As I have shown before, I am a fan of the work of FromSoftware. I wrote up the last entry of theirs a little while back, and now that the final installment of the Dark Souls series has been loosed into the wild, I figured I would take a short break from my time engrossed in it to give you all a little review. The Dark Souls series first hit systems back in 2011, and there have been a number of challenging and entertaining entries since then. Rather than run through the history of things, let’s look at the latest and final entry.
The stories for Dark Souls games have never been overly complex or heavy on the player to follow, and Dark Souls 3 is no exception from this. In this final installment in the Souls series, the Lords of Cinder, beings who have the power to link and preserve the First Flame, have left their thrones. As the First Flame is dying out and the Age of Fire coming to an end, it is your mission as one of the unkindled, to track down and return the Lords of Cinder to their thrones, thereby re-linking the Flame and preserving the Age of Fire. Granted, as a player, I found myself wondering just why I would choose to accept such a mission. I mean, in the Age of Fire, upon death, the dead don’t stay dead. They come back as unkindled, the living dead. So, would it really be such a bad thing if the Flame were to finally go out? You aren’t really given a choice in the matter though. If for nothing other than self-preservation, you, a lowly unkindled, have to head out, face the hordes, face down the Lords of Cinder, who are veritable gods in their own rights, and return them to their thrones. It keeps things simple: go, explore, discover, defeat, destroy. And at the same time, the little bits and pieces that come up from item descriptions and conversations with NPCs keep the story interesting enough to make you want to know more.
The easiest way to describe the gameplay… Challenging as hell! Which is what makes these games such fun. Yes, there are people that have a natural inclination to the style of play and that makes getting through things a bit easier for them than if you aren’t naturally inclined to the manner of combat that Dark Souls 3 implements, but it doesn’t make the game easy in any fashion. Yes, it gets frustrating facing down a particular enemy and getting your ass handed to you 2, 3, 10 times before you get the attack patterns and strategies down, but there is a massive feeling of accomplishment that comes from facing them down and succeeding. The world is dark and textured, and with everyone and everything in it basically a living corpse, you can never be certain who is friend and who is foe until a weapon appears and they rush at you trying to take you down. With archers and ambushes and enemies that employ the same strategies of attack, defense, and self-healing that you do as a player, there can be times when you get the feeling that the developers really just wanted to drive you mad.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the way that the final entry in the series turned out. No, I haven’t finished yet. No, I haven’t given up on getting through it. No, I am not one of the 10+% that has yet to make it to the first bonfire. Yes, it has and will continue to suck up a great deal of my time when my patience isn’t frayed from attempting to figure out a particular boss or section of a zone to traverse it without getting ripped to shreds. In my opinion, Dark Souls 3 is something that is generally missing from the video game industry of late; a challenge for players of any skill level. I enjoy working for successes and feeling accomplished when I finally attain them. It is a shame that this is the end for the Dark Souls series, but, as they say, all good things must come to an end. If you haven’t given this game a shot, I wholeheartedly recommend that you do. Just remember to take a break before frustration levels drive you to throw your controller through the screen.