Develepor: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform Played On: PlayStation 4
Whelp. I’ve never had a game give me such a stern, yet necessary, slap in the face so many damn times. I got the game, knowing full well the Souls series’ rigorous difficulty. But I thought it couldn’t be that hard. I was wrong. The first boss, a masterpiece in game-design, taught me over two hours of domination that quitter wouldn’t make any progress in this game, and when I finally killed that boss, I couldn’t speak for a few minutes.
The combat in this game is a meticulous piece of work. Faster than the first two entries in the series, due to the influence of Bloodborne, the combat has a careful balance of both of its ancestors. Strafing and blocking are vital to this game, and button spamming will result in you being sent back to your last bonfire.
The variety of weapons is also astounding. Picking between weapon categories, such as katanas, hammers or axes, and then picking one of the dozens of unique weapons that are inside the categories, is, at first, a daunting experience, but you’ll quickly grow accustomed to what weapons your build needs. And you know when there are videos for almost every weapon in the game, showing absolutely everything they can achieve, that the combat isn’t too simple.
Weapons have weapon arts, features that use the games form of Mana to use. Some items, most of which belong, or belonged, to unique characters in the game, have their own special weapon art, an example being Bloodlust which requires you to stab yourself, causing a large amount of damage, but also deals a massive amount of bleed damage. Most weapons share a weapon art with a few other weapons, though.
Magic also exists in the world of Dark Souls III although I barely used it. Three types of magic are present: Pyromancy, Miracles and Sorceries. Of the three, I used pyromancy the most, often hurling a fireball at unaware opponents, and to my sword with fire. Miracles revolve around healing you, and also lighting attacks, for some reason, and are only useful in a pinch. Sorceries were utterly useless to me, and so I’ve no experience with them, but I know they are the most are just to damage enemies.
But there’s one aspect I feel the game falls behind in the most. Like every RPG, you can upgrade your character, and the Soul system is actually quite smart, with you losing every soul if you don’t manage to reclaim it. But I feel there was a huge missed oppurtunity, in the way that Souls are obtained. I think that restricting levelling up via killing bosses only would be an ideal idea. It would make levelling up more drastic, making the choices feel important. It would help the game be more balanced, and give players an incentive to fight optional bosses they may have skimmed over, and I think that grinding to get even more powerful, in a game where the difficulty is so fine-tuned, is undesirable.
The crux of these games are their unforgettable boss-fights, and annoying enemies, positioned so you don’t ever get that next bonfire. I’ll go with the latter first. The enemies in the game aren’t as special as the other half of the category, but some derive some great challenge. I remember getting absolutely demolished by the first Lothric Knight you met, and trying to run past him. Sure, they’re not as difficult as when I was still learning the game, but death is never impossible.
And now, the true part of a modern From Software game, the rigorous boss fights. I got the feeling of just being another useless undead that tries to kill the demonic creatures instantly from each boss fight, but this just made the end result just more satisfying. I would be the first to admit I died on some certain fights just so I could fight the boss once again. But, this game still has its blemishes, including a disappointing Lord of Cinder, and an incredibly broken penultimate boss.
To call it vague is a sheer understatement. The story is one of the most highly debated things in the community, and also one of the main accomplishments of said community. The secrets people have discovered, even such as minor as one boss’ cry being reversed from what would seem normal. On the note of characters, well… it’s clear that they’re not ones meant to be remembered. While most of them tie into the story in a bigger way than on surface-level, none of them are too interesting.
I feel like the game looks good, but your mileage may vary. Some areas in the game are, honestly, really-great-looking, but that’s because they break the dull colour pallet dark grey, brown, yellow and black. Most armours and weapons look good, not great, although the starting armour for the knight causes my eyes to bleed.
This is, without a doubt, in my personal opinion, the greatest soundtrack to emerge out of gaming. This game tells you from the loading screen that the music accompanying you on your deadly quest will be only of the highest quality. The soundtrack is mostly focused on a bellowing choir and classical stringed instruments. It required four people to make it, Yuka Kitamura, Motoi Sakuraba, Tsukasa Saitoh and Nobuyoshi Suzuki, all four appearing before in a ‘Soulsborne’ title.
The power that the music gives to a an engaging boss fight, or the atmosphere that seeps of the track played in Firelink Shrine, and aptly named as such. But another core aspect of the tracks is how they like to add new elements to fray.
Another important part of the experience of Souls is to make sure that the player never truly feels a hundred percent safe, except resting at a bonfire, and the level design highlights that. You could be blazing through a level, lose your caution and get eaten by a mimic. Encounters such as that prompt you to always feel paranoid if you can manage the feat or not.
There is a severe lack of bugs in the game, and if one is spotted, the From Software would come out and say it’s a feature to make the game even more rigorous. But the game has crashed on me twice, once leading every single one of my characters to be promptly deleted. I was lucky that I wasn’t too far into the game, but the setback really did make me stop playing the game for a while.
The beauty of these types of games is that for a good chunk of your time, you aren’t having fun, but the payoff, and joy, they bring is absolutely unbeatable. How is that a game I’ve stated every word of the book at, has me so engrossed? How is a game that makes me feel every emotion except joy, can bring a smile to my face afterwards? Good design. That’s why Dark Souls III is so remarkably good.