Praise the Sun!
Dark Souls is a series with challenging game play and a rich universe rife with story. Anyone who has even considered playing the series can attest to the first part of that statement. The latter, while true, takes a lot of work to realize.
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition was released in August of 2012, and contains the original Dark Souls base game as well as it’s DLC, Artorias and the Abyss. Here is where the fun all started (sorry Demons’ Souls fans, hindsight and nostalgia fuel your argument otherwise.) After a lore dump cinematic to start the game, giving you far more information than you originally think, but far less helpful information than you need, you the player are dumped into a prison for Undead while some unnamed NPC drops a corpse into your cell with the key.
That’s it. That’s basically all the story you’ll be given by the game. While you will meet many NPCs throughout the game that give you basic directions and marching orders, nobody comes up to tell you anything more about why you are doing what you are doing and if it is even a good idea.
If you want background information on the people and places you encounter, you will have to do a lore dive through item descriptions, nit-picking pieces of (alleged) facts from NPCs, or, more commonly, watch hours and hours of YouTube videos from the intense Souls’ community that did a lot more work than most would consider reasonable. (And do not think I’m knocking this. I’ve watched far more hours of these videos than I would care to admit. The lore and world building of Dark Souls is extremely addicting.)
Game play is where you will achieve your successes and, more often, failures. The world of Lordran is bound by rules. Fighting in it requires learning attack patterns, and when to attack or retreat. The whole time you are hoping nothing jumps you from behind. Boss fights are massive in scale, making you feel at times like an insignificant ant swatting at a giant. The presentation of the bosses can create a feeling of awe and dread at the same time. Awe at the majestic, if revolting, appearance of a lot of the creatures, dread at wondering how you will find the ability to slay such a monstrosity.
With as many weapons and spells available to you as there are, replaying the game to try a different approach and finding one you are good at is something that hooks players into a second, third, or more play through.
The first time might see you playing a standard hack-and-slash character, while the next one will have you flinging fireballs at everything. Diverse is a understatement when it comes to the weaponry of Dark Souls.
And while Dark Souls is primarily a single player affair, there are multiple ways to interact with the community. Orange messages can appear on the ground when some other player decides to leave a piece of advice (like ‘Try Jumping’ at a bottomless pit if they do not want to be helpful. Or ‘Try Fire’ near a boss with a fire weakness). You can also summon other players (or NPCs, if no players are available) at random locations to help with more difficult fights. The downside is that, to be able to do so, you have to leave yourself open to invasions, which are other players joining your world with the sole intent to kill you.
Overall, once you endure the learning curve of frustration that is often associated with Dark Souls, the game itself is highly entertaining. Extremely frustrating at times, daunting at others, but overall, definitely a game you can enjoy.
Justin enjoys most games. He is currently learning the ins and outs of competitive modern Magic while enjoying all sorts of other gaming mediums, assuming he can find the spare time.