Greed
 
 
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Dark Souls isn’t an especially hard game, it’s just a lot harder than most mainstream games today. I like to say it’s an early 90’s action RPG with modern 3D graphics and controls, in every aspect.

The central thing that sets Dark Souls apart (as well as Demon’s Souls before it) is that it actually tries to respect the player’s intelligence and resilience by avoiding many of the practices today’s mainstream games adopt. It doesn’t hold your hand. It doesn’t constantly prod you in the right direction. It doesn’t spoon-feed you the storyline. It won’t try to make sure you constantly know where to go and what to do. The developers at From Software aren’t even worried about you possibly overlooking content in this game. Dark Souls provides you only with what you need to eventually figure out what to do.

In terms of overall difficulty and its approach to the player I personally would say Dark Souls is about in line with most Super NES games. It actually feels like it takes a philosophy similar to that of the classic Mega Man and Mega Man X games. While playing you have to accept the fact that you’re going to die and retry a few times before you work out a strategy for beating a particular boss or getting past a certain situation. Most developers today are too worried players will get frustrated during that process and drop the game, but From Software doesn’t care.

Dark Souls is definitely a punitive game. When you die you lose “souls,” a resource representing both your experience points and currency, which you get one chance to retrieve. Checkpoints are specifically placed throughout the game. Though you can save and quit literally anywhere, the game auto-saves after pretty much any action, so every single decision you make, big or small, is final. Many people have called Dark Souls the ultimate example of “tough but fair,” in video games.

Even the tutorial manages to be at once smooth, enticing, and a bit challenging. The first time I tried Demon’s Souls it took me literally around 30 seconds to figure out the core combat controls (which are basically the same in Dark Souls). It’s a very intuitive system based on the left and right bumpers each representing a hand, (on an Xbox 360 pad) the B button representing dodge, and the management of a stamina meter. The rest the tutorial conveys with messages on the ground, immediately teaching you to read messages left by other players in the game proper. The tutorial section is basically a miniature version of a normal level of the game that doesn’t ever stop you to talk your ear off.

Dark Souls even manages to stand out among action RPGs by nailing a unique balance between RPG stat-building and action game skill. It’s not a twitch game at all -- its action combat is rather slower than most games, requiring good timing, patience, and attention to enemy patterns (a lot like old school game but in 3D). As an RPG Dark Souls is about watching equipment stats (your gear is arguably more important than your level in this game), resistances, and a few other base stats, but attaining a high level does not at all negate the need for the aforementioned action game skills. In fact, with the right gear and enormous attention to enemy behavior, it’s possible to beat Dark Souls with a level 1 character.

Another part of Dark Souls that feels tough but fair in a somewhat old school way is its level design. It takes many hours to realize it, but Dark Souls is basically a 3D Metroidvania. Its world is just as vertical as it is horizontal, each area containing shortcuts to other areas that show off real ingenuity in the level design. Oftentimes a “checkpoint” in a level is really just the activation of a shortcut you didn’t even know was there.

One of my favorite things about Dark Souls though -- what it manages to do that too many games have forgotten, is carry a dark sense of mystery. Its environments make me feel cautious but simultaneously provoke my curiosity. It’s a feeling very akin to dungeon crawlers like Ultima Underworld. From Software manages to accomplish this with a combination of minimalist atmosphere and storytelling along with a pure yet baroque sense of art direction.

Dark Souls pretty much constantly surprises you with what you find in each new environment whether that be unique enemies or the environment itself, never really giving you much of any clues as to what you’ll encounter next -- only just enough warning for ever-vigilant players. At the same time paying attention to environments, item descriptions, and NPCs starts to reveal what’s going on in the story as well as some of the game’s lore. Things like this are pretty much the game’s only storytelling devices.

Those environments show Dark Souls is a strong case for art over tech in video game graphics. The game runs on a very modest engine that in many ways resembles PS2-era games, but is saved by superb art design in the environments and enemies. It’s all medieval fantasy, but it manages to nail a medieval look and a fantasy look that are more pure than most fantasy. Dark Souls obviously doesn’t pull its looks from other RPGs, but rather straight from actual medieval architecture, clothing, armor design, and fables.

Dark Souls isn’t a terribly difficult game to run but unfortunately does require some modding on account the PC port’s rushed development cycle. Unless Durante’s DSfix is applied, the game is locked to 720p and 30 frames per second, and its keyboard controls are absolutely not recommended. Furthermore, your performance is highly dependent on your CPU’s base clock speed. If it’s under 3.0GHz you’re going to have trouble regardless of how many cores or threads you’re running.

Dark Souls and its predecessor have gained an intimidating reputation, but if you’re tired of AAA games treating you like an idiot and you want a game that actually let’s you figure out how to play it on your own for a real sense of accomplishment, Dark Souls is just about the best you can do without going down to indie production values.

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last played on Sep 16
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Greed Aug 24, 2019 @ 4:39pm 
>:((((((
HiOctane Aug 16, 2019 @ 6:36pm 
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It's COOL to be gay!
Post this on the wall of a homosexual friend and tell them how COOL they are :)
Wisdom Dog | CSGOEmpire.com Apr 3, 2017 @ 5:00pm 
nice
Unit 01 Oct 10, 2016 @ 2:35pm 
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It's COOL to be gay!
Post this on the wall of a homosexual friend and tell them how COOL they are :)