Final verdict: B
Final playtime: 113 hours
Yo, you know what’s funny? Dark Souls being called the “spiritual successor” to Demon’s Souls when in fact it’s the exact same fucking game. Same controls, same gameplay, same interface, reused sound effects. And just in case you haven’t been paying attention (see me after class), this isn’t a bad thing, considering Demon’s Souls was a very good game. Oh sure, it wasn’t perfect, it had its shortcomings, but you gotta be an asshole to not like that game. But that’s what Dark Souls is. It’s more or less simply more Demon’s Souls. So in a nutshell, you should ask yourself, do I want more Demon’s Souls? Yes, or no?
But of course I’m not gonna leave it at that, no, you’re probably asking yourself “If it’s exactly the same, why did you give Dark Souls an ever-so-slightly lower grade than Demon’s?” … just kidding, you probably didn’t even read my Demon’s Souls review. But that’s fine, I can forgive your transgression since I’m such a nice guy. I will, however, say that the stuff I said in my Demon’s Souls review still applies to Dark Souls because the games are very similar. So if you want a little more information about the game that I’m not going to repeat here, go read it. Concerning the hypothetical question though, come on, don’t take things so fucking literally. Sheesh. There are some (very slight) differences.
Music ain’t one of them though. Just like Demon’s, I’m not sure Dark Souls even had any. That’s just how ambient and unremarkable it was. Combat is also not one of them, since it works exactly the same as it did in Demon’s. That is to say, it sure ain’t anything special. If I had to compare it to something, I’d say the combat in this is along the lines of what you’d find in, say, the Legend of Zelda. In other words, extremely basic. Not what I would call good, but it gets the job done. That’s okay though, because this game is an RPG, not an action game. Combat isn’t the focus. As I’ve said many times before, an RPG with real-time combat can never have combat on par with a proper action game. It just can’t be done because the resources are going elsewhere. If you think otherwise you’re delusional. Why do you think action games are only like 10 hours long and only have a handful of enemies and bosses? Yeah, because it’s not fucking easy.
So, in the same way that combat is not the focus of a Zelda game (it can get away with very basic combat because it has other things going for it), it is also not the focus in Dark Souls and RPGs in general. Obviously, Dark Souls has all the extrinsic rewards you’d expect; exp, leveling, stat building, equipment progression, treasure, blah blah. But you know what is probably the highest praise I have for the game? The dungeons. This may not sound like it’s anything special, but coming from, say, my previous review of Innocent Sin, a game replete with what I’d call useless space in its dungeons, or games like the Elder Scrolls, with hundreds of dungeons that feel completely lifeless and generic, it really becomes something special. I guess you could say it becomes special in the face of other developers’ incompetence. But I’m serious, the levels in Dark Souls are not only visually beautiful, but also extremely well designed. Even though there is no map, you will never get lost simply because the levels are so well designed and recognizable. This is a game that very highly rewards exploration, taking the time to look around by playing slowly and I love that. If you explore, you will find hidden treasures, passageways, shortcuts, and even entire areas all the time, guaranteed. It’s like the dungeons were made by an actual person who knows what they’re doing instead of a soulless machine as is becoming customary.
And yet it’s not all perfect. Because for some god damn, BULLSHIT reason, the developers of Dark Souls seem to be caught under a misguided will to just be as much of an asshole to the player as possible (same as in Demon’s Souls, really). So even though the levels themselves are extremely well designed, they can’t just leave it at that and let you enjoy them without having to deal with some horse shit. And so, most levels in this game tend to have ONE bullshit thing thrown in for no reason other than to just annoy you and shit on your parade. Be it that the level has terrain that poisons you, or infinitely respawning pest enemies meant only to annoy you, or enemies that curse you (bullshit ailment that instantly kills you and permanently halves your HP and is very costly to reverse), or enemies that instantly toxic you when you kill them, or enemies whose entire purpose is just to push you off the edge when you’re crossing a narrow beam, or making the entire fucking level pitch black and unable to see half a foot in front of you, there always HAS to be some bullshit somewhere.
Which brings me to the game’s much hyped “difficulty”. And just like I said in my Demon’s Souls review, Dark Souls is not exactly what I would call difficult in a legitimate sense. Don’t get me wrong, you will die a lot in this game. But when you die in Dark Souls, it’s usually because of asshole design choices more than actual difficulty. It was the same way in Demon’s Souls, but Dark Souls actually cranks this up to eleven and not in a good way. Seriously, it’s like the developers went “Shiiiiiieeeeet, people said Demon’s Souls was hard and liked it, how can we make Dark Souls even harder? I know! Let’s make an area where you cannot see SHIT.”
It was said that Dark Souls would be harder than Demon’s Souls. Well, I’ve played the game, and I can tell you, trust me, Dark Souls is very much easier than Demon’s. It’s not a stretch to say that most bosses are insignificant. In fact, I swear the universal boss strategy in Dark Souls is literally get under its dick and punch it in the balls repeatedly while it vainly tries to do something to you but can’t because you’re safely under its dick. It’s way too easy to cheap out bosses like this in a way that makes the fight trivial. And when you do die? It was probably to some bullshit like he slid you off a cliff or into the lava or a glitch or whatever.
Oh I didn’t mention that? Dark Souls suddenly has a bunch of bugs and glitches that Demon’s didn’t have. An extremely prevalent one is the bug where you press the button to do something, say, attack or use an item, but the game doesn’t respond, so you just sit there doing nothing, but the game knows that you pressed that button, so it secretly saves it in memory, and then you’re like “Oh what, nothing happened.” and then when you press the button to try to put up your shield to block the enemy’s incoming attack, the game is like “Oh right, you pressed the attack button 5 seconds ago and I forgot to comply. I’ma just do that now at the wrong time when the enemy is attacking and fuck you over”. Fun glitch, sure to get you killed a few times. Then there’s other glitches like a boss just disappearing, enemies suiciding off cliffs for no reason or falling through the floor, or items suddenly bugging out and not being able to be picked up. And of course let’s not forget all the times when the framerate slows down due to bad coding. All of these technical problems are easily spotted just by playing the game normally, they clearly just didn’t care and left them there. Maybe they were hoping the glitches would kill you a few more times. Wouldn’t fucking surprise me.
So no. Dark Souls is not harder than Demon’s Souls. It simply has more bullshit. The game is designed to be a huge fucking cunt and at this point it’s not even trying to HIDE it anymore. Nevermind the pitch black area with archers shooting you from places you can’t even see. It was when I got to a part where you have to cross narrow dangerous beams with 2 archers on each side shooting spears at you, whose sole purpose is to make you fall off and die while you’re trying to cross, that I fully realized the developers have passed the point of shame. And you can’t shoot them yourself, because they’re too far away for your bow, but of course they have infinite range. And you can’t block their spears because the impact still pushes you back and makes you fall off the edge. I fucking dare you to look me in the eye and tell me that’s not horse shit. I’ll kick you in the dick. Because you’re lying. Shit like that just has no place in a game, and the fact that the developers clearly think getting cheap cunt deaths like that on you = difficulty, is an extremely misguided mindset.
But enough with the bitchin’, people might start to think that I actually hate this game, and that’s not true at all. Believe it or not, despite the glitches and asshole design choices, Dark Souls still manages to be quite a good game. As I said before, the levels are beautiful. It still has Demon’s Souls problem of checkpoints not being that close to bosses, but it improves on this a little bit. I like how instead of there being a hub with teleports to the different levels it’s all one big world with all the areas connected like in Castlevania or Metroid. Hell, it’s kind of funny, Dark Souls pulls off the whole 3D Castlevania feel better than any actual Castlevania has ever been able to. The game also feels absolutely huge, and is much longer than Demon’s Souls which is great.
So in the end, Dark Souls is basically Demon’s Souls again. I mean that in both the good and the bad way. It has all the good things about Demon’s Souls, while at the same time fixing none of the bad things. Yeah, it may have some pretty obvious problems that should’ve been fixed and could’ve made it better, but the good things still easily outweigh the bad. So go ahead and get this game. It’s pretty good.
Final Verdict: B
Final Playtime: 113 hours