The wait is over, another Dark Souls game enters the gaming arena takes a dignified bow and charges into combat. Bloodborne has thankfully heightened my skills to be more aggressive, to be more agile, to use parries to defeat my opponents and land critical strikes with the new and greatly improved combat system. I hold my duel sellswords tightly as each attack rends flesh from bone and the souls escape into my ever-growing bank to be used to gain equipment and more levels. Then it happens, the first of many, my character lets out a scream as he sinks to his knees. You Died fills the screen in red..
Dark Souls is a franchise that people either love or loath, it is one of the most challenging RPG games I’ve ever played and for me that’s the reason I love it. It’s not a casual, easy game and it doesn’t pamper gamers and wrap them up in a protective layer of saves, respawns and second chances. It spits in your face, kicks you to the ground, rubs salt in your wounds and laughs at you. If you can’t get past a certain area or boss then tough, you can summon help but it might not always come in the form you think it will. Becoming embered gives you more health and will allow you to interact with the multiplayer side of the game, sadly it allows players to invade your game or trick you in a multitude of ways.
The game runs on the same engine as Bloodborne and looks beautiful in a kind of macabre dark way, like falling in love but with a serial killer. Every now and then you can look up from combat and enjoy a stunning vista, a far away town, castle or citadel before you plow your sword, axe, spear or spell through an oppressive foe. Dark Souls 3 gameplay is the most fluid it’s ever been and due to Bloodborne not giving you a shield to hide behind, I picked a dexterity based fast-moving character for the first time and the new and improved engine handles it perfectly. Ranged combat is now a real thing unlike previous souls games it felt like a clunky mechanic used to draw enemies but in this, you can switch to your bow and get a few shots off before brandishing your swords for the killing blow.
As always it gives you vague directions spins you round a few times and sends you on your way like being given directions in a foreign country to a place you’ve never been to. Learning for yourself is half the fun while you gather up precious souls to spend on levelling up and equipment safe in the knowledge they can be taken away from you at any second. It’s sad to think that this will be the last ever Dark Souls game, as they’ve said their moving onto new projects.. maybe Bloodborne 2 or an entirely different concept all together. I still hope it’s as tough, rewarding and enjoyable like all the others because honestly they are in a league of games all on their own.
I also love that they give nods to the other games as you revisit old areas from the previous games, run into old friends in sadly whichever state you find them in and acquire armour and weapons that you’ve used before. Even holding them each with the same move sets brings back memory’s even if your current build or character can’t even wield them. It’s things like that, that make not only the game but the franchise a real masterpiece and a series of games that probably won’t touch you in a way a souls game can. It’s a mix of excitement, frustration, anger, relief and joy all coming together. It makes your heart race and if your stuck in an area or on a boss the sheer feeling of accomplishment you get from doing it isn’t a feeling you get in gaming very often.
For me this is everything I enjoy about gaming, a beautifully created RPG masterpiece that is tough, challenging and gives you some slight bragging rights at the same time. The game has come a very long way from its Demon Soul roots (which sadly I never got to play) but I still have my PS3 so might be something I’ll hunt down and play unless they’ve turned the servers off. I can easily score this game 10/10, I love the game and the franchise and cannot wait to see what the future holds with the series.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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