Friday, May 20, 2016

Semi-Timely Revue: Dark Souls III

First off, I am a huge Dark Souls fanboy, so this is totally biased. (See the blog header). Seriously--Gothic, Lovecraftian, dark fantasy action RPG? Right up my collective alleys. So let's talk about the third game in that series. (Bloodborne is technically separate).

Right away, this game is gorgeous. GORGEOUS. I'm using screenshots from it as my desktop background for the foreseeable future. Fromsoft have a dedication to little details that make their worlds feel lived-in, and that shines through. Even just the fact that your clothes and face get muddy and bloody--yes, I know, many games do that--feels...right.

Combat overall feels faster and much more fluid. It's pretty clear that this is coming from Bloodborne, and I like it a lot. The weapon skills are quite cool and often useful, though I'd like to see even more variety. Mobs are still threatening but rarely frustrating. Except, of course, the fat evangelist ladies, whose laugh I loathe. The boss fights are universally excellent. In particular, Nameless King, Dancer of the Boreal Valley, and the Soul of Cinder all stood out as incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. The challenge, and the atmosphere, is excellent. Additional shout-out to Iudex Gundyr for scaring the pants off me the first time he transformed. 

A lot of people have commented on this, but Dark Souls III feels like a best-of game. The Maiden in Black and the Nexus from Demon's Souls. Andre of Astora from Dark Souls. And so on. There's an in-universe reason, which I appreciate. But just the sheer awesomeness of so many great things and familiar things in one place... Yes. 

There is a LOT of the Bloodborne aesthetic present here. The Souls games have always had a level of Gothic and Lovecraftian horror, but it feels as though everything's been ramped up. Aldritch puppeteering the hollow corpse of Gwyndolin, the unearthly wails outside Oceiros' boss room... 

I do have some minor complaints. I am finding it a bit frustrating that some enemies who are staggered by a single hit nevertheless seem to poise out of my combos somehow. (Oh, wait, it's because POISE IS BROKEN!) The summoning times for Darkmoon Blades and Watchdogs of Farron are atrocious. Oh, and rampant cheating and terrible patch notes. Those are the main ones. 

Back to positive things. The NPC side quests are a little less obtuse. And just as tragic as ever. Anri of Astora, say. The last time you see her she calls you by the name of her dead friend, who she always left prism stones for. You find her at the friend's grave, hollow, placing a prism stone upon it. 

There's a ton more I could say here. I could gush about Dark Souls III for days. But I think the biggest recommendation I can give is to say: In the first two weeks it was out, I put 80 hours into it. While working full-time. That means I was willingly working a second job playing Dark Souls III. It's a gud game. Git gud at it.