As with every year, I try to play games during the month of October that have a theme/setting/mood related to Halloween. In October of 2011 I played Demon’s Souls for the first time along with my annual playing of Splatterhouse on the PC Engine. This year is very similar to 2011 in that I have played through Demon’s Souls’ successor, Dark Souls in addition to Splatterhouse. I was going to do one of my Review Quickies for Dark Souls, but when I read through the one I did two years ago for Demon’s Souls, I realized the one for Dark Souls would be virtually the same. All the same pluses and minuses and reasons I loved Demon’s Souls are true for Dark Souls. So because of that I will talk about Dark Souls only touching on the things I feel need to be said that are new things.
In spite of technically being a new intellectual property between Namco Bandai and From Software since Sony decided to drop the ball with Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls clearly stays so close to the what was established with Demon’s Souls as to practically beg a lawsuit attempt. Of course, From created from scratch again anything that would infringe and came up with one-hundred percent awesome all over again and everything that could be kept was, from the feel of the gameplay, to the opaque was the story/lore was dolled out, to the lack of detailed information about a lot of things. Hopefully that last one will finally be made far less of a problem with Dark Souls II. The two biggest additions this time around is the open-world structure and the covenants. I found neither of these things really added much to the game. All the open-world structure manages to do is get you to waste a lot of time getting from place to place. I did enjoy it for how the entirety of Lordran fit together, but wasting time running through places you’ve already finished just to get to a new place was a bit annoying. Revisiting areas is fine and so is the open-world structure so long as you have a fast travel option to places you’ve already been. You do get the ability to warp after obtaining the Lordvessel, but that’s so late in the game that it gets very little use. Same can be said for finally getting the Rite of Kindling, except this one I never used. Luckily the warping to bonfires you’ve already visited will be something you can do from the very beginning of the game in Dark Souls II, according to director Yui Tanimura. The covenants are completely optional and you do not have to join any of them if you don’t want to. That can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. I found I liked that they were completely optional, but then they’re also a really interesting aspect to the game that you’d completely miss out on if you didn’t try at least one out. The covenants are supposedly going to be a much bigger thing in Dark Souls II, but I don’t know what that means exactly. I’m kind of expecting them to be a thing you’ll be far more compelled to experiment with in the upcoming sequel. The most interesting one was the Forest Hunter covenant. In this covenant you can be summoned from anywhere in the world of Lordran at any time to the Darkroot Garden to defend it against other players trying to make their way through it. The Blade of the Darkmoon covenant is also really cool in that you can invade other players’ games in order to punish them for sinning. An example of a sin in Dark Souls is if you betray a covenant you have joined by killing one of the NPCs that’s apart of it. Covenants are a really cool idea that looks to be expanded upon in Dark Souls II and it’ll be interesting to see how.
You might be wondering what build did I play my character as throughout the game. Unlike in Demon’s Souls where I played a sorcerer build that was about casting magic spells and miracles from distance with light armor and fast dodges. For Dark Souls I did the exact opposite and went for a melee build that was all about wielding huge weapons, clad in heavy armor, and hitting like a truck! The main stats I focused on were strength, endurance, and vitality. I put a few points into dexterity early on because I needed to, but after that any more was unnecessary. Because of this build I pretty much “tanked” all of the bosses by getting up in their faces and slapping them around with huge axes, hammers, and halberds. I still had to be smart and keep my shield up while looking for the time and place to strike. This is From’s Souls series after all.
Just like with Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls is a phenomenal game in every sense of the word. These games can be hard to like at first, but if you give it the time to grow on you, you just might find yourself falling in love with these games much more than almost anything else you’ve ever played.
Veni, vidi, vici! (for the second time)
RATING: 6 out of 6 / 10 out of 10