Roll the die
The constant gamble is magnified by the game's fragile economy. Soul points are carried over from Demon's Souls as the game's only currency, driving everything from levelling-up to purchasing consumables. Die, however, and all your hard-earned soul points are deposited at the scene of death. Fail to reach the exact same spot with your subsequent life and you'll lose them forever.
It's a system which instils an increasing sense of vulnerability the farther you venture from a bonfire, but it's also one that allows for some essential farming, as you learn to exploit gauntlet runs between bonfires to harvest souls.
Shine on the shrine
While farming outstrips the difficulty curve in other RPGs, here it's vital just to keep pace with the exponential difficulty. As is discovering some of the many powerful items hidden around the world, such as magic weapons and rings. But even here, Dark Souls stays true to its exacting philosophy, demanding studious observation of the environment to scour for illusory walls, hidden paths and hard-to-reach areas.
There's little to guide your quest, too. Firelink Shrine works as a hub to connect Lodran's many lands, but it's a very different place from Demon's Souls' Nexus. It's populated with enemies, for a start. And there are no gateways or loading screens. Instead, you move seamlessly between lands with no world numbers to signpost the challenge ahead. So while you might be able to reach a new land through Firelink Shrine, death is the only indicator whether you're ready to.
Don't look at the mantlepiece when stoking the fire
It's typical of the game's pervading reticence. There's little narrative to accompany your adventure, just a scant, opaque exposition casting you as the chosen one to make an undead pilgrimage to the land of Dark Lords. NPCs rarely offer anything in the way of elucidation, either - you're far more likely to receive their sneering derision than any odd titbit of guidance. And there are no maps, quest logs or objective markers to aid you.
Instead, Demon's Souls' revolutionary online features return to temper - or indeed, exacerbate - the formidable test. The messaging system remains an ambivalent tool for benevolent, malevolent or downright humorous use, but, in a heart-warming show of solidarity, it's cheering to see the vast majority of players continue use it altruistically.
Statue of misery
And for the truly hardcore Souls' players, the esoteric summoning and invading options return to provide co-operative and competitive play.
Dark Souls is the most difficult game of this generation and, outside of the high-score games of yesteryear, probably one of the most difficult of all time. It's also one of the greatest too. The relentless difficulty will deter most, and many will fall along the way. But while few games demand as much from their players, even fewer reward them so spectacularly. ®
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Ico & Shadow of the
|F1 2011||Gears of War 3|
based on this review
I'm going to give this one a miss. I'm a huge RPG fan (JRPG fan), but prefer party based games. I play RPG's for their story, not the challenge they pose. my personal view is that an RPG shouldn't be extremely hard to play, there should be plenty of stuff outside the main storyline to make things hard/almost impossible. I also feel like too much is being done to renew the genre, while for most fans it doesn't really need renewing at all, but that's a personal thing.
Demon's Souls was great
and Dark Souls is even better. A very welcome respite from brown worlds full of waist-high walls to "cover" behind and regenerating health.
Difficult is a good thing, sometimes, and boy this game is hard and unforgiving. It's genuinely scary in parts, frustrating in others, beautiful in some, yet the sense of satisfaction when you finally trounce that giant, unspeakably dangerous boss is something I haven't felt since the days of Doom (Demon's Souls notwithstanding.) The feeling from finally ringing the bell in the Upper Gargoyle Church, looking out over the glorious landscape with soft light from the permanently-setting sun above, was a mixture of intense relief at having made it, and immense foreboding at having to fight my way back down again, and then on into The Depths where things were no doubt orders of magnitude more horrific and dangerous. Utterly brilliant. Moments like that are so rare in gaming these days.
The lack of pause button or save/load - the game saves constantly, so you can never use the "save here, try X, reload if it doesn't work" tactic - just adds to the already massive tension.
I'm going to call it - even before I've played Skyrim which I'm looking forward to hugely - Dark Souls is my "Game of the Year 2011"
Don't let the difficulty put you off - it is usually your own fault you died for the nth time. You just have to take a defensive, strategic stance, rather than stride in swinging-like-it's-Golden-Axe.
But you'll still die. And yet keep coming back for another go.
Can't help you on the story though - DS has a minimal plot as far as I can tell so far. I do like the setting, characters and atmosphere however. It's very european in that sense, which is a relief having grown tired of the usual JRPG guff.
Small tip for you, Not Again... Don't bother taking on the skeletons if you're still too weak. There's plenty left to do in Undead Burg. Follow this video for an early farming opportunity (it yields 300 soul points each time) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbKZz-d8xvs. Then spend the soul points with the Undead Burg merchant on a Short Bow and Large Arrows (Crossbow won't do). Depending which class you are (I was a Sorcerer), you might also need to boost your Dexterity to wield the bow.
Once you can wield the bow and arrow, head back to the Dragon bridge and snipe the Dragon's tail (takes about 20 shots) to collect the Dragon Sword. It's the most powerful single-handed early weapon you can get your hands on, and is relatively easy to wield for all classes.
That should give you a real head start...
based on this review
I might actually consider it.
Finally a game which is as abominably difficult to win as Nethack.
I recently had a funny dialogue with my wife about Nethack: "Q:How long have you played it? A: 20+ years. Q: Have you won: A: No Q: Why do you play?"
Well, the answer is - for the sheer perversity and variety of the ways in which the game kills ya. This one sounds like close enough to warrant some attention :)