Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. I am a Dark Souls noob. I played about 45 minutes of Demon Souls and despised it. I played Bloodborne last year and made it about a third of the way through before other games grabbed my attention. It probably also helped that these games didn’t kill me ten times in a 15 minute span. So when I say to you that I am no way a Dark Souls fanboy, or an expert in all things Dark Souls, we can all agree I’m being truthful and accurate. With that in mind, I’m happy to report after nearly 25 hours with the game, my time with Dark Souls 3 is not only the most enjoyable time I’ve spent with a From Software title, it’s also one of the best RPGs I’ve played this generation.That’s saying a lot, as the story itself in Dark Souls 3 isn’t a very clear one. You play as the Ashen One, an undead warrior who is charged with preventing the oncoming apocalypse by destroying the Lords of Cinder and obtaining their power. As I found in Bloodborne last year, From Software is very obtuse in their description of events and details of the world. They allow the player to discover it on their own, and piece it together as best they can. For most RPG’s this kind of story telling would be a death sentence for their game, however it never once bothered me. The strength of Dark Souls is not its scripted story, but the world presented to you and the stories you create while traversing the gloomy decaying Kingdom of Lothric. I can’t remember half of the background details given to me by NPC’s who have joined my Fire Shrine, but I can recall almost every detail of my epic battle with the Curse Rotted Greatwood that ended with me piercing her main egg sack with my blade, Irithyll, with only a fraction of health remaining.Moments like that can occur at any time during your journey, and it’s the strongest draw for the game. The world resets every time you die or rest at a bonfire to replenish your health and supplies. Therefore you will see the same enemies again and again as you explore and progress through the world. For something like a Super Mario Bros game, this would get old really fast, however in the world of Dark Souls, each encounter can play differently depending on how you approach the situation. Do you rush in and hope your timing is perfect, or do you sit back and slowly draw each enemy in for a close kill. Depending on the situation, neither choice is necessarily a wrong one. Additionally boss battles raise the difficulty drastically, thus forcing you to learn and adapt to both your enemy and the environment around you.Also adding to the experience is the online interactions of the game. While you primarily play the game by yourself you never feel alone. Players can leave messages guiding you to treasures and warning you of ambushes that lie ahead. When you prepare to face bosses, you can summon another player to your world for an assist, which is great in scenarios where you feel stuck. Players can also invade other player’s games and attempt to kill you for gear and supplies. This all works seamlessly and only adds to your experience.Dark Souls isn’t perfect though. I recommend anyone unfamiliar to the series either buy a strategy guide or find a great online wiki (which there are plenty of) so you can learn the greater intricacies of the game. Descriptions are obtuse at best and often give no clear idea of all the uses you may get from certain items or enchantments. I almost sold an item dropped from a boss because I had no idea that it could be used to craft high level weapons. Additionally there is no in game map. I can’t really find a justified reason for them not having map, other than the idea of “Get Good.” However, if the idea of Dark Souls is to recapture the feeling of classic RPGs, not having a map feels like an oversight.I don’t know when I’ll finally beat Dark Souls 3. Like last year’s The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt, this isn’t a game I can rush, nor is it a game that can be completed in a short amount of time. I’ve surmised that this game very well may take all of my summer to complete. Surprisingly, that’s something I no longer dread. Dark Souls 3 has earned my attention and respect, and if you love fantasy RPGs, you owe to yourself to give it a shot. Want to hear more about Dark Souls and other gaming news. Then tune into the Geek Versus Games podcast below or subscribe in your favorite podcast app.
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