What on earth can I say about a game like Dark Souls? It’s hard, it’s fair, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in gaming. Dark Souls is very unique. It’s hack-and-slash kill-the-monster gameplay taken to the extreme; you kill a metric ton of monsters on your way to kill a big huge monster. And it seems like the #1 most frequent thing you do in it is die.
I’m 24 hours in on my main character, a bruiser wearing medium armor, a heavy shield, and an axe, who originally started as the scimitar wielding Wanderer. If you’re familiar with the game, I’ve just made it to Sen’s Fortress. To get a little perspective, I started over as a Pyromancer, just to refresh my memory on the beginning of the game.
Dark Souls opens with a somewhat unconventional fantasy history of the world; Fire arose, and great Lords began contesting the Dragons, eventually slaying them all. But the time of Fire is almost over, and certain humans are plagued with darksign, turning them into undead- like yourself. The story is very sparse once you start playing, though it appears you’re fulfilling some kind of prophecy (but it’s clear you’re not the first to try). NPCs populate the world and offer comment on your quest and current events, though usually in a morose and roundabout way, never monologuing to you about the story at hand.
The focus of the game is on the challenging combat, and it’s both maddeningly frustrating and intensely satisfying. My victories are nearly entirely a result of my skill, and my defeats are most often because I made the wrong choice. Monsters respawn every time I choose to recover, which gives me continued opportunities to polish my skills. Simply killing the boss of an area isn’t enough; I must also be skilled enough to fight my way to the boss, and then kill it, which is a distinct kind of challenge.
On the whole, it’s very much unlike the kind of game I usually play, and it’s thoroughly refreshing.