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Dark Souls: Prologue

Dark Souls

Consider this the obligatory “Dark Souls is going to be the hardest blah you ever blah blah blah” statement of every Dark Souls post you read.  As I said before I’m done cowering before Dark Souls. What I am however is overwhelmingly excited. When I stopped in to my local video game store to preorder it over the weekend the worker’s sentiment of “Oh aren’t you a glutton for punishment,” was quickly met with a response of “I can’t wait, lets do this!” However this sentiment of excitement is not without merit.

Demon’s Souls was quite highly rated and, as you can expect with the gushing reviews, it was a lot of fun to play. Dark Souls, being it’s “spiritual successor” should continue with the same play style and build upon everything we know and loved from the original. With less than two weeks to the release I’m doing everything I can go not get all fanboy on it. Then they go and start releasing the prologue a piece at a time, finally culminating in this glorious piece of cinematic ass kickery.

While it doesn’t shed any new light on the game it does give us an glimpse of the world we are about to enter into and and a bit of it’s history. I mean hey, it’s just a prologue. It’s not going to tell you everything you need to know. However when it comes to wanting more information we can absolutely thank the wonderful internet for keeping our appetites delightfully salivating for what’s to come.

dark souls multiplayer

Look! Obi-Wan can come back and help you fight.

Part of what made Demon’s Souls so entertaining and fun was the level of difficulty. It wasn’t a game that held your hand and lit the way with a bright and glowing yellow path. It didn’t have you surrounded by eight enemies who took turns attacking. It was a brutal onslaught of carnage and you either dealt it back ten fold or were left whimpering in the corner.

This is the ideology that Dark Souls is carrying through. While Dark Souls is a more of an open world style than Demon’s Souls (which was a dungeon crawler) and therefore based more in exploration than in following a set path through levels it shouldn’t be any less surprising. In fact this open and exploration aspect should be somewhat more appealing to the video gamer looking for something challenging. More than once Demon’s Souls had the hasty gamer yelling “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!” Rushing into any situation was foolhardy and quickly met with something you didn’t expect causing your intense pain. With an open world setting I absolutely expect to be scared to play at some point.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Max Parker caught up with Hidetaka Miyazaki and when asked about new players being able to pick it up and play it he gave the best advice anyone can give on Dark Souls and it’s brutal style:

…the difficulties in the game can be overcome by trial and errors as well as careful observation. A player does not have to be really good at playing an action game. All you need are observations and trial and errors. So people who did not play Demon’s Souls will be able to play this game for sure. Even though I am not good at playing an action game, game design was created so that even I can beat the game.

Dark Souls Rat Fight

Just like in real life my friends will call me to help catch a rat. Great.

This is a game built to play through trial, error, and observation. It’s not a video game to run in, clear a room as quickly as you can, and then loot. This is an RPG unlike any you’ve ever played…unless you played Demon’s Souls. There are no parties, there are no bustling towns, safety is a concept hard to understand. In Dark Souls the only reprieve comes from bonfires. Again during Max Parker’s interview Hidetaka lets us know a little more about bonfires:

A player can use this Bonfire as a place to rest in the game. By lighting the Bonfire, a player can restore health gauge as well as recovering items and spells. Also Bonfire will work as a respawn point when a player dies in the game. Bonfire is placed in many places in Dark Souls’ extensive map. So, as a player proceeds in the game, a player will try to find a Bonfire to use as a next check point. Finally, the Bonfire has some emotional element as well. When you are resting by the Bonfire, you will see some other online players’ vague shadows resting by the same Bonfire. So you will feel that you are the not the only one trying to proceed in this fearsome world.

You are very alone in the world of Dark Souls where your only companions are the ghosts of other players and the things trying to kill you. Now that is not to say that Dark Souls doesn’t have it’s elements of multiplayer. In Dark Souls there is a “Covenant” system that acts like a guild that you swear allegiance to. This affords you certain benefits while pits you against other covenants. You’re no longer (as you could in Demon’s Souls) entering into games and attacking. It takes on a more role playing aspect through this since what covenant you chose to align yourself with effects the type of enemies you are seeing. This could also play into the “help” aspect as well. In Dark Souls you are allowed to summon two friends to help you through your game. These may be people you know, or people from your covenant, but either way odds are that at some point you are going to need them.

Dark Souls comes out October 4th. It’s scored a 37 (9/9/9/10) from Famitsu and general consensus now is favorable. The last real question you need to ask is are you the type of video gamer who meets a challenge head on or are you content to cower behind your easy settings  and play a game that you know you can breeze through?

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