Customer Review

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing game --- tips for new players inside!, February 7, 2012
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This review is from: Dark Souls - Playstation 3 (Video Game)
Dark Souls (and its spriritual predecessor, Demon's Souls) is a truly unique and amazing gameplay experience. As a Demon's Souls player, I believe that Dark Souls is an improvement and worthy successor, and is actually one of my favorite games of all time. It is not for everyone, however. In my opinion, assuming a remote baseline interest in RPGs, people who would like Dark Souls fall into two general categories:

1) Those who love punishing, unforgiving difficulty; don't mind dying frequently to learn/memorize levels; or
2) Those who enjoy reading message boards, wikis, and FAQs to learn more about the game

I myself fall into the second category. I am not much of a RPG player nowadays, but something about the Souls series really feels nostalgic to me. It reminds me of the countless hours I poured into games like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasies as a kid, reading FAQs on how to obtain that rare item or defeat that optional boss. The unique thing about the Souls series is that almost every encounter, every level, every boss feels like that rare event in other RPGs you need to prepare for. It makes for a very gratifying gameplay experience, if you are willing to put in the time.

If you don't fall into one of those two categories above (or a mixture of the two), then I feel as though Dark Souls might not be the right choice for you. The game can be VERY unforgiving if you arent carrying the right equipment for the situation, or if you didn't do things in a certain order, etc. Almost all enemies (save for some "mini-bosses") respawn when you die, so if you don't want to consult a FAQ/wiki, you may find yourself dying 10, 20, or more times in certain sections of the games which understandbly can get very frustrating. Fortunately though, there is usually some trick / item / method to get by almost all difficult sections in the game, so long as you are willing to seek help online.

Bottom Line --- the game is indeed difficult, and sometimes very vague in how to accomplish certain tasks. However, if you are willing to play online and summon help, or to consult FAQs/Wikis online, there is NOTHING in the game that is not doable.

Let me start with the similiarities between Dark Souls and Demons Souls:

- Game saves constantly / Can't undo any actions / Save and Quit anytime, anywhere you want and reload at the exact spot
- Combat feels largely the same, aside from some nice changes I will list out later on
- Many "nods" to Demons Souls in gameplay (a dragon who breathes fire on a bridge you have to cross, a NPC who kills other NPCs, etc)
- Shortcuts are littered throughout the levels
- Souls are the currency of the game and are used to level up as well
- Souls (and new Humanity) are lost when you die. You have one chance to get back to where you died to reclaim them
- Still need to repair equipment. I find this annoying but most equipment lasts a long time before needing to be repaired.
- Crystal lizards return (they drop very nice items used to upgrade equipment) -- except this time they are MUCH easier to kill and the way they spawn is MUCH more forgiving than Demons Souls (in Dark Souls, even if the crystal lizard gets away from you, you can just reload your game and he will spawn again. In Demons, each lizard had a respawn counter based on how many bosses you've killed, and if that respawn counter went to zero you would never see that particular lizard again!)
- Online invasions and co-op return, largely similar to Demons Souls in practice

Some of the new changes are:

- "Open" World design. No more central nexus safe zone. The world of Dark souls is one open map with many areas being interconnected to several other areas. I put "Open" in quotes because while you can explore many areas to begin with, there is really one general path of gameplay for new players. If you deviate from this path and explore, you will most likely be slaughtered very quickly by the enemies in areas where you are not "supposed" to be in yet. Still, that shouldn't stop you from making "suicide" runs to obtain nice loot from these areas early on.
- Ability to jump. While running, releasing and pressing the run button again will cause your player to jump. There are actually some "platforming" areas where you have to jump across a gap. It is something simple but i feel like it adds a lot to the gameplay.
- Bonfires. Strategically placed by the developers throughout the world, these are your new resting points. When you die, you respawn at the last bonfire you rested at. You level up, switch out magic spells, etc at bonfires. When you rest at a bonfire, all enemies respawn.
- Infrequent loading screens. Makes farming much, much faster than in Demons Souls.
- No more item burden!! Carry as much junk as you want.
- You still have equip burden, but now arrows dont count towards your equip burden. So i can finally walk around with 500 arrows and not move like a slug.
- In Demon's Souls, your roll/run speed was determined on whether you were above or below 50% of your equip load. In Dark, this is further refined into 25% splits (0-25% of equip, you move fastest, 25-50% you move a little slower, etc)
- Healing is done through "Estus Flasks" which are limited in quantity and are only refilled when you rest at a bonfire (sounds tough, but actually works well)
- Magic has limited casts and the casts are refilled at a bonfire (also sounds tough, but i actually like this way better - and i play as a melee/mage character. No more needing to interrupt your battle by refilling your MP)

There are some issues with the game, most notably a sluggish framerate in certain areas. This is my only complaint. However, the framerate is bearable and is not game-breaking. I play on PS3 and yes, the area "Blighttown" is pretty bad in terms of framerate but I never died because of it and never felt like something bad happened to me because of it.

Now is a great time to buy this game, especially since patch 1.05 is out. This patch fixed a lot of things with the game, most notably making it much easier (enemies give more souls, you can buy upgrade materials at blacksmiths instead of having to farm them, etc). Pre-patch 1.05, this game was MUCH more difficult in my opinion. Patch 1.05 gives it a "comfortable" level of difficulty (still hard though).

Here are some tips for new players to make your life a little easier (minor spoilers):

- Choose the Master Key as your gift when creating a character. If you choose Thief, they automatically get it so choose something different or you'll end up with two keys
- Pyromancer is a good class that most recommend to beginners. You start with a fireball spell that is helpful
- Check online for a video that shows you a quick 8 minute or so run that you can do right after the tutorial, using the master key, to get some cool armor/weapons/items to help you begin the game
- Almost all bosses have some sort of method to defeat them pretty easily. For example, the first real boss, Taurus Demon, you can utilize the tower to do a plunging attack on him over and over. The next boss, Bell Gargoyles, is almost impossible to defeat solo but becomes a cakewalk when you summon help (and don't worry if you play offline --- I believe the devs knew this boss was meant to be beat with help so you can summon NPCs if you are playing offline)
- After Taurus demon, get the Drake Sword by shooting the tail of the red dragon on the bridge. Again, check online for videos. It is very easy to do, and gives you a sword that will carry you well many hours into the game and can 1 or 2 shot kill most regular enemies. Do NOT upgrade this sword --- by the time its damage is feeling low to you, you will have access to better weapons. This sword doesnt have any stat bonuses, so even a regular upgraded weapon will do better later on as your stats are higher.
- In the beginning, if you see a tall, black knight standing do NOT engage him. He will kill you (unless you are very comfortable dodging & backstabbing, or willing to kill him a cheap way). You can come back later to teach him a lesson.
- Once you come to the red dragon on the bridge, take the stairs down on the right hand side. Go across the room and there is another staircase down that leads you to the earlier bonfire. KICK down the ladder before jumping down and that opens up a shortcut between the dragon and the bonfire. Now you can easily farm souls --- run up to the bridge, trigger the dragon, and run back down. The dragon's fire will kill all the enemies on the bridge, netting you ~500 souls (in the beginning, each level up costs 700 - 1000 souls). Rest at the bonfire, and repeat. You can gain 10+ levels pretty quickly doing this, and it will give you some breathing room (plus it will help you equip the drake sword).

Hope you guys have fun with this game. It is truly great.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 30, 2012 6:00:39 AM PDT
Terrific review. I got addicted to Demon's Souls (despite dying a lot). It did remind me of Diablo II a bit with the save system. The only thing that annoyed me in Demon's Souls was that it was easy to hit a shopkeeper by accident. If only you could sheathe your weapon when talking to shopkeepers! Nevertheless no other game has given me an adrenalin rush like Demon's Souls. Now there is another game in the same vein. If it's anything like Demon's Souls... Well your review has completely whetted my appetite!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2012 10:18:49 AM PDT
JC says:
thanks for the comments ... in personal opinion, I enjoyed Dark souls much more than Demons Souls (and i love Demons Souls) so I think you are in for a real treat with Dark souls. You may want to wait just a bit to see if they re-release a consolse version with the new DLC included. Otherwise, you'd be buying the game now, and paying $15 later for the DLC (comes out in October i think)
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