Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
OK, this one took a very long time to beat. But not necessarily gameplay time wise (about 105 hours). It took a long time (more than 6 months) because it was too depressing to keep playing for long hours. Before writing about my impressions, I want to make it clear that I am a Demon's Souls fan. Demon's Souls is in my opinion, the best PS3 game ever made. It took me to a different world, gave me a unique gameplay experience, made me feel very awkward emotions. It was fantastic. So according to almost everyone's opinion, Dark Souls is the better game in every sense. Not for me, it is not. Let me tell you why...
First of all Demon's Souls was the amazing game that no one played. Dark Souls is the amazing game that everyone played. So it is perfectly understandable that the newcomers had a unique experience with Dark Souls which they simply cannot forget. I think it is like how everyone's favorite MMORPG tends to be the first one they have played. So Demon's Souls/Dark Souls series gives you that feeling. It punches you in the face and tells you there is nothing like it out there. True.
My main problem with Dark Souls -in comparison to the first game- was the photographic memory requirement. The level designs are genius and are all connected to each other in a remarkable open world labyrinthine fashion. Imagine something like ICO but much more complex. However, if you don't have a photographic memory, you will forget. You will not remember the shortcut to a specific level. You will try to get there using the 10 times longer route just because you totally forgot about the shortcut. To overcome this, you will consult walkthroughs and gameplay videos (there are basically 1000s of videos on youtube showing how to get from X to Y. Talking about walkthroughs, this is not a game where they are supplementary. Walkthroughs are absolutely necessary to beat Dark Souls. In order to understand how to benefit from your weapon, you will have to check the different upgrade path outcomes of many different players... And how they worked/did not work on a specific boss.
The second thing I liked less was the emotional perfection of the bosses. The game is really improved in the sense of boss combats since cheating your way out of a boss fight is usually not very possible in Dark Souls. However, in Demon's Souls, I remember fighting bosses with a lot of empathy. Demon's Souls made me feel I am a horrible person for swinging my sword. Whereas in Dark Souls, I was more aware that this was a video game and did not really care about who I am killing.
I am not going to talk about all the good things about Dark Souls, which you can find in any review you read. But you should at least know that there are things this series simply perfected. It is the only game series in which backstabbing an enemy makes you feel like you are holding the knife in your hand and really stuck it into someone's back. There is a great deal of realism in terms of how you move and fight. You are really holding the shield on your left hand and the sword on the right. The game lore is pretty good, if you pay attention to details. Everything is designed to make you feel in that hopeless depressing environment. All the NPCs are hopeless. You are hopeless. The environment, NPCs, player, music are all in perfect harmony of enormous hopelessness.
Do I recommend Dark Souls? Hell yes! But it is not a perfect game. I did not enjoy the entire over a 100 hours I have spent on it with a mixed feeling of depression, masochism and satisfaction. I did not enjoy playing it simultaneously checking a youtube gameplay video. But it is a great game nonetheless and highly recommended.
damien score: 9
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