Review: Dark Souls III
Let’s just get the biggest question out of the way here. Is Dark Souls III as hard as its predecessors? Yes, of course. If From Software failed to include vicious, overpowered beasts that could crush you with their eyelids, I doubt the fans would want anything to do with something so filthy and casual. Speaking of casual, Dark Souls III has proudly embraced the PC Master Race, and it runs at a buttery smooth 60fps. There were drops here and there in some of the messier fights, but overall Dark Souls III is a well-oiled machine. And it still has the Souls series’ trademark sword-and-board combat.
Now, in terms of whether Dark Souls III innovates as a sequel, it tends to play it safer. I couldn’t help but notice all the parallels between the games, and pretty much all the traditional Souls gameplay mechanics were here. Exploring large, desolate worlds, taking on ghastly enemies that looked like they were happy you finally put them out of their misery, rolling under gargantuan legs to slash a behemoth’s Achilles tendon, etc. I don’t mind that Dark Souls III doesn’t change up the formula that much, because most gamers find Dark Souls unique enough to just want more Dark Souls. The third installment has managed to take the streamlined interface from Dark Souls II and build on it slightly, so it’s even better from an RPG standpoint. It also provides a conclusion of sorts to Dark Souls confusing and cryptic storyline, but I can honestly say I liked how they did it in the first Dark Souls much more.
it still has the Souls series’ trademark sword-and-board combat.
If you’ve played previous installments, you’ll feel right at home, and of course your familiarity will be useful but it won’t stop you from dying again and again. For those of you who are miraculously unfamiliar with the Souls series, the Dark Souls games are action RPGs that are known for their intricate combat system and punishing difficulty. Of course, Souls fans will vehemently deny that the games are actually difficult; rather, they’ll insist that Souls games will punish you for the mistakes you make. Sure enough, in Dark Souls III, you’ll always face a quick, painful death if you’re not careful. Seriously, death lurks around every corner. However, you have healing potions that recharge at key points, warp ability, and of course leveling and items to help you overcome it. The Souls games have always been about finding the best strategy, and in Dark Souls III you’ll need to really plan out your moves to beat the odds.
In terms of structure, Dark Souls III manages to create a great, interconnected world with tons of secrets, hidden passages and shortcuts. I particularly enjoyed the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, because it was terrifying, but there are very few areas that weren’t their own experience. You’ll go from dank, dark dungeons to forests filled with abominations and massive castles. And of course, each one of these locations is teeming with psychotic monsters trying to open your skull. Once again, you’re gonna see areas and enemies you’ve kind of already seen in Souls games, but it’s virtually impossible for them to come up with totally fresh ideas at this point; the Souls games have been massive, varied experiences, so there’s only so much they can do. And while it’ll FEEL familiar, Dark Souls III can still throw you a curve ball and knock you right on your ass when you least expect it. The catch is, you can still look to your buddies online to help you navigate the depths of Dark Souls III world. From Software gives players the responsibility of helping each other craft a path, and you’re gonna want to pay attention and look out for hints.
As for the combat, which I believe is honestly the Souls series crown jewel, it’s as smooth as ever, and PC gamers can enjoy it at 60fps with beautiful detail. There are the usual hangups about camera issues when fighting much bigger enemies, but for the most part the combat in Dark Souls III is just as smooth and responsive as ever, and through the frustration and teeth-gritting of the combat you’ll find yourself loving the challenge of timing your blows and dodges.
Dark Souls III is really a game for people that want to jump in and have a deep, involving game experience with demanding combat and tons of exploration. If you want that, sign on the dotted line.
Dark Souls III was reviewed using a PC downloadable code of the game provided by Namco Bandai. The PC version was tested on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. The game is also available on PlayStation 4. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Same amazing Dark Souls combat
• Rich and varied environments
• Improved interface
• Tons of variety with weapons and enemies
• Very smooth optimization
• Very similar to previous Souls games
• Punishing gameplay isn’t for everyone
• Camera angles can still be wonky in some fights
• Hitboxes can be faulty at times