Prepare to Die...
If you’re looking for an uncompromising, brutal, challenging and rewarding game to buy...buy Dark Souls. Know this oh traveller, it hates you, Dark Souls hates you so much that it also loves you, because once you master the unique combat system and learn to respect the AI, you’ll find that beneath the sheer controller throwing frustration, there’s an addictive action RPG that rewards tactics far more than any other game, save for Demon's Souls it’s direct predecessor.
From Software has managed to produce yet another stunning trip into a fantasy world, that’s not full of clichés and most importantly – there are no tree hugging elves or beardy wizards in sight.Story
Dark Souls has a story, it has a plot, and it even has pretty impressive cut-scenes. What it doesn’t do, is spoon feed you that story or plot. Nothing gets in the way of the out and out action and exploration the game has to offer, it’s seamlessly presented and the flow of the story ripples at your pace as a player. Just know that you begin the game as an undead creature and this is the story of your redemption and so much more.Gameplay
That’s right; Dark Souls kills you right off the bat. You begin the game as an undead. Imprisoned in a dank and dangerous Undead Asylum, there is literally no hand-holding in this game. Read the manual, read the hints that are on the floor and the rest you need to learn for yourself. Fortunately there’s a pretty large and mostly helpful community out there in the lands of the net, who share their experiences and tactics as well as character builds for the game. There are advantages and disadvantages to being undead in Dark Souls, but we’ll cover that a little later on.
Dark Souls is built on a Gestalt Exploration system. You learn something from each death, you learn something from everywhere that you explore and most importantly unless you have a really good edge from playing the previous game, you will die a lot. It’s possible to die in the tutorial repeatedly; every enemy is a challenge, even later on if you’re not careful. You may scoff at some boring weedy undead armed with a small knife when you’re tromping around in plate mail, with a tower shield and a big sword.
Yet, even then you’d be wise to respect that little guy, because chances are he’ll have a few friends just waiting to say hello. If you get cornered in this game, you can be mobbed and suddenly you’re fighting for your life against overwhelming odds and you die. Unless you’re very skilled or extremely lucky, then you might slip out with a little health and your dignity intact.
The combat system is tactical and rewarding, you learn from your battles with the various minions and monsters in the game. You can block, you can roll and you can of course use a variety of attacks. The controls are simple, but mastering each nuance of the combat is not. There’s a stamina bar that depletes upon each strike, based on what you’re facing and the combination of stats from your created character – set by the class that you choose to begin the game as. Stamina is vital to remaining alive in Dark Souls, because everything you do drains it. Roll, stab, slice and block – all of those actions will eat that bar away and it will regenerate
If you have your shield raised, or if you’re blocking, it will come back slower.
It’s possible to wield a large variety of equipment in Dark Souls, from typical longswords, two handed swords, axes, spears and the like. To the various implements required to cast magic as the sorcerer or the Pyromancer class. You can wear the heaviest armour that you can find and stack up with a protective shield, creating a veritable tank of a character. Each kill nets you souls and can reward you with humanity, souls are a vital currency in the Dark Souls world, you will use them to buy from merchants, repair your weapons and equipment and most importantly level your character’s stats.
There are 10 classes in the game, from agile thieves to sturdy knights. Each one of these can be customised into something you truly desire as long as you’re willing to work at getting those souls. Want a magic using thief, simply get the souls, get the stats to use magic effectively and then you have just that class. Think of your class as the base from which you build your own survivor, putting points into the stats you really think matter.
Here’s a useful tip for anyone who plays the game. Upgrade Dex to 13, Strength to 16 and get a good chunk of Endurance to begin with. Dex lets you use the Short Bow and do a decent chunk of early damage with it, ranged combat will help against some of the enemies. Strength lets you wield a particularly powerful sword you can get with a little work early on. Endurance gives you the stamina required to run, block, dodge and most of all stay alive against bigger foes.