A jack of all trades is a master of none, as the saying goes. Some people, on the other hand, become so good at one specific thing that they’re the only good source for that thing. This is a good mindset for both unicycling hermaphrodites, online casinos for wizards, and Fromsoftware, the developer of the Soulsborne franchise.
Fromsoftware is the game company infamous for making incredibly hard, exploratory Role Playing Games, and had a mild scandal a few months back after Game’s Journalists complained about these games not having an easy-mode. That subject could be worth a few hundred words on its own, but that’s not what I’m here for today.
This is a review of Dark Souls 3, for the veteran and newcomer alike.
I’m about thirty hours into the game, which puts me at about the halfway point. So yeah, this game is deep. There’s plenty of content to find, and I’m certain that, despite my methodical snails-pace method of exploring Fromsoftware games, I’ve still missed loads of secrets. Dark Souls is not a friendly game, and when Dark Souls wants to keep a secret, it’s not going to tell you no matter how much you beg (unless you check the wiki, but that’s cheating).
I suppose that leads me to an important point for newcomers. Dark Souls 3 does not teach you. You are pointed in a direction and told to figure it out from there. I’d recommend either watching a Let’s Play of someone learning the game or play Dark Souls 2, which does a better job of introducing the game to newcomers.
So, if you’re looking to jump into Dark Souls 3, here’s the story so far.
The world is currently trapped in an endless cycle of Fire and Dark, and as the age of fire fades, it’s the duty of a Chosen Undead to light themselves on fire to save the world. At the start of Dark Souls 3, we’re told that the four chosen undead who were supposed to light themselves on fire to save the world have decided not to do that, and have buggered off.
Obviously, this is completely unacceptable, so it’s down to you, the player, to kill ‘em and consume their souls so that you can light yourself on fire in their stead.
That’s the gist of it anyway. Most of the story is laid out in item descriptions and environmental clues and left to the player to piece together. On the one hand, this allows the player to participate in the story as much as they feel like participating, but on the other hand, can leave you feeling a bit lost.
Why is this plus-sized lady trying to burn me alive? Why does this statue have a goop monster protruding from its head? Why does this shopkeeper unlock more items for you when you give her ashes?
Believe me; you’re not gonna find the answers easily on a casual playthrough.
Gameplay-wise, Dark Souls 3 is incredibly fun. And hard. But also fun!
Dark Souls 3 is a third-person action game, with smooth and fluid movement and satisfying combat and controls.
Enemies in this game are fast – far faster than in its predecessors. That might be great news to some, and awful for others.
If you’ve got good reflexes, prepare for a challenge as you rampage through enemies desperately trying to rip you a new one. If not, prepare for a slow, methodical adventure as you meticulously cut every enemy one by one while cowering behind a shield. I’m the second. If you are too, I recommend getting a bow as soon as possible.
It’s great for luring out enemies into your ambush… muahahaha!
Graphics-wise, the game looks amazing. It’s certainly a vast improvement on the previous titles.
Environments are detailed and stunning. Enemies are full of texture and character. Everything connects to the deeper story, from the emblems on armor to the hundreds of statues dotted around the world.
The bosses are full of color and artful elegance – right up until they kill you.
Overall, I’d have to rate this game pretty high. I haven’t beaten it, but I have sure as hell been enjoying the journey so far.
I could nitpick the game here and there for design decisions, enemy placement, level layouts, but that’s all pretty subjective. Besides, I’m just one guy on a laptop. I’m not smarter than a professional game company.
So here’s the bottom line: The game is fun. The game is hard. It’s deep; it looks awesome. You might end up throwing your controller through the TV, but if you persevere, the payoff will feel incredible.