A maddening difficulty
How hard could it be? I found myself asking this exact question as I considered purchasing it from my local retailer, I soon found my answer as started my adventure through the dark and eerily calm world that is Dark Souls. Tekken 6 creator Bandai has set the bar for difficulty in a game to an astronomical level with this title. In a world where everything is hostile (excluding the occasional merchant and a handful of non-playable characters) how does one survive in such trying conditions?
As the game starts you awake in The Undead Asylum which is full of…… you guessed it the undead. As you fight through these seemingly easy enemies you almost start to feel that maybe the hype was simply just hype. As you move into the second area you come to the realisation that the difficulty is present as enemy health, damage and most noticeably their speed seem to double although still not that much of a challenge…. yet.
Once you have made your way through the beginning tutorial and embark on the quest to save your humanity you will start to realize just how big of a challenge this game has in store for you. One of the most difficult of these is being given an objective but having no way of knowing where that is located or what direction, as I found (or should say didn’t find) there is no map or any way of finding your bearings other than listening to the cryptic directions of a certain npc. You have three paths to take at the beginning of the game one being right and two leading you to your first of many deaths on your travels.
Although the game has some serious challenges and some extremely strong enemies, with these highly memorable fights come a sense of urgency as you dodge, block and fight your way through each encounter. Once the dust settles and you are the last man/woman standing there is a rather gratifying feeling of achievement after you frantically struggle to defeat a somewhat unstoppable enemy.
Although this game has a high emphasis on discovery and conversation, the true game comes from the brilliant combat system. Your character will have number of different offensive striking moves 2 defensive moves (both with prove their worth) and on top of that you have spells, bows and cross bows to help you through your journey. That may seem like quite an arsenal to have in such a hard game but the one thing that must be remember is your enemy has access to all of the weapons and skills and will use the as effectively as you can.
The last component I will write about is the multiplayer aspect which in my opinion is one the best I have encountered. In order to participate in multiplayer you will need an active online account and will need to be in game chat. The first thing you may notice is messages written in an unknown language and burning a bright orange. Some of these tips (especially in the starting areas) are a part of the game but as you process you will find ones left from other players which can range from helpful tips for boss’s, to warnings of traps or dangerous foes. In order to lay down traps you need to acquire a specific item from a merchant, once you have found this item let your messages be heard!
The second half of multiplayer is divided between invade and summon, which allow you to enter another player’s world either by force or by choice. If you choose summon, the player of that world must battle you in a fight to death with the winner walking away with the spoils. If you summon a player or a summoned by a player (again a specific item is needed for both instances) co-op play will begin. Although it does make it easier it isn’t permanent as it will end after the area boss has been defeated or the host of the world dies.
With all that said I highly encourage gamers looking for a challenge to pick this game up and dive into a highly hostile world and as it says on the back of the case…… PREPARE TO DIE.