Dark Souls III Review

Dark Souls III My Character

The Dark Souls series has quickly become one of gaming’s most revered franchises. But, according to series director Hidetaka Miyazaki, Dark Souls III is to be its final entry. If this should be the last in the Souls series, however, then the series can proudly claim to have gone out on a high note. Dark Souls III is another stellar installment, one that takes bits and pieces of its predecessors (including Demon Souls and Bloodborne) to create an adventure that plays like a greatest hits of the series.

In terms of gameplay, Dark Souls III is largely reminiscent of its predecessors. It remains a smartly constructed action RPG with a Metroidvania-style game world. Combat is tight and intricate, enemies are difficult and deadly, and defeating them earns the player “Souls,” which work as both experience points and currency in the game’s world. Player’s can find an assortment of different weapons – from swords and shields to bows and staffs – as well as armor to boost their character’s effectiveness.

Dark Souls IIIMuch like the past entries in the series, the game has a great sense of balance with its weapons, armor and magic, with the player’s preference in play style taking precedence over some items simply being superior to others, giving the game a nice sense of variety in gameplay. Though Dark Souls III also takes a page out of Bloodborne’s book, with the combat adopting some of said game’s quicker pace when compared to prior games donning the Dark Souls name. So those who may have found previous Souls games to be a little on the slow side may have an easier time getting into Dark Souls III.

As for the plot, Dark Souls III continues the series’ trademark subtleties in storytelling and lore. The player takes control of an undead known as the “Ashen One,” who is tasked with averting the destruction of the kingdom of Lothric by rekindling the “First Flame,” by means of destroying four renegade Lords of Cinder; previous kindlers of said flame whose duties have driven them mad. The game leaves most of the finer details of the plot in bits and pieces to be uncovered by those who want to know more about Lothric’s history and characters, but those who simply wish to run about the kingdom slaying monsters with as little plot as possible are free to do so as well.

Of course, Dark Souls III carries the Hidetaka Miyazaki tradition of intense difficulty. In many ways, Darks Souls III is the most difficult entry in the series, with often relentless enemies and brutally unapologetic level hazards. But the game never feels unfair, as it utilizes a trial-and-error approach rather brilliantly. Almost every encounter and situation asks players to think over their tactics, and to use any and all mechanics at their disposal. It rewards patience and those willing to think things through, and punishes those who would blindly run in to get the most kills.

Dark Souls IIIStill though, this level of difficulty won’t be for everyone. And if the difficulty curve of past Souls games turned you away, chances are Dark Souls III won’t win you over. But for those who appreciate what the Souls titles have to offer – from trap-filled environments to memorable boss fights – Dark Souls III has the formula down pat.

Aesthetically, the game is a marvel. The series has never looked better, with polished graphics, great character and creature designs, and beautiful and dreary environments. The soundtrack is grand and perfectly captures the many moods of the game, and Dark Souls III continues the series’ tradition of having perfect sound effects. You get a sense of weight in the weapons and armor from the sounds alone.

If there are any downsides at all to Dark Souls III, it might just be that most of the optional areas in the game are a bit on the short side, at least when compared to the lengthy and often epic optional zones of Bloodborne. They still provide their share of memorable (and frustrating) moments as well as incredible boss fights, but they lack the grandness of the game’s mandatory zones which, again, is disappointing after how much detail went into Bloodborne’s optional content.

Dark Souls IIIThat’s ultimately a small complaint, however, when one takes into consideration everything Dark Souls III gets so right. It seems the further you delve into the adventure, the deeper the game becomes. There are covenants to join (each with their own special player vs. player gimmicks), sidequests to tackle, and even upgrading your equipment is made into an addicting game in its own right. And if things get too difficult for you, you can always summon other players to lend a hand. You may even have a great time simply being summoned by other players yourself, and reaping the benefits of Souls and covenant items that come with it.

For those willing to face Dark Souls III’s steep challenge, it provides a compelling gaming experience that seems to constantly introduce more layers of depth as the game progresses. It’s brilliantly paced, staged, and full of surprises. Dark Souls III takes many bits and pieces of the previous Dark Souls games, as well as blood relatives Demon Souls and Bloodborne, to create something of a Frankenstein’s monster of the franchise’s elements. It may not reinvent the series, but if this is truly to be its final installment, then Dark Souls III is a hell of a way to go out, solidifying the series as one of the most consistent, and richest, in gaming history.

Praise the sun!

9.5

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Dark Souls III Review

  1. Red Metal

    I’ve only finished the first game, but I intend to play the sequel and this installment in the future. According to someone I know who played all three installments, he said that this game and the original are on par with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. themancalledscott Post author

      I would definitely agree with that sentiment. The second game, while great in its own right, was probably the weakest of the bunch. I’m not quite sure if it was the level design or the finite enemy respawns, but it just wasn’t quite the same. I feel like Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 are brilliant successors, however.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Red Metal

        A lot of people said that losing chunks of health every time you die is annoying. I would agree because that’s not a real challenge; it’s an annoyance. Judging by that and the points you brought up, the sequel seems to have more artificial difficulty, which is jarring considering the original had practically none.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Justacommenter

    I got a bit tired of the Souls formula after the 2nd game, but that might be because the 2nd game was definitely the least inspired of the bunch (I haven’t played Bloodborne but at least that’s tackling a whole new setting and bunch of enemies). But it’s good to hear the series is still doing well for the most part, I’ll be curious to see how the lore of this one stands up to the first Dark Souls, as that was probably my favorite part of the game, maybe that’ll be enough to make me want to give it a shot eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. themancalledscott Post author

      The second game was indeed the weakest in the series (still great in its own right though). It added in more than a few questionable elements, even if they were creative (like finite enemy respawns). Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 really cemented the series for me tough. Both have interesting lores and jut bring so much to the table.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Justacommenter

        Oh yes definitely, I’d still say I enjoyed my time with DS2, just don’t remember much off it looking back, and I personally enjoyed it more than Demon Souls (probably heresy for fans of the series, but I’m altogether not that fond of the first Souls game). I was just disappointed at how little the world seems to be developed compared to the first game, there’s barely much to tell hidden through the world, which is a shame.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. AfterStory

    Even though I’ve been fairly adamant on my disinterest in the fantasy setting and its slower combat, your review has most certainly peaked my interest in dark souls 3. As someone who absolutely loved Bloodborne (it’s undoubtedly my favourite game on the PS4 and of this generation), I was certainly unsure if I would enjoy the rest of the souls series, as I have only played Bloodborne. I will admit though that dark souls 3’s faster paced combat is far more enticing than the meticulous nature of the combat in past entries (granted I’ve never played them so who am I to judge?) I’m also worried that Dark Souls 3 would attain an overly familiar nature as I’ve been slowly chipping away at the platinum trophy for Bloodborne (I’m still so jealous that you have it!). I just personally enjoyed the eerily atmospheric Yharnam and all its gothic -Victorian glory. But I’ll probably give dark souls 3 a shot, just debating if I should play the original two first or jump straight into this behemoth. Also have you heard of the PS4 exclusive Niho?? It’s a combination of Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls, and Onimusha as it’s set it feudal Japan, it looks extremely interesting and I think you should check it out and it’s conspicuously inspired by the Souls’ series! Anyway a fantastic review as always buddy! And I’m also going to be posting some stuff soon! More about all the classic games I’ve played over the past couple of months! So expect to hear about Super Mario RPG and donkey kong country 2!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. themancalledscott Post author

      In all fairness, the fantasy setting of Dark Souls at least has some unique creatures in it, instead of copying and pasting the whole “elves, dwarves, goblins” setup of basically every other fantasy fiction that ripped off Tolkien.

      If you loved Bloodborne, I think you’ll definitely love Dark Souls 3. I’m not sure you have to play the other two first, so that’s really just your call.

      I’ll definitely check out Niho. Funny thing is I just heard about it last night.

      Looking very forward to your future writings. Especially those on DKC2 and Mario RPG. Expect those games to place very high on my eventual list.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. AfterStory

        Yeah I’d say I’ve been too hard on the souls’ series, especially due to the fact that I love Bloodborne and I haven’t played a main entry in the souls series, so my harsh judgment is fairly presumptuous. Its creatures are most definitely more twisted and grotesque, in comparison to the fantasy norm. Also I immensely enjoyed both The Witcher 3 and Skyrim, which are far more symmetrical to the works of Tolkien, so I should just shut up and give Dark Souls a go! Thanks mate! I honestly can’t wait to read your list! It’s going to be ripe with quality 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. thebyrnedisplay

    I like the review! You mention trapped-filled environments, and I really resonate with that sentiment. The best trap this game had me in a psychological one: slowly looking around every corner for an ambush, approaching item pick-ups cautiously and smacking every treasure chest. Soulsborne games almost double as horror titles with the atmosphere they create.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Pingback: The 2016 Christmas Special/Two Year Anniversary Celebration!! | Wizard Dojo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s