Xbox 360 Review: Dark Souls

Prepare to die…more times than Kenny!

Demon’s Souls was considered the hardest game ever, but now its sequel has arrived with the tagline “Prepare to Die” on adverts, so is this really the game where you will see the Grim Reaper more times than Kenny from South Park or Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who/Torchwood?

The intro cutscene to the story feels like it’s been taken from the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring as good comes to destroy evil with a narration in the background. After which you begin your quest as an Undead on your way to find the Eternal Flame of Life, which is losing its power to restore souls and keep the eternal night at bay. It’s a basic story, but it does just enough to make you play through the many hours of torture that lies before you.

You can choose your own character class, special perks and customise how he or she looks. You can decide to either be focused on melee or long-ranged combat, but just be prepared on just how easy it is to get yourself killed in Dark Souls. You will die a lot, there’s no doubt about it and there’s nothing you can do about it other than pull yourself together and keep at it till you prevail. Luckily, you can light bonfires which serve as a checkpoint and regains your health…but at the cost of reviving the enemies you’ve already killed…with the exception of boss battles thankfully!

As with any RPG, you’ll level up your abilities such as your endurance and power. You collect souls for every enemy you kill and these can be used to buy upgrades from the bonfire. You can also play some sections co-operatively online, but there’s a huge difficulty curve right from the start of the game…you begin with next to nothing and have to vanquish a huge beast almost straight away. You aren’t given many tools to defeat it, so be prepared to die several times before beating him and making your way to the next area.

Dark Souls is a complex game, one that is satisfying when you finally beat certain enemies and frustrating when you come so close, but yet so far from performing the coup de grace. It’s just so unforgiving, but that’s part of the appeal and what made the first game so memorable that we demanded a sequel. You can lock onto individual enemies with a click of the right analog stick, but it works against you when there is more than one enemy in your path. You also have to contend with enemies that like to throw projectiles like fire bombs and the like.

The good thing is that you can experiment with strategies until you find the right one that suits you and that’s what makes Dark Souls so engaging. You won’t rest until you beat it, even if it makes you lose your sanity along the way…which is fine for me since I lost my sanity many years ago, just kidding…or at least I think I am…

Presentation-wise, Dark Souls is a nice looking game. It may look a bit dated compared to other games out there, but it does a decent job in presenting a world of pain and suffering. The framerate does drop sometimes which can hinder you during fights, which can cause even more frustration. Voice-acting is good and the music is truly epic, matching the nature of the situation you find yourself in.

The Verdict

Dark Souls will push you to the very limits of your gaming ability and patience. You will die hundreds of times on your way to beating it, but it’s very rewarding when you do. Prepare yourself for a tough road, but one that is ultimately worth it.