Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Review No. 95 Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition - PC/Xbox 360 (16+)

Strong Points:
Great story - leaves gaps you need to fill in and guess (I prefer this)
Rewarding game-play - joy from completing complex, difficult challenges
Requires planning and strategy - more enjoyable and realistic
Loads of areas - each area has a completely unique look to it
Humanity is an interesting mechanic - more humanity means more chance of finding rare items
Loads of weapon choices - over 100 weapons to choose from (non class-specific, but rely on you having things at certain level)
Traditional fantasy RPG - levelling things like endurance, vitality and intellect, Dark Souls feels like a classic game
DLC is rich with content - two or three DLCs as good as the game itself, if not better (if you like a tougher challenge, that is)

Weak Points:
Lacks a skills tree - can't learn new moves without specific equipment (like the wood grain ring which gives you a faster roll, for example)
Levelling system Feels Clichéd - similar to countless other RPGs
Prompts for controls in tutorial level are for Xbox Controller - keyboard game-play is hard to get used to, controller is needed rather than 'optional'
Requires a high degree of skill - extremely difficult for casual gamers
Rage incurring - dying is a major setback... and happens frequently unless you know the game really well
Runs with lag on standard laptops/PCs - fast PC recommended
Consoles graphics poor (on console)

Rating: 83%

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
Japan: September 22, 2011
North America: October 4, 2011
Australia: October 6, 2011
Europe: October 7, 2011

Controls for Xbox 360 controller: Dark Souls Wiki
Left Analogue Stick: move
Right Analogue Stick: control camera
D-pad: select items and equipment
Up: cycle remembered spells
Down: cycle equipped items
Left: swap left hand weapon
Right: swap right hand weapon
Y: swap to two handed weapon
A: action
X: use selected item
B: Backstep/ slide down ladder
Left Analogue Stick + Tap B: roll
Left Analogue Stick + Hold B: run/dash
While Running + Tap B: jump
RB: attack
Go Forward + RB: kick
While Running + RB: running attack (swing/stab/thrust dependent on weapon equipped)
While falling + RB: takedown
Behind Foe + RB: backstab (weapon)
RT: heavy attack
Go Forward + RT: jumping attack
LB: guard (shield)/ attack (weapon, catalyst)
LT: parry (small shield)/bash (large shield)/parry (weapon)
RB to riposte (after successful parry)
R3: target lock/release
Back: gestures
Start: menu

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition was released in September (consoles) and August (PC) 2012. It is an RPG Fantasy game with a deliberately minimalistic plot. Set in the kingdom of Lordran, your character is cursed with un-death (this is how they explain your ability to revive).

The controls for this game are fairly complicated - especially when using a keyboard. The game was made for Xbox and the use of a controller is required more than recommended.

You will need a good computer to run Dark Souls. There are no options to lower the quality, so you may have to put up with lag and freezing to experience this game.

Before I tell you anything about the game-play itself, I just want to reiterate that this game is HARD. This is certainly not a game for casual players, as punishments for dying are huge - all the points you have. You can retrieve your souls/ humanity, but you must do so without dying again or all your items are lost.

So, basic points mechanics - souls and humanity. Souls are the main currency of Dark Souls. You spend them at vendors for equipment and consumables, and you can also spend them at bonfires - checkpoints - to level up the attributes of your character. Humanity is a consumable that can be used. You can use it and keep it to increase rare item drop chance, or you can exchange it at bonfires to reverse your hollowing. Doing this gives you perks like being able to summon players and NPCs you may meet, but it also allows you to be invaded by other players, meaning you duel to the death, and whoever wins wins the other player's souls/humanity. However, you can also invade others, using item. Dying reverts you back to your hollowed state, as well as taking your souls and humanity.

The online features of Dark Souls are interesting. Around bonfires, you can see other players in a sort of "rift to other universes," meaning if you want to show off your apparel go rest at a bonfire in online mode! There are also multiple colour of soapstones - orange allows you to write messages, red allows someone to invade you specifically, and white to be summoned to another player's realm. Messages left with orange soapstone can be helpful, leading you to a secret etc. but some people trick you. You need to read other messages around it, as well as looking at it's votes (another function of orange soapstone). You use red soapstone to invade one person in particular, laying it somewhere you both know. One places, the other activates, and you can do battle! As for being summoned, others in your covenant (there are several you find throughout the game) can summon you to help them with, say, a boss fight (I'm not quite sure how this works, however. Leave it in the comments if you do).

The number of weapons isn't huge, considering that there is one type of shortsword, one type of claymore, etc. in the ENTIRE GAME. You can up-level and enchant these, as well as other versions of it to use different enchantments on. To enchant a weapon (weapons only, you cannot enchant apparel) you take the weapon at +10 level you use an item (different items for fire, ice and electricity) to enchant it. There are infinite charges on a weapon, unless it becomes at risk (i.e.: it's damaged from hitting enemies). You can repair weapons also.

There are many armour sets in the game, but you cannot loot them from the bodies of corpses a la Skyrim. Instead, you must find them in chests or individual pieces as rare item drops. Chests can be normal chests, like we're used to. However, sometimes, they are mimics, who are nimble, doing little damage but combo easily. You'll want to watch out for those.

Overall, Dark Souls is a great game that incorporates more strategy than most other RPGs. With a Dark Souls 2 rerelease on the way, why not jump at the lowered price and grab yourself a copy of the original?


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