Dark Souls 3 Review – A Light in the Darkness

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Dark Souls 3 hs been released upon the masses and a new set of monsters are crawling out of the darkness, but how does it weigh against those that came before it?

Read our review to find out

When it comes to a game franchise like Dark Souls there is a required level of understanding that a player must have before they should take on the task of trying to overcome its intense design. While some games are epic fantasies that empower the player, Dark Souls has always tasked the player with overcoming the challenge themselves. This gives the player a sensation that is rarely found in games these days, as so many titles try to hold the players hand in fear of losing out on the non-hardcore market. Thankfully with amazing design and great gameplay Dark Souls has become one of the biggest series to break the mold and appeal to gamers of all types, at least those brave enough.

Now with Dark Souls 3 having been released, a new set of monsters are crawling out of the darkness, but how does it weigh against those that came before it? To understand why Dark Souls is a fantastic franchise and why this one may be the best one yet, you need to understand that it is a game designed meticulously to be learned, not to adapt itself to the market. Its controls can be difficult at times, the wrong attack can easily lead to a great deal of lost work and frustration, but ultimately it comes down to user error, and the learning curve required to get through the darkness. Similar controls from previous titles remain, but the addition of Weapon Arts, the ability to use advanced techniques in combat at the cost of the game’s mana pool or FP, give players a whole new way of playing through the game.

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Secret bosses, locations and even weapons persist from earlier games, but this time players are able to take things up a notch. A few secret weapons let players relive a bit of the Bloodborne styling, by letting them twirl and flail around while unleashing devastating attacks, but all without breaking the heart of the series. Bosses now have multi-phase fights that can quickly turn a celebrated victory into ash, as you realize things aren’t quite over as quickly as you thought.

Taking place in some familiar locations, hardcore Dark Souls players will recognize some of the locations and feel right at home without ever feeling like they are being cheated out of content. With some of the most varied settings I have seen in the franchise, Dark Souls 3 gives players one of the most epic journeys I have seen and with multiple endings and a new game plus, there is just too much content to cover. Each of the Lords of Cinder, a string of bosses that must be conquered, are varied and unique, as well as how each boss needs to be taken down. Variety is key here, and Dark Souls 3 delivers on all fronts.

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Visually this is by far the best looking addition to the franchise. From sprawling vistas to dark and dreary caverns, from dragons dueling it out to giant tree like monsters patrolling swamp lands, there is some of the best level and creature design I have seen in a long, long time.

While this is quickly becoming my favorite addition, there are a few issues about the formula that had bothered me. The biggest issue really comes down to knowledge and the players need to get brutally beaten before they are privy to it. This isn’t about boss tactics, but that you will come across enemies with no way of knowing that you are simply not ready for them from the very beginning, and with the loss of souls upon death, that knowledge can be overpriced. With this being the third entry I had hopes for a more organic concept to keep players from being needlessly punished. After plowing through a number of undead sword wielding monsters, getting utterly destroyed by a half-naked emaciated guy with a sword just feels out of place and cheapens the experience.

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The other main issue that has also been a persistent issue is the camera. The claustrophobia of having your visibility quite narrow works for the mood of the game, but does take its toll on the players experience – especially when fighting something and you are only able to see its foot. Moving too close to a wall will cause the camera to shift to an unrecognizable view, and force the player to scramble to get it under control. In a game that is so hellbent on requiring the player to overcome challenges at every turn, a small issue like this can have drastic effects.

Overall, Dark Souls 3 is a no-brainer for fans of the franchise, and a great entry for new players to check out. Some of the story aspects may seem a bit lost on the less ingrained, but the experience is about the journey and the ability to look back and see that no matter how daunting a task may be, you were able to achieve the seemingly impossible if you stuck with it.

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