I'm always telling my friends about how I finish games so easily. Even while playing on the hardest setting most games I grab are done for in a few days or even with in a few hours.
I heard so much about the Unlocked hard-mode for Dead Space 2 only to shred through it over a weekend. I'm a beast in Doom3 and pride my self at pwning the shit out of that game on Nightmare.
Well yesterday I got my hands on Dark Souls for the ps3 and very quickly the phrase "Be careful what you wish for" burned into my head.
Dark Souls is out to punish you.
It's out to punish you for the slob you have become at the hands of all these games where you gawk at the shiny visuals, and grand cinematic while parading carefree through a game world that's ready to bow down and make you it's hero.
Dark Souls is out to make you it's bitch.
Dark Souls starts off very low key. It does have a grand opening video that explains the events that leads to the start of the game, which involves old Dragon lords, witches, betrayal and then all of humanity being turned undead.
You start off in a cell when a stranger throws down a body through the roof, that comes with a broken sword and a key to your cell. The two of you share a glance and then you proceed with your adventure.
The only short comings I had with Dark Souls happened right at the beining. The character customization is a joke, they really should have just gone with the Diablo thing and given you the different classes, and not bother with the face creation and such. Cause you basically just go through a bunch of shitty looking presets, and by the end of it I had created the ugliest son of a bitch I've ever played in an RPG. No wonder they never show you any faces in any of the trailers, cause you look like a poofta. But luckily I have my helmet.
The rest of you looks great though, your amour and movement animation is farkin sweet...
The second thing for me was the controls, but this just might be for me. I had to get used to the attack buttons being shoulder buttons and not the X or the O and such. But all this is bullshit because by the end of the very brief tutorial you're running around slashing shit like a pro.
so you think...
You feel pro until you leave the tutorial area and come toe to toe with YOUR FIRST FARKIN BOSS!
Just as the farker came tearing through the wall I saw a message on the floor that read: RUN!
And I did...
That's one of my immediate favorite things about the Dark Souls, the messages. If you're online then all through out the game you come across messages left by other players. This sort of gives you the feeling that though you're in above your head, another adventurer hasgone through here and been through the same shit you're about to face. You get things like "Nice view" when you're on top a high tower or "try luring out" and my personal fave "Good luck!"
Another cool feature is seeing other players 'Blood stains." Activating these will play the last 10sec of that players life... showing you exactly how he or she met their death. As you play sometimes you even get hints of these plays as they manifest in a shade like form and pass by you for a brief moment.
In the game your main currency is Souls. Souls are used for everything from leveling up stats to buying items. When you die you leave these souls in a blood smear that marks the spot you died. You resurrect at the nearest bonfire that you've lit. You light bonfires to act as sort of check points through out the game. Sitting at them also allows you to allocate souls to raise stats and such thus allowing you to level up. there's a cool feeling when you approach a bonfire and see other players gathered around it too. And you can't help but wonder what shit these guys are facing. Next to one such bonfire I saw a message that read "I can't take this any more."
There are two kinds of souls you can get in Dark Souls. The most common is the few you get from killing foes, the rare ones are souls that are trapped inside shards. You find these shards scattered here and there... what makes them special is that when you die you loose the souls on you if you don't make it back to your blood stain. But shards stay in your inventory waiting to be used for leveling.
I haven't been too far yet, I'm just at these ruins on top a mountain side... but the place looks amazing. Normally this kinda thing would be sweet because I love exploring, but the grand world of Dark Souls is a menacing place. You venture forth at your own risk. Everything that inhabits the world looks like they were snatched right out of a nightmare. Believe me when I say that around every corner, death is waiting.
There's also a strange sense of melancholy throughout the whole thing. In the way the NPCs talk, the tone of the music that fills the environments, and just the constant fear of risking everything for the rewards that might come. It grips you with despair that you feel you have to fight against to overcome.
Regardless of story or whatever else, you feel like you're constantly just trying to survive in this world. Picture perfect views and lavishly designed areas are simply the back drop to the eminent death that will strike you over and over. When you face something in anything other horror game, it means very little... you do it cause you're playing. In this game you actually feel ballsy when you explore and go up against things.
Combat in Dark Souls is farkin tight. You move with such precision and response that if you fail against an enemy it never gets frustrating, because you know that you missed that block or you didn't take a shot when the baddie was open for it.
I made it through two of the bosses on my first try... but my bane of last night was this one 'mini' boss that totally owned me for like 10 fights. It's not like if you die you start at the boss fight... you actually start all the way back at that bonfire you lit. With everything between you and boss back to give you hell. But the coolest thing was... that even though he pretty much two shot me the first time around, by the time we had our last fight I was dancing circles around him. Dodging hits, blocking blows and pretty much pwning him.
Never has the fear of dying been so firmly instilled me in any other game. In Dark Souls you are afraid of dying. To say that I love this game makes me feel like a sadist. Because this game is out to hurt me, and I love that pain. It expects me to man up and fight back not just to get by, but by learning real skills and applying them accordingly. That feeling I got last night when I lost my first large sum of souls, I can't remember a game that ripped my heart out so badly.
I've been engrossed by games before, namely Doom 3 and Dead Space... but nothing has ever sucked me in like Dark Souls. As far as roll playing goes... this game really puts you into your characters shoes. Cause you really fear for his or her well being. I really can't wait to go back home to survive it.
Dark Souls is brutal, unforgiving and possibly the greatest thing I've ever "played."
This is why I game...