More Than Just Ashes
Dark Souls III is the third entry (fourth if you count Demon Souls) into From Software’s fantastic series of notoriously difficult games. Dark Souls III sports faster combat, new areas, nostalgia, a new art style and improvements on everything that Dark Souls has done right in the past, and this is all on current generation systems, unlike the original release of Dark Souls II. The question is, does Dark Souls III do the series justice? Or does it fail as the supposed conclusion of Dark Souls as a game series?
The Fire Fades
Dark Souls III’s story is set a long time after the events of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. The Fire is fading once again, as the world slowly rots and decays into total darkness. Only when the Lords Of Cinder leave their thrones, and the Unkindled rises, shall the world of Dark Souls III be saved. You play as the Unkindled, and it is your job to find the Lords of Cinder and return them to their thrones. The story and lore of Dark Souls III will deepen for those who look for it, and it’s thoroughly rewarding to find. The story very much reminded me of Dark Souls, and that isn’t a bad thing at all. Four possible endings make for a meaningful reason to play through the game again, alongside completing quests you missed in your first play through, or invest more in the lore and background of the characters in DSIII. I was intrigued by, and interested in every character in Dark Souls III. Whether it be new characters to the series, or returning ones. This truly feels like a story done in Souls fashion, cryptic lore, interesting characters and a world that gives hints towards it’s past. I was incredibly satisfied by the end and intend to achieve all 4 endings. The setting and story in Dark Souls III just feels right for a souls game, which is good for beginners and veterans alike.
When From Software released Bloodborne last year, it brought about a new fan base for From Software. This fan base, and original souls fans, got used to the aggressiveness of Bloodborne’s combat, as opposed to the slower, more patient combat of Dark Souls. Dark Souls III feels like a hybrid between these two combat styles, and it works perfectly. You can play however you want to play, whether it be aggressive, patient or somewhere in the middle. If you liked Bloodborne, but couldn’t get into any other of the Souls games, you will more than likely love Dark Souls III. Hollowing is now more or less being Unkindled. When you kill a boss, or consume an Ember, you become Embered. When Embered, you can coop, you gain more health and you can see streaks of flame through your character’s armor, which looks very pretty. When you die, you lose your Embered status, you lose all of this and become Unkindled. Early on the game makes sure you have a few Embers in your back pocket, and the merchant in Firelink Shrine stocks limited amounts of them. I found that in the late game areas, I started running low on Embers and had to farm them now and again. They aren’t scarce, but don’t expect to be overstocked on them. The combat feels satisfying, no matter what weapon you’re using, whether it be a greatsword, dual swords, a kitana or staffs and magic. Being a Souls game, DSIII is very difficult, and the boss fights are spectacular in both scale and difficulty. The thing is though, is that Dark Souls III is always fair. Whenever you die, it’s almost never the game’s fault. Every encounter with every enemy must be treated with respect, the moment you let your guard down, you will more than likely die. DSIII’s world and open ended environment had a hopeless feeling about them. It truly felt like this world was falling into despair and darkness, hollows walk the otherwise empty pathways of Lothric and dead dragons lie on the rooftops. While DSIII doesn’t go incredibly crazy with its environments, the new areas are all interesting and different. I loved exploring every environment (except the swamp) especially one of the optional environments. It took me about 40 of the 50 hours i’ve played to finish my first playthrough, and that’s exploring every area as best as I could, and defeating every single boss in the game. Some of the best fights are also surprisingly inventive, which was refreshing to see in a Souls game. Once you finish your first play through, you’re given the option to jump into New Game+ straight away, or to continue exploring the world and start NG+ later on. NG+ is well worth it, simply because there’s new equipment to find, different endings to achieve, and to visit any areas you missed on your first play through, all while keeping your weapons, armor, rings and some other items from your first play through. I can see myself playing DSIII for a long time, experimenting with different builds and weapons. PVP also makes a return, and it’s the best it’s been. You can invade other worlds and challenge other players, or join worlds and help other players out with an area they might be stuck on. I never once had any connection issues either.
Dark but Beautiful
Dark Souls III looks beautiful. The world is detailed and intriguing and I constantly found myself getting lost in this beautiful world. The game runs at 30 frames per second, but I didn’t really notice it all that much apart from minor frame drops in areas like Farron Keep and the Swamp. The biggest technical issues I had with Dark Souls III is that I encountered a few bugs, one of which was game breaking. There was one stage where I got stuck in place, and had to soft reset to fix it. It’s not the biggest issue, simply because Souls saves so often, but still annoying nonetheless. The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal, I love every single track, from the title theme to the boss themes. Using a good pair of headphones for Dark Souls III is the way to go.
Dark Souls III, is in my opinion the best Souls game. It took all the things that Dark Souls and Dark Souls II did right, improved them, and added new features which heavily benefit the gameplay, and the Souls fan base. It’s a beautiful, challenging, engrossing experience, that i’d happily recommend to beginners and Souls veterans alike. Hopefully the DLC is just good, and good luck to From Software on their next project.
-Fantastic alternate endings
-Deep, satisfying and challenging combat
-PVP and coop is as good as it’s ever been
-A little buggy, minor and game-breaking
Up next is Ratchet and Clank which comes out on Wednesday, so look out for that shortly after Wednesday!
Thanks for reading guys, Harry.