In the short lived series Masters of Horror, John Carpenter directs (the best) episode called ‘Cigarette Burns’. In this episode a guy is tracking down a copy of ‘Le Film Absolut Du Monde’ which reportedly sends everyone who sees it crazy. He encounters a man who has seen the film and had spent the better part of thirty years writing a review. I felt this way when approaching writing this piece as it has a similar effect. It drove me crazy, and I could go on and on and on about it. Fortunately, I am not an expositional character in an ill-fated horror anthology, so I will keep it brief.
For those living under a rock, From Software’s Souls series (and Bloodborne) are RPG games famed for their difficulty and intricate level design and the third instalment of the Dark Souls franchise (Demons’ Souls and Bloodborne are stand-alone entries) is the culmination of tweaks and refinements on everything before.
WARNING! Some may consider the rest of this review to contain minor spoilers! Read on at your own peril.
In my previous review for the Bloodborne Old Hunters DLC, I spoke about the way Miyazaki had created a version of current areas making them seem familiar and alien at the same time. In Dark Souls 3, the entire game is essentially the same. Throughout the game you will constantly wonder if this is an updated version of areas visited in the past, yet given different names. The snippiest of people may suggest that Miyazaki has simply re-tread old ground by doing this, but it becomes apparent that this is a very deliberate design choice and fully intentional. So there.
I shouted, I swore, I blamed various deities and then realised everything I did was my own fault
Gameplay initially seemed so much more difficult to me when I first started playing and I came to realise that having spent so much time on Bloodborne and Dark Souls 2, where healing items were plentiful, that I had adapted a tactic of tanking a couple of hits before going in for the kill. This is no longer a viable strategy. In the early game Estus is very limited, so you will quickly find yourself at the boss with no way to heal. In the late game it isn’t a sound strategy since many enemies can kill you with two hits. I shouted, I swore, I blamed various deities and then realised everything I did was my own fault and decided to ‘git good’.
The concept of trick weapons was introduced in Bloodborne and was an incredible addition. An element of that has been incorporated into Dark Souls 3 with the addition of weapon arts, a skill that varies with each weapon using Focus Points (a returning mechanic from Demon’s Souls) and can be essential for tackling tricky enemies. The combat also feels faster paced than before, not as quick as Bloodborne, but improved nonetheless. Enemies now patrol more frequently, so a drawn out duel can often get you swamped, lending a sense of urgency to each encounter.
I have spent in excess of sixty hours with the game, completing it from start to finish twice and still I want more. Knowing that a completely different build is available makes me want to continue playing, my two playthroughs have been Sorcery and Dexterity based respectively and I look forward to trying Miracle/Hex and Strength builds in the future. It is also a joy that I am still discovering secret nooks and entire areas, thanks in huge part to helpful messages left by other players.
There is no doubt in my mind that despite us only being a quarter of the way through 2016, this is the game of the year, no question. Early sales show that this is the fastest and best-selling Souls game that From Software have produced and it is well deserved. Hopefully this will result in a super-duper HD version of the original game to be released so new fans of the series can go back and see the fan service for themselves. So, go out. Buy it, play it, and Praise The Sun!