There was once a time where I wondered why there was so much hype and rave about Dark Souls, and the Souls series as a whole. I played it once I got the opportunity to, and then the charm took me over. The Souls charm won me by a landslide in comparison to any other game I have played to date.
The way the game is designed at its core seems to adhere to some of the most basic game design principles. It doesn’t go for any fancy gimmicks, instead the series focuses on solid combat, strategic/critical thinking and exploration. Perhaps due to the level of simplicity it possesses for a new player, but at the same time the complexities needed for veteran players was what won me over.
I first started with Dark Souls, then got Dark Souls II and finally had the opportunity to get Demon’s Souls recently. Playing a test run of Demon’s Souls to make sure it worked fine on my PS3, I was hit with instant nostalgia for Dark Souls. Keep in mind, I haven’t finished any of the Souls game yet. I’m more than halfway through for Dark Souls, but decided to put it down for a while as I felt I was getting a little burnt out on it. No fun in playing a game that feels like it is wearing you out.
I was in love with the series the moment I picked up the controller in Dark Souls. So many good co-op sessions, and epic boss fights even if they do follow a pattern that with enough attention and patience can become predictable. Not to mention the complexity of the world we transverse through, all of it culminates to a brilliant game and game design.
Now the Souls series would be nowhere near as good without it’s death mechanics. Every Souls game has seemed to changed the penalties for death somewhat in the past. But that feeling of dying remains the same in any game. There is a constant fear of loss when you first start out. You know that the more souls you carry, more is at stake. In some games, it limits your health lower than 100% as well. That fear of death can either paralyze you, or create a sense of adventure to keep on pushing forward.
But once you overcome that fear, so many options will open up to you in how you choose to play. You can be a lot more daring, or still play passively.
Let’s also not forget the character evolution in these games. You can start out as one particular class, but evolve the character into something else as you progress through the games. This level of freedom allows room for great experimentation.
Dark Souls III is going to release only on the current gen hardware (PS4, Xbox One & PC), sadly I won’t get the opportunity to play it. At least not right now, but when I do, I’ll savor every moment like I do with the rest. These games alongside Bloodborne are a necessary existence in the gaming industry, it shows other devs that there are still gamers out there who yearn to be challenged both mentally and skill wise when playing their games.
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