The Souls series sure has come a long way, hasn’t it? Back when Demon’s Souls released, not many people actually played it, but there was always this urban legend of sorts about a super hard and obscure RPG that was like nothing else on the market. Fast forward a couple of years and the Souls series is one of the biggest names in the industry right now. It’s become synonymous with brutal yet satisfying gameplay and that is most definitely its claim to fame, but having spent dozens of hours with what could be the last game in the series, it’s become really clear to me that there is so much more to this franchise than just its difficulty.

DS3 2

The story telling in Dark Souls 3 remains the same as the other titles, so if you didn’t like it then, you probably won’t be warming up to it here. From the onset, all you know is that you’re an Unkindled tasked with the job of bringing back the Lords of Cinder so that they may Link the Fire. Linking the fire means to sacrifice one’s self to ensure that the light prevails and the darkness is kept at bay. That’s about all you’re given at the start, and it’s up to you to try and piece everything together. The world and its story is probably the strongest aspect of the game for me personally.

I’ve been playing this series for a long time now, and to be perfectly honest, I kind of know what to expect in terms of gameplay, and this will be true for most Souls players. This is not to say that this game is not without surprises, because there are quite a few of them, and they’re pretty awesome. Hwever, once I started peeling away at the layers of this game, and I started to delve deeper into the world and story, I found myself completely hooked and drawn into the characters and lore.

DS3 3

A large part of my enjoyment of the story came from game’s new central hub. The new Firelink Shrine will be your sanctuary away from the chaos and danger of the outside world. Here you’ll level up, barter and upgrade your weapons. More importantly however, all the NPCs you meet along the way eventually end up here and most of your interactions take place in this hub. I’d often take numerous breaks just to do the rounds and speak to everyone to see if I can advance a specific questline or just get new dialogue from them. Each character has their own tale to tell and I found it fascinating how well they’re integrated into the world. For instance, there is a gravestone outside the shrine that, to me, looks like every other one. Once when I got back to the shrine however, one NPC was not at his usual spot, instead I found him kneeling at this gravestone. After learning more about him, and inspecting that gravestone further, I could understand the importance of it, and it’s just so incredible how much detail FromSoftware puts into the world.

The care the developers put into this game extends to the design of the various areas as well. Dark Souls 2 before it was widely criticised for its incoherent and often bland world, but all of that seems to have changed here. Sure, you can still warp between bonfires, but each individual area feels intricately connected with branching paths often leading to new and previously visited locations in surprising ways. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny, and the game does a good job of rewarding you for doing so with numerous secrets, optional sub-bosses, NPCs, items etc. I feel this game is at its best when you take everything in as a whole and not just focus on fighting. In saying that though, I can’t fault anyone for being drunk on the combat, as it is incredibly addictive.

DS3 4

Combat remains largely the same as the previous Souls titles. Most encounters are slow and methodical and blindly attacking on a whim will almost certainly get you killed. Instead you have to carefully analyse the enemy’s movements to find an opening for an attack. This tried and tested formula has been polished and upgraded over the years and as a result, this feels like the best iteration of the combat system. There are numerous other minor additions that newcomers might not pick up on, but fans will most definitely appreciate such as the classic riposte making a return and the increase in equip load ratio before a player starts to slow roll.

The biggest addition, however, has got to be the introduction of Weapon Arts. These are weapon-specific skills that really add another layer of depth to an already intricate system. Each weapon (in most cases, weapon category) has a specific skill attached to it that can be used at the expense of the new focus bar. At first, I didn’t find much use for them but as I started developing my build and experimenting with different weapons; I grew to appreciate the finer nuances to them. As an example, the Uchigatana’s skill is a defensive-like stance where using a weak attack unleashes a fast slash, whereas the strong attack is actually a parry. This grants you the ability to still parry while not equipping a parrying shield. This is but a small example of the types of builds you can create, and to a Dark Souls fan, creative builds are half the fun. Where I really saw this feature get put to good use, was in the game’s multiplayer portion.

DS3 sunbro

Multiplayer is still more or less the same, wherein players can leave notes, invade each other or partake in co-operation. There are covenants, too, and you can now switch between them on the fly which allows you to easily try out the different online flavours. I’ve been hearing complaints about the online portion not working as expected, but I honestly never ran into much trouble, in fact, I’ve had more fun with the online portion of this game than I did any other Souls game. While co-op was definitely fun, PvP was a whole other beast and can get quite crazy sometimes with up to 6 players in one session. Here you can witness a wide variety of builds and playstyles and it was fun to see how my character stacked up against them. While, the online portion is most certainly far from perfect, the tweaks that they introduced make for a really rich and enjoyable experience.

Visually, this game is absolutely stunning. The art direction is on point with what this series is known for but even then, there are times when I feel that From absolutely knocked it out of the ballpark. The first time I arrived in Irithyll, I was blown away by the beautiful vista that hits you as you enter the area and I actually just stood there for a few minutes to take it all in. Dark Souls 3 has some of the best looking levels in the series, but it also has some of the worst. There are a few underground areas that actually remind me of the chalice dungeons in Bloodborne, which is to say that they’re really bland and quite boring. Thankfully, these areas account for a really small percentage of the overall game. Unfortunately, the game does suffer from framerate issues here and there, which for me personally, never really detracted from the overall experience, but it did end up breaking the sense of immersion when it happened. In terms of the music, all I can say is, when I heard Vordt’s theme, the first real boss of the game, I wanted nothing more than to hop out of my seat and praise the sun!

DS3 1

Dark Souls 3 offers a deep and satisfying gameplay experience, but the experience of travelling through this world is what will stick with me. The thrill of discovery was greater than the thrill of beating a tough boss. All I wanted was to get lost in this world. I wanted more of the story, more secrets to uncover and I wanted to know more about the characters. Even after nearly 50 hours of play, I am still as enthralled as I was when I first started.

Last Updated: April 25, 2016

Dark Souls III
Dark Souls 3 fires on all fronts providing equal measures of mystery and exhilaration. If this is truly the last Souls game then FromSoftware has ended this series off with a heck of a bang.
9.0
Dark Souls III was reviewed on PlayStation 4
89 / 100

59 Comments

  1. Ottokie

    April 25, 2016 at 13:06

    So why did DS 2 suck so much, but 1 and 3 were awesome? Aren’t they supposed to be pretty close to the prequel.

    Reply

    • Original Heretic

      April 25, 2016 at 13:18

      2 was rushed. It came out so soon after 1. I was pretty much a knock off, pushed out to capitalize on the success of 1. It lacked the imagination and scope of 1 and now 3.

      Reply

    • Marius Nell

      April 25, 2016 at 13:56

      2 did not have Miazaki on the helm as he was busy with Bloodborne.

      Reply

    • GooseZA

      April 25, 2016 at 13:59

      I didn’t mind 2 that much actually. Warping from the start took away a bit of the tension but overall still really enjoyed it. The DLC was also excellent imo.

      DS1 was a masterpiece in world / level design and obviously beats 2 in that regard but other than that it wasn’t that bad. If DS1 was a 10/10 I’d give DS2 a solid 7.

      Reply

  2. Admiral Chief in New York

    April 25, 2016 at 13:08

    WAITAMINUTE….

    A game with NO purrrdy colours AND a top score from Umar…..

    Wow, must really be good then

    Reply

  3. konfab

    April 25, 2016 at 13:09

    No Cursed Beasts….

    Reply

  4. Raptor Rants

    April 25, 2016 at 13:10

    I tried to start up dark souls 1 the other day. Something wonky with it moving from GFWL to Steam. The game now freezes for a second every 5 seconds or so. It’s now unplayable 🙁

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief in New York

      April 25, 2016 at 13:13

      I’ve got like 3 hrs in that game, 2.5 of those 3 hours was trying to get the game to work properly, should have gotten a darm refund

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        April 25, 2016 at 13:18

        Is it that specific service that’s causing the issues or is it just buggy?

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief in New York

          April 25, 2016 at 13:19

          Once you get into game, then you have to spend about 1hr tweaking and config controls and then you have to get used to said kak controls and just typing this is causing me to rage!

          When I finally got into the game, it was fun…..ish. But my initial impression was terrible

          Reply

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            April 25, 2016 at 13:20

            Aah, I know that feeling all too well…

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            April 25, 2016 at 13:22

            Yeah. Those controls. Worst ported controls in my life.

      • Mossel

        April 25, 2016 at 15:42

        Agreed, the horrible interface and issues starting it up is keeping me from playing it.

        Reply

        • WitWolfy

          April 25, 2016 at 15:50

          You’re talking about interfaces and here I am just trying to get the damn game to go online. I swear I’ve probably sinked 4 hours of the game alone stuck in the main menu waiting for calibrations to sync. I can reside the main theme in my sleep already.

          Reply

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      April 25, 2016 at 13:16

      GFWL you say? No wonder the game was so difficult…

      Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      April 25, 2016 at 13:18

      I did the switch when the GfWL was removed, didn’t have any problems running it afterwards. Save games transferred & alles.

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        April 25, 2016 at 13:19

        You’re lucky!! I tried doing the migration with one of the Batman games… I have had nightmares more pleasant….

        Reply

    • Kerrits

      April 25, 2016 at 16:17

      Have you tried DSfix? I played on PS3, but heard that with DSfix the PC version is actually better.

      Reply

      • Raptor Rants

        April 26, 2016 at 08:38

        Yeah, with and without. Before GFWL went belly up the game ran smooth as butter. Now after the move to steamworks… lag lag lag lag

        Reply

  5. Alien Emperor Trevor

    April 25, 2016 at 13:16

    Is the story inside the game this time, or do you still have to quit & go read it on the wiki? *run*

    #StayStrongUmar

    Reply

  6. Original Heretic

    April 25, 2016 at 13:20

    Loving DS3. There’s nothing like a great From Software game. They saying that this is the last one in the series, so I guess the next challenge will be Bloodborne 2! Well, after I actually finish DS3.

    Reply

  7. Pariah

    April 25, 2016 at 13:24

    So, you liked it then?

    What about that music? Not bad right? And the voice-acting? Audio design from what I’ve seen is spectacular in this game (in addition to the other good stuff).

    Reply

  8. Ottokie

    April 25, 2016 at 13:29

    I have seem some streams on this, I seriously have no idea how people beat this game without beating stuffing out of their consoles first.

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      April 25, 2016 at 13:31

      Some other vegetables were involved and that’s how they beet the game 😛

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        April 25, 2016 at 13:33

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

          April 25, 2016 at 13:36

          hahaha

          Reply

      • Ottokie

        April 25, 2016 at 13:33

        It’s edited already -_-

        I am now able to find mistakes after I post, so it’s a step in the right direction xD

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

          April 25, 2016 at 13:34

          I have to say fixed after every comment else I get nailed for the same thing 🙁

          Reply

          • Ottokie

            April 25, 2016 at 13:36

            I don’t mind getting nailed. I just miss disqus updating the comment immediately after it’s ninja edited 😛

          • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

            April 25, 2016 at 13:37

            I do more than most. So infuriating

          • Admiral Chief in New York

            April 25, 2016 at 13:49

            MOST!

            MOST MOST MOST!

          • Ottokie

            April 25, 2016 at 13:52

            I had forgotten about “MOST”

          • Admiral Chief in New York

            April 25, 2016 at 13:53

            Same here, MOST wonderful that I remembered

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            April 25, 2016 at 13:53

            MOIST!

          • Admiral Chief in New York

            April 25, 2016 at 13:54

            Mostly moist

          • Ottokie

            April 25, 2016 at 13:56

            All MOST

          • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

            April 25, 2016 at 14:07

            the what now?

          • Admiral Chief in New York

            April 25, 2016 at 14:29

            Umar + Most = epic lulz

    • Admiral Chief in New York

      April 25, 2016 at 13:48

      *their

      Reply

    • GooseZA

      April 25, 2016 at 14:04

      It’s not actually that bad. You learn, and git gud. Then when you die it’s just coz you’re being stupid / rushing. If you’re careful you’ll be fine. The game is tough but it’s fair. Just need to pay attention and learn from the enemies.

      Reply

      • Geoffrey Tim

        April 25, 2016 at 14:07

        That’s what Dark Souls is. Don’t think too hard – but it’s *essentially* Mega Man for a modern audience. Struggle through an area to get to a boss, learn from his patterns and movements until you can best him. Hopefully get some or other weapon that makes you even cooler.

        Reply

        • GooseZA

          April 25, 2016 at 14:07

          This.

          Also, fashion souls!

          Reply

        • Admiral Chief in New York

          April 25, 2016 at 14:30

          *Mehga Mehn

          Reply

  9. Rafoca

    April 25, 2016 at 13:40

    If you look at all dark souls scores, they are very similar. They are all great! 2 was awesome too!

    Reply

  10. Admiral Chief in New York

    April 25, 2016 at 13:49

    So Umar….you like this one the MOST?

    Reply

  11. GooseZA

    April 25, 2016 at 13:57

    This game is fantastic. I’m only up to Lothric Castle so far but I’ve loved every second. Ok maybe not the dungeon so much. Those jailers can get in the sea.

    I’ve played and finished DS1 and 2 multiple times and I gotta say 3 is certainly living up to the strong standard set by both games. The environments are gorgeous and really fun to explore. The enemies are interesting and so are the NPC’s. The combat feels super solid as well.

    And the little nods to the previous games that you find are great.

    Reply

    • Marius Nell

      April 25, 2016 at 14:02

      Agreed. I think the lore ties in well with 1 and 2 and will be interesting to see whats next for the world since Miyazaki already said big changes will come to the world after this one. Do you also feel the bosses are a bit easy? Nothing will ever be Ornstein and Smough

      Reply

      • Umar

        April 25, 2016 at 14:04

        Ultimately, bosses were easy save a few like you mentioned. Pontiff was a real bastard though. They were entertaining though, I loved the Undead Legion battle. So interesting, and the 2nd phase of the battle reminded me a lot of Lady Maria.
        That said, we all know the DLC bosses are gonna kick our areses 😀

        Reply

  12. Marius Nell

    April 25, 2016 at 13:58

    Best souls game yet sadly with the easiest bosses yet (apart from a few) finished my first play-through yesterday on a quality build already past starting 2 areas on my second build for one of the other endings.

    Reply

    • GooseZA

      April 25, 2016 at 14:01

      Yeah I’ve only had minor problems with the bosses as well. Pontiff and Abyss Watchers were quite tough, the rest I usually got in 1-3 tries. Some of the normal enemies though, eish. There’s one spot to the left of the bridge in Lothric Castle that drove me crazy (sniper, halberd, axe and estus bombs). UUUUGGGGHHH…

      Reply

  13. GooseZA

    April 25, 2016 at 14:05

    Still one of the coolest vids I’ve seen of DS1. Love the song and how the lyrics match up with the scenes. Watched this daily in the runup to DS3.

    HYYYYYYPPPEE!!!

    Reply

  14. WitWolfy

    April 25, 2016 at 15:32

    I love DS 3, I cant get enough of it I’m like 30 hours in. But those shitty servers are killing me. Takes me 30 minutes just to connect to a server to constantly get “unable to summon phantom” errors, or to stare at a never ending loading screen just to realize minutes later my game crashed again for the billionth time.

    Fix your damn shit Software.

    Reply

    • GooseZA

      April 25, 2016 at 16:24

      I’ve had the calibrations issue from day 1. Before you start the game, start a background download like a game or something (I just use Gears 3). Then fire up Dark Souls and voila! it connects.

      Once you’re logged in just pause the download.

      Dark Souls, a game so hard you can’t even log in.

      Reply

      • WitWolfy

        May 1, 2016 at 09:33

        Yeah that works, still get unable to summon error though. These servers are so crap.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Twelve Minutes Review – Stuck in a Mystery Time Loop

We’ve all experienced deja vu a few times in our lives, but what happens when you ha…