So it took me almost two minutes to die in this merciless game at my first playthrough. The promise "Prepare to Die" came true although i though i'm a much better player. WRONG: I'm not!
To be honest i died constantly at the beginning and couldn't surpass a certain point in the game, so i gave up. But a month later around new year i got some time on my hand and gave it another try. And i'm so glad that i did it.
So the game plays in Lordran and gets its introduction with and big CG cinematic who sets the mood for this dark and unforgiving adventure. Also the cinematic leads us really nicely to the lore that draws constantly through this game. The lore is a key point of Dark Souls and sticks with the game just fine because it doesn't comes around really easy. Besides some few cinematics the game is told through the NPCs, item descriptions and the world itself (like statues). So it doesn't comes easy to you like in an movie-like game like Uncharted, which is fine cause nothing is really easy in this game. To notice is that not much is set in stone storywise and you can interpret a lot of the lore. Even if you are in your tenth playthrough you allways discover something new. And if you are really invested in the lore there is a big community where you can share your opinion with others. One guy i really recommend to you is Epicnamebro on Youtube.
I very much enjoyed the story and how its been told. Not everything is told and the game acknowledge you to search through it and turn every stone till you find these little lore titbits who fill the unknown gaps. I totally can see how people doesn't get into the story though i never played a game where finding more about the story of the game through looting is more that rewarding.
The first time you enter Anor Londo you get an idea of the epic scale this game has. Notice: This is no skybox, mostly.
The core of Dark Souls is the fighting. Although the mechanics are very deep the learning curve is harsh. First of all there is no Tutorial and the only way the game tells you all the options is through messages on the ground which will be ignored by many players. So you end up sticking with the simplest mechanics. The problem with this is that you will hit a boarder really soon where you only can proceed with knowing the deeper mechanics or the game experience gets frustrating and unenjoyable. On the other hand, if you master all of the mechanics, like parry and backstab the game will reward you well. The only danger with the unexplained but deep and well invented fight mechanics are that it can feel like trial and error. You have to die a few times on an enemy to learn his moves and outmaneuver him, but with the game proceeding you get more careful. If you don't want to die you have to learn how to use a shield and armor well or dodge every major strike. This could be a letdown for the usual game who is used to fast paced action games where you only run and gun.
At first sight i didn't like the mechanics, but after i watched a bunch of walkthroughs on Youtube and mastered the fighting i changed my mind. The reason is maybe that i didn't know how well thought out the mechanics were and the possibilities you've got. If you are in the position were the game is very unforgiving to you and you cant figure out how you proceed, there are very good walkthroughs on Youtube. But be aware and don't copy their play-style just use it as a guideline or the introduction the game doesn't give you, because at a certain point you'll know enough to proceed alone. So you can say: This game is really really hard, but also very rewarding. If you learn to deal with frustration the game throws at you, you will have a lot of fun with it.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best designed games i've ever played. Starting with the incredible artwork. The world, enemies and items fitting so perfectly together as they were flawlessly crafted for this epic adventure. The world of Lordran is dark, gritty, epic, legendary and unforgiving and represents this so perfectly.The first entering of Anor Londor or the hostile environment of Blighttown prove that very well. Anor Londor is big and pompous like the enemies that guarding this place and Blighttown is a swamp with toxic and poison infusing enemies. The atmosphere goes along with that, the mood is always set so nicely, everything fits. Boss-enemies are huge and intimidating, telling you that you don't have a chance and making you fear a bossfight. Rarely you will make a lot of damage too with your first strikes. But sometimes you can even cut off bodyparts and gain a special weapon from this. So skill will be rewarded again. To notice is that the enemy-types are very diverse. All are very though out, placed were they belong and some of them bring you some lore titbits and special drops. This brings me to my other point, the items. Dark Souls got weapons, armor, consumables, magic and upgrade-materials. Everything shares a bit of lore with you and differentiates itself from the other items in very many ways. For example, you've mostly play a RPG where there is a best armor, but not in Dark Souls. There is maybe an armor that has the best defense but if you use it you got some penalties, like slower movement. The weapons behave in a similar fashion,huge weapons with high damage will make you move slower and require a lot of strength, while lighter weapons swing faster but also wont make a lot of damage. The variety is so vast, making a lot of playstyles very viable and attractive. You wont find an absolute optimal build, you'll rather find a way that you like more to proceed in the game. Besides all the good points i mentioned, there are is one thing in the game design that have set me off a little. I already said that the world and every level sets the right mood, but sometimes to proceed you have to go a weird way. Meaning that you have to walk on ledges that doesn't seem to be the intended to be the main path. It set me of a little from the epic feeling i had. But you also can see it from the perspective that this is intended to make you search the level and stumble over some secrets.
This is a game set in a very dark and unforgiving medieval time filled with legends and lore. Its a cruel place filled with secrets and rewards. In the end i see this more like a Survival-Horror Game than an Action-RPG. Dark Souls polarize, if you beat it you'll love it and if you don't you'll probably hate it. I personally love it, this is the best game experience i had in the last years. If you like the setting of Dark Souls you'll like it too, even if you have to try hard to beat it, the reward in the end is worth it.This is how far variety goes in Dark Souls. You can look like the greatest knight ever lived or you just choose to look weird.
What are your experiences with Dark Souls?