Dark Souls 3 Review
The third iteration of Dark Souls, sports pure roller-coaster, adrenaline charged, scenery. You plunge into forbidding, unforgiving depths—and wonder after the narrow escape—how you got there in the first place.
Much as in the earlier releases of the franchise, that is all par for the course. Yeah, you make take a tumble here and an unflattering knock there, but all taken together Dark Souls III is one heck of an absorbing adventure.
The sequel to Dark Souls 2 in the notoriously unforgiving dark fantasy series, well celebrated—if you would allow—for their ruthlessly difficult progression and infinitesimal margin for error. Much like its two prior iterations, Dark Souls III forces the player into a precarious existence between a pair of mutually exclusive outcomes: the triumph of almost impossible odds or a series of desperate, humiliating capitulation. There is no straddling the fence here. You must take one road or the other.
Getting through this game would require superhuman doggedness, but be sure that this is well rewarded. You are never afforded enough time to savor any victories because the next challenge or potentially fatal crash is just around the corner.
You find all around you a myriad of constantly jumbled, incongruous landscape features. It’s almost impossible to see beyond a few meters in every direction. It’s an indication of the design intricacy that unearthing a bonfire heap is just as critical as crushing a difficult superior or getting through a particularly difficult marsh. You would come to deeply appreciate every hard worn inch of progress.
The Secrets in Dark Soul III may not be revealed until after your second play through
Making your way back to the Fire link Hub to gauge arms quality, examine particular character stats, get critical first aid treatment from would feel quite onerous at the beginning. However, as you play through and master the terrain, build up important allies, and stack up on important, this becomes routine. Bonfire checkpoints distributed all through Dark Souls III enable much-improved travel times, and you may come to appreciate your trips to the Fire link as a much-needed respite from the treacherous play space.
Dark Souls III does an outstanding job of walking a fine line between reconnaissance and discovery. There may be many different pathways to a particular destination or varied courses to evade an adversary. But each of those pathways is strewn with fresh, unexpected danger. The mystery wraps a thick, impenetrable cloak around every step you manage to take. The puzzles are endless.
The challenges in Dark Souls 3, make their appearance in a myriad of utterly bizarre forms: wild dogs and supersized monsters; treacherous knights and dishonest priests. No two adversaries are the same, so you must improvise anew with every antagonist. Be especially careful when you encounter groups as the interacting dynamics make for much less predictable behavioral patterns. The program writers of Dark Souls III, have so designed your progress that you are your most vulnerable when it seems easiest or flush with excitement for very recent victory. Lookout, the danger is ever present.
It takes a while to really get into the flow in Dark Souls 3. But, if you are patient and carefully observe, you would find that even the most unpredictable adversaries, or the most treacherous marshes have subtly obvious weaknesses and regular patterns respectively. Maybe an unsteady left-hand here, a certain inability to ward off attacks from behind there. Every antagonist has a vulnerability as powerful as its peculiar fighting ability. In Dark Souls III, you must quickly familiarize yourself with your many enemies: you’re taking the next step literally, depends on it.
Fighting your way through the darkness
The fighting varies wildly between indifferent skirmishes and desperate, fight-to-the-death combats. At times, you may seem outnumbered, hopelessly overpowered. Don’t be overly desolate, however, there’s always an escape route here or timely help from an ally there. In Dark Souls III, you are seldom without any options. Whether you can appreciate and utilize those options in real-time is another question entirely. This is precisely when your innate ingenuity and resourcefulness must come to the fore.
You may find that your angle of view is not entirely sufficient, particularly in very tight corners. And the weapon train lock option can be precarious, specifically when you are up against Dark Soul 3’s more fleet-footed, nimble antagonists. This could be a major pitfall, especially if you aren’t too familiar with the terrain. Dark Soul would do well to improve this in future.
A particularly obvious design aberration forces you to obtain a unique weapon in order to defeat a stubborn adversary. Without this special weapon, you would have to waste valuable time and resources hacking away at him. In keeping with the mystery in Dark Soul III, however, there was a long prior option to deactivate that special weapon requirement. Very few players might take not of it, though, until they are facing sure elimination. This kind of adversaries makes nonsense of all the skills you may have mastered up until this time. You may then be forced to relearn skills you have painstakingly mastered up to the point.
To a very good degree, though, your acquired experience through to the latter stages is very useful. It’s that mystery, that pervading sense of danger that anchors Dark Soul III’s best experiences. Your instincts and experience never seem quite sufficient. Even at the end of this difficult game, you are still mentally trapped in a maze. No two triumphs are the same.
Difficult Bosses Force You to Reexamine Your Experience
In keeping with the tradition from its precursors, Dark Soul III never fully exposes the underlying play and interaction between the elements. For instance, we marvel at how much we could lose ourselves in the virtual world. How did these unreal characters manage to so completely enthrall our minds? How did they acquire so much power of our imaginations?
Many of the endpoints in Dark Souls III are definitely not what we might expect: they force into stark relief the desperation in the paths we trod to get there. In many respects, this is the quandary at the core of Dark Souls 3: disproportionate difficulty, sweet triumph.
Dark Souls 3: A very difficult road. But the light at the end of the tunnel.
Art imitates life. Life imitates art.