Dark Souls 3 Review

Dark Souls 3 is the third installment of FROMSOFTWARE’s critically acclaimed and popular Dark Souls series. After taking a break from the series and releasing the wildly popular BloodBorne game, expectations were high for Dark Souls 3, and let me tell you, THEY DELIVERED. Look fan boy emotions aside, of which I have many, this is a wonderfully mastered game. Dark Souls 3 engrosses the player in a dismissal and forgotten world, largely replaces the popular “tell a movie through a game” technique, and introduces the best qualities of the previous three games by FROMSOFTWARE. Bravo.

Gameplay 

Your character handles better than in the previous two installments, in terms of dodging and attacking in combat, yet still falls short of the fast paced action of BloodBorne. Look the developers needed to stay true to their roots, for the sake of the Souls series, BloodBorne was great but we can’t just disregard the formula of Dark Souls that made BloodBorne possible. So of course the movement and dodging wasn’t going to be as fast as BloodBorne, this was Dark Souls after all. BUT! They did the next best thing! Compromising between the adversity of play of Dark Souls and the speed and excitement of BloodBorne led us to the wonderful handling of the game. Smooth as heck.

Larger opponents can knock you flat on your back with big attacks. Poise was reduced (more on that later) but this gives a feel for size of opponents. Now you feel like you’re smashing the smaller thrall opponents, and getting smashed by larger opponents like the cursed great tree.

Look losing poise was bad, I’m not blind. Heavy armor became obsolete, why wear this heavy stuff if it does’t provide you any kind of sturdy-ness? This was a move no doubt made to bring combat closer to the faster BloodBorne style everyone learned to love, but it destroyed the fat tank build. So now we choose from playing as a quick warrior that jumps around with small swords or a quick player that jumps around with huge swords? Variety is good and this small change in gameplay eliminates a large portion of variety. Not good. Verdict: 30/30

Visuals

Wow. I cannot say enough about the background and visual settings in this game. In order for any fantasy game to be successful you need to first create the world upon which your fantasy will take place. The artists at FROMSOFTWARE have chosen an empty and forgotten world. Once this land was filled with great empires, but those days are long gone. Do you know how I know this? FROM LOOKNG AROUND! Okay, okay I watch lore videos on youtube and I’m very familiar with the story of the game but seriously people, next time you are playing this game stop, look around, and tell me if I’m wrong. You don’t have to love the setting, you don’t have to love the game, but it is clear the artists have conveyed this setting in a hauntingly beautiful way.

The characters in the game don’t handle or look horribly realistic. But that’s okay! This was never the main focus of animators int he game so of course you don’t walk like you’re playing the Division or Assassin’s Creed. The focus was always gameplay. Does this lack of attention to realistic animation take away from the immersion and quality of the game? Maybe a little.

Clipping. Poor visual effects can really hurt a games immersion factor (which we will discuss later). This game has it’s fair share of clipping issues. Again I’m going to come up here and defend this game, but give me a break guys, I love this game. The large amount of clipping allows the console to render the game with a higher frame rate, due to the lower lever of different objects existing in any given amount of time. Also it lessens the number of weird glitches that can happen when there are too many different objects existing in the same space at the same time. See Skyrim mods of houses filled with cabbage for evidence of this kind of glitching. Verdict 17/20

Story

It is hard to determine the clarity of the story in Dark Souls 3. When we talk about clarity of story we are referring to how easy it is for the player to understand the story. Basically, is it confusing. Now Dark Souls 3 doesn’t present a necessarily difficult to follow story, but it does present it in a hard to find way. With almost no cutscenes in this game, as with all Dark Souls games, the player must discover the story for their self in the form of the enemies they fight, the places they go, the description of items, and the dialogue of characters. This is not an inherently “clear” way to tell a story. However it is a unique way to tell a story, and when a designer sets out to make a game, a unique product is often times the end goal. So back to my original question, is the story clear? Well yes, but you have to look to find it. So no? What I’m trying to say is this was a unique way to tell a story in a video game, FAR better than the method other producers, such as Ubisoft, have taken in their games. The story isn’t necessarily clear but I can’t bring myself to dock this game points because of their decision to take a different, and ultimately superior, path in story telling.

The story of Dark Souls, the original, was new, fascinating, and fun. However by this time the story has become a bit repetitive: Battle impossible odds and massively powerful enemies on a hopeless journey to the final flame, decide to light the flame or let it die, and usher in an age of fire or of darkness. We’ve heard it before and done it before. Is it still a good story? Sure, a good story doesn’t get old. I look forward to the future stories FROMSOFTWARE will tell, but I don’t look forward to another of this story.

The lore is rich, the characters are interesting. The different spin on the setting is nice. The different spin on “humanity” is getting old. Verdict: 30/30

Online 

The online in Dark Souls, like most of it’s other features, is unique. In the game you summon phantoms (other players) into your world (server) to aid you in battle. These phantoms, which hail from other dimensions, aid you in battle and in return receive ember to increase their max health. You either “host a game” or “join a game” (summon or be summoned). Due to the low maximum number of players in a single world at a time, connectivity issues are rare. These are not set matches or games so as long as the host player does not die, a continuous amount of players can join and leave any particular world or game. This creates a fun and unique way to play with your friends, meet and bond with strangers battling bosses, or participate in intense player versus player matches. Fantastic Online.

At the games release connectivity was a real problem. The shear number of players putting down summon signs at a time would cause problems. When multiple players would try to summon the same player, all but one of them would receive the message “failed to summon”. By now this problem is not nearly as bad. Verdict 5/5

Immersion 

The developers of Dark Souls 3 really nail immersion in their games. Mainly through the art direction of the background and characters. I’ve touched on this throughout the review, whether it be the combat styles, character design, dialogue of characters, or the care to detail the developers took when designing the environment. Verdict 4/5

Difficulty 

The Dark Souls series is notoriously difficult and the third installment is no exception. In fact it may be more difficult than the other games, but for the best possible reasons. Rather than using small arenas or multiple bosses at once like in the previous two games, Dark Souls 3 increases the difficulty in other ways. The Abyss Watchers and the Lothric Princes provide difficulty through unique combat. This creates extremely difficult fights, yet the difficulty always seems fair. Verdict 10/10

Final Notes (bonus) -2

Somehow this game still feels like it fell short of its potential. There are no changes in NG+ and on, so replay-ability is low. Some boss fights seem rushed and fall short of what they could’ve been, the Ancient Wyvern becomes another in a list of terrible dragon boss fights in the series.

Final Verdict

 94/100

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