Monday, November 12, 2012

Unfinished Review: Dark Souls (PC)

So I rarely finish games nowadays.  But I love writing game reviews.  So my dilemma was solved by just writing a first impressions review.  I'll get a lot more reviews out this way!

So for my first one I decided to write about the incredibly long Dark Souls:  Prepare to Die Edition.

I wasn't going to buy this game as I heard bad things about the keyboard/mouse set up, which is the main reason I play PC games over console.  But then it was on sale for $20 bucks and my roommate had a wired 360 controller so I took the bait.  And I'm glad I did.

From a purely technical standpoint Dark Souls on the PC gets a D+ (I put F- at first but that goes to the game Stolen which has an even worse set up for PC than Dark Souls; hmm, maybe I'll go back and try it with a controller...if I didn't throw the disc in the trash).  Almost everything is terrible, from the controls, to the resolution, to how many unskippable intro logos there are (which also appear if you quit your current game and head back to the menu; big user interface faux paus).  However, these things are easily fixed with a roommate's controller and a nice mod from Durante on the Nexus.

While the controls aren't as solid as they could be, it's very workable, and the gameplay simply makes up for that.  For those who don't know, the main concept is this:  you kill things and they kill you.  Alot.  I mean alot, alot, alot.  You will die more in this game than all others combined, even VVVVVV.  It's aggravating, it's frustrating, but unlike most other games, it's exciting and you can't wait to die again.

I think the biggest fun factor of countless deaths is this:  once you kill an enemy you get a certain amount of souls.  Souls are how you level up and buy things in this game.  They're pretty important.  But you can only level up at the checkpoints which are in-game bonfires, which also heal you completely.  Oh yeah, also once you rest at a bonfire, all the enemies respawn (except bosses).  That's right.  ALL.  RESPAWN.  ENEMIES.  ICE CREAM.  But if you die before you make it to the bonfire to level up you lose all your souls!  That sucks!  But if you make your way back to where you died you can retrieve your lost souls.  But if you die along the way, those old souls that you lost are gone.  Forever.  So far the biggest haul of souls I've lost is 10,000.  But I didn't get mad.  I didn't throw the controller.  I just thought of a different way of going about kill more bad guys.  This is genius.  

But let's diverge to the leveling system a bit.  I hate MMOs because they're nothing but grinding and it's unsatisfying because leveling up to 15 should give you more than just the ability to sprint.  Leveling up in Dark Souls honestly doesn't feel very important.  If you're not skilled at pressing buttons, or your finger slips, or something else grabs your attention for just a second, the simplest enemy can kill you.  Leveling will help you dish out more damage, making killing lesser enemies quicker, but dying is as easy at level 20 as it is at level 1.  So here's the thing.  In Dark Souls, there is nothing but grind.  But you're not grinding to gain more power.  You're grinding to best yourself at how quickly and efficiently you can kill the same enemies over and over again.  It truly is a skill based game, where the slightest mistake can cost you everything.

Let's talk about story, as usually the story is my favorite part.  I'm not sure if Dark Souls has a story.  You're an undead person.  You start off in a dungeon, or undead asylum.  Then you kill stuff.  And there's a dragon. And you have to ring two bells?  I don't know.

So, Dark Souls doesn't have a story.  But it doesn't need one.  I think it actually would have been nice if they didn't have those intro cutscenes or talking or anything.  The game just opens with you breaking out of the asylum and hacking things up, because that's what this game's is all about and that's the only thing it needs to be about.

I'm close to 20 hours into it.  My cool deaf roommate who loaned me his controller is about 100 hours into it.  He says he's only about one fourth of the way through though.  I will not finish this game if it's that long.  Just like I didn't finish Skyrim (funny thing, both Skyrim and Dark Souls run on the Havok Engine, and they came out one week apart).  But Dark Souls has been the most exciting game I've played in a very long time.  

So Final Verdict - GET THE GAME!!!!
If you have an Xbox 360, you should get this game.  If you're a PC gamer, get a hold of your roommate's Xbox 360 controller and plug that bad boy in and get Dark Souls.  You won't regret it.  Unless you don't like good games.


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