Castle Dark Souls

Posted by TwoLines (2803 posts) -

Castlevania

Dark Souls is the best Castlevania game in ages. AGES. And it is the first good 3D Castlevania game, period. Has it evolved? Is it better than the past Castlevania games?

A Tale of Three Castles

Now, which Castlevania is Dark Souls more like? The PS1 classic Symphony of the Night, or the first Castlevania? I'm going to say it's a successful blend of both. Let's start with the basics, what makes these games alike and what makes them great.

Exploration

When it comes to exploration, Dark Souls is more like Symphony of the Night, with its "open world." And by "open world" I mean a world with side areas segmented by locked doors. That said, exploration of said side areas is insanely exciting. When I went down into the castle's basement (known as The Depths), it reminded me of going down into the caves in SotN. This is a feeling that the original Castlevania doesn't have. Mostly because it's straightforward and doesn't let you look back. However, the original Castlevania has something else...

Level Design

Excellent level design that makes combat a riddle, more than it makes it a temporary hindrance. Just look at the medusa head stage, it's perfectly annoying. Look at the enemy placement, it's designed to infuriate you. You have to KNOW the level. The enemy layout, the traps that await you. The timing, the hits, the jumps. This is something that SotN doesn't have. The enemy positioning can be interesting, and can require SOME ammount of strategy, but the "stages" are not as neatly constructed as they are in its predecessor. Dark Souls has that oomph. Around every corner, there's an enemy waiting to bite you in the ass, probably hidden behind some barrels, or skulking in the darkness. On the roofs there are zombies throwing bombs at you just as you are fighting with an undead soldier. The trees wait in ambush as you strike a giant statue monster. Knowing where things are, what they are and how they can fuck you up is key. And they WILL fuck you up. Over, and over, and over again. Which remind me of...

The Difficulty

I'm not going to sit here and tell y'all that SotN is an easy game. It's not. I died. I died a couple of times. But that's nothing. You know how many times I died in the original Castlevania? I died more on one stage than I care to admit. Same goes for Dark Souls. It's madening how difficult these two games are. But they are FAIR. The mistakes are your own, it's not the game's fault that you've done goofed. Prepare to die, it's going to happen. A lot.

Arr Pee Gee

Dark Souls is like SotN in this regard. Hell, it's better. The systems are deeper than most current gen RPGs. You've got numbers for days. You're rolling around in stats. Everything is there. And it's not like everyone has a one charater. Nope. You can either be fucking shit up with fireballs, healing and casting miracles, stabbing fools in the back, guarding with a shield or going in with a giant two handed sword. There are no classes per se, but you are making a character. And everything you wear looks different. The loot is great and varried. This game is deeper than anything I've played in the last 5 years.

Evolved

What's different then? Multiplayer is here, whether you like it or not. You can summon players and cooperate with them to kill tougher enemies, or just to screw around. But you can also be invaded by an enemy player, who will end you and take your humanity (one of two currencies in the game). You can also leave/read signs on the ground that will either guide players, or lead them to their doom. One sign pointed me towards a bug, and I had to use an item to get out of it. I wasn't even mad. I was intrigued.

It's also insanely unforgiving. You die, you loose your souls (you need them to buy items, level up, upgrade weapons and armor... well to do anything), you can corpse run, but if you die the second time, your current corpse replaces the one with the souls. You loose it all. That can suck, but it is also makes the game much more intense.

Play It, Live It, Tell It

Dark Souls is the next step in Castlevania games. It's weird, mysterious, exciting and doesn't bog you down with a story. It's also hard, unforgiving and requires constant vigillance. I was resting by the fireplace (checkpoint), and alt-tabed to a GB video. Next thing I know, my pad is rumbling, I alt-tab back in to see an enemy player kicking me off a bridge. "Dick!" I yelled, and laughed wholeheartedly. I tell this story to my friends. This is how legends are born.

#1 Posted by TwoLines (2803 posts) -

Castlevania

Dark Souls is the best Castlevania game in ages. AGES. And it is the first good 3D Castlevania game, period. Has it evolved? Is it better than the past Castlevania games?

A Tale of Three Castles

Now, which Castlevania is Dark Souls more like? The PS1 classic Symphony of the Night, or the first Castlevania? I'm going to say it's a successful blend of both. Let's start with the basics, what makes these games alike and what makes them great.

Exploration

When it comes to exploration, Dark Souls is more like Symphony of the Night, with its "open world." And by "open world" I mean a world with side areas segmented by locked doors. That said, exploration of said side areas is insanely exciting. When I went down into the castle's basement (known as The Depths), it reminded me of going down into the caves in SotN. This is a feeling that the original Castlevania doesn't have. Mostly because it's straightforward and doesn't let you look back. However, the original Castlevania has something else...

Level Design

Excellent level design that makes combat a riddle, more than it makes it a temporary hindrance. Just look at the medusa head stage, it's perfectly annoying. Look at the enemy placement, it's designed to infuriate you. You have to KNOW the level. The enemy layout, the traps that await you. The timing, the hits, the jumps. This is something that SotN doesn't have. The enemy positioning can be interesting, and can require SOME ammount of strategy, but the "stages" are not as neatly constructed as they are in its predecessor. Dark Souls has that oomph. Around every corner, there's an enemy waiting to bite you in the ass, probably hidden behind some barrels, or skulking in the darkness. On the roofs there are zombies throwing bombs at you just as you are fighting with an undead soldier. The trees wait in ambush as you strike a giant statue monster. Knowing where things are, what they are and how they can fuck you up is key. And they WILL fuck you up. Over, and over, and over again. Which remind me of...

The Difficulty

I'm not going to sit here and tell y'all that SotN is an easy game. It's not. I died. I died a couple of times. But that's nothing. You know how many times I died in the original Castlevania? I died more on one stage than I care to admit. Same goes for Dark Souls. It's madening how difficult these two games are. But they are FAIR. The mistakes are your own, it's not the game's fault that you've done goofed. Prepare to die, it's going to happen. A lot.

Arr Pee Gee

Dark Souls is like SotN in this regard. Hell, it's better. The systems are deeper than most current gen RPGs. You've got numbers for days. You're rolling around in stats. Everything is there. And it's not like everyone has a one charater. Nope. You can either be fucking shit up with fireballs, healing and casting miracles, stabbing fools in the back, guarding with a shield or going in with a giant two handed sword. There are no classes per se, but you are making a character. And everything you wear looks different. The loot is great and varried. This game is deeper than anything I've played in the last 5 years.

Evolved

What's different then? Multiplayer is here, whether you like it or not. You can summon players and cooperate with them to kill tougher enemies, or just to screw around. But you can also be invaded by an enemy player, who will end you and take your humanity (one of two currencies in the game). You can also leave/read signs on the ground that will either guide players, or lead them to their doom. One sign pointed me towards a bug, and I had to use an item to get out of it. I wasn't even mad. I was intrigued.

It's also insanely unforgiving. You die, you loose your souls (you need them to buy items, level up, upgrade weapons and armor... well to do anything), you can corpse run, but if you die the second time, your current corpse replaces the one with the souls. You loose it all. That can suck, but it is also makes the game much more intense.

Play It, Live It, Tell It

Dark Souls is the next step in Castlevania games. It's weird, mysterious, exciting and doesn't bog you down with a story. It's also hard, unforgiving and requires constant vigillance. I was resting by the fireplace (checkpoint), and alt-tabed to a GB video. Next thing I know, my pad is rumbling, I alt-tab back in to see an enemy player kicking me off a bridge. "Dick!" I yelled, and laughed wholeheartedly. I tell this story to my friends. This is how legends are born.

#2 Posted by Pieman51 (98 posts) -

Why are you comparing this AMAZING game to a series that has absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

#3 Posted by MideonNViscera (2257 posts) -

@Pieman51 said:

Why are you comparing this AMAZING game to a series that has absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

Probably because Dark Souls has that Metroidvania thing going on.

#4 Posted by Pieman51 (98 posts) -

Metroidvania? Can you please explain? I must be missing something on the world wide web. This feels more awkward than that time I didn't know what a :) was.

#5 Edited by Klei (1768 posts) -

I think Castlevania : Lords of Shadow did an outstanding job at being what Castlevania was about back in the NES days. Better than Dark Souls, because hey, Dark Souls isn't aiming to be a Castlevania game.

Edit : Symphony of the NIght isn't really what Castlevania was about, to be honest. Sure, it ended up being one of the greatest games ever, but Lords of Shadow is way better example on how to bring the old Castlevania feel to the modern times.

#6 Posted by psylah (2170 posts) -

Dark Souls has whips.

WHIPS.

#7 Edited by TwoLines (2803 posts) -

@MideonNViscera said:

@Pieman51 said:

Why are you comparing this AMAZING game to a series that has absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

Probably because Dark Souls has that Metroidvania thing going on.

Yeah, Dark Souls is the best Castlevania game in a long, long time.

@Klei said:

I think Castlevania : Lords of Shadow did an outstanding job at being what Castlevania was about back in the NES days. Better than Dark Souls, because hey, Dark Souls isn't aiming to be a Castlevania game.

Edit : Symphony of the NIght isn't really what Castlevania was about, to be honest. Sure, it ended up being one of the greatest games ever, but Lords of Shadow is way better example on how to bring the old Castlevania feel to the modern times.

I'm going to say that what Castlevania is about has changed in the recent years. However Dark SOuls is a combination of the NES game and the PS1 game. The combat and the positioning of the enemies is directly reminiscent of the classic, while the traversal of the castle is something taken form the "Metrodivania" games. It doesn't aspire to be a Castlevania game, but it ends up being a better Castlevania game than Lords of Shadow (in my humble opinion).

@psylah said:

Dark Souls has whips.

WHIPS.

SotN did not. Well, maybe one of the many weapons. I'm talking about the core gameplay mechanics here though. You know, now that I think about it... I wish Dark Souls had whips.

#8 Posted by lilbigsupermario (842 posts) -

Dark Souls does have whips, just two kinds though, one regular and one spiked I think (I never did find those anyway...)

As for the topic, I think I see your comparison between Dark Souls and Castlevania. Gameplay, they are completely different in many aspects. Atmosphere, maybe a similar bit due to having the same setting with castles and fantasy creature stuff. But in terms of exploration and difficulty, yes, they do have similarities like revisiting places, knowing the enemies on how to deal with them and the grind to level up and get item drops.

Overall though, I still think they are too different from each other in terms of experience. Castlevania has a faster pace in gameplay while Dark Souls simply forces you to be patient and careful, it's a game that requires the player to take his/her time to experiment and analyze everything around you. Usually in Castlevania, you feel like you're a real hero who can overcome anything, you're cool! In Dark Souls, there is this helpless feeling that you can only do so much and just die, die and die.

But there is one obvious similarity, they're both great games and worth experiencing. :) I yet have to play Castlevania: Lords of Shadow though hehe!

#9 Posted by Akeldama (4244 posts) -

I am so happy to see someone else express my opinion that this is the closest thing to a proper Castlevania game in a very long time.

#10 Posted by TobbRobb (4602 posts) -

Couldn't agree more with this. Not something I had thought of before, but it totally makes sense, especially considering my undying love for both SotN and Dark Souls.

Oh and, there are whips in SotN, if you play as Richter.

#11 Posted by envane (1162 posts) -

la mulana is pretty good to yo , in the theme of deepening the castlevania experience with some nice homage too

#12 Edited by Mnemoidian (955 posts) -

@Pieman51: It's a term used to describe a game with an "open world" which in which additional areas are unlocked by the player gaining access to key items, be they actual keys or... rockets to blast through special breakable walls. Typical examples include Metroid, Castlevania, Shadow Complex.

In other words, it's the opposite to the Grand Theft Autos and that kind of Open World game, in which there is often a magical story-telling reason why you can't explore outside the area you are currently in ("This island of <name> City is currently on lockdown - all bridges are closed!").

See Metroidvania for more info. (though it puts a lot of emphasis on the Metroidvania games needing to be 2D, sidescrolling games - which I disagree with.)

Hope that helps.

#13 Posted by Pieman51 (98 posts) -

@Mnemoidian said:

@Pieman51: It's a term used to describe a game with an "open world" which in which additional areas are unlocked by the player gaining access to key items, be they actual keys or... rockets to blast through special breakable walls. Typical examples include Metroid, Castlevania, Shadow Complex.

In other words, it's the opposite to the Grand Theft Autos and that kind of Open World game, in which there is often a magical story-telling reason why you can't explore outside the area you are currently in ("This island of <name> City is currently on lockdown - all bridges are closed!").

See Metroidvania for more info. (though it puts a lot of emphasis on the Metroidvania games needing to be 2D, sidescrolling games - which I disagree with.)

Hope that helps.

Alright, thanks for the information. I can't help but gag everytime someone compared this to Castlevania though. Even if it is somewhat similar to it, I feel like Dark Souls just has more variety and atmosphere. That's just me though...

#14 Posted by JackSukeru (5910 posts) -

Some people have compared this game to the old school Legend of Zeldas, but I've always thought of it more like a Castlevania game. It's 3D metroidvania done right, with thought out level design and weapons with a wind-up.

#15 Posted by lazyhoboguy (62 posts) -

Love Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. Are 2 of my favorite games of all time now. I've only played the first Castlevania, but did always feel it was in some ways similar to Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. The difficulty level and settings of the games sure do feel a bit similar. I always tell people the difficulty level isnt really that hard in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. It's like a well-made NES game where there is a bit of trial and error, you have to learn from your mistakes to progress, but the game is fair and when you die it's your own fault.

#16 Edited by Eurobum (244 posts) -

@TwoLines: Players take pride in their ability to adapt to difficult games, at the same time most of this adaptation simply consists of memorizing the levels by repetition. Similar to Steve Wiebe who probably can jumb over every barrel in Donkey Kong with his eyes closed.

There is something to be said for carefully hand-crafted traps and ambushes, but maybe Souls games could use some of that Left 4 Dead enemy position randomness, or some dynamic, living world shenanigans, rather than the perpetual Groundhog Day of the undead.

Multiplayer certainly helps with the monotony, not?

Wouldn't it be great if invading players could take over (for the AI) of some of the smaller monsters, and pester the player as a Blighttown mosquito with a certain objective, like take away half of the players HP, actually poison the opponent, parry an attack etc. As of now, you can invade someone and pretend to be a tree, that's a start. More of that, please.

#17 Edited by Karkarov (3071 posts) -

Must have been a stupidly long time since you played Castlevania if you think it and Dark Souls have anything in common other than high difficulty and memorization of enemy positions. As for "metroidvania" you don't revisit jack in Castlevania 1, it is completely linear with no branching routes or ability to go back to an earlier level. The only reward for exploration would be finding a health item, a money bag, or an extra life. There are no builds, no leveling up, no real gear, no save points, you get where I am going here?

Now if you had compared it to Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest the true originator of the Symphony of the Night style game I might have agreed with you a little more. Even still the comparison is flimsy at best.

It is a good thing you gag a little bit because you are right, the comparison isn't really legit.

#18 Posted by TwoLines (2803 posts) -

@Karkarov: You seem needlessly angry about this. Also, if you actually read my blog, you'd know that I have said that the original Castlevania does not have the Metroidvania aspect to it, and presented Dark Souls as a blend of Castlevania one (positioning of the enemies and the difficulty) and SotN, or Simon's Quest (Metroidvania, RPG qualities, different weapons, weapons have wind up). Besides that, you're exploring castles. There is no real story, it's all about exploration. You can revisit areas whenever you want, and there are hidden items behind walls (much like in SotN), etc. etc.

It is similar on many levels. It is not identical however, it is an evolution of this type of game transfered into 3D. This game has the Castlevania spirit, and it blends the old with the new. You may not like the comparison, but saying it isnn't... "legit" doesn't mean anything really. Comparisons are just comparisons, it's not science. I could compare Dark Souls to Drakengard 2 if I wanted to, because they share some gameplay aspects.

#19 Posted by Karkarov (3071 posts) -

@TwoLines: Not angry it just doesn't hold water. It is also mildly annoying I never see it compared to the game it is in fact a spiritual successor to which is King's Field. A game it has far more in common with than Castlevania even if it is first person.

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