Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed On: PS4
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
Release Date: 12 April 2016
There comes a time in a gamer’s life when he needs to consider the risk of what lies ahead. Many games today are not really big on the risk factor, while others rely on it heavily to make its experience one of a kind. Dark Souls III is basically built on a risk factor. Do I keep my souls and head into the fog ahead? I could die and lose them all, or beat the ferocious creature ahead? This is always the case in Dark Souls, but it spread as far as gambling to make a jump onto a ledge ahead. This is what makes Dark Souls so appealing, you lose, and learn. You die, and learn. Everything you do right or wrong has a knowledge factor to it which slowly grows your character right till the end.
Set in the land of Lothric, you are an unkindled who has set out to take down the Lords of Cinder and bring peace or calamity to the lands. Sounds pretty simple, but the Dark Souls story and lore has always been extremely complicated, which is another great element to the series. You either need to try to understand what an NPC is saying by dismantling the complicated old English dialogue, or dive into item descriptions to learn more about the history of the characters and weapons you encounter along the way. Nothing will hold your hand and help you understand what is going on, just like the combat, weapons and equipment.
Following Dark Souls II, many of the mechanics have been polished and brought back. Infusing weapons took a miss in Dark Souls II, and has returned better than ever in this title. Defeating bosses and retrieving their “boss” souls, can be transposed for rare weapons and magic. To compare the franchise, there is actually more Dark Souls I in the game than there is Dark Souls II, and this is good because it means that veterans will be happy to return to the core of the franchise.
Combat has also been polished up with improved hit boxes, and more ways to duel opponents and enemies are introduced. Whether you are using an axe, magic, sword or bow, it is all about how you handle it and your stats and equipment load. In short Dark Souls III’s combat system is a well-oiled machine that relies on quite a few mechanics to really shine. Stats, equipment load, poise and more, all go into deciding how well your character preforms when in a fight.
The good old Estus Flask is back with quite a buffed effect. Health seems to be more forgiving when lost, and compared to Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, it heals more health across the board. Magic, blessings and pyromancies now rely on FP (Magic) in order to use them, and they have lost all their set chargers which were in the previous game. You can now allocate Estus Flasks across FP and HP, if you have 4 flasks, 2 can be FP and 2 can be HP. It all depends on what play style you are using. We started off with magic and 3 FP flasks, but in the end we were on 1 FP flask and 14 HP. This is because we decided to switch to a more combat approach with magic being used to draw enemies out of crowds.
We played the entire game co-op with another player, we set up a password and did everything twice, once on our game and again on the other player’s. This meant that being invaded would always come with a “trolling” opportunity as one player would hide away, and wait to strike while the invader focuses on the other player. Other times we could beat the invader thanks to the help of two players. Lag sometimes worked for us and against us as we died, and we killed thanks to it.
Other than the PvP portion of the game, co-op works flawlessly. Summoning a player in a private capacity or a public summons is great and benefits both you and the summoned player. Taking down bosses is much easier when you have a team of 3, rather than 1, but the boss’s difficulty does spike. There are restrictions to summons though as some areas have to be explored alone, but there aren’t many of these areas.
To say that Dark Souls III is the biggest and most ambitious in the series is an understatement. Every area and every landscape in the distance was breathtakingly freaky or gorgeous. As you climbed to the top of a tower, you can see each and every area you have explored, which makes the world feel so much more connected that any title in the series. Every area is well detailed to the extreme, from the sound effects, to the creepy ambience in a cave. Castles are massive and give you that feeling that you’re up against something that is way bigger than you can even imagine. Boss fights always take place in a fitting environment which complement the sheer scale of the fight.
It would take you just around 50 hours to play through the game, this all considering if you die often, or really want to explore every NPC quest and defeat every option boss. Every location is full of secret boxes, passageways and puzzles to solve, which adds more substance to the game. We never felt that it was ever padded with uninteresting things to do, or mundane areas to explore. Every moment was an adventure to death.
Dark Souls III not only teaches you to be more patient, but it also teaches you to be a better gamer and make better decisions. In its 50-hour campaign, we were constantly questioning our own skill level as we died for the most ridiculous reasons. From the start, right to the end, the game kept on impressing beyond our wildest expectations, every area was a new adventure, and every sword we picked up had to be tried out. There is nothing we can say to bring down the game at all, it is one of the best we have ever played. We cannot wait to start our second playthrough.