Demon’s Souls was a horribly difficult game. Many times you saw in big red letters on the screen that you had died, for the umpteenth time. Dark Souls, the spiritual successor of this game, will probably be the most difficult game you can play this year. However, is the game also fun?
To get straight to the point: Yes, Dark Souls is again mercilessly difficult. You will constantly try to survive in a classic fantasy world where danger can hide behind every wall. It is therefore the intention to constantly keep your shield high and your weapons at the ready, because at any moment an opponent can jump on you and you can and will die. You fall down after a few blows, because you take every hit in a realistic way.
You will spend many hours throughout the game, as you have to fight for every meter. You will therefore not make really fast progress, but that is not a bad thing either. You die regularly, and die… and die again, but really not a single time you die is in vain. You will always gain knowledge and that is your means to move forward. You are constantly forced to think about how to overcome the opponents and every time you die you learn something new. Next time you can do it differently, and then hopefully better, to eventually defeat those obstacles and enemies. So practice makes perfect and when it finally succeeds, the satisfaction is all the greater.
Despite the fact that the game is incredibly hardcore and extremely challenging, that does not take away from the fact that Dark Souls offers a lot of fun. The tactics that you are continuously developing are only part of that, because simply making a game difficult doesn’t necessarily make it fun. Dark Souls is so strong because it is difficult, but never unfair. When you die, all enemies reappear, but your inventory is replenished with a dozen potions and the main bosses will not suddenly return. Moreover, dying is due to lack of knowledge or lack of skill, not because the game is bullying you. That way, the game encourages you to try again.
Dark Souls works with check points in the form of campfires. When you kill opponents you get souls, which you can use here to make your character stronger. Besides the fact that you can save the progress and your life bar is cheerfully replenished, there are a few caveats to add. Not only do all monsters appear when you die, they will also reappear if you use such a campfire. It is also not the case that the campfires are in ideal locations. Do you dare to defeat enemies again or do you decide to move on in the hope that you don’t die?
Fortunately, the environments in Dark Souls are wonderfully varied. In essence, the game is a traditional dungeon crawler, but there is no step in and out. The game also knows how to properly process castles, villages, ruins and tombs. You are therefore not continuously busy in the same gray places, but you will also regularly be able to enjoy healthy daylight and, among other things, beautiful mountain groups in the background. This not only produces beautiful pictures, but also ensures that the game manages to create a pleasant atmosphere.
However, there are still some downsides. Although the atmosphere is very strong, it is limited by the sporadic use of musical support. You will have to do without music for most of the game. In addition, there are also some (graphic) bugs, where you will find flying logs or get stuck at some points. Fortunately, these bugs are only a minor part of the entire experience.
The preliminary conclusion that I formulated after my impressions at Gamescom all turned out to be correct: Dark Souls has become a better version of predecessor Demon’s Souls in everything. The game manages to be an extremely challenging game, but it always remains fair. You will often die, but the game is challenging and never impossible. Dark Souls is an incredibly impressive title that should be played by any gamer who likes a bit of a challenge.