Games / PS3

Game of the Year 2011 – Part 5 – Dark Souls

I just finished Dark Souls. I went into that game expecting greatness, and I came out 62 hours (of game time over a period of a few months, not all at once, Jesus Christ) later with something more. Like Demon’s Souls before it, you aren’t given a whole lot of direction. Hell, you never even get a map. You learn by playing it, it teaches you things without ever having to say anything to you.

As frustrating as that can be at times, it really isn’t like anything else you can go to the store and buy right now. Anything else bombards you with what the controls do, where you need to go, what your objective is, and refuses to let up. Dark Souls is comparable to a babysitter just working for a paycheck. He doesn’t care where you go; he knows that when you get hurt (which you will), you’ll learn not to do whatever you did again.

Dark Souls is a game about mistakes. You make a lot of them once because it wants you to. After that though, its up to you to learn from them. Even when you know what you’re doing, it can still be tough if you don’t have the motivation to go further in. This is a very hard game, and the difficulty will scare most people away. But once you realize how everything works, it starts to come together one piece at a time. This isn’t like most RPGs. Yes, you level up with experience and your character gets incrementally stronger. But what is more important is how you as a player get better as well. The game is like a class that teaches you lessons the whole time you play it. When I came back to the game with my high level character, it had been a few months since I last played. I was demolished by everything. I had to get back into the groove of playing it before I could start being decent at it again.

Dark Souls has one of my favorite worlds ever in a game. Everything just seems to fit into place, and nothing seems too extraordinary to be there. It has such a strong, unique style and tone that you don’t really see a lot in games.

Every enemy looks so wonderful and strange each time you wander into new areas. I can’t think of a game where I was more amazed at how different the characters got until the very end of the game. You’ll stumble into new areas a lot too, the game is built around exploration. As you grow and get more skilled, you’ll be able to access new areas and see incredible things that no other game this year can do. There are so many places to see, and every single one of them is worthwhile and memorable. The first time I cut into a false wall and went into a giant tree that led to one of the most beautiful areas in the game, it stunned me. I could have easily missed this whole section of the game. Any other game would have four different flashing arrows saying “HEY LOOK AT THIS COOL THING WE DID COME HERE DON’T MISS IT. PLEASE LOVE US.” but Dark Souls doesn’t care if you see everything. If you miss half of the game because you didn’t care enough to look for it, then its your fault.

There isn’t anything else like it, and it definitely isn’t for everyone. But for the few of us who can experience everything it has to offer, it rewards you more than most other games even come close to. The highs here are so much higher than nearly anywhere else.
I really can’t stress enough how much everyone should at least try this game. If it isn’t for you, you’ll know pretty quickly when you can’t kill the first boss after 30 tries and you break your controller in half. But really, its worth it.

-Zach

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