You merely adopted the darkness!

The return of Miyazaki for Dark Souls III sent expectation levels through the roof, and for good reason, DS2 didn't quite live up to anybodies expectation, but all is well now that the senpai has returned and his student is back on their correct path

Living in a masochist's paradise!

The greatest thing about Dark Souls is its twisted dark, pessimistic-optimistic notion of hope for both all the characters in the game and you, a player of the game,, and when I say player I use that in the loosest term possible, a more accurate one would probably be victim. Despite being a game about destruction, death and futility; populated by dilapidated ruins crushed souls and blood thirsty abominations, there’s a consistent thread of accomplishment which comes after every encounter survived and every pot fruitlessly smashed that is enough to keep you delving deeper.

DarkSouls is sold on its crushing difficulty, and in a world currently plagued with games whose’s ability to complete depend on how much disposable income you or your family have it is a soul crushingly, spirit liftingly, wonderfully refreshing buck of an insidious trend. With such difficulty comes a wonderful appreciation of life and with and as you persevere forward you realize with each death your one step closer to victory and with every enemy slain you absorb their powers making you faster, stronger and increasingly more tactically aware.

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Bosses have always played a huge role in DarkSouls, and DS3’s bosses are no different, in fact it provides some of the more challenging and smart bosses the series has seen. Each one is as memorable as the last, huge and intimidating is the common denominator for most, with one or two outliers, a few of the bosses have multiple ways you can approach them besides the usual hack and slash, thus massaging and rewarding a players brain as well as their ability to demonstrate their brawn.

My fellow countrymen who felt underwhelmed by the loot system in DS2 will be thrilled to know that DS3’s propensity for weapons and armor galore is back in full effect. A ton of fan favourite weaponry is on offer, from the ol’ faithful broken sword to the infamous Uchikatana. In DS fashion you can expect to find some new not necessarily fit for combat weapons and armour for the Swagsouls concious.

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One area where DS3 could be argued to be lacking is in the world itself. Lothric is much closer to DS2‘s Drangleic than the original game’s Lordran, with areas lacking the interconnectivity that made DS1 such a master-class in level design. In fact, Lothric may very well be the most straightforward map of the entire series, exhibiting clean cut ‘few path’ options with the tried and true, this door leads to the boss and is near the beginning of the level, but go through a few hours worth of torture then open it and realise it was a thin layer of pixels between you and the big cheese this whole time.

This is not to say the world is boring or lacking in secrets (or people telling you ‘illusinary wall’ then you spending 2 minutes hitting every wall in the room because you didn’t want to potentially miss out on the estus shard.) . I had to play through a large portion of the game a second time while reviewing, and found myself constantly discovering diversions and secret rooms I’d previously missed. What DS3 lacks in ‘world roam’ it makes up for in hidey holes filled with juicy loot.

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As an avid PvP’er in games in general I find it criminal how difficult and time consuming it is to go rounds with a few of your friends and test out some weaponry and armour. As a gimmick i think the red Soapston design works; it’s a ‘hey, I’m tired of dying so much let me take a break from that and fight someone once then go back to adventuring’ but when I was done with the game and I had the best weapons and armour I found myself wanting to test everything out so that I could optimally use my cracked red eye orbs and win my always unfairly handicapped fights. But once you die that’s it, you go back to your world, and have to suffer a loading screen to then have to put your sign down again, wait for it to appear and then suffer another loading screen AND THEN get spawned in a random location far away, have to meet up and then try loadout number 2 of 60 of your ‘never lose a PvP dual again master gear setup.’ Their should be a system where it breaks they type of duals down, if I’m fighting someone random or invading what they have is fine but if its private it should be treated as such and you should have a set of simple rules you can put down before, like first to 10 deaths, estus, health and mana replenishes after someone dies, no consumables permitted.

DS3 is, in many ways, a balancing of its predecessors. The detailed yet obfuscating narrative of DS1, the convenient travel system of DS2, a dash of the speed and ferosity found in Bloodborne and the rock solid backbone of strenuous, fulfilling challenge that runs throughout the entire series.

The Good

- Controller smashingly difficult
- Stunning Gothic artstyle
– Intelligent AI, level and gear design

The Bad

– underdeveloped PvP
– formulaic map design

The Verdict

Glutton for punishment and an amazing looking game with a one of a kind experience? Pop an ember and come join the festivities!

9.2