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Life's A Bitch, And Then You Die: 45 Hours With Dark Souls

A fascinating exercise in self-flagellation, Dark Souls is one of the most unique gameplay experiences you could hope to have in this console generation.

Rilke once wrote, to a young writer who asked him to critique his poems, that “ultimately, and precisely in the deepest and most important matters, we are unspeakably alone; and many things must happen, many things must go right, a whole constellation of events must be fulfilled, for one human being to successfully advise or help another.” That effectively sums up the experience of playing Dark Souls, a game which features one of the most bizarre implementations of online play that you’re likely to encounter in this generation of consoles. This is a game that is perfectly playable offline, but becomes something different and wonderful when hooked up to the Internet. You’ll spend the vast bulk of your playing time by yourself, but the moments when someone reaches out through the ether with a helping hand (or a knife to plunge in your back) are among its most exhilarating.

(Before we proceed, a note: this editorial was written based on 45+ hours of gameplay on the Playstation 3, both before and after the game's release. I make no claims to having beaten the game, but I have sampled quite a bit of it, and these are some collected thoughts.)

Apparently a change of publisher made it impossible to call this game Demon’s Souls II, but make no mistake: this is a game that is intimately related to the From Software title that made such a splash in 2009. It feels more iterative than evolutionary; it features essentially the same interface, and the bulk of the mechanics are identical to Demon’s Souls. You still kill enemies and collect their souls, which are used both as currency and as a means to increase your level; you still lose all the souls you’ve gained if you die and are forced to march through a horde of resurrected enemies to reach your corpse, and if you fail to make it back, all the currency you’ve earned, sometimes representing hours of grinding, is permanently destroyed. Two strikes, and you’re out, in essence.

That’s not to say that nothing’s changed, though, with the biggest innovation here being a largely loading screen-less open world that, in typical Souls style, you’re dumped into early on and left to explore for yourself. You can choose your direction at the outset, but you will quickly find yourself with a bit of a Hobson’s Choice: you have three directions to head in, but two of them offer little rewards apart from a swift death, while the third will allow you to make slow, painstaking progress if you proceed exceedingly carefully. This is essentially all the feedback you get to help you decide which way to go: the correct route is usually the one with enemies that don’t kill you in two hits as your weapons bounce futilely off their impervious armor.

As you proceed, you find the keys to locked doors, and other passages open themselves up, allowing you to skip enemies and move more quickly about the game world via shortcuts between areas. In typically punitive Souls fashion, though, there’s no map to guide you. Unless you bust out the old graph paper, you’ll be tasked with memorizing how all of the various zones lock together and keeping it straight in your head. A fair amount of backtracking is inherent in the game design, though, and you’ll wander through the hallways often enough to make a map eventually feel unnecessary. The unfamiliarity of the world and the danger lurking around each corner makes exploration immensely satisfying and tense; each time you discover a new zone, you’ll be tempted to proceed by the search for new items and treasure, but you’ll also likely encounter new enemies that will have entirely new ways of chopping you down to size.

To replace the old routine of warping in and out of the Nexus in Demon’s Souls to save your game and quit in a safe spot, bonfires are scattered throughout the world of Dark Souls. They effectively act as checkpoints, allowing you to rest, restore your health, remove most status afflictions, and regenerate your healing potions. Resting at a bonfire also respawns all enemies across the world, which will make it difficult to cover any dangerous territory you’ve traversed, but also allows you to farm easy-to-kill enemies for souls. Opinions will vary on the necessity of grinding, but it’s likely that you’re going to spend at least a few hours of your playtime cranking through enemies and obtaining souls, both to increase your stats, buy equipment, and improve your weaponry through one of the various smiths that are scattered throughout the game world. Helpfully, you can quit your game at any point during play and come right back to the same spot when you load your game, without respawning enemies or having to retrace ground you've already covered.

The mechanics of combat are virtually identical to Demon’s Souls, save for the introduction of a kicking action that can make it much easier to knock lighter enemies off of high places to their deaths. Enemies can now parry and counterattack you for severe amounts of damage, and many of them also now have grapple attacks that will often be the source of consternation the first time you face off against them. Some enemies can grapple you through a shield block and remove your entire life bar before you can struggle free, forcing you to recognize the wind-up animations that precede these attacks and back away. That said, the movement of your character feels precise and responsive; when you die in combat, it’s almost always the result of a mistake you’ve made rather than a game mechanic that can’t be avoided.

In a similar fashion to the previous game, you can choose to travel around as a full-blooded human, or as a character that’s undead (known here as being "Hollowed"). There aren’t a lot of statistical differences between the two states, but you’ll have to be human in order to partake of the various PVP facets of the game. The online interaction is, as it was in Demon’s Souls, one of the more fascinating implementations of co-operative and PVP gameplay that you’re likely to see in this generation of gaming. The scattered messages left on the ground by other players return here, and are just as likely to be meaningless or malicious as they are helpful. If a true secret is to be found (a destroyable wall, a hidden bonfire), there’s likely to be a message pointing it out, but there’s also just as likely to be messages telling you to jump off a cliff in search of treasure or spurring you to attack friendly NPCs.

Those interactions are downright picayune compared to the meat of the PVP, in which players can invade your world and attempt to kill you, or leave a summoning sign to let you bring them into your world in an attempt to kill a boss. Again, you can avoid PVP by simply wandering around the world in undead form, and the penalties for doing so are mild, although you do lose the thrill and satisfaction of warding off another player’s intrusion into the world. The PVP here has shifted to a client-host setup from the old server-based system, and there’s been some noticeable lag on the occasions when someone has attempted to gank me, but nothing too awful. The goal is, of course, to survive, with the winner of a match gaining a bit of humanity, a kind of alternate currency that has a number of obscure uses in the game (it can shift you from undeath to human form, for instance, and carrying around a lot of it will increase the chance that you find items on dead enemies). There’s no penalty for being invaded and dying, though, aside from turning undead and making a corpse run back to your body. Up to three players can converge in a single game to help down a boss; completing that objective will, again, earn all of them a bit of humanity.

What I find most fascinating about Dark Souls are the limitations of knowledge that the game places on you. The manual has a scant two pages of information on mechanics, and the in-game tooltips are often barebones (and occasionally outright incorrect) in their descriptions of how things work. Players are at times punished for lack of knowledge; some enemies can be killed in specific ways to drop rare items, but only spawn once, so unless you were reading a wiki or FAQ beforehand, you can easily lose out on the chance for those items. Or a character you rescue from a locked cell might wind up returning to camp and murdering other friendly NPCs while you’re out killing bosses. Or you might see a distant character and accidentally attack him, not realizing he's a friendly NPC, thus forcing him to fight you to the death without any way to make amends, and thus lose his services for the rest of the game. The constant autosaving feature makes the results of your choices permanent, but the game itself makes informed choices at times impossible to make. Kinda like, you know, real life.

That’s not necessarily a criticism, just an observation. The game is, of course, difficult, but mechanically speaking it’s quite fair: most of your deaths will come as a result of over-extending yourself, attempting to take on monsters more powerful than you can handle, or simply letting your guard down at just the moment when such a slip is most likely to cause the most amount of damage. (There are the occasional "enemies that can walk through walls attacking you while you climb a ladder and are defenseless" moments, but they're luckily rare.) It’s the difficulties that arise through lack of information that I found most interesting: not knowing which way to go, not knowing how to use a certain item, not knowing what the end result of a very expensive crafting experiment might be, not knowing what will happen when you join a covenant. (Covenants are a new mechanic, via which you can effectively join groups of characters in the game, united by a common purpose; each has its own rewards and perks, some of which even help you in online play, but these are almost never described in any manner in-game.) There’s an item simply called “Rubbish” that I picked up early on, with a description as follows: “Who in their right mind would bother carrying this around? Perhaps you need help.” And yet, I of course have kept it in my inventory since the beginning of the game, on the supposition that at some point it might, just might, come in handy or serve some function. I don’t know, and that's kind of the point: the game's obsession with obscurantism forces you to suss things out for yourself (players are even prevented from using voice chat on Xbox Live), and the results are frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. This is a game to play through from beginning to end without resorting to any kind of external information; playing through it again with a wiki or guide by your side will likely make for a radically different experience the second time through.

Graphically, Dark Souls is noticeably brighter than Demon’s Souls, with a wider variety of zone types to play around in. Much of it affects a gothic sensibility, with crenellated spires looming above drawbridges populated by gargoyles, and so on, but you do spend a fair amount of time in forests, lava caverns, sewers, ruined underground cities, etc. It is a game that has some impressive vistas to admire when you’re not fighting for your life, and it generally looks great, save for intermittent framerate issues. The framerate will drop precipitously from time to time, often when an enemy suffers from a pathing issue, but one zone in particular, a swamp area called Blighttown, has a uniformly awful framerate that directly affects your ability to control your character, which in turn can lead to some cheap deaths. Such issues are thankfully rare, at least in the PS3 version I've been playing.

If I had to sum up the emotion that Dark Souls elicits in a single word, I’d choose “satisfaction." There are any number of immensely frustrating encounters to faced had here, but with a few more levels or an upgraded weapon, or a bit more practice with the combat system, you’re going to overcome the challenges you face, and when you do, the feeling is unlike anything that any other contemporary game can offer. This is a game that demands skill on the part of its players, to a degree that is almost unparalleled, but rewards that skill with moments of triumph so sublime that I was often moved to actually yell in triumph. Dark Souls offers you a brutal, uncompromising, and downright lonely world, but the act of conquering it is utterly unique.

278 Comments
Posted by Rorie

Rilke once wrote, to a young writer who asked him to critique his poems, that “ultimately, and precisely in the deepest and most important matters, we are unspeakably alone; and many things must happen, many things must go right, a whole constellation of events must be fulfilled, for one human being to successfully advise or help another.” That effectively sums up the experience of playing Dark Souls, a game which features one of the most bizarre implementations of online play that you’re likely to encounter in this generation of consoles. This is a game that is perfectly playable offline, but becomes something different and wonderful when hooked up to the Internet. You’ll spend the vast bulk of your playing time by yourself, but the moments when someone reaches out through the ether with a helping hand (or a knife to plunge in your back) are among its most exhilarating.

(Before we proceed, a note: this editorial was written based on 45+ hours of gameplay on the Playstation 3, both before and after the game's release. I make no claims to having beaten the game, but I have sampled quite a bit of it, and these are some collected thoughts.)

Apparently a change of publisher made it impossible to call this game Demon’s Souls II, but make no mistake: this is a game that is intimately related to the From Software title that made such a splash in 2009. It feels more iterative than evolutionary; it features essentially the same interface, and the bulk of the mechanics are identical to Demon’s Souls. You still kill enemies and collect their souls, which are used both as currency and as a means to increase your level; you still lose all the souls you’ve gained if you die and are forced to march through a horde of resurrected enemies to reach your corpse, and if you fail to make it back, all the currency you’ve earned, sometimes representing hours of grinding, is permanently destroyed. Two strikes, and you’re out, in essence.

That’s not to say that nothing’s changed, though, with the biggest innovation here being a largely loading screen-less open world that, in typical Souls style, you’re dumped into early on and left to explore for yourself. You can choose your direction at the outset, but you will quickly find yourself with a bit of a Hobson’s Choice: you have three directions to head in, but two of them offer little rewards apart from a swift death, while the third will allow you to make slow, painstaking progress if you proceed exceedingly carefully. This is essentially all the feedback you get to help you decide which way to go: the correct route is usually the one with enemies that don’t kill you in two hits as your weapons bounce futilely off their impervious armor.

As you proceed, you find the keys to locked doors, and other passages open themselves up, allowing you to skip enemies and move more quickly about the game world via shortcuts between areas. In typically punitive Souls fashion, though, there’s no map to guide you. Unless you bust out the old graph paper, you’ll be tasked with memorizing how all of the various zones lock together and keeping it straight in your head. A fair amount of backtracking is inherent in the game design, though, and you’ll wander through the hallways often enough to make a map eventually feel unnecessary. The unfamiliarity of the world and the danger lurking around each corner makes exploration immensely satisfying and tense; each time you discover a new zone, you’ll be tempted to proceed by the search for new items and treasure, but you’ll also likely encounter new enemies that will have entirely new ways of chopping you down to size.

To replace the old routine of warping in and out of the Nexus in Demon’s Souls to save your game and quit in a safe spot, bonfires are scattered throughout the world of Dark Souls. They effectively act as checkpoints, allowing you to rest, restore your health, remove most status afflictions, and regenerate your healing potions. Resting at a bonfire also respawns all enemies across the world, which will make it difficult to cover any dangerous territory you’ve traversed, but also allows you to farm easy-to-kill enemies for souls. Opinions will vary on the necessity of grinding, but it’s likely that you’re going to spend at least a few hours of your playtime cranking through enemies and obtaining souls, both to increase your stats, buy equipment, and improve your weaponry through one of the various smiths that are scattered throughout the game world. Helpfully, you can quit your game at any point during play and come right back to the same spot when you load your game, without respawning enemies or having to retrace ground you've already covered.

The mechanics of combat are virtually identical to Demon’s Souls, save for the introduction of a kicking action that can make it much easier to knock lighter enemies off of high places to their deaths. Enemies can now parry and counterattack you for severe amounts of damage, and many of them also now have grapple attacks that will often be the source of consternation the first time you face off against them. Some enemies can grapple you through a shield block and remove your entire life bar before you can struggle free, forcing you to recognize the wind-up animations that precede these attacks and back away. That said, the movement of your character feels precise and responsive; when you die in combat, it’s almost always the result of a mistake you’ve made rather than a game mechanic that can’t be avoided.

In a similar fashion to the previous game, you can choose to travel around as a full-blooded human, or as a character that’s undead (known here as being "Hollowed"). There aren’t a lot of statistical differences between the two states, but you’ll have to be human in order to partake of the various PVP facets of the game. The online interaction is, as it was in Demon’s Souls, one of the more fascinating implementations of co-operative and PVP gameplay that you’re likely to see in this generation of gaming. The scattered messages left on the ground by other players return here, and are just as likely to be meaningless or malicious as they are helpful. If a true secret is to be found (a destroyable wall, a hidden bonfire), there’s likely to be a message pointing it out, but there’s also just as likely to be messages telling you to jump off a cliff in search of treasure or spurring you to attack friendly NPCs.

Those interactions are downright picayune compared to the meat of the PVP, in which players can invade your world and attempt to kill you, or leave a summoning sign to let you bring them into your world in an attempt to kill a boss. Again, you can avoid PVP by simply wandering around the world in undead form, and the penalties for doing so are mild, although you do lose the thrill and satisfaction of warding off another player’s intrusion into the world. The PVP here has shifted to a client-host setup from the old server-based system, and there’s been some noticeable lag on the occasions when someone has attempted to gank me, but nothing too awful. The goal is, of course, to survive, with the winner of a match gaining a bit of humanity, a kind of alternate currency that has a number of obscure uses in the game (it can shift you from undeath to human form, for instance, and carrying around a lot of it will increase the chance that you find items on dead enemies). There’s no penalty for being invaded and dying, though, aside from turning undead and making a corpse run back to your body. Up to three players can converge in a single game to help down a boss; completing that objective will, again, earn all of them a bit of humanity.

What I find most fascinating about Dark Souls are the limitations of knowledge that the game places on you. The manual has a scant two pages of information on mechanics, and the in-game tooltips are often barebones (and occasionally outright incorrect) in their descriptions of how things work. Players are at times punished for lack of knowledge; some enemies can be killed in specific ways to drop rare items, but only spawn once, so unless you were reading a wiki or FAQ beforehand, you can easily lose out on the chance for those items. Or a character you rescue from a locked cell might wind up returning to camp and murdering other friendly NPCs while you’re out killing bosses. Or you might see a distant character and accidentally attack him, not realizing he's a friendly NPC, thus forcing him to fight you to the death without any way to make amends, and thus lose his services for the rest of the game. The constant autosaving feature makes the results of your choices permanent, but the game itself makes informed choices at times impossible to make. Kinda like, you know, real life.

That’s not necessarily a criticism, just an observation. The game is, of course, difficult, but mechanically speaking it’s quite fair: most of your deaths will come as a result of over-extending yourself, attempting to take on monsters more powerful than you can handle, or simply letting your guard down at just the moment when such a slip is most likely to cause the most amount of damage. (There are the occasional "enemies that can walk through walls attacking you while you climb a ladder and are defenseless" moments, but they're luckily rare.) It’s the difficulties that arise through lack of information that I found most interesting: not knowing which way to go, not knowing how to use a certain item, not knowing what the end result of a very expensive crafting experiment might be, not knowing what will happen when you join a covenant. (Covenants are a new mechanic, via which you can effectively join groups of characters in the game, united by a common purpose; each has its own rewards and perks, some of which even help you in online play, but these are almost never described in any manner in-game.) There’s an item simply called “Rubbish” that I picked up early on, with a description as follows: “Who in their right mind would bother carrying this around? Perhaps you need help.” And yet, I of course have kept it in my inventory since the beginning of the game, on the supposition that at some point it might, just might, come in handy or serve some function. I don’t know, and that's kind of the point: the game's obsession with obscurantism forces you to suss things out for yourself (players are even prevented from using voice chat on Xbox Live), and the results are frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. This is a game to play through from beginning to end without resorting to any kind of external information; playing through it again with a wiki or guide by your side will likely make for a radically different experience the second time through.

Graphically, Dark Souls is noticeably brighter than Demon’s Souls, with a wider variety of zone types to play around in. Much of it affects a gothic sensibility, with crenellated spires looming above drawbridges populated by gargoyles, and so on, but you do spend a fair amount of time in forests, lava caverns, sewers, ruined underground cities, etc. It is a game that has some impressive vistas to admire when you’re not fighting for your life, and it generally looks great, save for intermittent framerate issues. The framerate will drop precipitously from time to time, often when an enemy suffers from a pathing issue, but one zone in particular, a swamp area called Blighttown, has a uniformly awful framerate that directly affects your ability to control your character, which in turn can lead to some cheap deaths. Such issues are thankfully rare, at least in the PS3 version I've been playing.

If I had to sum up the emotion that Dark Souls elicits in a single word, I’d choose “satisfaction." There are any number of immensely frustrating encounters to faced had here, but with a few more levels or an upgraded weapon, or a bit more practice with the combat system, you’re going to overcome the challenges you face, and when you do, the feeling is unlike anything that any other contemporary game can offer. This is a game that demands skill on the part of its players, to a degree that is almost unparalleled, but rewards that skill with moments of triumph so sublime that I was often moved to actually yell in triumph. Dark Souls offers you a brutal, uncompromising, and downright lonely world, but the act of conquering it is utterly unique.

Staff
Posted by Nomin

Dark souls ftw

Edited by Porkellain

nice

EDIT: LOOOOOL.

Gotta go to bed, I know.

Posted by benjaebe

This is even better than a review. Great read.

Posted by WSGEXE

@Rorie: Only you would quote Rilke when speaking of video games. You're the best.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Nice article Rorie. It's always good to see Whiskey Media staff branching out to the other sites.

Moderator
Posted by Venatio

So without reading all this I'm gonna ask, is there a review coming for this from you Rorie or did you write this because you want to stop playing?

I'm just way to tired right now to read all that, I better go to sleep.....

Posted by Elliefightslions

This game looks very interesting, I really want to check it out based on what you have said!

Posted by King_Jun

I love Illmatic, also Dark Souls

Posted by Aishan

Good write up Rorie. I'm equally eagerly awaiting and dreading the arrival of my copy in the mail tomorrow. As a 360 player I never had a chance to play Demon's Souls, but I am more than aware of it's reputation through both the original Giant Bomb Quick Look and some "Let's Play" footage I watched some months back.

The Quick Look you did for Dark Souls last week really piqued my interest, and that little chat with you had with Kessler confirmed my decision. I'm in the mood for something challenging right now, and although I don't really agree with some of the design decisions, mainly the obfuscation of game mechanics, it definitely seems like a game worth my time.

At least until Skyrim gets here.

Online
Posted by Vorbis

Great read, can't wait for my copy to arrive tomorrow.

Posted by kingzetta

great read rorie

Posted by Sooty

Properly petting gargoyles.

Posted by RYNO9881

I'm glad something like this was done. I can't wait to play it.

Edited by Marz

Dark Souls is like a Marathon race... so demanding on your willpower and you "hit a wall"  using marathon terms, once you get over that hump and finish the race you can't help but feel immensely accomplished in life.   Dark Souls is like that but there's multiple walls throughout that adventure.

Posted by Anthony

Is the title a Veronica Mars reference? Great article btw.

Posted by Mumrik

This article links to a 2.560px × 1.440px "screenshot" from a PS3 game (the one with the sword).

That's a bit absurd.

It doesn't actually look like a bullshot though. It's too ugly. Maybe something got messed up and the res was quadrupled.

Posted by Sputty

You're a good writer, Rorie.

Posted by ptys

The game sounds great but the thing that gets me is stuff like Gamespot saying "Game Of The Year 2009" and giving this recent version an almost perfect score? How does this as a stand alone product potentially compete with franchises like Mass Effect, Bio Shock and Elder Scrolls if all I'm hearing is that it's really hard, really slow and really rewarding. I'm not criticising, I'm just curious? I can crank the difficulty in ME2 up to Hardcore, play extremely methodically and have a really rewarding experience as a well. Perhaps it's more about how people rush through video games nowadays, not taking in the full experience and so in a game like this they are forced to play like alot of us already do?

Posted by bearshamanbro

Nice write-up Rorie. Spot on from my experience with Demons Souls. Have only played an hour of Dark Souls and some of the changes are minor but they really give a different experience and approach to how to play the game.

Posted by zombie2011

After reading this i kinda want to buy this game, but i feel if i get frustrated with it i'll just put i down and move on to something else.

Maybe in the spring when nothing else can tempt me away, will i play this game.

Posted by Crushed

This is probably the best preview I've read on GB. Amazing, Rorie.

Posted by Mento

Hey Rorie, if you're over here, then who's watching Screened?

I was going to take issue with the "unique" thing, seeing as the game appears nigh identical to Demon's Souls, but instead I'm going to take the high road and ask why FromSoftware suddenly decided it hated everyone. Is it because we made fun of how bad EverGrace was? Or how uncomfortable that one particular character from Enchanted Arms was to be around?

Moderator
Posted by Lukeweizer

All the hype about this got me back in Demon's Souls. But I do feel like I'm missing the coming out party for the game.

Anyone know how the 360 version is?

Posted by Thor_Molecules

Dark Souls, Matthew Rorie, and 90's gangsta rap headlines.

Loved this article.

Posted by Lightningproof

Rorie, please write all the things.

Along with Patrick and Alex, natch.

Posted by metalsnakezero

Pretty deep article for a deep game.

Posted by TripMasterMunky

@King_Jun said:

I love Illmatic, also Dark Souls

As do I.

Posted by norfair187

Great article, Rorie! My copy is on its way and I can't wait to die a thousand deaths. :P

Posted by HyperionXR

Good work Rorie. Great to have a Demon's Souls/Dark Souls supporter around. Seems like Vinny has to fight to convince the others what it's all about, but they just won't have any of it.

Posted by LiquidS

Im gay for Rorie.

Posted by mcnorhymes

i think what screws with people and makes them shy away from the game , and what simultaniously made me like the game from the minute i watched a little bit of lets play footage via youtube , is the realism....yea ...no more fucking around guys , you wanna battle weird fantasy creatures ....here you go , your wish has been granted.......pussies

Posted by Chief71888

That's why we get high,

Posted by punpun

Or a character you rescue from a locked cell might wind up returning to camp and murdering other friendly NPCs while you’re out killing bosses.


... fuck
Posted by Rorie

I didn't know this went up! I have to go get a haircut, but I'll try to answer any questions you guys have when I get back. Just @me and I'll try to go through them later.

Staff
Posted by gregoryc

Rorie, I loved the QL you ran commentary and gameplay on. After this holiday season I'll be attempting to play this game. In the meantime, could you convince anyone in the office who hasn't played this to do an endurance run?

Online
Posted by tourgen

You know, after playing so-called heroes in most other fantasy RPGs Demon's Souls and Dark Souls have been a cool breathe of fresh air. No killing 10 rats and collecting rat pelts. No Fedex quests for lazy townspeople. No carefully manicured combat encounters absurdly designed and enclosed in tight, neat, sterile boundary conditions.

Dark Souls is raw. You find your way or you don't. Real opportunity for failure with consequences makes the successes feel much more valuable. I thought games were always supposed to be like this.

That camera is bullshit though. Pretty happy that got discussed in the podcast.

Posted by GetBentTheVideoGame

They need to patch the lock-on so it's at least as good as Demon's Souls. Otherwise, incredible. The Metroid style world is a huge upgrade.

Posted by Beer

Great article from a great editor for a great game; thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Demon's Souls was one of my favorite games of this generation, and although Dark Souls doesn't feel as unique as that game did, (for obvious reasons) it's fun as fuck. My neighbors probably think that I've developed a sudden case of tourettes, but that's okay!

Also:

@LiquidS said:

Im gay for Rorie.

Posted by Losfer

Good write up, Rorie. Going to get this tomorrow. I put, like, 100 hours in Demons' Souls and still have some stuff left to do, but damn, zeitgeist.

TIME. GHOST.

Posted by DoctorWelch

THANK YOU MATT RORIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was an amazing write up/review, and I think this is exactly what those of us who have been complaining about the how the GB crew has been talking about the Souls games wanted.

Posted by Rorie

@punpun said:

Or a character you rescue from a locked cell might wind up returning to camp and murdering other friendly NPCs while you’re out killing bosses.


... fuck

Google "Yurt, The Silent Chief" for an example of this from the first game. Brutal stuff!

Staff
Posted by StingerMK2

got my copy earlier today, i am also on the 360 and going in never played Demon Souls, about 2 hours of play so far, and im loving it, its complete head fuck at first, it literally controls like nothing i have ever played before, it took me quite a while to get to grips with even the basic combat mechanics, but im definitely getting there, im at the bonfire just before fighting the armoured boar, the combat in particular sort of reminds me of Phantasy Star Online, but instead of being limited by 3 hit combo, you have to take your defending and stamina into consideration instead,

id be playing it now, other than the fact i have been to a gig tonight, and im pretty sure playing this game whilst slightly drunk is not going to end well, great write up Matt, really looking forward to tackling the rest of the game

Posted by Owlright

This is this most I've wished I still had my PS3 in a long time, just so I could play this game. Might have to pick one up again so I can play this and Skyrim when it comes out.

Edited by Liv

Okay people, (1) Rorie for PRESIDENT, and (2) Dark Souls for GOTY. This is a game I've been longing for since I first saw the Quick Look of Demon's Souls. A Demon's Souls for the 360 (since I am currently not in possession of a SonyStation 300). An uncomprimising and sadistic game, luring me in with a morbid difficulty and serving some tasty, traditional game design that have never felt so fresh, mesmerizing or relevant.

Posted by playastation

wait... is that a fantastic voyage reference?

Coolio?

That's awesome.

Posted by Joey2683

@Rorie said:

I didn't know this went up! I have to go get a haircut, but I'll try to answer any questions you guys have when I get back. Just @me and I'll try to go through them later.

I know you haven't played the 360 version, but have you heard any reasons to avoid it versus the PS3 version?

Posted by Rayeth

@ptys: But you are making a CHOICE to play games in that rewarding fashion, and the designers happen to allow it. There are many games where such a choice is entirely denied.

Dark Souls (and Demon's Souls before it) have no difficulty settings. You must play this way. The designers require it. This is a bold move to make in the same way that choosing to create a trilogy of games that carry forward all choices was when Mass Effect was created.

The game, IMO, is being praised for making a deliberate choice to create a specific experience in the same way that games like Mass Effect create their story in a very deliberate way. The difference is that here it is YOU having the experience rather than the experience being decided for you. That is the real difference in these sorts of games, the goal is not ro see some story unfold, (though there are scant pieces of that) the goal is for the players to feel that elation when the last hurdle is surmounted. There are literally no other games that I know of that are designed around forcing you into that experience.

Posted by Edmundus

Excellent article, hopefully this encourages people who were undecided to try the game out.