Dark Souls Review

by Stephen Heller Featured

15 Comments 21 Votes 4260 Views 10/10/2011 Back to Reviews

Dark Souls Review

In this day and age developers seem to put us in bubble wrap; afraid that any sense of a challenge will have us running and screaming from their title. Dark Souls doesn't care about throwing you in the deep end; leaving you to navigate your way through a series of dark and challenging areas that are simply, unrelenting. Do you have enough strength to survive this 40-60 hour slog fest that could easily make a grown man cry?

What Dark Souls Got Right

Frightening environments - Fans of Demon Souls will be greeted with a new open-world structure that goes a long way to creating a truly frightening backdrop as the game unfolds. Starting out in a rotting asylum, players will travel through foreboding forests, murky swamps, tattered dungeons and tunnels deep below the surface of the Earth. Each environment is twisted with a flavour that makes Dark Souls instantly terrifying, and extremely memorable.

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Robust experience - Dark Souls is a lot of things - first and foremost it's a third-person action/RPG title, however thanks to the brutal difficulty it becomes so much more than that. At times it feels like a survival horror; scavenging for items and gold to create or purchase new weapons becomes an integral part to the gameplay. Other times it feels like a cruel take on the fantasy genre as your spells seem to do no damage to your enemies. As you move throughout this epic adventure the game will feel like many experiences rolled into one unforgettable journey.

Community aspect - Dark Souls relies heavily on a community aspect as you trudge through the depressing world. Thanks to the online co-op feature you will often see the ghosts of other online players as you move throughout the game world. You will often hear the toll of the bell-tower, signifying someone else's victory over a boss, which can often spur you on to give it one more try. There are opportunities to help someone else out in a bind, which will reap your more souls and humanity, but can offer something more valuable - experience. Dark Souls truly throws you in the deep end, and playing with others you will learn new ways to tackle obstacles, and that can prove to be invaluable.

Difficulty - Dark Souls is brutally hard; it should be after the legacy that Demon Souls has left behind. This makes for a refreshing experience when compared to other titles being released, all of which seem to fall into the same hand-holding traps that most hardcore gamers loathe. There is no question about it, you will die a lot during your journey. Chances are you will laugh, you will cry, you will throw your controller in rage and you will pull your hair out. However when you finally overcome that boss after an hour of utter despair, the feeling is remarkable.

What Dark Souls Got Wrong

Accessibility - One of the very reasons that makes Dark Souls so appealing is also one of its biggest downfalls. The brutal difficulty that it serves up will definitely turn most gamers off, but those who are up for the challenge will find a deeply rewarding experience ahead.


Frame rate issues - Dark Souls is a good looking game, but it does suffer from some frame rate issues during some segments. We noticed more of a stutter on the PS3 version than the 360 edition, although it certainly doesn't break the game. Worth noting for those who pay extremely close detail to graphical prowess in their video games.

The Final Verdict

Dark Souls is one of the most challenging games we've seen this generation, and thanks to its dark and twisted environments it stands up as something different for 2011. If you can handle the brutal difficulty and you are prepared to die a lot, then Dark Souls could very well be the title you are looking for. It won't appeal to everyone, but there is an epic journey for those who will persevere.

By Stephen Heller

Gameplay

8.5
Brutal difficulty mixed with satisfying combat

Graphics

9.0
Great graphics that really bring the world to life, but suffers from minor frame rate issues at times

Sound

9.0
Very atmospheric that really suits the tone of the game

Value

9.5
With 40-60 hours worth you're definitely getting your bang for buck

Overall

9.0
Brutal, but so rewarding that you won't be able to help yourself

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Dark Souls

Platform: PS3 / Xbox
 
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More Info on Dark Souls

Dark Souls Dark Souls Dark Souls Dark Souls Dark Souls Dark Souls Dark Souls Prepare to die edition
Game Profile: Dark Souls
Dark Souls Australian Release: Out Now

Dark Souls Review Comments

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im scared :'(
You will be, you will be!
Hmmmmmmm......just HOW hard is it?

I like a challenge but not a "send me into a rage" challenge.

You have made me interested in this game Heller during a time in my life when i have too many games to play!

Damn you and your quality reviews!!! [Rage]
Expect to die, and die alone.
i took on the water part in amnesia and fought off demon dogs in the first penumbra game. I can handle dark souls. also i wrecked demon's souls so i think i got dis. good review too. ^_^
Incoming mass of ragequits :P
Great write up Heller.
Can't wait to get my paws on this one :D
I love it, new favorite game, not to be taken lightly though, I've started getting my ass handed to me regularly now, but that just spurs me on.

Anyone used to assassins creed style hand-holding is in for a rude shock though, hands down hardest game I've ever played, wouldn't have it any other way.

Framerate issues are rare and barely noticeable.
if you have played Demons Souls.... considered it a hard game...and have been proud to get to ng+++ levels of Demon Souls...well then, take it this way, Dark Souls is harder than a ng+++++ (5) game play of Demons Souls.

Mage/Pyros have limited casts..you can't spam firespray like you did in Demon Souls.
You just can't go buy spells when you level up...good luck with finding a guy to sell you the spells in the first place :)

So you have killed a boss? Big deal, you ain't going back to your safe kindergarden of Nexus any time soon. You still have to go ahead a fair bit..kill couple of mini bosses till you get to a bonfire to use your hard earned souls.

If you are cursed (and trust me 99% chance, you WILL be). good luck finding the cure :)

Welcome to Dark Souls..... :)

My only disappointment is with it's match making system for online play :|
Hardest game ever? Unless it's a skill-based difficulty system (like in "retro" platformers), it just looks cheap... of course I haven't played the game, just looked at it. =D

siddsm said: if you have played Demons Souls.... considered it a hard game...and have been proud to get to ng+++ levels of Demon Souls...well then, take it this way, Dark Souls is harder than a ng+++++ (5) game play of Demons Souls.
Mage/Pyros have limited casts..you can't spam firespray like you did in Demon Souls.
You just can't go buy spells when you level up...good luck with finding a guy to sell you the spells in the first place
So you have killed a boss? Big deal, you ain't going back to your safe kindergarden of Nexus any time soon. You still have to go ahead a fair bit..kill couple of mini bosses till you get to a bonfire to use your hard earned souls.
If you are cursed (and trust me 99% chance, you WILL be). good luck finding the cure
Welcome to Dark Souls.....
My only disappointment is with it's match making system for online play :|



It isn't that hard lol :P
Im finding the game to be fairly do-able, just requires patience. Plus getting cursed isn't an issue you can buy what you need to remove it or get it by other means. Sure theres no Nexus but theres many bonfires to keep you going. Im loving the game, im nailing the reversals and progressing at a steady rate. People who say this is harder than Demon Souls have got to be joking right? I didn't play too much of the former but if this is harder, then that must have been a breeze.
so you have cleared New Londo ruins, Painted World and Four Kings already right? :)
Even though i died heaps in dark souls i couldn't rage at it because it always was my fault or some jerks dodgy message
A friend of mine lost 35,000 souls two days ago. Then lost 40,000 yesterday. Harsh. Real harsh. He raged. Enough said.
That means i've got to get this =D
have you finished the game heller? =) a good reviewer should finish the game before reviewing

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