Communications & New Media Major
Dark Souls is well regarded for its steep learning curves and its demand for patience and timing. After the critical acclaim and following the 2009 release of Demon’s Souls, FromSoftware would follow up with three titles revolving around the same concepts and gameplay. Now FromSoftware has released its latest (and potentially its last) game within the Souls series. Dark Souls 3 is a sobering, yet twisted, send off to a well beloved series.
Dark Souls has always approached a style of minimalistic storytelling, relying on the player to read the various item descriptions as well as listening very carefully to subtle implications embedded in the dialogue. The Dark Souls community has been known for its expedition into the content in an attempt to piece the narrative together bit by bit. On the surface, Dark Souls 3 follows a classical archetype of a champion rising to save the world from destruction. Even though the thematics of the story are simple, there are layers of inner workings to the universe as a whole, leaving the player with the choice of either fleshing out the content for themselves or to take in the game at face value.
Having minimal story elements isn’t a bad thing. But Dark Souls 3 relies so much on nostalgia and knowledge of the previous titles that some of the most important moments within the narrative can easily fly over someone who is new to the series, which ends up watering down emotional impact as well as player immersion. There is still somewhat of a satisfactory experience that new players could have without delving into every single detail of the world. But the core issue still remains: without playing the first two, there is no feeling of a climatic end to the series.
Story aside, the core gameplay has gone under a few improvements from previous titles but still remains relatively the same. The player still has to be beaten into learning the mechanics of the game if they expect to make it past the cinematic boss encounters. Where Dark Souls 2 fell flat on enemy variation, Dark Souls 3 is constantly changing the way that the player fights the enemy, whether it be learning the lay of the land or adapting to new boss fight mechanics. Every boss is varied enough that each encounter offers something new to the game’s formula. Matched with a beautifully dark artstyle and an incredible soundtrack, every fight delivers stomach churning tension that puts even more weight on the player’s shoulders.
Even with some minor flaws, Dark Souls 3 is the best entry in the Souls Series. FromSoftware has done an incredible job with setting a tone to the universe. With future downloadable content planned, expect the game to be supported for a very long time.Those who haven’t played previous entries of the game may want to consider going through the first two games for an optimal experience.