimes you’ll accidentally open up an arrow trap for yourself, while other times you’ll accidentally free a trapped giant beast which will squash you in a split second. The game is definitely harder than its spiritual successor Demon’s Souls, but it isn’t harder in general terms – it just has lots ways to kill you, and the first time exploration of a certain area is always going to be negatively eventful. The overly booby-trapped environment, along with unpredictable monsters and weirdo’s makes the game a real challenge.
Even the save points have a wicked side to them. The save points are represented as bonfires, and unlit bonfires can be lit to replenish health and save your game. However, lighting an unlit bonfire will also re-spawn all the lesser enemies in the area, so you have to think twice even before you can replenish your health.
To make you feel a bit better, the game also features co-op mode and online multiplayer. Players can share their experience and help each other without need of direct communication; you don’t get to play directly alongside others, but you can tap into their world either to help them, or to just make their matters worse. Moreover, there is also a player vs. player mode.
So is dying really alright in this game? Well, not really. Every time you die in the game you will lose a bit of your accrued souls, which is the game’s currency and experience point. Also, if you die too much your avatar becomes ghastlier and your character becomes weaker. However, the grimmer your avatar becomes, the harder it is for enemies to detect you.
It’s a cruel, cruel world in Dark Souls, but it doesn’t mean it’s not fun. The challenge is a real treat, and being a savior or an apocalypse for other players is quite fun. The game is set to be released on October 7th worldwide for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.