Dark Souls III Review
Oh Dark Souls, I had put you off for so many months, but there is only so long you can avoid it. Having been crushingly destroyed in the previous two games, Dark Souls III promised more of the same, so of course, I had to ‘git gud’ suck it up and finally dive in.
Any fans of the series will know that Dark Souls has some deep lore, and plenty of story for any lore fanatics. Dark Souls III carries on that same trend with an interesting plot line. Set in the Kingdom of Lothric, a bell has signaled that the First Flame that maintains the Age of Fire is about to go out. When the flame goes out, the Age of Dark will arise, and with it undead creatures. It’s plot is very much alike to the other games of the series, and will continue the in depth lore from those games too.
You don’t have to have played the previous titles to understand what is going on here, but it wouldn’t hurt to at least what happened in the last games so you can connect the dots when the plot expands in the third game, or maybe you encounter a few familiar faces/monsters here too. With all that being said, if you don’t actually care for the story of the game, then you can still get just as much enjoyment out of it by skipping the story all together.
Graphically, Dark Souls 3 is a powerhouse of a game. It looks absolutely stunning, the way the lighting adds to the atmosphere is truly one of key elements to how amazing it looks. I especially like the different armour sets which have their own models. It could have been quite easy to just reskin the sets to just different colours, and whilst some still look similar, they are certainly all unique if you pay enough attention. Your character looks extremely ominous when it’s decked out in Dark Knight armour with a huge ass sword over the shoulder. Even though it looks gorgeous, Dark Souls 3 isn’t a very taxing game for the PC either. I was able to play on 1440p with all of the settings turned up to max and was still achieving a silky smooth 60 FPS throughout the entire game. Even on scenes where there were more than a handful of enemies each casting spells and tons of special effects. Not once did I drop below the magic number.
Even though the game does look fantastic. I did still notice a few pretty low quality textures. They weren’t glaringly obvious, but on a few doors and entranceways the texture was very basic and did actually remove me from the immersion because of how out of place they looked compared to the rest of the scenery. These incidents were few and far between though.
The character animations are just as good as the rest of the visuals too. You can really feel the weight behind a swing of your weapon, and you can certainly feel the pain whenever you get knocked for ten by a boss flinging you across the room. It was the smaller animations that made up the bigger picture of a masterpiece on the visual front.
There isn’t much to say in the sound department. Voice acting is very limited throughout. Your character doesn’t once utter a word, and NPCs have limited lines too. Story is progressed through short conversations with NPCs but they don’t happen very often. It would have been nice to get a couple cut scenes thrown in here and there to flesh out the story for those that don’t want to go exploring for the extra lore on items, or on Wikis, but you get what you look for I guess. The rest of the sound effects are all high quality. Enemy sound effects, or moanings and groanings are nicely done, along with the effects your weapons make when clanging on walls and digging deep into enemy skin. Much like the animations, the sound effects really create extra atmosphere.
Dark Souls’ meat and potatoes is of course the game play. It’s well known throughout the industry that this game is absolutely hard as nails. So we’ll get it out there straight away. This game will eat you up, chew you up, and spit you out all in the space of a second. If you haven’t played the previous games (which you should by the way while we are on the topic) then you will probably go into Dark Souls with completely the wrong mindset. One thing that videogames have taught us throughout our time, is that being quick is the best. Wrong. Dark Souls thrives on those that try and quickly take our foes. The combat system is a very slow paced process. You need to take your time to plan out attacks, and watch your enemies movements, and their abilities before you pounce on yours. You enter melee range and BAM you get a hit, great! It’s at this point you need to consider your options. The way we have been tuned to react in this situation is to hit them again, but Dark Souls is a different kettle of fish. You need to backup, and reposition yourself before striking again. You need to take a slow methodical approach to things, or else enemies will recover from your small hit, and turn around and just eat you up.
Now, I am not the best at video games by any stretch, so I only managed to beat the game with the trusty wiki by my side the entire time. The completionist in me needs that, but just doing the bare basics of the game required it at times for me. Regular monsters you find wandering around the world are all mini bosses that pose a real threat to your. You will get beat by regular skeletons, and they will continuously beat your ass until you have figured out the correct way of passing. Bosses are exactly the same, but on a much bigger, grander scale. Watching YouTube tutorials, and reading guides will certainly help you a lot, but being able to execute what you know is an entirely different issue.
At the start of the game you get to choose a class, but you can swap around abilities once you start, so you aren’t locked into a character style based off a decision you make right at the beginning of the game. I really liked this aspect as in some games you figure out you have picked an absolute garbage class for your playstyle and have to re-roll your progress in order to re pick the correct class.
Taking down enemies and bosses will result in your collecting their souls. Souls are the game’s form of currency. However the currency can be used in a few ways. First, being used to purchase items from vendors and secondly, to improve your stats and level up your character. Taking down a regular skeleton may reward you with 200 souls, and taking out a huge boss will usually result in you earning 20k souls. Whenever you die, you will drop all of your souls, however you can go back to your place of death to collect them. This system is good, up until the point where you die going back to your corpse and you lose all your souls, because the last time you died…you had zero!
The game can be played with controller or keyboard/mouse. Definitely go for controller though. Whilst the keyboard and mouse do work out of the box without the need for third party mods, you will get a much better experience from using a controller though. I would almost go as far to say that you are at a disadvantage if you use keyboard and mouse.
If you haven’t played Dark Souls up until now because of the difficulty, then Dark Souls 3 still isn’t going to change that. It’s the tried and tested gameplay, with a few polished up features. It is by far the best game in the series, but it is only going to appeal to a certain demographic of gamer. Those who enjoy the test of increasingly difficult combat systems, a slow and methodical approach to progression and who don’t get frustrated easily will certainly have already played Dark Souls 3 by now, but if it’s sitting in your library and you have always wondered “Am I good enough?” Then the answer is almost certainly “No, you are not you absolute scrub” but you should still boot up Dark Souls 3 for an epic experience you cannot get anywhere else.