Good news for players who love punishment and hate checkpoints; Famitsu is reporting that From Software's followup to the 2009's cult hit Demon's Souls--codenamed "Project Dark" at the Tokyo Game Show last year--has been properly named and dated for release. The newly titled Dark Souls is set to launch before the end of this year in Japan, Europe and the US. And unlike its predecessor, Dark Souls will be available on the Xbox 360 as well as the PlayStation 3, allowing a whole new group of players to experience the particular desire to break a game disc with a jackhammer.
Famitsu's article (translated by Siliconera) also provides a few hints as to what differentiates Dark Souls from its critically acclaimed predecessor. One 0f those differentiations; Dark Souls will have no connection to any of the events that occurred in Demon's Souls.That means no Boletaria (what a great name for a fantasy kingdom!) and no story connection to the previous game. However, Dark Souls does still feature the same gameplay structure as Demon's Souls; Prepare to slowly creep around corners, hold your shield in front of your face at all times and pray you land the first strike on your opponents.
== TEASER ==While character customization will still factor into the game, Famitsu reports that Dark Souls will ditch the previous game’s class structure in favor of a branching system that will allow players to define their play style from the start. Dark Souls also purports to be a much larger game than Demon's Souls; players will travel through a single connected game environment (rather than the five separate worlds which could be tackled in any order).
It wouldn’t be a “Souls” game without the series' bizarre multiplayer implementation, either; according to From Software, Dark Souls will feature a version of the “ Phantom multiplayer” found in its predecessor. Players will once again be able to leave online notes for others or join another player's game. From also told Famitsu that the online functionalities in Dark Souls will not require a connection with a centralized server like the original Demon's Souls. As a result, Dark Soul's online play won’t be at the mercy of server shutdown (though it could result in the removal of the World Tendency changes from Demon's Souls).
If, for some reason, you were worried that From might try to soften the game’s difficulty, you need not fret; From Software says that Dark Souls will aim to match the difficulty of its predecessor. If you could cross the bridge in Boletaria Palace 1-2 without getting killed by the dragon, you should feel right at home in Dark Souls.
As someone who managed to get through all of Demon's Souls (but only once! Playthrough 2 is totally beyond me), I could not be more excited to once again be humbled by From Software. Demon's Souls was a challenging game, but its mixture of exploration, preparation, and savage melee combat was satisying in ways that more standard character action games couldn't achieve. Combining that gameplay with the multiplayer mode--which allowed players to have an online experience that didn't break the atmosphere and immersion in the game world--Demon's Souls was simultaneously a relic of old game design and a video game that fell out of the future.
Hopefully, From Software can improve those main gameplay elements while correcting the most troubling issues from Demon's Souls like the game's terrible UI (it was impossible to understand how equipment, items, and statistical changes affected your character) and the sometimes-wonky button mapping (target enemies by clicking in the thumb stick? There has to be a better way to do that). From Software will have a truly savage game if they can pull all that off before Dark Souls is released worldwide later this year.
Edit: Gamespot has the very first trailer for Dark Souls. Did you like Demon's Souls? Then you will like this trailer. And you will be afraid of it.