Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: from software
Been trucking in software for years before Demon’s Souls. A workhorse studio, it pumped out average-to-average games across all genres, from the mecha armored core series to the first-person, rock-hard RPG King’s Field games. This was the series that inspired Demon’s Souls, a PlayStation 3 exclusive that was released in 2009 to little fanfare—in fact, Sony decided against publishing the game outside of Japan, leaving it up to third parties. Gave. This was a misguided decision in retrospect, as Demon Souls was a success with critics and gamers, mixing the hardcore trappings of King’s Field with a new style of action-RPG gameplay led by director Hidetaka Miyazaki.
Work on the sequel soon began, although none was directly related to the story and world of the first game. Miyazaki returned as director and producer, refining the original gameplay and ideas for Demon’s Souls and introducing them to a new audience on Xbox 360. Many UK PlayStation 3 owners also missed Demon Souls because the European release took more than several months. Americans, therefore, were their first steps in this strange new challenge for many Dark Souls.
That’s what everyone remembers about Souls games, the first thing that comes up in conversation: the difficulty. Most readers of this magazine would agree that today’s games are too easy, holding your hand every step of the way and rarely testing the skills you’ve built up over decades of sitting in front of a screen and pressing a button. Dark Souls says to hell with it, and aside from the incredibly sparse few lines of tutorial text telling you what the buttons do, you’re on your own. Dark Souls laughs at the concept of objective markers, and outside of some extremely obscure and hidden hints from NPCs, you’ll have to find and forge your way in this world. Add in the fact that there’s no map, and you’ll have to scour, learn, and remember every corner of Lordran like the good old days when we made the original Metroid’s pen-and-paper maps.
Lordran is a gloomy, empty land populated only by mindless undead and terrifying monsters who all want to kill you. Dark Souls is defined by its simple yet surprisingly responsive combat, where each button press corresponds to a swing of your weapon and carefully watching your enemy and attacking when able is the only surefire way to success. Fire is the way. Swinging wildly will kill you quickly, even against the most basic of enemies. Every battle in Dark Souls is a threat, and you need to be attentive and focused at all times.
Of course, death is inevitable, and the game’s attitude towards it is one of the elements of its genius. Die and you’ll be sent back to the last bonfire you rested on, a sort of checkpoint system. Resting on fire refills your health and Estus flask (health potion, essentially), but also relieves every single enemy in the world, in addition to defeated bosses. You can’t clear out an area and be done with it – every time you rest, the bad guys come back. Die and answer, and your collected souls will be left in the place where you perished. Souls act as currency and experience, spend on items and level up, and loosing a huge batch is never fun. You have a chance to return to your corpse and get your soul back, but before doing so die again and they are gone forever. It’s a great mix of risk and reward that always leads to extremely stressful moments.
But a lot of games are hard, and a lot of games are good to play. Dark Souls is exceptional because of its artistic elements: the atmosphere, the lore and story hidden in the world, the beauty of the landscapes housing a dead society. Few games have ever evoked a sense of isolation and loneliness quite like Dark Souls (again, inviting comparisons to Metroid). The story of the world you venture into is largely obscure, but hinted at by various means, whether it’s item descriptions or the rave of a deranged merchant. This simplistic approach to storytelling adds to the game’s mysterious nature, and dedicated fans have managed to decipher the vast amount of lore and backstory from the subtle hints given – just like the rest of the gameplay, if you want to know what’s going on. Used to be. , you have to work for it.
Why It’s A Future Classic
This is the real reason why Dark Souls will survive, will certainly be remembered for decades to come. While most games seem like entertainment, Dark Souls feels like a piece of art, completely conceptualized by Miyazaki and his team, as a great game and a means of expressing emotion. Designed to act, that brings a player down before isolation and failure. Build on them as they learn, grow and get better. Some won’t have the patience for a game like Dark Souls, and that’s okay — it’s not for everyone. But for those with the patience and perseverance who see the game as a challenge to explore, master, and conquer, Dark Souls is a true modern classic in every sense of the word.