Joystick: “Dark Souls” is 2011’s toughest game
Rated M: 360, PS3
The nicest thing I can say about “Dark Souls” is that it’s a wonderfully designed game that makes every victory seem sweet.
That being said, “Dark Souls” is one of the most hellishly difficult RPGs created, which is part of the reason why it’s so much fun.
The sequel to From Software’s 2009 hit “Demon’s Soul” isn’t that much different than the first game. You play as a mystic warrior of some sort in a land full of baddies where you die. A lot. Or at least a lot more than one gaming column can properly describe.
“Dark Souls” takes learning from your mistakes to another level. It feels as though the game loathes you, refusing to budge an inch to help you out. You start in a dungeon of some sort, not really knowing what you’re doing, when suddenly a giant boss comes out of the woodworks and kills you. He kills you again after you realize your current equipment is worthless. He murders you at least five more times after you try retracing your steps to see if there was something you missed. You don’t figure out what to do for an hour at least, because you’re too busy trying to survive. Once you do solve the boss issue, you’ll look back and wonder why you didn’t think of that to begin with.
It’s those “A-ha” moments that makes Dark Souls worth it. In a game where even online players mess with you by leaving messages on the walls (thanks for leading me into an ambush or 10, jerks), the small victories feel like massive achievements.
“Dark Souls” isn’t for everybody, as the plodding gameplay won’t appeal to gamers who are used to easy difficulties. The game is a worthwhile investment for players who don’t mind grinding, exploring and soaking in incredible vistas and an intense art design. You can even invade other players’ games and try to kill them (or watch as they kill you) after enough time in the game.
“Dark Souls” has a lot going for it despite being a soulless torture device. It’s a smart RPG with an intense story and a gorgeous world to explore. Just remember: Abandon all hope, ye who insert this disc.
—Punishing difficulty unlike other RPGs on the market.
—Incredible art design and smart gameplay accentuates the fun and masks the difficulty.
—Small wins seem like great accomplishments.