You’d think that the most immersive game world would be the most fantastic, the most beautiful, and the most addictive. But often it is not the beautiful worlds and perfect scenery that capture and sell a game. Some games, much like Dark Souls are in no way perfect but capture you in that world. You feel life. You feel death. You feel cows. Well maybe not cows but it certainly drags you into the game like nothing else.
Even when you are away from the game of a night, because you are tired of death and misery, a feeling that you should actually be playing Dark Souls emerges. It then grips you and makes you obsessed. You HAVE to get past these enemies. You HAVE to beat that boss. Just as you finish a level you have feel that you must return to the dangerous world and play it again.
It gets under your skin like nothing else you will ever experience. I couldn’t leave it alone. In the course of a week I spent over 30 hours on it. I didn’t even know I had 30 hours of spare time to spend! Sometimes you just put the controller on the floor and walk away for 20 minutes because it is so hard but no matter the fury you had at it when you left it will be gone and you will be back playing Dark Souls within half an hour, still dying at the same point but perseverance will serve you well and you will finally get past your obstacle, however big and however deadly.
Dark Souls, unlike it’s spiritual predecessor Demon Souls, is very varied in the choices you make and the things you can do. Most of the game shows multiple paths you can choose, but some will be locked to you and some will show you nothing but death. There is a slight amount of trial and error, as some paths can take a lot of time to go along or hold the deadliest enemies along them but some reduce time spent travelling significantly and can help you avoid hordes of enemies that could pose a threat.
The enemy archetypes are varied. Early on you will only be facing zombielike creatures which are easy to take down and only vary in weapons and shields. Don’t get too relaxed though, they can still be tough if you don’t think about the combat and what you are doing. The game forces you to be awake and ready at all times. Every single second you are open to ambush and it really makes you feel like you are vulnerable no matter where you are.
My first experience of the game was not having a clue what everything was. Attacks got to be a button right? Wrong. Being completely inexperienced at RPG’s like this may have been a setback now that I look at it. I journeyed on, not dying for the first half-hour I had played the game. I was as pleased as punch, I thought that this game was really hard. I had conquered a boss with little difficulty and was making great progress. That was until I chose the wrong path. At first I thought I had hit the jackpot, treasure chests all around me, loads of goods I plundered.
There wasn’t an obvious exit in the form of a door so I took a small jump that didn’t hurt my health. What I happened to leap into, unbeknownst to me was a graveyard. No biggie I thought. It’s not like there will be skeletons rising from the ground. Next thing I know there were skeletons rising from the ground. I really should’ve guessed, what with it being a graveyard. I hit one of the skeletons with my sword and discovered it had little health and I knocked half of its body off. Easy. Too easy. And sure enough it was. The skeleton just rose again at full health. It was obvious that I would not defeat 1 bony assailant, let alone 2 I tried running. Through the graveyard. I couldn’t help feeling like an absolute idiot as I picked up about 20 skeletons who were now chasing me and to make problems worse there were now really big ones with weapons. Running wasn’t an option but death was.
I then knew not to go that way. That is a prime example of how Dark Souls gives you a boot in the arse for going the wrong direction and teaches you to be very wary at all times. From that moment in the game onwards I always checked my back, always made sure I was not wandering down the path of certain death and I must say it is fantastic. There is a thrill every time you defeat a boss, or do something smart, or go the right way. It makes you glad to be alive. And glad to be dead.
I would recommend Dark Souls to only the most dedicated players. It is a trek that will have you mad but gives a challenge that just no other game does. This in an absolute gem of a game from Namco Bandai and even if it has flaws you are too busy shouting to see them.