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VINE VOICEon October 5, 2011
"How many times did we die before you could actually hold this guide in your hands? 100 times? 1000 times? Who the hell knows. Chances are we died more times in this game than in all the other games of 2011 put together. And for what? For the sole purpose of offering you guidance. We died so you don't have to. But you're still going to die."

Thus opens the Future Press guide to Dark Souls. A guide that is honest about the game it's designed to cover. Plenty of games are either too easy, tell you everything you need to know or just plain give you the answers. Dark Souls isn't one of those games. It more or less lets you go at some point, making you learn everything on your own. In an era where online walkthroughs are everywhere strategy guides are mostly collector's items. Dark Souls, however, is a game where having a guide feels more beneficial than not. And it's actually a good guide by being more than just heavy handed set of instructions. There's a ton of info here that those who play Dark Souls will appreciate. This is an in depth guide that doesn't just go over the basics, but serves as an encyclopedia for the game. And it manages to be done in such a way it doesn't ruin the experience of the game if you don't want it to.

The guide opens up with the basis of the game system. It's a pretty in depth chapter that might be far more beneficial than it appears on the outset given how unusually thin the manual to the game itself is. It explains all the stats of the job classes at the start as well as showing all the equipment they begin with. Each stat is also explained in depth with the guide giving tips on just how to utilize and build them based on the class you may have chosen at the start. The guide makes no bones about the challenge the game can provide and does it's best to offer a good explanation of the strength and weakness of each class. It also jumps into the inventory and just what everything means. If you're looking for a good way to understand the complex systems of Dark Souls, this is a good place start.

It is the combat chapter that some may find rewarding. Much like the Game System Chapter it's a lot more indepth than just a set of instructions. While it only looks at some of the basics here, the goal is to get you acquainted with the combat mechanics of the game. There are more tips here including talking about status ailments and how to overcome them. It's actually a lot more in depth than it sounds. Anyone new to Dark Souls would probably do best to start within this chapter because this is where you'll learn the most about the combat you'll experience. You won't be lost without it, but seeing as how the game itself isn't going to explain everything to you, you might as well take a peak to understand what those symbols and such mean that you see on the screen from time to time. There's also a lot of explanation about the online interface.

After we get through all the basics of the games system as well as helping you understand the combat, the guide jumps into the enemy index. This is probably the meat and bones of the guide in and of itself. Getting through most of Dark Souls is really about knowing how to battle the enemies more so than where you'll need to go. The guide goes in order of the enemies you'll encounter. First showing you all the enemies in the Undead Asylum before moving onto to the Firelink Shrine, etc. Each enemy has tables that show you their stats, what they drop and if they respawn. There are also details of all the various attacks they perform and how to dodge each and everyone (or at least make them easier to deal with). They also detail the boss foes in the same manner. Showing you all their attacks, the damage they can do before providing a decent strategy for them. When it comes to defeating your enemies the guide is at its most helpful then. You're more apt to be using this portion of the guide rather than the walkthrough itself. It's also the longest chapter by far.

Once we get beyond the enemy data we finally dive into the walkthrough. It's a simple to use walkthrough. Each area begins with a set of maps. It uses the waypoint system where you see numbers on the map and then you must find the number in the text. The walkthrough is straightforward. Often times telling you what to expect around the corner and telling you what enemies you encounter. The waypoints serve to tell you what to expect at each location. Given how Dark Souls lets you roam around a lot it's not really a bad way to go. You shouldn't actually need help getting from point 1 to point 2. What some may find a little hectic at times is that you'll constantly be flipping from the walkthrough to the enemies list. Given how detailed the enemy data is I have no qualms with this. You're much more likely to be stuck at the games various bosses and enemy groups than you are getting to them. This makes the walkthrough pretty easy to follow... but make no mistake it's not WHY you should buy the guide. If anything the enemy guide is much more gratifying.

Beyond this we then get to the inventory. All the weapons and armor are listed first. It'll tell you a little about each weapon before giving you tables upon tables worth of info concerning each one. It's a decent reference. It does the same thing for armor as well. It'll then tell you all the things you need to know about magic and the basics items. This is pretty standard fare for any guide to RPGs in general.

When we get to all the extras the guide is once again extremely helpful. First the guide list out all the various NPCs you'll run across in the game. It'll also inform you of what specifically each NPC is there for. Need to know who will lift a curse? Or who you can buy from? The guide is more than willing to tell you. It then jumps into the games various sidequests. It'll give you the conditions you must meet to actually begin the quest and also provide tips and strategies. There are reference maps provided for each quests. It also details all the data for the various NPCs as well. A lot of this stuff is in depth and even this particular section has a lot for you to take in.

When we get beyond this the guide tells players a little bit about New Game+ and how the game changes. It also gives you some info on making your weapons better.

Very few game guides actually have a section dedicated to helping players obtain Achievements or Trophies. But the Dark Souls guide does. From the most basic achievements to the hardest ones to obtain. For some players, if every strategy guide had a section dedicated to achievements they'd probably be happier. This goes to show that there was actually quite a bit of effort put into the guide. And it's not a particularly small section either.

At the end of all this stuff... roughly 384 pages later... we finally have an index. In case, you know, you get lost or something when flipping through the guide. It's well organized overall, telling you just about everything you need to know and being constructed in such a way that it's good for those who really know what they're doing (the walkthrough doesn't feel like it's holding your hand) and for those who are new to the experience as a whole. It's an incredibly thick guide but one that will be extremely helpful to players. They also work in conjunction with their own website. Don't worry, this actually works out well. You won't have to go online for information that isn't here... they're mostly videos to better show you what they're talking about if they're not explained well enough. A visual aid as opposed to just a text based one. It all comes together to make a pretty impressive guide. One that compliments as well as enhances the player's experience of the game. This is something strategy guides rarely do anymore. While you won't find extras such as developer interviews or anything like that, just getting all this info may suffice.

If you are feeling like you simply can't conquer Dark Souls then this is a nice supplement that might help out. It goes in depth on just about everything in the game. So much so you may feel overwhelmed with information at times. I'm not sure how good or bad that second part is, but for how expensive strategy guides are these days, it's nice to have that much depth. So if you need a leg up, this isn't such a bad guide to get at all.
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VINE VOICEon October 31, 2011
First let me say this: This guide can be an invaluable resource to the game but it is definitely not without its flaws. And why I feel the need to add this review. Here are the pros and cons of this guide.

Pro:
- Tons of information. From gameplay basics, to maps, to enemies lists and strats, to covenant and NPC story arcs, it's _mostly_ all here.
- Detailed maps. THE highlight of the guide. Don't miss an item or a shortcut (of which there are plenty of both.)

Cons:
- Frustrating layout. It's easy to miss a key exchange with an NPC, too easy, based on how the guide is layed out.
- Poor weapon upgrade charting
- No overall game strategy/character build section.

Summary:
This guide is an invaluable resource but it is also far from perfect. The beauty of the previous guide was that it had all the key information easily and smartly laid out. This guide is a hodgepodge of information with key NPC decisions not listed in the walkthrough and the weapon upgrade system broken out into three or more sections.

How do you plan on what weapon to make, when you have to look up what ember you need, what blacksmith requires it, and at what level it needs to be converted in 3 different sections, not to mention that boss soul upgrades if those are needed are in a whole other section. Ughhhhh....

I get that the authors didn't want to spoil story arcs by putting spoilers in the walkthrough, but there are just so many choices in this game that having a "spoiler" or "don't forget" box there would have been extremely handy. Not to say anything about the vast improvements needed in cleaning up the weapon upgrade information or the fact that zero information is giving on how to build competent PvP, melee, or magic casting chracters. Let alone informing us on which weapons or magic are truly overpowered in this game.

Anyway, I recommend this guide but am terrbibly disappointed in its layout. As with the Demon's Souls guide, sometimes less is more.

Edit: 11/02/2011
With patch 1.04 coming soon from From Software, a lot of info in this guide is now obsolete. Hopefully the guide will be edited to reflect these changes when it gets back into stock. Stay tuned.

Edit: 11/15/2011
Patch 1.05 is now live in Japan, with still no date when anything will be patched in NA and European markets. But as an FYI, little has changed in this new patch that would effect the guide compared to the massive rebalancing that was accomplished in 1.04, which was almost completely kept in 1.05.

Edit: 12/3/2011
Ok, patch 1.05 has dropped so what are the implications for the guide? Map wise not much. Strategy wise, its a bit of a different story. The main effect of the patch was to balance equipment and some spell effects. The spell effects and nerfing were not super detailed in the guide to begin with, but just knowing that the pyro glove, homing spells, iron fleshspell, and ring of fog have either been nerfed or balanced downward is important. This is to the benefit of PvP but does make the game somewhat harder in PvE, especially the Iron Flesh nerf.

Equipemt wise, light equipment and shields have been nerfed to make heavier equipment more useful/desirable. The guide won't reflect this properly unless revised, so basing a build on a magic bullet piece of eq like the Antiquated skirt or Crystal Ring Shield is no longer viable. The strong point of the guide, map and item locations and NPC arcs are basically unchanged.

Unfortunately, the entire effect of all this means that if you are looking to build a lightly outfitted character, you will now need to consult the internet before investing upgrades into certain light equipment. Heavy equipment seems to be mainly untouched. Also note that scaling weapons have received a buff to be more longterm competitive with elemental weapons. Long term means atttributes, like strength, faith, Int, etc, over 50.
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on October 7, 2011
This guide is amazing. It has literally every single event, item, NPC (etc. etc.) covered. The text is clear and concise without any grammatical errors or flat-out wrong information. It's beautifully designed. The construction of the book is solid--I've left the book open for 3 days now and the spine is totally fine, very strong. The paper stock is great--thick with a small bit of gloss.

My only complaint is that the organization of the info is just a little all-over-the-place. In a perfect world, it wouldn't be but then that would probably mean repeating info found elsewhere in the guide making some parts redundant. All this means is that you'll be flipping pages back and forth often. Thankfully there is an index though.

This guide is without a doubt the most complete and the prettiest guide I've ever owned. Outstanding, Futurepress. Outstanding.

UPDATE: The guide is predominantly useless now. From Software has patched the game changing everything from enemy placements to weapon and armor stats. However, if you're a DARK SOULS fanatic, or if you don't have online (so you couldn't download the patch), then feel free to buy this because it's as good as a guide can get.
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on October 6, 2011
A Beautiful and detailed guide that you will love!

This guide is so comprehensive that out of 384 pages, only 64 (about 20%) are for the walkthrough. It has everything you need to more than get through the game; detailed enemy descriptions, and how to beat them, character building and stats, NPC descriptions, maps, trophy guide, items, magic, etc. And the most important for me, a detailed stat/upgrade guide on the weapons/armor.

In my opinion,
1) Play the game at first without its help, and only use the guide when you get stuck on an enemy or not sure where to go. This way you experience Dark Souls the way its mean't to be experienced. But don't be surprised if you find yourself leafing through its pages, its hard not to.
2) The game is also mean't to be played more than once, so feel free to use this guide fully on NG+ (new game continued with same character) or your next character.

So why get this guide when you can look up the Wiki's or forums online for help? When you have this beautiful guide in your hand, the answer will be obvious. The hardbound cover, the fantastic colored pages, a handy reference for when you need it, and how it demonstrates how deep this game is. It is a book that you will want to have even after you have stopped playing the game, and it might just make you want to play it again.

If you love Demons Souls and Dark Souls, this is a must have!
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on November 23, 2011
This book is very large, with detailed (if somewhat confusing) maps of all the areas in the game, as well as descriptions of all the enemies, NPCS, and so on. As of version 1.05 of the game, some of the information (particularly weapon/armor stats, and the description of some items or spells) is no longer in agreement with the book, but the big stuff, including locations, strategies, etc, are all still valuable.

You would find complete or accurate stats of every weapon & armor item at every upgrade level, and given that these things change as balance patches are pushed, that would be kind of pointless anyway. If that's the kind of info you want, go online.

What you WILL find in this book is detailed maps of every area in the game, allowing giving you the ability to figure out where a particular item is, plan where you want to go next, how to fight a particular boss if you're having trouble, and of course, spoilers.

This book is DEFINITELY helpful if you are having a hard time or just can't figure out where you're going or what to do, or just wish the game came with a better manual. Personally I keep it around to peek at when I'm really stuck, or find a particular item, and will read through an area AFTER i've completed it to make sure I didn't miss anything important.
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on January 26, 2012
First up, this is a great guide for a truly massive game with so so much to discover. Many a guide would give away all the secrets and rob the player of much of the fun of actually discovering. This guide doesn't do that and in many ways makes it frustrating, because I was hoping that it would tell me that I really am looking at an hidden wall (it sometimes mentions these) that i can't open because i need to <do something in a particular way> (It does not mention anything besides hitting or rolling as valid actions and I am not convinced some things are so simple).

So, clearly his is something that disappoints, but there is the internet, and I doubt that any work could give you a complete picture of what to do in such a massive game.

Another review mentioned that after the 1.05 patch this guide has become virtually useless, I would disagree: To me the greatest benefit of the guide is the maps and although the enemy placements aren't 100% right anymore so far they haven't led me too far astray. The other feature is the enemies and their hit points. These definitely have been changed since the patch but It's not that big a deal, because mostly the patch made enemies easier, and as far as boss fights go... if you go into that figuring you can beat 3000 hit points but not 5000 then ... no guide will help you.

Finally, the reason I bought this guide rather than relying on various wikis dealing with Dark Souls is the art work. The guide does the game justice, although it isn't an art book. I hope a full book on this will be released eventually (the bundled one in the limited edition is rather limited), but in the mean time this guide does give you ample opportunity to look at what the enemies really look like, something you don't really get a good chance to do during the game.

Weapon stats are nice though probably subject to patch revisions (I've not checked too much) and the index is pretty poor. Overall this guide helps a lot with the mechanics and gives you good hints to prepare you but overall Dark Souls is a game that 1) needs to be experienced (or learned) and 2) can only be given hints for via the internet and preferably forums. Never the less, this is a worthwhile investment and it will help you to die less.
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on February 7, 2012
The art in the book is pretty awesome in itself. The maps aren't the clearest, but I almost prefer that. The best part of Dark Souls is the mystery and surprises you get when playing it. I bought the guide mostly for the weapons and armors tables and for the occasional help when I just couldn't seem to get through an area. It definitely works well for that. The maps as I said aren't the clearest at a glance, but that keeps you from going to them constantly. If you sit and actually look at them they make plenty of sense... it's just that for me at least I don't find them helpful in the heat of the moment while playing the game. It's really I guess up to how you intend to use the guide. I think it's a pretty awesome product and it works well for how I use it but I can see how it might not be as useful for someone who wants it right there open next to them while they are playing and constantly checking it.

Besides... if you stop to check the guide while you're playing OH MY GOD LOOK BEHIND YOU IT'S A BLACK KNIGHT... and you're dead.
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on January 13, 2013
I mainly bought this guide for something to read offline and it has a ton of info. The problem is all the info is scattered into chapters and you spend more time having to bounce back and forth and try to figure out the best course for your first playthrough. I found wiki to be a lot more helpful in the end and spent a couple times going through the book on the john as toilet material instead of using it fully. The last book though I used was final fantasy 7's strategy guide and this wasn't as good and the fact they scattered the material in a so called easy to read manner it wasn't what I expected. I was hoping for a book that'd give me a full walkthrough to help me not miss anything and instead I got a guide to everything in version 1.0 with pictures of enemies and a book that required me bouncing back and forth missing one or two things after I had passed them to have to back track a lot. This game is incredible but the guide can let you miss a lot of things you'd find out in new game + which is later than useful.
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on October 21, 2011
I bought this book solely for the maps, not very high expectation, so I am very satisfied with just the maps. And yet, the guide following the map missed something like how to get to certain area that are clearly not easy accessible. Sadly, my character died trying to get to some areas that the guide didn't provide much help other than pointing the location.

Regarding the actual strategy guide part. Well, like many RPG, there are many ways to skin a cat, so what is presented in the book is just one way to play the game. I'd encourage players to develop their own strategy, after they get familiar with the game. For myself, I don't go explore each area following the book. Having said that, I am half way through the game and I find the boss fight strategy helpful, so instead of died million times, my character may died about half-million times.

Weapon and armor upgrade guide is very helpful too, so I don't waste precious upgrade material on something with low damage.

Unless you want to write your own game wiki, this book will be very valuable.
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on April 1, 2012
This guide is really well made and a nice edition to any other guides you may have. It feels and looks quality. The issue is that more information is available on-line and since the latest patch, many of the weapons and armor stats are no longer accurate. You can get all the information you need to know and then some on-line for free, but in the guides defense, it is really nice and provides you some better visuals for enemies, areas and maps.
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