Customer Review

36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything Gaming is About, October 12, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dark Souls - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Dark Souls is a surprisingly fantastic game that is absolutely not for everyone. Some people are saying that this is a game that is even better than Skyrim will be, and some are saying that is is a terrible game. I believe that it is neither. Or both.

I was not inclined to like Dark Souls, and only picked it up on the insistence of a friend. I had heard about Demon Soul's brutal difficulty level and did not feel like starting a game that had the goal of killing the player over and over again. So against my better judgement I started playing Dark Souls. To my complete and utter shock, I was swept away into a dreary world of death, despair, and hope that produced in me a feeling that I haven't felt since I was a little child playing the original Zeldas for the first time.

Dark Souls's environment is completely awe-inspiring and pulls the player in. The storyline is utterly weak, and all of the enemies are unexplained and largely unknown quantities. However, instead of feeling like a confusing mess as one might expect, instead it produces a sense of wonder. The player doesn't know what fantastic creature is waiting around the corner (and there are brutally challenging enemies around literally every corner). For instance, after pillaging a key from a giant spellcasting butterfly I went into a dark tower where I was confronted by a short little creature with a giant hammer. I was intrigued and ran up to him, and was promptly squished flat in one blow. After about the seventh time of trying to beat him I finally did, and went into a lushly dark and moody forest, where I was promptly slaughtered by a hydra shooting bolts of death at me.

Death is the ranch dressing that Dark Souls pours liberally on this salad of nostalgic wonder. I considered myself a decent game up to this point, but almost every new enemy manages to kill me at some point. It is not possible to die. You WILL die TONS playing this game. But through that death comes perseverance and hope. I thought that I would get super frustrated at the game and that my controller would end up through my TV, but I haven't felt like that. Every death just challenges me to do better. None of the fights seem cheap, just strategic. And you aren't alone on this journey of death and exploration.

The online integration is possibly the most thoughtful and effective that I've ever seen in a game. Players can leave messages for one another either helping or hurting their fellow players (NEVER follow the suggestions to jump off a cliff ;)), and players can be summoned into other worlds to help their fellow players with boss fights. But no meaningful communication is established (no use of mics), and all too soon the player is left to fight alone. But knowing that you are in a community of people who are experiencing the same joys and frustrations at you somehow adds so much more to the mood that the game sets.

I could go on for a long time about what this game means to me in terms of the nostalgic feeling that I used to get as a kid playing games that I've never been able to recapture until now, but suffice it to say that Dark Souls accomplishes everything that it wants to in this game. That being said, what it wants to accomplish will simply not please everyone.

This isn't a game for 'only pro gamers' to prove how great they are. This isn't a game for casual gamers just looking for a fun afternoon. This is a game selling an experience, not bragging rights (although they may come). This is not necessarily 'relaxing' to play, nor is it emotionally taxing. Rather, it is a complete escape into an undefined world that is what you want it to be. You will be beaten bloody and made to come back for more, but in the process you will start to overcome the challenges that killed you before and start to master the death that rules over the whole game. If you don't think you want a game this frustrating and (at times) unfulfilling, then this isn't for you. But I do recommend it to gamers who want to see what the gaming genre is capable of producing. This isn't a masterfully written epic, or a revolutionary system, but it is what games are meant to be, and as such can be extremely satisfying at times. Then you die again and have to take a break before you get too frustrated :)

Overall:
PROS:
Graphics are great, detail is stunning
Sound effects are very well done
The mood that the game creates is intoxicating and addictive

CONS:
Music is at times underwhelming
Game difficulty is brutally difficult and death is assured

This game is not for everyone. But it is for some people. If you're on the fence, I recommend borrowing it or renting it for a bit before committing to the purchase, just to see if it's for you. Hope this helps you make a decision.
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Comments

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 12, 2011 9:36:21 PM PDT
Todd says:
Dude that's exactly how I started my review! Its the same feeling I got when I played the original legend of Zelda as a kid!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2011 11:12:34 PM PDT
Joshua H says:
Oh sorry, didn't see your review ><; But yea, that's totally crazy! I thought that maybe that feeling could never be recaptured... but now it can be!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2011 1:43:30 AM PDT
Todd says:
LOL I didn't mean it as a bad thing. It's awesome!

Posted on Oct 19, 2011 7:52:10 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 19, 2011 8:15:47 AM PDT
"Death is the ranch dressing that Dark Souls pours liberally on this salad of nostalgic wonder."

LOL! Best. Line. Ever!

I also agree with your observations regarding the nostalgic feel of the game. It's a throwback to a time when games didn't spoonfeed the player a story and walk them through a glorified interactive movie and call it a "game". Dark Souls recalls when games were GAMES. Sure there's a story, but the story is in the back seat to challenging the player, and complete immersion is achieved as a natural extension of the game, as opposed to force feeding. It's fantastic. It really is the true modern equivalent of games like the ORIGINAL Zeldas, Metroids, and Castlevanias, and their precursors.

Posted on Apr 29, 2012 3:10:28 PM PDT
Great review. Very well written.

Posted on Dec 6, 2012 10:17:41 PM PST
The story part i don't agree with, it's minimalistic but when you think about it, its a chilling tale about humanity. Humanity is a commodity everyone needs now that it serves their goals, when being human benefits the person using it, its the only time they search for it. and humanity is used to kindle the fires, which suggests that gwyndolin and gwyn have been sacrificing humans to keep the bonfires alive.

Posted on Dec 27, 2013 12:50:01 PM PST
Shishio says:
This game is what I wished for from Skyrim, a challenging game.
Have you ever played Morrowind? i Highly recommend it. while not as challenging in combat, the world is completely open and figuring out the quests is incredibly difficult.
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