Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition has me cursing these undead and this damnable mark, I have been branded and will soon turn hollow and lose my mind, attacking anyone that comes too close. Our world has truly gone down a clogged infected drain and the dead just refuses to stay down. It’s probably a good thing that they decided to lock me up in this stinking, moldy asylum; and the moans of the insipid prisoners never stop.
Dark Souls is an adventure in a dark and desolate fantasy world of sword and sorcery, where light is fading and monsters run rampant. A place where the player is literally thrown into the action after a short intro sequence. Aside from this, not much is told about the plot, but every now and then a piece is presented. Most of the story is told through the lore each weapon and armor have and the environment. The people you can talk to are not very helpful and could quite possibly be insane already…though sanity is for the weak.
The biggest draw and drawback is the combat, which is quite solid and very meaty. Each fight is a cruel test of limits, where a lot of the enemies have an uncanny ability to twist the attack in the middle of a blow and to hit you when rolling behind them. This tracking will be a make-and-break point for players along with the poorly optimized PC port. However, there is a fan patch that fixes the resolution. A gamepad is highly recommended. Another noteworthy issue is the lock on the camera, which often ends up looking up a creature’s butt as I roll under it, only to fall off a ledge. All over the world, there is a lot of loot and many unique weapons and spells to unlock, which means that there is a plethora of ways to play the game. So never let anyone tell you that you are playing the game wrong. Aside from the typical selection of stabbing, chopping, and crushing weapons, there are a lot of spells and some very unique weapons to get. This includes a spike and a wagon wheel that also doubles as a shield. Combat is deceptively simple. It’s all based on dodging, blocking, and reaction time, which means that if I took damage I did something wrong or got too impatient. There are no quick-time events (QTE), nor are there any interrupting cut scenes to throw me out of the immersion.
The truly unique mechanic that From Software brought to the table is the ability to invade random players’ games and try to kill them, or summon random strangers to help with bosses and hard areas. It is possible to see the ghost of another player’s final moment and write messages on the ground that others might see. However, a resource called humanity is needed to participate in the player interaction since the player character turns into a dried-out, undead corpse on death.
Enemies drop loot and souls. These souls work as an in-game currency for buying, upgrading, and leveling up, though that can only be done at a fireplace (which also functions as a checkpoint). Unfortunately, all of your souls and humanity are lost upon death, unless the player can return to the spot and reclaim the loot. There is also a fair share of achievements to get as well.
I’m not sure who said that Dark Souls is beautifully bleak, but it’s true. Everything is drab, tired, and full of dead things. The world looks very, run down and it works wonders. Each area is connected in a sensible manner, with unlockable shortcuts. Dense tunnels, claustrophobic crypts, smelly bogs, and sweeping vistas make this world breathtaking and a grand vision to behold. Every now and then there will be a message such as “Beware of beautiful view”, and with good reason.
The music does a wonderful job as well. It’s epic and fittingly dramatic. The player can do most of the places and bosses in any order, and some can be skipped altogether. The prepare-to-die edition is also for all the extra content, which is new areas, NPCs, and loot. Despite its flaws, I quite enjoy the game. But I can honestly say that this game is not for everyone. It’s hard, violent, rage-inducing, and addictive…and you will die a lot. Naturally, this game is not for young children, so be sure to check it out on Steam!
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