Developer: From Software
Release date: 2008
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Chances are if you own Dark Souls you didn’t just randomly grab it off the shelves. Like a cult classic book or movie a friend probably brought you into the fold. What is Dark Souls about? How do you play? Where do you go? It’s the games ability to have all these open question hanging over our heads for the gamers to slowly solve is what makes it really great. Players aren’t told how to fight or where to go but gently pushed in on direction by the death waiting in the other. In Dark Souls and its processor Demon Souls death is harsh and inevitable.
The players must teach themselves how to fight and learn quickly from enemies to stay alive. With so many unwritten rules, every discovery seems like a small victory. The first time we backstabbed an enemy we nearly dropped the controller, “how did I do that?”
What makes Dark Souls so addictive is that it’s so unpredictable. Sure we know there are a lot of bosses but new enemies are not introduced, just new areas. So as the player defeats one boss the next boss could be around the next corner or the player might have to slash their way through entire sections of undead. Die once and learn your lesson; die twice and lose all your accumulated souls, effectively your experience and start over. The sense of defeat is palpable.
But what makes Dark Souls great, just like all these other difficult games, is that the player is rewarded for braving the many challenges by an incredibly dark and twisting story that continues beyond the next screen, if they can survive.