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Dark Souls: Why Should You Play? - Game Review

Matt Simpson reviews Dark Souls, the extraordinary role-playing game by Namco Bandai. More importantly, he tells you why you should play it. In less than 3 minutes.
Dark Souls: Why Should You Play? - Game Review

Transcript of Esports In Less Than 3 Minutes: Why You Should Play Dark Souls by Matt Simpson - January 2020

Ok I’ve only got 3 minutes to tell you why Dark Souls might just be the greatest thing I’ve ever played and why you should absolutely buy it now. *Don’t have time for these*. You’ve probably heard about how Dark Souls is hard - I mean every game that’s even remotely difficult becomes the ‘Dark Souls’ of that genre or whatever. But that’s doing the game a massive disservice and here’s why.

Yes Dark Souls is hard. Within 5 minutes you come up against a massive demon creature with a giant hammer and you’ve got nothing but a broken sword to fight it. To be fair you’re meant to just run away and come back later when you’ve got some more stuff, but it does set the tone. Dark Souls isn’t unfair. Yeah you’ll die a lot, but it’s always your fault. You rushed in, you weren’t considering your surroundings, you didn't take the time to learn what tools you have and how to use them.

And there’s a lot of tools at your disposal. You’ve got melee weapons like swords, spears, halberds, axes, hammers. You can use bows and arrows for ranged combat, and shields to protect yourself. Or you can use magic, or pyromancy, or miracles, and they’re all viable options. There’s plenty of different armour sets too, with different types of damage protection. And you can upgrade pretty much everything, and buff them with different stats and ability.

But ok, a lot of RPG’s have these similar systems, so what makes Dark Souls different? Well the combat is far more methodical than most games. You don’t just run in all guns blazing and smash your way to victory. Every strike, every spell, every heal needs to be carefully considered. It becomes a sort of dance, and the thrill of overcoming a tougher enemy this way is enthralling.

Then there’s the world and the lore. Dark Souls is bleak, depressing, lonely and fascinating. You travel through the ruins of a once great empire, where only the scraps are left as the powerful cling on as they watch the world burn - sounds familiar... You're tasked to keep alive the flame that lights the world, and that’s pretty much all you know. Along the way you meet NPC’s who give you other motivations and tit bits about what’s truly going on. Everything else is inferred through item descriptions, environmental examination and interpreting things for yourself. By the end of the game you can decide whether to keep the flame alive or not, but it’s entirely unclear which one you should do, and ultimately neither seems like the perfect ending. They’re your questions to answer.

The level design is just as engaging. After the introductory level you can go one of three ways. You can go down to a graveyard with some skeletons, but they keep coming back to life when you kill them, indicating this isn’t the way to go. You can go down to some dark flooded ruins, but you can’t attack the ghosts you encounter, again telling you to avoid this place at the moment. Or you can go up to where there are some easy enemies that you can pass no problem. This sort of design is unforgiving, but also pretty genius.

And after a while you’ll have traveled some fare distance, finding relief in the occasion bonfire when you die. Oh yeah there’s no manual saving, you have to find a sparse checkpoint to save. Oh I also forgot to mention that if you die you go back to the last bonfire and lose all your souls. Oh and souls are like your currency for levelling up, buying items and generally doing anything to improve your survival chances. Well you have one chance to go back and get them as they’ll be left where you died, but if you die again, that’s it. Gone forever.

Anyway, you’ve been travelling for what seems like hours before you come across an elevator. You’ll step on it dreading where you’re going to end up, then before you know it you’re back right at the start of the game. It’s one of the astonishing moments this game constantly provides. The whole world is interconnected in fascinating ways - an open world of the most mysterious kind; one that rewards exploration and stuns you with how connected everything really is.

There’s so much more I want to talk about - the incredible boss battles, the sound and art design, the surprises, the way I can’t stop thinking about it. But I’m out of time and they’re probably going to cut me off now PLAY IT….