Dark Souls

Dark Souls Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC

Dark Souls is set in a rich, dark fantasy universe and promises tense dungeon crawling, fearsome enemy encounters and groundbreaking online features.

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8Out of 10
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Dark Souls screenshot
Dark Souls screenshot

The online functionality is inspired, frankly, and anybody playing without it will not only struggle, but will also miss out on a unique sense of togetherness. Every decision you make in the game is based on a collection of pointers you'll piece together from everybody else. You learn from their mistakes, and they learn from yours. Dark Souls is a bastard, and you're all working together to beat it.

Not everybody subscribes to the same train of thought, though. Certain morons take great pleasure in abusing the system. In front of an NPC at the start of the game I found a sign that read: 'Try attacking'. Clearly the scribe of said message had done the same and pilfered some sweet-ass armour from the corpse, or something. I decided to do the same. Bad idea. You give him a few whacks of your sword and he flips out, relentlessly attacking you until you die. "Well I won't be doing that again!" I chuckled to myself, but that didn't matter, because even after dying, this NPC continued to chase me around the area, and as he was much, much stronger than me, he killed me over and over again. The only solution I could conjure up to solve this problem was to restart the entire game. Which was obviously a complete ballache.

As you move about the world, you'll see the ghostly outlines of other players going about their business. Dark Souls is a lonely experience, but these phantoms are a constant reminder that others - other real people, just like you - are going through the same thing. Inspect a blood stain on the floor, and you can watch the last few seconds of another player's life, possibly making a mental note not to let the same thing happen to you. If you're in a human form, you can even summon other players to join you in your world, which can be helpful when tackling harder areas.

It can't be ignored that the game is plagued with countless show-stopping bugs. I can't say whether the 360 version suffers from the same issues, but the PS3 version crashed on a regular basis. Once every couple of hours, in fact. Although inadvertently, this is something that contributes to the hellishness of the experience. As does the fact that you can't pause the game. Now I'm all for giving players a challenge, but not letting me nip off to the loo in the middle of a dungeon? Ugh.

Dark Souls is very much a gamer's game, and if you're going to have any fun with it, you need to go into it with precisely the right frame of mind. Even then you might struggle. It takes a precise kind of person to really enjoy what the game has to offer. Games journalists happen to fulfil the criteria for that type of person, and so the game has been seeing some impressive reviews. True, there's much to praise here: the innovative use of connected features, the expertly designed environments, the huge amounts of satisfaction you'll reap from downing a particularly fearsome foe, but you really have to work for your fun. The amount of investment required to get even the slightest return will put off all but the hardiest of players - but if you're one of them, I salute you.

Dark Souls isn't a game you play for fun. It's something you do to say you've done; like running a marathon or climbing Everest. You won't enjoy it like you will other games, but you won't forget it either, and you'll be damn proud of yourself for seeing it through to the end.

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danieljjvv's Avatar

danieljjvv

love the game
need more expansions and some map changes after completion
Posted 13:14 on 09 May 2014
Feopachi's Avatar

Feopachi

***** review by a causal player who sucks at the game.
Posted 16:31 on 23 January 2014
Enemy's Avatar

Enemy

I liked your review, the first DS review that made me laugh.
I read sometimes about people not willing to buy this game because they don't like games that frustrate you with their difficulty. For this reason I did not like Ninja Gaiden, God of War and most games on hard difficulty. But Demon's souls (and probably Dark souls as well) is truely something else. Death is an essential part of the experience and the games would not nearly be as brilliant when death was not lurking around every corner. It's because you fear dieing so much that makes the game so thrilling and immersive.
I'm still on my first playthrough on Demon's souls and still die a lot but I'm rarely frustrated for it. Just try to see every death as a lesson.
Posted 18:58 on 05 October 2011
Get2DaChoppa's Avatar

Get2DaChoppa

Great review Jamin, I really like the look of this, I think it's the challenge that draws me to it. Although the prospect of perpetual self loathing does leave a bitter taste.

Oh well...:)
Posted 15:07 on 05 October 2011
TomPearson's Avatar

TomPearson

BOOOOM, that lemonade and So-Co is mine!
Posted 13:40 on 05 October 2011
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

I actually do understand the idea of these games and the challenge that comes with the crushing difficulty levels but I also struggle a bit with the concept from a sales point of view - I will never buy either this or Demon Souls purely because I know how irritated I can get when a game gets too tough for me, especially with family commitments, work etc causing time restraints. I tend to play games as a form of relaxation, and a game that kicks you when you are down certainly seems less than relaxing. Don't get me wrong I don't want to just walk through a game with little to no challenge either. I'm pretty certain that I am not the only gamer in the world who would love to play these games for the games themselves, but really can't be bothered with the torment and the expense, (after I've launched my controller across the room), and therefore surely these are just lost sales from the get go. I'd love to play the games themselves, but not in this truly terrifying form - It sacres me too much - LOL!
Posted 12:14 on 05 October 2011
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ Woffls

Demon's Souls also had no pause. It actually makes total sense in the way the game is conceived. You are meant to be online and thus open to other players joining your realm. The tension this leads to once you actually get your body back is unlike any other you have experienced in videogame form. The phrase "I'm bricking it." is the most appropriate one in the whole review, if Demon's Souls is any indicator.
Posted 11:51 on 05 October 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

Tempted to play this, but the way I react to games being difficult in this kind of way is not conducive to my well-being. I'd like to believe that the presence of bugs and lack of pause option are intentional, but it's probably just complacency in development.
Posted 11:39 on 05 October 2011
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Nice review Jamin. The game has "challenge" written all over it, and Demon Souls was very impressive with my short gameplay time I had. Dark Souls is definitely something I would like to buy later this month or next, as it is something that I would commit too.

"Can feel unfair" Do you mean in a challenge aspect? If so, isn't From Software main ambition is to give a gaming experience which is different for each individual, providing such a challenge? To me, this has all the right ingredients, and I would happily hand my cash over.
Posted 11:28 on 05 October 2011
xenodoom's Avatar

xenodoom

i would play this game but i think after two days i throw my controller through a wall!
Posted 11:22 on 05 October 2011

Game Stats

Dark Souls
8
Out of 10
Dark Souls
  • Devilishly hard, and with that, satisfying
  • Fantastic environment design
  • Will probably make you hate yourself
  • Can feel unfair
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 07/10/2011
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 528 46
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