Reviews

Dark Souls III. “Embered Corpse.” A Review.

Dark Souls III is a huge, important video game. It is another sequel to the greatest video game of the last generation. In an attempt to round off my thoughts in a structured way, I decided to dive into my history with the Souls series first, just so you can get an idea of what games I touched, and how I touched them. Then I’m going to give a review, followed by a ranking of the series. Then I’ll conclude with a final analysis accompanied by an extremely important score that will definitely define the worth of this video game many individuals put ungodly amounts of time and energy into developing just so that some fucking child like myself could play it once and say meh.

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{Kotaku}

MY HISTORY

Dark Souls III is the conclusion of the Souls series according the FromSoftware’s president and father of the Souls series, Hidetaka Miyazaki. While Bloodborne was a great addition to the series, and the sole reason I purchased my Playstation 4, I could feel the formula growing stale. Even though Dark Souls is one of my favorite games of all time I welcome a change, even if its just characters, setting, and story. A science fiction video game set in a familiar gameplay mold as the Souls gameplay, for instance, would be fascinating. To the point, Dark Souls III wasn’t a video game that I looked forward too with much enthusiasm. I can remember much more excitement for Dark Souls I and II and Bloodborne. Even as I watched twitch broadcasts of Dark Souls III, I just couldn’t garner the amount of hype I thought necessary for a full sequel to one of my favorite video games of all time. I felt strange. I thought, “What if I don’t like this game? If it’s just more of the same, it might be too stale.”

Eh, I liked it.

But before I go into specificities, I thought I’d dive into my history of the Souls franchise. When Demon’s Souls came out I was regularly watching a Justin.tv stream called 4 Player Podcast. Because of them I discovered many great video games, and discovered my favorite podcast Giant Bomb, but most importantly I was keen on the release and importance of Demon’s Souls. See, it looked like another generic medieval RPG that would go no where in a console generation of nothing RPGs going nowhere. Nobody in my vicinity had heard of the game or cared, and it seemed to me that only Brad Simmons from 4 Player Podcast had given the game any amount of interest.

When I watched him cast the game I was both awestruck and infuriated that I did not own a Playstation 3. The game looked amazing; like no experience offered by the current generation of consoles at the time. It had challenging gameplay that rewarding players who learned a presented skill set through patience and practice. It had differing stats, weapons, armor, and spells that would allow players to customize their character. To play the way they wanted to play. It had secrets, and most importantly, it had this air of mystery around it like I haven’t seen since my gaming youth. It was a game that presented you, the player, as a sole warrior with absolutely no help from anybody. Even as you summoned for help, either from other players or NPCs, you felt like the sole victor after defeating a boss or a challenging level. Discovering how to defeat certain enemies more efficiently felt like an accomplishment all by itself. As though every confrontation mattered in a physical way. This wasn’t a game attempting to beat you over the head with story in an attempt to place you in the game’s world. Demon’s Souls wasn’t trying to make you feel as if that undead knight had to die, and that it means something when you kill it. You feel that way because Demon’s Souls wants to kill you, and you figured out how to kill Demon’s Souls.

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DIE VIDEO GAME DIE!! {Atari Age}

Perhaps the most interesting mechanic of Demon’s Souls was the player invasions. Another player could come to your world, find you, and kill you. Or, you could kill them. It was a mechanic that was unheard of, yet I still felt that it was an obvious improvement and necessary step to the video game industry. Wouldn’t you want to invade someone as they’re trying to beat Ninja Gaiden or Castlevania, find them, and fucking ruin their day? Yes you would. You’re an asshole. It’s okay. We’re all assholes.

As I said, I was deeply saddened to have a Xbox 360 when Demon’s Souls came out instead of a Playstation 3. Lucky for me, and the video game world, the next game would come over to Xbox360 as well as PS3. And because of Sony’s ownership of the name Demon’s Souls, they legally had to change the name. To Dark Souls.

I didn’t get Dark Souls right away. When I did, there were plenty of walkthroughs available online that I abused heavily. Dark Souls terrified me to, in that I was afraid of investing so many hours of my life into a game that seemed impossible to beat for all except the elite. When I finally started watching people like Northernlion and SSoHPKC, who are both seasoned gamers and let’s players that possess fairly average skill, it dawned on me that I could beat Dark Souls. That I would beat Dark Souls. Eventually, after a month straight of playing, consulting various walkthroughs, taking extended breaks to watch Twin Peaks, and drinking lots of coffee, I beat Dark Souls. And it made me feel good in a way that video games haven’t made me feel ever in my entire life. I overcame something that was once impossible. And I became good at it. I would later play Dark Souls again in preparation for Dark Souls II, and I did so in a week as apposed to a month.

Dark Souls II came out and I bought it on release. I stayed home from school, and I was jobless at the time so I didn’t have to go to work. I put off homework. I did nothing but that game that day, and it was fantastic. I liked the changes they made to the game, and I raged against The Pursuer for what seems like a comical amount of time.

I rapidly devoured DSII. A glitch caused me to have to quit a playthrough in favor of a new one. This was about halfway through the game, and it took me about 30 hours the first time, but with a new character I made it to that same spot in 10. I felt like I had become really good at the Souls formula, however it also has to do with the fact that Dark Souls II was much easier than the first one was.

There has always been a debate, since the release of Dark Souls I’m sure, about rather or not experience makes players good to the point that they feel a new game is easy, or if the developers actually designed a new game such that the mechanics were easier than the previous. I think its a mix of both, but one thing is for sure: given its multitude of difficult sections (which there are many), Dark Souls II is still way easier than Dark Souls.

There are full sections of that game that I’ll get to and just quit a playthrough, such as the Iron Keep for its annoying reliance on archers poised right beside lava and its long treks in between bonfires. Or of course the infamous Shrine of Armana, which is a swamp full of magic casters in which the player moves and rolls extremely slowly while traversing the waters in which ambushers and fatal pits hide. But the game is fun in its own way; satisfying in its own way. I haven’t put as much time in any of these games as I did in Dark Souls II. I have many characters, including your lord and savior Mountain Dew King.

When I got my PS4 and bought Scholar of the First Sin, I put even more hours into Dark Souls II, and I loved it. The revised version switches important items and enemies around in the games different locations, giving the player a fun trip when they have knowledge of what the original game was like. It also delivers a nice 60 frames per second experience on PS4 and XBONE, which has yet to be done in any other Souls game. The load times are also like five seconds and that is fucking amazing. Because there are a lot of load times since there is a lot of teleporting around locations. Like many players, I didn’t like how they nerfed faith. Especially since at the time I was playing a strength faith character. But Internet connectivity was much better, making PvP and coop an absolute blast. Out of all the Souls games, Dark Souls II gets the worst reputation. But I substantially enjoy this video game, and I still think its one of the best action RPGs of all time. It’s just tough to compare it to Dark Souls, the first one, which felt closer to perfection.

Also, the bosses sucked. Like, all of them.

Bloodborne was another exceptional video game. I bought my PS4 to play Bloodborne. I even had a theme, and I purchased a face plate for my console. I was extremely hyped to play a game that was outside of the series, yet retaining the core mechanics of a Souls game. And the setting was great! It mixed monster horror with Lovecraftian shit. That’s my jam! However, grinding for blood vials (the healing item in Bloodborne) was not my jam. Neither were the awful, blasphemous chalice dungeons. I enjoyed my first playthrough of the game, but to date I have not completed another. It’s the only game, outside Demon’s Souls that I hadn’t played through multiple playthroughs. There’s just too much tedium for me in an otherwise fantastic game.

Also I wish the armor and weapons were more varied. What’s there is nice, but you get the choice between so few. I love the transforming mechanic, and I didn’t mind the focus on dodging, and the parries being performed by shooting enemies. I also really liked the bosses. And again, the tone, and the way it transforms throughout the game, is fucking fantastic. It just doesn’t have much staying power with me. I did beat the game in a week though, if that tells you anything. It was a blast to consume that game with little knowledge available on the Internet. If PvP and co-op worked better, I’m sure that aspect would have been more fun.

 

REVIEW

The presentation is great in this game. The graphics are beautiful, though you can definitely tell the game was made around the same time as Bloodborne. Many of the environments and the enemies look as if coming straight from Bloodborne. Which isn’t bad: I liked the style of that game. The gnarly, scrappy looking enemies who look like they’ve been through the apocalypse. The dark and foreboding environment design. Presentation was one of my favorite things about Bloodborne, so seeing that influence here is great. There are even certain enemies that talk shit while they are dying. And bosses that talk shit when they kill you. I love it.

The FPS (Frames per Second) remains consistent throughout the game too. At least, in my experience, the game remained at a solid 30 frames throughout the playthrough. There were no areas like Shrine of Armana or Blight Town, and there was no effect that seemed to drop frames like crazy like the fire effects in Bloodborne. This is a massive improvement, as the Souls games are known for their poor performance on consoles. PC is still experiencing its share of problems due to cheating and the like, but from all accounts I hear performance is a rock solid 60 frames throughout the entirety over there.

The sound design is pretty solid as well. I had a few moments where all audio would cut out for a second, which is a glitch I’ve observed from streamers playing on PS4 as well, but it happened so infrequently that it wasn’t that much of a problem. Voice acting is fantastic as always, as is the music, which highlights all the boss fights just as well as they always have, showing a bit more variety than past Souls games. Souls music is never good enough for me to listen to while I’m doing other things, but they are always perfectly suitable for the games themselves. I faintly remember enjoying the boss music in this game a bit more than I have in other titles in the Souls series.

The gameplay is the same story. It’s pulled from all other games in the series, while improving the formula. It’s like a ‘best of’ in all respects, really. Gameplay is the most important identifier between individual Souls games because even though they all possess similar mechanics they work differently game to game. Dark 1 had broken backstabs, Dark 2 had sloppy parries, Bloodborne had no shield and more speed, Dark 3 has hyper armor instead of poise. But when it came to implementing how these mechanics feel the developers cut the negatives from each game, as well as contextualized features, and they added what was positive while improving the old ideas.

For example, Demon’s Souls had an MP meter. It was the only game in the Souls series to have that: each other game had spells but they had limited amounts of use. In DSIII the gauge returns renamed the FP meter. It governs spells as well as weapon arts. Dark Souls I had estus flasks: a staple for the Dark Souls games. In I there were limited uses you could replenish at bonfires and you could upgrade your available flasks by using humanity to kindle the binfire. You started with 5, and each time you kindled the bonfire this went up in increments of 5 up to 20 flasks. In Dark Souls II you had to find estus flask shards. These would create estus flasks individually, making exploration really important. To balance that the game had healing items called life gems you could buy with souls or find as drops from enemies.  Life gems were consumed quickly but you healed slower, while estus flasks were consumed slowly with quicker healing. Estus flasks also healed for more. This created interesting gameplay where you had to prioritize certain healing items given your situation. Pop a gem during battle, then chug a flask after battle.

Bloodborne had blood vials instead of estus flasks. You could hold up to 20 at a time, or 23 with upgrades I think. These vials dropped from certain enemies, or you could buy them with blood echoes (souls). This process sucked, because it meant you had to spend time grinding for your healing items, which is exactly why estus flasks exist in Dark Souls–they don’t require you to grind. You could grind in Dark Souls II for life gems but you absolutely didn’t have to because there were estus flasks.

In Dark Souls III they went back to estus flasks and they eliminated life gems. Flasks work like Dark Souls I in that you heal quickly, but they work like in II because you have to hunt down Estus Flask shards. You also upgrade your flasks the same way you do in II, where you have to find bone dust and burn that in the bonfire at Firelink Shrine. Dark Souls III shakes up this system with the inclusion of a new flask that is blue called the Ashen Estus Flask. These replenish Focus Points. You decide how many estus flasks you want versus how many ashen estus flasks you want at a certain NPC vendor, and you can change this at any point in the game granted you’re at this NPC vendor. This is smart, because it doesn’t penalize players for wanting to play a more magic focused build yet it balances out the game for those who want to play a more melee focused build. Do you want to heal or replenish your FP?

I could go through the list of other mechanics Dark Souls III took from other games in the series. And I will. Here we go:

I’m not.

The big addition with Dark Souls 3 is weapon arts, which takes transforming weapons for Bloodborne and changes them up. In Bloodborne you push L2 and a weapon transforms, sometimes performing a new attack that you can use in a combo. In Dark Souls 3 each weapon type has a weapon arts, which is a new attack or buff players can use if they are two handing their weapon (or using a shield that lets players perform weapon arts instead of parrying). This mechanic is useful, though you can totally ignore it if you just want to play the game like you did in Dark 1 and 2. They make sense, and can be very satisfying in certain instances. Greatswords like the bastard sword have this stance that you can use to uppercut enemies into the air, successfully making you feel like a fucking badass.

Feeling like a badass is extremely important. Okay. This game has it out for you. It will hunt you down, and if you happen to be in a compromising situation like, say, on the toilet, it won’t hesitate to fucking kill you. In front of your family. While eating a sandwich. Dark Souls III does not care. You will die and you will scream and you will curse but that’s all part of it. Just as it’s always been.

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There are certain aspects of this game that are easy: either intentionally designed to be easy, or made easy by players’ experience with the Souls formula. If you know what you like to play as, if you know how to properly attack and defend efficiently, if you remember to have your shield up as you traverse unknown locations, you will have an easier time with this game. The bosses, for the most part, seem easier compared to how they were in Dark Souls I. More than ever, summoning for boss fights is easy, and makes every boss in the game a trivial encounter. I had many more problems over my 45 hour playthrough with the standard enemies than I did the bosses or the NPC invaders. Certain returning enemies, for example, beat my ass more soundly than they ever did when I encountered them in their original games. You can always use the speed runner’s method and run passed everything in the game, and in a way it makes the game feel a bit too easy as in easier than the developers intended. But it’s all about how you want to play this game. Do you want to kill everything, or do you want to beat the game easier, and faster? You have tools available to change your build, to summon for help, and you have this ability to avoid most enemies entirely, so really its your fault if you are having a rough time with this game.

There are elements that are easy to miss in every Souls game. I’m talking about items, mechanics, and entire locations that are completely optional and lay somewhat hidden within the detailed levels of the game. Sometimes, you get lost completely and you don’t know where to go in order to progress. Other times you miss your opportunity to join a covenant. These things never bothered me, and the many times I had it happen to me in Dark Souls III didn’t bother me either. I enjoy playing these games multiple times. So, if I care enough, I will see everything. I can see why people would be bummed that they missed out, and I can see people feeling overly stressed to see everything during the first playthrough, if they’re only going to play this game once. I believe this, and the other Souls games, are video games meant to be played through multiple times. This isn’t a linear, narrative driven cinematic hallway simulator. This is a video game with options.

One thing I disliked was this game’s apparent hatred for the caster. I started as a mixed class, faith and quality, and I felt gimped, quickly moving on to focus on quality. That’s a build that spreads the player thin, making the actual gameplay style difficult to pull off, so I’m not really talking about my experience with the game. I’m talking about the experience of others, who report that even a build focused on intelligence adds severe difficulty to this game. It makes me think there’s a bias against magic, which begs the question why put it in at all? I understand pay off of having a caster build, which is to say you feel weak until you get a really powerful really demanding spell. If there was pay off to begin with. Even the most powerful spells can’t compare to strength weapons on a proper strength build, or dexterity weapons on a proper dex build. One would think a sword buffed with magic, or lightening, or fire etc. would perform better than one without that buff. I spent the game buffing my weapon with fire with a spell I acquired, and I’m completely positive it didn’t help me at all. I just liked how the weapon looked engulfed in flames. I’m fine with armor being mainly for fashion (because it is in this game with the way poise works), but shoudn’t magic be more than fashion? I believe every style of gameplay should be viable. Yet according to Dark Souls III (and I totally admit that I could be wrong), magic, faith, and pyromancy are not valid. For PvP AND PvE, stick to weapons in Dark Souls III unless you’re fucking around with alternate builds.

I felt like my character was built wrong. As I said I started with a character with split stats in faith and quality (quality is a mixture of dexterity and strength), and as I progressed I began building away from faith entirely in favor of quality so that I could use more weapons. Toward the end of the game, I was against the wall with a weak character who performed poorly in PvP and couldn’t tackle bosses by himself. I had to summon, and that would have been fine, but the pathway to this particular boss was littered with unavoidable hordes of enemies in perhaps the most stacked location in a Souls game yet. I don’t ever remember seeing that many enemies in one location. I ended up finding a shortcut that eliminated my need to cross this path, making me feel relieved and dumb as hell. It filled me with the determination I needed to go on and beat the game after putting the game down for about a week.

I definitely took my time with this game. I had coop fun. I had PvP fun. I invaded people. I explored. And most importantly, I let the game breathe. Because I devoured Bloodborne start to finish in a week and never truly went back, I felt I had to play other games while playing Dark Souls III. I think that payed off, because when I picked the game up again to play my second playthrough the game felt fun and interesting all over again.

I love the level design this game features. Every area has a short cut you unlock later that leads back to a bonfire, and you are almost always led to see this short cut before you unlock it so that you know where you are in accordance to the world. There are several areas of the game that include branching paths, all with their own contextual shortcuts that you unlock however you decide to explore the level. There are a few tricks to get to higher places faster, unlocking powerful weapons early on, and there are even new mechanics that both serve to surprise, and intimidate, the player.

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Dark Souls has always been really great at both making the player feel oppressive dread and driving hope. You might die over and over, but eventually you will  level up your strength high enough so that you may wield that powerful ax you just made from the soul of a boss you already defeated. Then you can kill the next boss with that weapon, effectively using one soul to kill and gain another. All the while, you are improving your gameplay with knowledge of new enemies, new locations, and new ways of attack, just so that you can find a new area that will crush you with new enemies that attack in completely different ways. I had several times in Dark Souls III where I was completely caught off guard by the relentlessness of a new enemy. You discover tricks to defeating all of them, but that initial fight is always something special, and humbling. Unless your video game Jesus capable of breaking the meta with one R2, this game will challenge you with enough newness to justify everything that feels familiar. Dark Souls II feels like a completely different game than 1, as does Bloodborne, but neither of those games contained as much surprise as what I felt playing this game.

Part of that is how much the game references Dark Souls I. It seems committed to informing the player how much it is not Dark Souls II, after so much fan backlash upon that game’s release. When I played it I immediately felt Dark Souls. The way I moved felt just as fluid, the new environments as dreadful, and the boss encounters as epic. And then I started playing the multiplayer, and it felt like Dark Souls II, because…you know…THE MULTIPLAYER FUCKING WORKS. Cooping is incredibly easy, with massive puddles of summon signs littering the floor just before every boss fog gate. I would put my sign down, and not two seconds later someone would summon me. This speaks to just how popular these games have finally become as much as it speaks to how important Fromsoft sees online multiplayer for fans of the series. It took them many, many games, but they finally got it. The match ups seem fair level wise, with no soul memory bullshit, or intense level restrictions, and each time I’ve fought other players I felt that the connection was entirely stable.

There is still lag here and there, of course. And there is another issue a lot of players have been complaining about that I don’t entirely dislike. When you invade a player, they must be embered, and most of the time embered players have summoned help. Because of this when you invade a player’s game they almost always have a squad with them waiting to gank you. It’s 1v3, you have less health, and less estus flasks than the host of the match. But so do their summons, as every summoned player, invader or friend, starts with those limited resources. This feels balanced as much as it feels handicapped. Fromsoft wants people to invade other players, and they don’t want invaders ruining the game for players wanting to progress through the game without interest in the competitive multiplayer. So tools are provided at a mechanic level.

Speaking of those mechanics, I love the new covenants. My only gripe is their lack of useful rewards, but the ability to change your covenant on the fly is simply amazing, and it is a much needed improvement after constantly needing to hunt down covenant leaders when a player wants to change. Now it’s just an item the player equips. In Bloodborne this was a thing, but you had to teleport to the Hunter’s Dream to equip it. Now you just equip it wherever you want, whenever you want. You can sunbro, you can be a red, you can be a blue, you can even be a reddish blue. The new covenants I’m still trying to figure out, but I like them. The mad phantoms are great because they are purple. They have the distinct ability to attack both the host and the invader and the NPC enemies, which is interesting on a psychological level fitting to Dark Souls competitive play.

As improved as I believe the multiplayer functionality to be I will not say its entirely balanced. Weapons, for instance, need work before the competitive multiplayer can achieve perfection. Right now straight swords are over powered because they do decent damage, they stun lock, and they consume minimal stamina meaning players can attack forever to win. This eliminates variety and handicaps the bigger weapons I tend to prefer. When I was having problems with my quality build I wanted to respec. To do this I had to kill a player to receive a tongue. That’s right, the main invasion covenant cuts out the tongues of their victims. That’s right, this is fucking awesome. To the point: I couldn’t kill anyone because my highest weapon was the bastard sword. It is a great weapon for PvE: it does great damage, it does that sweet uppercut thing I mentioned previously, and it attacks in wide sweeping motions that hit multiple targets. It’s also way to slow and doesn’t do enough damage in PvP to make up for the few amounts of times you will actually hit the player. A strength weapon, like the demon greatax for instance, would kill an enemy in 3 or 4 hits. I need to hit players a great deal more than that with a slow weapon, and if I’m against anything faster I’m generally not good enough to defeat them.

Of course all this build discussion isn’t a disservice to the game. I built my character that way, and it’s not the build’s fault either. It’s my fault. If I was more experienced at fighting players I could have killed them more easily. This was my first playthrough mind you, I mainly focused on beating the game, and coop. Coop has always been my preference anyhow. I do plan to focus more on competitive PvP in the future as I play several more playthroughs, so I will write about that more in the future.

Speaking of that I found myself playing the game and loving it. I had this distinct feeling that I couldn’t wait to do more playthroughs. I almost always feel similarly to any video game I’m enjoying, rather it be the new DOOM or a game like Ratchet and Clank, I have that feeling that says I can’t wait to play this on a harder difficulty I can’t wait to 100% this game I can’t wait to cover my left elbow in apple sauce and lick it off but I have never really done these things for most games except that apple sauce bit only it wasn’t my elbow it was my right nipple. With the Souls game I tend to replay them, and with this game I can see how I can improve, what gameplay I’m more suited for, and more importantly I can see all the fun ways I can experiment with these games. This is one of the best things Dark Souls is good at. At first you feel like an infant. You’ll never be good enough. Then you beat the game. Then you beat it again. Now, it’s a toy. That’s because Dark Souls is fair. It’s tough, and sometimes relentless, but its always fair. Dark Souls III is no different.

RANKING THE SOULS GAMES

This is tough because I like all the Souls games for different reasons. I liked the variety of II, I liked my experience with I, I like the way III works, I love the art style and atmosphere of Bloodborne, and I like the uniqueness of Demon’s Souls. It speaks to the strength of the Souls brand, for even though there are three Dark Souls games, they feel just different from one another than Dark Souls feels from Bloodborne. You may be in similar worlds, but your avatar always moves different. You may get a Zweihander in each Dark Souls game, but they swing different. In any event, I love all of these games. They are some of my favorite games of all time. But, because they set the precedent for this style of action RPG, they deserve to be compared more than say, comparing Devil May Cry to God of War. That’s stupid, and a no-brainer: Devil May Cry is the game suitable for a man with avid experience and skill playing video games, while God of War is suitable for a crybaby whine child slobbering all over his chubby husk of a body.

God of War is peasantry.

Anyway I’ll start from the bottom and we’re here. Demon’s Souls started this whole thing. It was the game that made me interested in the whole thing. It gave me guilt that I didn’t have an entire console. That said, it is the beginning, so it possesses none of the advancements of the other games. It has its own merits. The world design is really cool, and the game feels more speedy than its Dark Souls cousins. However weapons are extremely limited, upgrading them is absolutely asinine, and certain levels are worse than Blight Town. That’s saying a heck of a lot. While Dark Souls was the first game I played a lot, Demon’s Souls was a treat to experience with my friend’s PS3. I remember spending an hour getting nowhere at that first level, sputtering about like an infant while I struggled with the combat, and loving every moment. I’ll always remember Demon’s fondly, but as it compares to the rest of the series, I’ll always regard it as my least favorite.

Now Dark Souls II was a fantastic sequel to Dark Souls. And in its benifit, it was completely different than I, albeit a few aesthetic and design choices here and there that merely echoed the first game. Sure, when you examine the skeleton, that is gameplay, you will see many obvious similarities. Its a Souls game through and through, developed with the same goals and focusing, and in the same style. Yet the feeling was different. The way your character moved, for instance. You felt like you didn’t have as much control. Like the animations themselves lagged a second or two more than you felt they did in the first game. Back stabbing was a viable method that felt super sluggish compared to I, and parrying was worse. However, this was the first time I played a Souls game the day it was released, and as such it was the first time I got to experience the game’s community. Cooping, dueling, it was all there in spades, and connecting was like dropping a coin in a fountain comparing to Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, which seemingly barely worked. I will never forget certain sessions of cooping against the same boss over and over to level up, or dueling on that bridge in the Iron Keep where the guy upper-cutted me into the lava. I had so much fun experimenting with this game, finding my groove with strength builds while having fun with intelligence, faith, and dark magic builds. I still wish they didn’t completely destroy Faith’s viability, and I’m still somewhat disappointed that they nerfed my Moonlight Greatsword, but it was pure bliss to be along for the ride from the very beginning.

But the bosses suck. All of them. You may say hey, what about the DLC? That’s DLC and I’ll get to it later (you’ll see ( 😉 ), but come on! Not even those bosses can compare to what we see in Dark Souls and its DLC. Dark Souls III has better bosses, Bloodborne has better bosses. Even Demon’s Souls has better bosses. It seemed that the developers of Dark Souls II saw what people liked. The bosses that were, instead of large monsters taking up the entire screen, around your height with around your ability in terms of attack pattern and speed. That’s great. Not when it’s every boss. I love those giant, ridiculous bosses. They add scale to a battle! They make you feel accomplished when you finally destroy them! When you design a game with one idea in mind, you tend to make them feel similar, and Dark Souls II bosses all feel quite similar. I will always love the Pursuer, but even that boss fight was flawed. And then you fought him again! The final boss fight was pure bullshit. Not only did I have no idea why I was fighting her, but the fight itself is just boring dodging black magic and getting cursed over and over again. But it didn’t matter, because she was still easy as fuck to defeat. Bleh.

Bloodborne, on the other hand–that’s a game with fucking bosses! Holy shit. What I love most about Bloodborne is how disgusting everything is. With the theme being more about the body (its called BLOODBORNE after all), you would expect the focus to be more about body horror. But man, some of those bosses really get you. Not in a gross way. It’s disgusting in a good metal album cover way.

What I love most about Bloodborne was the way it transforms itself midway through the game. At first you’re fighting werewolves and, that’s alright, but then day becomes night and you’re staring down Lovecraftian monstrosities from shady cultish universities and inter dimensional Gods! Also, the weapons are so sick! You have a sword that your player stabs into a chunk of concrete, forming a hammer. You have another sword that stabs into its hilt which is actually just a bigger blade, making a greatsword. You have a stakedriver! Come on!

But then I beat the game by accident and got thrusted into new game plus whoops sorry

Dark Souls II Scholar of the First Sin was fucking incredible. OH WHAT’S THAT? YOU ALREADY RANKED DARK SOULS II, YOU SAY? HAHAHAHA IT’S MY BLOG BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH.

Scholar felt like such an improvement to me. And this is my experience, but I played all these games on console. Dark Souls II on PC was always a 60 fps experience with five second load times. On Xbox 360, that shit was 30 on a good day, with load times around 35 minutes. On PS4 and Xbone, which was the Scholar of the First Sin edition, you got 60 FPS and 5 second load times. It felt fucking incredible. Enough to make me love Dark Souls II way more than I already did.

Scholar released, which was a game of the year edition with unheard of benefits that no other game has really done. Instead of just giving you the vanilla game plus the three DLC’s, Scholar of the First Sin rebalanced the entire game to deliver a completely different experience. Enemies were in different numbers, were located in different places, and at times worked completely different. Items were shuffled to new locations making the player’s path through the game play differently. It was a real treat to play a game that was very familiar and see it changed as much as it was here. They added a ton of NPC invaders, they put in the lighting engine they intended to launch with, and they even made the Pursuer better! Instead of just two boss fights the mother fucker shows up like five times, sometimes emerging from the ground behind the player when they’re opening a chest. So good! Most of the bosses remained untouched, meaning they still sucked, but the changes they made make playing through Scholar so worth it. They improve the game, they make sense of what’s going on, and they offer a gameplay experience unheard of by completely subverting the expectations of those who have already played the game. I would say this game should always be played over original DSII, but the experience you have playing Scholar after playing vanilla DSII is something you shouldn’t miss.

Dark Souls will always have a place in my heart as being the first game in a long time that consumed me. My first nights with this thing left me thinking about it for days, and when I finally set out to beat it, it was an absolute obsession. Beating it was like nothing I’ve experienced. Usually when I beat games I just feel relieved to be done, because last levels are almost always annoyingly full of artificial difficulty. But playing Dark Souls was like a skill. Like playing an instrument. And beating it was like performing a solo during a grand symphony.

As I think back to the game itself I have confidence that I remember every inch of every level. I never went for an all items run. I never tried to speed run. But this was the game I played the most, at least until the sequel came out. I felt like a master, even though I clearly wasn’t. I couldn’t do a dex build to save my life. I was trash at PVP. I went through the whole game hallow to avoid being invaded. But what was imporant, was that I FELT like a master, merely because I beat it a few times.

That’s because every single thing that goes into this game is trying to make you feel like your task is unworldly, impossible, and that you should quit. There’s lore explaining why you play the game, and there’s lore explaining what happens to your character if you quit. At first, it’s all a mystery, because this lore isn’t crammed down your throat. You’re meant to ingest what little they give you a put the pieces together as though it were a puzzle.

And luckily for people like me YouTubers like EpicNameBro managed to do this for me. So I didn’t have to go through the effort of putting the puzzle together. I’m somewhat bad at puzzles. I’d probably still be here trying to put together the pieces. I am a child.

Dark Souls feels like my favorite. Dark Souls III feels like the best game in the series. It’s a game where the developers, after many iterations and sequels, took the best aspects and mashed them together. And it works. Beyond that, the detail is outstanding. There are several treasures in the game that are just alluring skulls, and the way you pick them up always leads to the player getting ambushed by enemies. I love details like this. You spent the entire series luring enemies with these skulls, and now the world itself is getting smarter, luring you into traps for a change. It’s an engine that feels evolved. With Dark Souls III I will get farther, faster. It’s a Jet. I love the comfort of Dark Souls I, and riding it feels like nostalgia at this point, but I can’t get to where I can with Dark Souls III this metaphor is shitty Dark Souls III also has great bosses, including one boss that kicked my ass enough to be called my favorite boss in the series. The references for some feel lazy, and cheap: yet for me I was constantly surprised when I learned of them, and when I experienced them. They managed to keep the game interesting in every location, making the goal more than just “let me best this area.” Rather, “let me see what comes next.” I can’t say that for just about any other video game I’ve experienced. I usually just take it in as it comes and react. Here I’m actually looking forward to where the game goes. What happens next?

  1. Dark Souls III
  2. Dark Souls
  3. Dark Souls II Scholar of the First Sin
  4. Bloodborne
  5. Dark Souls II
  6. Demon’s Souls

CONCLUSION AND SCORE

THE CONCLUSION HAPPENS NEXT SUCKA. As you can see by my scientific hierarchy of these video games, Dark Souls III is a must play game for any fan of the Souls games. As an outsider you might be a bit lost, but I feel that its a perfect entry to the series too. Just keep in mind that this game contains less flaws than the other games if you choose to continue and experience what this series has to offer. It’s something that shouldn’t be ignored. Just keep your wits and patience about you, and you’ll be in for one of the greatest experiences a video game series has to offer.

With all that jerkin’ off this game obviously achieves an outstandingly important and industry defining score of Wet Muddy Sock out of Ukulele Covered in Snakes.

{Insert image that I will never draw just picture it yourself you lazy fuckers}

May 19, 2016

Ukulele Snake Sir of Boy

 

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4 thoughts on “Dark Souls III. “Embered Corpse.” A Review.

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