One of the hardest game they say, you will die a lot they say. And guess what, they are fucking right! And guess what again, I actually love it!! If you have not heard of the Souls Series from From Software before, it is an RPG game in medieval world where everything can kill you easily. The game has a difficulty that is way above the average RPG game, even compared to The Witcher series. I have played the Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls 1 and this review will be covering the game and my personal comparison to its predecessor.
(this review is written with excessive care to avoid revealing spoilers, but some minor spoilers may still appear in order to review this game fully)
The lore of Souls series has always been vague and is told through unconventional ways. You will have to spend most of the time reading item description, looking around the maps and talking to NPCs. Dark Souls 3 follows the same formula, but basically it’s about the Dying of Flame and the need for us to find the Lord of Cinders, those that have linked the Flame in the past, to their thrones to continue burning the Flame for next generation. Somehow, you are tasked with this job as something brought you back to life, not as Undead but as Unkindled. You are the hero that will save the world, but you will have to go through a tremendously tough trial along the way. There are also numerous small details or references to Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls if you know where to find them. Everything is linked in this game with its predecessors. I will say that Lothric is a place trapped between time, connecting the past, present and perhaps the future of the Souls series.
Dark Souls 3 is an action RPG game where you move your avatar in real time. Battles also happen in real time unlike Final Fantasy type. It is more akin to Kingdom Hearts style but with more realism input in the battle mechanics. As usual in RPG game, you will have a weapon, a shield, items and other skills available to fight the abundance of enemies that try to kill you. However, the game prioritises timing of attack and defend, as one wrong move might and WILL cause you your life and going back to the starting point. You can hold weapons in both hands to have slightly different movesets and some Weapon Skills take advantage of this. Weapon Skills are a pre-determined skill listed under the Shield or Weapon’s item description that will cost a bar of your FP (the blue coloured bar in between Red and Green on top left of the UI). Dark Souls 3 has included a couple of different Weapon Skills that give way to interesting playstyle and encourage players to experiment. You have a Health Bar (Red coloured bar) and Stamina Bar (Green coloured bar), which act as your Health Point and amount of actions you can deploy in one run respectively.
There are not much tutorials provided other than basic controls, but if you are playing online, there might be useful messages left behind by other fellow players that give a useful hint or tip. Dark Souls 3 does not care about you at all, and all of the hints to your next stop or mission has to be discovered by yourself. Oh yeah, this is a badass game that really wants you to be independent and use your own brainpower to play through. In fact, the first ‘tutorial’ boss you face is more akin to Mid Game Boss in other RPG games.
Also, you will be able to die from falling in this game. The maps are filled with danger points that you might fall, either from the cliffside, a high tower or just a hidden hole, so DO make your way through carefully by examining your surrounding closely. Dark Souls 3 will always include subtle hints of any dangers ahead, or you can just read from other players’ messages.
Finally, parrying and backstabbing are one of the key techniques to play through the game. Both of them will inflict heavy damage to enemies when they are done correctly. However, both are also comparatively more difficult to achieve than past Soul games. Parrying can be done using a shield or weapon with the ‘Parry’ Weapon Skill. You have to use the Weapon Skill at the same time before the enemy’s normal attack hit you. Take note that strong attack from enemy or Boss’s special attacks cannot be parried.
Enemies…they are horrible…and range from a small size to one as big as a tower. They have one thing in common: They can kill you pretty easily…if you are not prepared. Trust me, I have even died from enemies horde from the early levels even when my level and equipment are pretty high. Usually in other games, the higher level or better you equipment you possess will guarantee easy fights with earlier enemies. Not so in Dark Souls 3, heck, even a small horde of the weak Undead will kill you pretty easily if you are cornered or have underestimated them. The only thing that proves to be a difference between low and high level characters is the increase in weapon prowess. I find that killing early level enemies become easier but your defend seems to stay almost the same unless you have a badass shield or armour. The hits from the enemies still hurt you quite a bit if you keep sustaining attacks from them. For the Boss, just get rekt for first try, and some will even be able to kill you in two swipes.
Well, enough of the badmouthing of the enemies and I am proud to say that some enemies you face look really cool or horrific. Dark Souls 3 boast many different enemies with different skills and movesets. You will fight Undead, then Dragons then Giant Crabs and then unknown strangers from somewhere. There are just many different varieties to be fought against and you will always be fascinated by new enemy discoveries. Interestingly, all of them are tied to the story and will provide some subtle hints to the lore of the game or of the immediate environment. They are there for a reason, and you can spend time linking them to any events that have happened in the area. For the couple of Bosses you will face, some of them will look so badass and awesome, while some will send you shiver as you watch them unleashing deadly skills at you. To me, those badass-looking Bosses give very memorable battles and I shall remember them till the end.
Defeating them will grant you the best reward in a game: Satisfaction. (This is priceless)
I am playing the game on PC with a pretty respectable graphic card and I must say, Dark Souls 3 does have pretty graphic. It will vary if you play on consoles or have a beefier spec than mine, but rest assure the world of Dark Souls 3 is rendered beautifully, much better and more detailed than previous games. It may not be able to compete with Crysis series, but it more than made it up with the massive amount of details in the environment. If you stop and observe your surroundings, there are small details on the ground, the wall, or even the foliage. Small candles, statues and tombstone are rendered individually and Dark Souls 3 made use of them to tell us the lore. Yes, the environment often contains subtle objects or scars from the past that reveal just a bit of the background lore to you, if you observe them well enough. Periodically, I will use the binoculars or the bow to zoom in on some parts of the area just to observe and appreciate the amount of work that goes to creating them. This might perhaps explain why the game will require powerful graphic card to handle all of these in respectable resolution and frame rate.
Along the way, you will encounter several NPCs that will help you in certain quest or to sell you something. They also provide some quests for you to help out such as finding someone or killing someone. This quest are not stated specifically in the menu and you will have to complete them without any directions given by the game. The game does not remember the quest or mark them like in other RPGs. This proves to be a difficult ordeal for me as I have to remember what to do or where to go for each quest that may happen at the same time. So…you can either write them down…or google it.
There are several covenants that you can join. Most of these require you to meet someone in a particular place. They are pretty easy to find, though some are hidden in big maps and you will have to search each area thoroughly. Covenants are used in Multiplayer, which will be covered in the next section.
Some NPCs is tied to a covenant and may interfere with other quests if your covenant is in conflict with theirs. If this happens, normally there will be a fight that breaks out. Oh well, it is a cruel world after all, so do not be sad if your favourite NPC starts to attack you after you have grown attachment to them. This feels like Game of Throne game now 0.0
Most of the time, there will be no music in the game, and only natural sounds, footsteps or enemies howl can be heard. There are, however, some memorable musics, especially in special area or during Boss Fights.
Firelink Shrine has two different background musics depending on the events that have occurred in-game. The first one makes the place like a Holy Place filled with Mystery and a certain sadness behind the empty thrones. The second one, you will have to play the game to find out yourself or there will be too much unintended spoilers.
Boss Fights musics are epic. They will make the battle seems more intense and the Boss looks powerful with some Massive Choir Vocals track in some of them. Some of the Bosses will have a certain emotion invoked in their battle music that give sense to the nature of the fight. You might be fighting a Boss, but you may not know of their sufferings, and the music provides certain clue to this aspect. All in all, the few musics that are in the game gave us memorable and superb battle moments and the grandeur of the Bosses themselves.
Aside from the PvE, Dark Souls 3 also boasts a respectable PvP system. This is where you will face the ‘real’ Bosses: other players. The multiplayer is a place where your skills will be tested and every single move you make counts. There are two types of way to join multiplayer.
The first type is to be summoned as allies or to summon allies into your world. This works by planting your own summoning sign through an item and finding others’ summoning signs respectively. This is where I spend most of my multiplayers in and the most common type in Dark Souls 3. You can also input passwords to play with friends that you know if you don’t fancy playing with strangers. This type of multiplayer is very useful if you want to collect souls, embers or fighting difficult bosses. I have played my first playthrough with my juniors that are experienced in this game and they showed me where to go and told me what to do for side-quests and getting rare items etc. They will also help you fight any invaders that dare to kill you. ( A shout out to Kyou and Heshbruwn for their wonderful help! :D)
The second multiplayer is you playing as Invader, becoming a Red Phantom to fight other players in their world. In their world, your estus flask is reduced to half, but if you defeat the host, you will be rewarded with souls and be Embered! Sometimes there will be honourable fights which is 1 on 1 while in others you will be gang-banged. To be able to invade, you will need to find certain items that can be found in enemies or from an NPC from a certain covenant (hint!).
Dark Souls 3 is a tremendously fun game to play if you like finding out the lore through subtle means and also to experience difficult yet satisfying fights. The world that you will explore in is packed with details and with multiple varieties of enemies, weapons, NPCs and items. The world of Lothric is perhaps a cruel and sad existence, but you will find Hope among the sufferings and maintain the perseverance through the limitless number of Deaths. The Boss fights are awesome and multiplayers are equally fun and challenging. This is, hands down, the best Dark Souls game for me, as it improves and take inspirations from its predecessors and also reference the lore to them. Dark Souls 3 will also, perhaps, mark the end to the Soul series and I will claim that it serves as the best ending that a game series could have. Get this game if you want to get the feeling of satisfaction after a hard fought battle that have been slowly lost in recent RPG games.
For the experience that it gave me, I would give it 9/10!
Categories: Games Review