Band of bloggers has rung the bell, and who am I not to answer the call?
Demons Souls. Dark Souls. Bloodborne.
Maybe Dark Souls 2, if yah squint.
These games-not including the king’s field series that is considered a spiritual successor-make up the soul’s series. All games are classically known for their extreme difficulty, and to those willing to look deeper, for their rich lore and worlds.
Except Dark Souls 2.
But it occurs to me that before we go any further in our discussions, perhaps it’s time to look back on where it all began, how everything went down and sum up the games for those who may not be as familiar. Obviously my personal perspective is at play here, and I’d like to share my views on each game as well as talking about timing and personal impact to perhaps interest those who haven’t had the chance to try one of this venerable series.
Demons Souls-a rough start
Recently I repurchased a used copy of Demons Souls, dredged up from the pits of suffering and eternal torment you tend to find these things dwelling in. After clearing off the ash and silencing the screams of those who came before using calming new age jazz, I popped the game in.
Time…..has not been kind to this game. It runs pretty poorly, even for a console game with lots of stutters and tears, certain animations are prone to breakage and it’s kind of ugly to be honest. Loading times are long, textures are bad, the game definitely has problems.
Now, when I had first played the game, sometime in 2009 I recall it not being quite so deficient, but nostalgia and time make fools of our eyes I suppose, though I do distinctly remember the awful loading times. Still, the core of the game is still pretty solid and once I got back into it, I found there is still enjoyment to be had.I remember getting the game as a Christmas present and being so excited, the trailer still thumping it’s rather unique drum heavy orchestra in the back of my mind. It was such a rich and interesting game, filled with secrets and interesting items to be found.
But make no mistake, difficulty was very high even early on, this is a soul’s game after all. And it pounded me into the dirt more than once, with cheap tricks and cheaper bosses. It’s easy to claim I needed to GIT GOOD but Demons Souls definitely suffers from more obtuse difficulty than its progeny. Certain boss fights are ridiculously unfair, some can only be fought via exploits and the game is hilariously unforgiving, with poor checkpoint systems stemming progress through tougher areas. Enemies that can one hit kill you, bosses that are a huge pain to defeat if you failed to at least get a bow and arrow (metal spider, I’m looking at you) and enemies that punish you for your class choice….yeah there’s problems beyond mere difficulty here. Yet I made it through this game despite these problems, and it’s a testament to the world building that I kept going even though the rough spots. It’s got its problems, but it’s a solid game and even if I find it to be the weakest of the series (not including Dark Souls 2, of course) it’s a solid game and you may want to try it if you can get past its significant problems. It’s a PS3 exclusive sadly, though this wouldn’t be the first time Sony ruined the fun for everyone else…but I will return to that in a moment
Dark Souls-prepare to sublime
Oh yes. Oh yessss. OH YESSSSS. This game, this game is my personal favorite of the series. The difficulty is almost always fair, the combat is weighty and solid as well as being desperate at times, and…URGGHHH it’s just such a wonderful game!
Ahem. But let me collect myself and at least have a set-up to explain how I and this game became acquainted.
It was back in the pre-apocalyptic times of 2011, when I first claimed this game and it claimed my heart in a way only a dominatrix can (the joke is masochism). I went after school, and managed to snag the last metal box copy my local GameStop had. Funny thing about that was that From Software had claimed it was a free upgrade, but failed to specify that it was indeed a free upgrade….for a very limited pool of first come first serve. Regardless I claimed my copy, the last that GameStop had in fact, and destiny on my side went home and proceeded to feast on the spoils. I listened to the phenomenal and sometimes downright bizarre soundtrack, looked at the art book and finally popped in the game to experience it all. I visited the community when I needed help and marveled at this deep, dark world, full of secrets and legends beyond comprehension.
And then proceeded to hit a wall, known better by its in game name, Sen’s fortress. Before then the game had been keeping me on my toes but that fortress stopped my adventure for a time. I needed time to step back and so I went and played Rage to completion….which was a horrible mistake, but I digress. Only when I had surgery was I man enough to leap back into the fray, and by that I mean I got my wisdom teeth out and needed something to do. So thanks to the power of corrective oral surgery, I plowed through Sen’s fortress and continued on, completing one of the finest games I have ever had the pleasure of playing.
Bonfires kept the game moving and made the game flow so much better, weapons were more unique and fascinating, lore was deeper and richer and shortcuts tied the massive world together, giving it a unified feel and creating immense satisfaction with each new shortcut. All of this created such a fascinating atmosphere and world, bosses were so integral to the story and earned their build-up and epic fights, and there was so much hidden that just blew me away. Finding the Ash Lake was one of the most amazing moments of the entire game, and the boss designs were better than ever. This game deserves its praise and proves that having high difficulty and requiring lots of patience can be refined beyond the more obtuse Demons Souls and this game stands the test of time as a game not beautiful for graphics, but with a rich and beautiful world, and I will take that over graphics any day. My favorite Souls hands down, and due to fan petitions it also came to PC. In a horrible state, but it expands the life of the game so much and now I can play it on my favorite system too.
Dark Souls 2
I feel bad for this game, I really do and I have shared my opinions at length before. With the main team secretly making Bloodborne, Namco Bandai/Bandai Namco decided to keep the cash cow-a-milking and split off part of From Software, like Athena from the head of Zeus into something new. But much as you never read about Athena becoming better than Zeus, this game never really succeeded to escape the shadow of its predecessor, something I would argue it forced itself farther into.
Dark Souls 2 released in 2014, and got decent reviews for console. This was good enough to risk getting the game before launch, with a decent discount for me on PC. The last game had been horribly handled, sure, but this one looked better. And to make a long story short, it was better-at least graphically. But remember what I said about pretty faces vs beautiful worlds? If not go up there and read harder, yah lazy non-motile bundle of cocci, you.
-Cocci are small, round bacteria and motility is a reference to movement among smaller life forms. This joke has been made as a reference to microbiology, and should be taken as such. If you found this joke to be lacking, contact a local microbiologist to voice your concerns. Carry on please
Anyway, yeah, besides the better graphics and smooth framerate this game was not nearly as good as Dark Souls. You can check out my full thoughts on that here, but needless to say it was a bit disappointing. Bosses would track you and attack even if you dodged at the right time, the world was disjointed and shattered by warping…bleh. Overall a bit of a failure, but a decent attempt and good enough to warrant some hope for a future game from these guys, if only they will learn from their mistakes. Not much to say I already haven’t said, so if you’d like more in-depth thoughts, check out the link to a previous blog above.
Yep. This game has been getting universal praise, mixes up the traditional Souls combat system and has Lovecraftian elements filling it to the brim.
And it’s a Sony exclusive, ala Demons Souls. Unlike the other two, which both released on all systems.
I thought I was ok. I thought I had got past this fact. Then I watched this:
This fantastic song got my mind on the game, and showed off more and more of the game and what I had been avoiding with my trailer blackout. And it looks so good, and the world looks so good and the game just looks fantastic. IT LOOKS SO GOOD, and the reviews SAY IT’S SO GOOD. I want this game, I want it so bad but….because they made a deal with Sony, in a console war I as a PC gamer have no interest in being a part of I don’t get to play it unless I buy a console when I could just upgrade my rig. Which means I may never get to play this game. I hate to end on a sour note, and to be fair this was really a clever play on Sony’s part, but it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking to me that I don’t get to play this because CONSOLE EXCLUSIVE HURR DURR. I love this series and arbitrarily not getting to play it makes me sad. I will update if this situation ever changes, but sadly I very much doubt that happening.
So there it is. My personal experiences and thoughts on all the games in the soul’s series. Feel free to chime in the comments below and let me know what your experiences were, or your opinions on the games. Thanks for reading, and please rate this message!!!!