Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Tested on: Xbox One
Dark Souls III – Review
After finally recovering from Dark Souls II, the ragefest that caused many controllers to fly through the air, eulogies for fallen monitors and straightjackets for those who are still shivering in despair, it’s finally time for the third installment of Dark Souls. Even though the second game was already ported to the current generation of consoles, Dark Souls III finally shows us what a next generation Dark Souls game looks like (and should look like). We decided to toss our frustrations aside, say a few prayers and prepared to die, a lot. While this game certainly looked like the previous games, mechanics wise, we were surprised to see that everything was smoothened out.
As was the case with the previous games you’ll have to make do with a rather short intro cinematic where you’ll learn that the Lords of Cinder have awakened once more to cause a constant state of decline for Lothric, the area you find yourself in. If nothing is done, it seems the end of the world might just be around the corner, and that’s where you come in, one of the accursed ones, who will have to take up the fight with the Lords of Cinder. The game slowly grants you a bit more information as you go, and the lore tends to be rather impressive, but these are things you’ll have to find for yourself, either in-game or online.
Just like the previous games, the atmosphere is set not only by the rather vague introduction story, but mainly thanks to the environments and the difficulty and constant adrenaline rush. You won’t need a very elaborate story in order to enjoy the ‘Dark Souls’ experience.
Compared to the port of Dark Souls II to the Xbox One and PS4, Dark Souls III showed progress by leaps and bounds, truly showing what the current generation of consoles is capable of. While arguably games like Quantum Leap stretch the potential of our consoles even more, the giant open world in Dark Souls III is a lot more to process than Microsoft’s latest exclusive title. That being said, the developers clearly amped up the detail level when it comes to your character, the enemies and the beautiful, yet grim, environments that surround it all. The world itself feels more vibrant and has more sights to behold, while it also seems there are more critters that roam around the place, both good and evil.
The character creation offers a lot of possibilities when it comes to creating a character, but it also shows that, because of the many options a bit of the quality has gone down the drain. The facial features of your character and the rest of the adjustable settings feel a bit lacking in quality compared to pretty much all the rest the game throws at you.
Classical yet ‘epic’ music accompanies all the assault and battery that goes on, on the screen at all times. While most tracks have a rather lonely and eerie feeling, the suspense kicks in at all the right moments, making sure you’ll get that adrenaline rush, be it a welcome one or one that distracts you from the battle at hand. The music and the many gut slashing SFX set the proper tone and atmosphere for you to dive into this very grim and dark world.
Like its predecessors, Dark Souls III is an action RPG at its core and a polished one at that. This means you’ll be running around exploring the lands of Lothric in order to find all the Lords of Cinder and put them to their graves once again. You’ll be hacking, slashing, dying and ultimately learning from your enemies in order to overcome whatever’s thrown at you.
Just like the previous games, you’re thrown into the wide world, after choosing which character you want to play with. If you’re like many other RPG fans, the character creation might take some time, as you can customize a lot of features that will grant you the chance to create a truly unique character. This game also offers more classes compared to the previous iterations, allowing a bit more freedom when it comes to your personal playstyle. If you’re new to the genre, a knight or warrior might be the easiest to start off with, as the other characters have a lot less health, and learning the basics of dodging, parrying and other combat skills tends to take some time.
The world in Dark Souls III is fairly open, but you’ll have to unlock new segments one at the time, after beating bosses. These bosses will take the most out of you, but compared to Dark Souls II, this title allows you to farm monsters over and over again, earning enough souls, which you can use to level up. In Dark Souls II, the monsters stopped respawning after being killed a fixed amount of times, whereas in Dark Souls III, they keep on coming, which has its advantages, but also disadvantages if you were thinking of clearing a path to a boss, in order to arrive with full health. All of that being said, even though the world might only be ‘semi-open’, you’ll notice that the segments you unlock have a lot of side roads to explore, granting the explorers among us a lot more freedom compared to the previous title.
In the previous installment, the consequences of dying were quite harsh, as your HP bar slowly degenerated after each death. It could only be unlocked to its full potential after using a ‘rare’ item. This punishment has been removed completely from this title, making sure that dying has less consequences, except for being able to lose the souls you’ve gathered up until that point. If you’re not able to recover them from the place you just died, before your next death, they are lost forever.
Smoothness seems to have been one of the developers’ main concerns for this third game, as the clunkyness of the second game feels like an afterthought right about now. That being said, the game still registers all the commands you make, thus if you’re a button basher, you will not like the fact that if you press your attack button three times that your character will perform those three attacks, even if you’d rather dodge or block after the second attack happened. This is another part of what makes Dark Souls what it is, as you’ll have to think about the moves you’ll make before you actually make them.
You’ll find more than enough to do and while certain weapons work better than others, you’ll notice that the game encourages players to pursue their own play styles, even though caution is still one of the key elements of the game. Explorers will find more useful items than those who simply pass through every portion of the levels like a rampaging storm, especially if you’re looking for upgrades for your weapons and healing items.
Of course online competitive and cooperative play are still important in Dark Souls III as you can summon friendly spirits to aid you, but there’s also the constant threat an evil spirit invades your world and wants to use you as a practice dummy. The game has matchmaking, which makes sure your enemy isn’t truly overpowered, but if you’re unlucky, you’ll find yourself battling a skilled player with better gear than yourself. That being said, there’s always the option to sprint the hell away when you see the invader.
Truth be told, the game still upholds its image of being part of a series that truly offers the players a challenge, it feels as if this one has been made a tad easier. Perhaps it’s due to removing the restrictions of the second game, or smoothening out the mechanics, it feels like you’re simply making progress faster, compared to the older titles.
Dark Souls III shows us what this series is capable of when the wrinkles of the previous iterations have been ironed out. Outside of the fact that people who don’t like a challenge better steer clear of this game, there isn’t that much negative to say about this game. If you’re looking for a challenge in a grim fairytale environment, all while chopping decayed enemies into bite-sized chunks, while trying out bigger and bigger weapons, all we can say is: go nuts.