After winning a few awards for Best RPG, and even being awarded with GameFocus’s “Editor’s Choice” award, it is no surprise that Dark Souls has been re-released and ported to the PC. I am guilty of not playing the previous iteration on the Xbox 360 or PS3, so what better way to give it a try on the PC. Dark Souls delivers an experience unlike no other, while providing a very difficult but fair challenge to players. Simply put, If you like blasting your way through campaigns, you WILL die; not possibly die, not maybe die, you WILL and I guarantee it. However, is putting the PC edge on a year old title a very good idea?
After being ported to the PC, Dark Souls has received a lot of criticism of the quality of the port, and this review has few exceptions. First thing I’d like to talk about are the controls, as in, playing with a keyboard and mouse. The sensitivity on the game was sluggish at best when attempting to look around and move, even with the sensitivity setting cranked up, and you can blatantly tell that the games interface didn’t support it well. After starting the game, I was instructed to open a door by pressing the A button which looked very similar to the Xbox 360’s “A” button on the controller. After messing around with the control scheme, I managed to change it so the keyboard controls made sense. Some time passed though where it was so difficult to move and play the game that I was forced to plug in my Xbox 360 controller to continue. Once you have your Xbox 360 controller plugged in however, the game literally played liked it felt it should. Everything felt responsive, and more fluent. The button layout made sense, and the game finally felt playable.
"Not often do you see a game that is equally rewarding as it is frustrating..."
Now, as I am sure everyone has heard, the second problem was the resolution settings within the game. I think this was thrown out of context as even if it is playing at a 720P resolution, it still looks graphically appealing. Everything felt detailed and looked visually pleasant, from the rocks on the ground to the dead bodies lying around in some caves and dungeons, and even some landscapes will win you over as you look over a building’s side. Even though there was a 1080P patch released by a third party later on after launch, I found that it really wasn’t needed to enjoy Dark Souls to its full potential.
What about gameplay though? Well, if you consider killing a couple of axe-wielding fire breathing Gargoyles fun and craving a bit of a challenge, this is the perfect title for yourself. Consider fighting a monster about 1:5 ratio to yourself who has the ability to breath fire and wield an axe. Now consider yourself holding about 150 pounds worth of armor and items and trying to dodge this accident of a creature. This is where you have to carefully strategize your every move, and know when to attack or not at the right time, otherwise you will face your demise. Even through trial and error, each boss and even many creatures you encounter will test your patience as you figure out the weak points to take your nemesis down.
Also, if I leave a tip for those playing the game, keep in mind almost everything requires stamina - blocking, running, attacking, etc... - and if you run out in the middle of a fight, you can expect your death to come fairly soon. This is by design, as this is part of the difficulty of the game, and I would recommend you take on some creatures in steps or small groups rather than charging in blind. If you start having troubles, remember this: Observe your surroundings, make sure to have plenty of supplies such as potions, and pay attention and learn from your mistakes. Although, it may be frustrating, the one thing I learned is that after you kill that incredibly hard boss, or make it through a certain part of the game, the feeling of accomplishment is amazing and can sometimes be very rewarding by giving you souls, or better items.
In an industry filled with hand-holding tutorials and guided gameplay, Dark Souls puts a different twist on it by giving you the exact opposite, and can even reward you by exploring the free world that the game provides. You may come across several terrifying enemies that involve threatening shrubs to corrupted looking angels (or even Harpies). Even the landscapes, and environments have a lot of detail to them as mentioned earlier. The forests are dark and dainty, the buildings feel old and decayed, and Dark Souls just has the perfect setting for a game in which you keep dying, and dying, and dying. The environments alone are rewarding enough to look around and take in. That is not something I can put into words about other games on the market.
Part of the frustration that may ensue is that fact that you collect Souls. These souls are collected through killing the many different monsters and creatures in the game, and they are used to upgrade your stats in the game. The catch being is that if you die... you lose ALL of your souls and you must pick them up from where you died. This may infuriate you if you have collected your souls and want to level up. Which brings you to the question, do you continue on, or do you stop? One thing to keep in mind, for every risk, there is a reward, and visa-versa.
Although some online aspects such as seeing bloodstains and such were kept in place, I rarely came across any in my playthrough, which may be because of the fact that I have had problems connecting with the game. The online Player vs Player mode included with the Prepare to Die edition was unresponsive because it seemed no one was ever online. I have waited in queues upon queues with no luck at meeting anyone ever after trying different internet connections.
Very rarely do I say this but I almost feel like Dark Souls is a perfect game. Not often do you see a game that is equally rewarding as it is frustrating; and it’s not because the game is unfair. It tests your wits and makes you feel like crap until you overcome that challenge and conquer your foe. Then it provides you with a satisfying feeling that leaves you hungry for more. One game I’d like to tie this back to is Castlevania back on the NES. Both games are difficult, but it wasn’t because the game felt cheap or unfair, it was because your characters have a realistic slow movement speed due to the items they wield. From Software tied the game around that aspect. The developers involved knew how games were supposed to be made; meaning even though you are sluggish and slow, it gets you thinking on how to overcome those challenges and figure your way around the obstacles. It also meant, dying... a lot, but also learning from your mistakes and triumphing over them. This gives you a overwhelming sense of accomplishment which just felt right. Here’s what our very own David Collins said in his review for the Xbox 360, “with great pain comes great rewards. Dark Souls is the gaming equivalent, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” I would have to greatly agree with that statement.
With all things said, is the PC version worth it if you have to jump through hoops to fix the sloppy controls and want the 1080P resolution? Well, the resolution honestly didn’t bother me, it was just the controls, which was easily remedied by the Xbox 360 controller. However, given the PC edition may feature more content such as the online PvP arena, is it still worth the extra cash? I’d say yes provided you have the resources to fix the problems presented in Dark Souls: Prepare to Die for PC.
Release date : 2012-08-24
Publisher : Namco Bandai
Developer : From Software
Gameplay : Action-RPG
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