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Dec 29, 2012

Dark Souls PC Review

"Amazing Game, very challenging, and yet so rewarding"

Dark souls is a fantastic blend between an action game, and an RPG. It does both well, not sacrificing straits from either genre's to give the best of both. On one hand, you have a wide list of stats, which of course affect combat and what gear you can use. On the other hand, you have a deeply engrossing, fluid, combat system; I found myself trying to beat bosses or extremely difficult enemies simply because I knew that if I memorized their attack patterns I could win, and perhaps gain fantastic loot early. But I'd like to get a bit more in depth rather than ramble on.

Games for Windows Live: this is probably one of my biggest issues with the PC port, the registration process kept bugging until I made a new account, and ANYTIME my internet connection even hiccuped I was sent back to the start screen. Once or twice is irritated, twenty-seven is down right infuriating.

Video Options: The options for the PC port are lacking, which can be a big problem if you're on a lower-end machine, although it still ran pretty smoothly without needing to change anything.

Controls: The controls for the keyboard and mouse are very difficult to use, and I would definitely advise against trying it. Use a xbox 360 controller or equivalent to get the best experience.

Framerate: Perhaps I missed some steps to improve it, but my frame-rate overall was very sporadic. At most times it was perfectly smoothly, and occasionally it would drop. Now I know it wasn't my hardware, as my PC is pretty powerful, and testing it on a lower-end PC revealed that the frame-rate drops happened in the same spots as well. It's not game breaking, but a bit irritating.

Combat: The combat is pretty basic, providing blocks, parries, kicks and of course basic attacks. These are all relatively smooth, and allow for some interesting combinations. You can't button-smash your way through this game though, you'll need to use those basic attacks carefully, with the correct gear (or whatever you like) to succeed.

RPG Stats: This is what I love about how they made the game an action / rpg. They didn't take away RPG elements to make way for combat, or take away combat elements to make way for the RPG experience. They just gave you both. The stats can be a bit overwhelming at first, but an 'explanation' button will briefly explain what each stat affects. Your stats will heavily influence your combat, as playing a character with high-dexterity, but trying to use a giant hammer will probably result in less than satisfactory results. If you think ahead however, you can specialize in the stats that will let you play how you want.

Linear and Open: The world is mostly open, or so it seems, soon you'll realize there is always something blocking you from not taking the linear path. Sometimes that is simply a locked door, other times it's skeletons that easily kill a low-level player. I'm not picky when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I at least appreciate that I was allowed to look around before simply heading in the same direction. Exploring is still worth it, as even if you don't find a secret path, you might find some good loot or even a shortcut to make backtracking easier.

The Challenge: I don't think dark souls is the hardest game I've ever played, but does rank high. If you've been properly preparing, you shouldn't have too much trouble with most enemies, bosses however you might get stuck. One of the first boss fights, it seems you're intended to summon a NPC to help with the fight, as I tried fighting the boss on my own for two hours without his help. It only took about 30 seconds to beat it with the NPC by my side. Before fighting a boss, or entering an unfamiliar area, be prepared to die at least once, and think about WHY you died when it does happen.

This game is being added to my favorites list, right next to all the old-classics. Even though the PC port wasn't fantastic, for it being software's first PC port, it was pretty decent. And ignoring the downsides of the port, the game is amazing. My first play through was about 100 hours, much of that was spent exploring. The smooth combat and RPG blend gives me a variety of choices and ways to play the game, which WILL result in multiple play-throughs. The game's length, options, variety, and interesting setting create a well-rounded game, I feel like there isn't much that I can complain about. So if you just like the sounds of an action-rpg, or your a regular gamer looking for a decent game, I'd recommend getting Dark Souls.

Verdict: 80/100

Genre: Action role-playing, open world
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date: August 23, 2012


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