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Overrated game
Game is, simply put, overrated. It is not a bad game, but it's overrated. Remember this while reading. Also, I am reviewing based on PC port.

First of all, the much spoken difficult comes less from the game offering great challenges, but more from trial and error gameplay, clunky controls and numerous bad design choices. If this game had come from any of the big companies, Bethesda for example, none of these design choices would have been accepted and game would have been panned to the ground.

For example, simple pause menu. Sometimes, I have to leave my game. Yet, the game lacks the very simple option of pausing the game. This is the first black mark. It really should have been there.

Now, the controls. Like I said earlier, they are clunky. Too many actions are assigned to a single button when using the controlled and m/k control scheme? Horrible. Now, on controller, which unfortunately is the only way to play really, jumping, rolling and running are all assigned to the same button. Yes, you heard that right. All three, different actions, on the same button.

Also, that famous difficult? Artificial. Bonfires are far and between and each time you die, enemies respawn. This itself would not be that bad, except that due to distances involved, this means fighting through at least 20 enemies again. Thankfully, bosses don't respawn. However, even if you don't die and find a new bonfire, enemies still respawn. Not to mention surprise deaths that you can't expect unless you have memories the level through numerous deaths. For example, after fighting a minotaur boss moved forward. I saw a route to where I needed to go. Out of nowhere, literally, a dragon comes and roasts me. Now I was back at the last bonfire with all the enemies back where I had killed them. Just because I couldn't realize that there is going to be surprise dragon from nowhere.

Also, bosses? It's not about getting better with game mechanics. It's about observing and dying until you realize a flaw in AI and exploit it.

Now, what is good in the game? Well, the lore is interesting, what little it is told. Maps are big. Combat is solid. That's about it. As I said, overrated, but good game. If you buy and like the game, don't act as if you are a member of master race due to it, okay? Game is not that good.
I had a similar reaction to the lack of a pause feature at first, until I realized that this is a game so ruthless that it forces you to find a safe place. Thankfully, this isn't a game with roving monsters, so you can clear out an area and it will be relatively safe, usually. (exception being Blighttown, but fuck Blighttown). If you want to get up and take a piss, you need to earn the right to do so. About the only time when a lack of pause is really inconvenient is during long boss battles.

I agree, but only slightly, on controls. I do wish that jumping was more intuitive. That really feels like the only artificial difficulty to me.

I disagree on the bonfires. This is a game that wants to ensure that you're not getting by on luck, and ensuring that you don't abuse checkpoints is a good way to do that. You have to know how to defeat every enemy between each bonfire, and forcing you to re-fight, or at least know how to evade, every enemy between each bonfire is a way to make you earn that trip. I can't tell you how rewarding it is to reach a point where the frustrating enemies between each checkpoint are now an annoyance I have to put up with instead of horrible, difficult-to-defeat foes.

As for the dragon on the bridge, that's one of many parts of the game where caution and evaluating your surroundings will save your ass. There is warning of something bad waiting up ahead. The bridge is covered in scorch marks and burned corpses. If you advance slowly onto the bridge, you'll get a very short warning that gives you time to retreat before the dragon attacks. The rest of the game is much like this: if you advance very carefully, keep your shield up, pay attention to your surroundings, and keep on your toes, you can spot most threats before they materialize. Tomb of Giants and Blighttown notwithstanding. Its all about adopting the right mindset.

It is a good game, just...not for everyone.
comment #22180 Zaptech 22nd Nov 13
^Then who exactly is it for Zaptech? Those awesome hardcore gamers I keep hearing about? If only certain people can play a game and be good at it, then that game is downright unfair.
comment #22570 CodaFett 25th Dec 13
If only certain people can play a game and be good at it, then that game is downright unfair.

I...

What?
comment #22573 MFM 25th Dec 13
I know right
comment #22579 marcellx 26th Dec 13
You're right that doesn't make much sense. The point is, that's a very elitist thing to say. You can't call a game 'good' if it's only good for certain people.

So really, it's not a good game.
comment #22582 CodaFett 26th Dec 13
So a game isn't allowed to be aimed to a specific niche now?
comment #22584 MFM 26th Dec 13
@Coda, I actually mostly agree with your complaints about Dark Souls - the check point starvation is fake difficulty and the traps that first players will almost certainly not see coming reminded me of I Wanna Be The Guy - except that game, for all the crazy traps, was very generous with check points - BUT... saying that a game can't be good if it's only good for certain people is nonsense. Most of my favourite games are only 'good' for certain people and I acknowledge that.

Hotel Dusk is only good if you don't mind plot taking huge precedence over gameplay, Ico is only good if you don't mind a game only taking 5 hours to beat, and Killer7 is only good if you don't mind nothing coming close to making a lick of sense. Hasn't stopped me from loving them all, and the idea that they're not good because they're only aimed at a specific market is a bit harsh.
comment #22593 Elmo3000 27th Dec 13
There are games were it's more about the experince than the gameplay like Journey, were you can't die (I think). I don't know if it has changed but before the release of Killer Instinc, the people who played it said they made it easier. Some tried to justify this as making the game carter to more players, but there are already a lot of fighting games, one of it's gimmicks were it's difficult combo chains. In that same sense the Soul series is about a medieval fantasy setting akin to D&D, if you wanted an easier game you could play Elder scroll, Dragon age or Dragon's dogma which are good games, but one of Soul's atributes is its difficulty, in the same way that if you want to play in a community play World of Warcraft, or if you want a turn based system play Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest.
comment #22599 marcellx 27th Dec 13
The game is not about trial and error gameplay, if you pay attention you can spot the traps and ambushes. Also this "You can't call a game 'good' if it's only good for certain people. " idea is... not right. Do games really need to pander to everyone? It's not elitist to say that the game is very punishing and that this means it's not for everyone. If you're the kind of person who wants a save/reload system, a pause button and such things, you're going to find the game frustrating. This is not elitism, it's a simple truth. The game is for people who enjoy this kind of challenge and don't mind being punished for messing up from time to time. This doesn't make the Dark Souls players superior to others, it's just a matter of taste.

For example, on the Dragon bridge, you can see burned corpses plus the wide open bridge is suspicious. If you advance carefully, you'll see/hear the dragon coming and you can run away and save yourself. This applies to most of the traps. As for bosses, you often need to learn their moveset. I don't think this is unfair. It's possible that you won't get them first try when you don't know what they are capable of doing, but I still wouldn't call it trial and error gameplay.

"It's about observing and dying until you realize a flaw in AI and exploit it. "
comment #22625 acornz 29th Dec 13
—continued, I accidentally pressed submit, my apologies

"It's about observing and dying until you realize a flaw in AI and exploit it. "

The fact that certain ways to "cheese" boss fights exist does not mean they're the main way to beat the bosses, or that they are mandatory. They're just exploits.

comment #22626 acornz 29th Dec 13
Get Dark Souls-fix. It adds a pause function and fixes the resolution. It's pretty much mandatory for the PC version (Which was a shit port for a great game). The lack of a pause was mainly done because of the game's online component; not just co-op and invasions, but also the messages on the ground that warn you about traps like the dragon bridge and alert you to secrets you would have otherwise missed.

Running, rolling, and jumping are assigned to the same button for a reason; you can't get the invincibility roll while running, and you need a running start to jump. The roll is a hugely useful tool, so deciding when to run and when to roll often means the difference between hitting the boss and getting killed. This isn't a platformer; the majority of the "platforming" in level design is based on just falling or rolling. The finicky jump is meant to open up a few interesting secrets, but it's never necessary.

Artificial difficulty is a shitty complaint; almost difficulty is artificial outside of glitches, it's how it's designed that makes it good or not. Enemies respawn both to punish you for your mistakes and, more important, to allow you to keep getting souls. If they didn't respawn, grinding for souls would be impossible and many people would get stuck when they run out because they can't level up or upgrade their weapons.

Note however that as much as Dark Souls punishes you for failure, it doesn't actually punish you that much. Souls are easily obtained and so is humanity. Being sent back to a bonfire and having to walk back can seem daunting, but distances are short and are made shorter by shortcuts. If fighting the enemies again feels bad, learn to run past them and avoid them. It is possible to beat Dark Souls in an hour with no glitches, and it's because the world, while dense, is very small and easily traversed. If your bonfire runs are taking more than 5 minutes (10 minutes if you're fond of fat rolling and heavy armor), you probably missed a shortcut or are wasting time or just don't have your weapon upgraded enough to deal adequate damage.

The bridge is an example of a typical Dark Souls trap. It is surprising, but if you pay attention and move slowly, you will notice the charred bodies and burn marks. There's also a fire drake flapping around. There are many similar traps in the game, and learning to pay attention to your environment and recognize obvious sadistic traps is something that will help. From Software has a sense of humor and many of their traps are made to punish hubris; if that glowing item lying at the end of the next room seems really tempting, you might want to keep your shield up and prepare for a surprise attack when you step through the door. There are only two actual deathtraps that don't have any hints: The first confrontation with Seathe (Wear a ring that lets you keep the souls you'll lose) and the Bed of Chaos battle (Which is unfinished and crappy and everybody realizes that).

As for boss fights, there are good ones and bad ones. The best of them are some of the most memorable and intense boss fights I've ever played. You might have heard of the famous Luigi and Mario of Anor Londo; they're the best Dual Boss I have ever seen in a video game.
comment #22627 Scardoll 29th Dec 13
Also, forgot to mention this, but even without Dark Souls fix (Although you still definitely want that), there is a pseudo-pause mechanic. The game autosaves constantly, so when you quit the game and restart, you can be right back where you were with all your progress saved. The only time this doesn't work is if you're being hit by an attack (You die upon restarting) or are in a boss fight (You restart outside the fog door and the boss will have full health), so you'll probably still want D Sfix's pause for those times.

You can also be AFK while hollow (not human, since there are online invasions) for as long as you want if there are no enemies around; none of the enemies wander around and there are no time limits.
comment #22628 Scardoll 29th Dec 13
Scardoll, not everyone wants to play on a PC. Plus, I shouldn't have to mod the game to be able to call it fair.
comment #22636 Codafett 30th Dec 13
@MFM Do not twist my words around. It's not that it's AIMED at a specific niche, it's that you're claiming only a specific niche can be good at it. A game should be accessible for everyone.
comment #22637 Codafett 30th Dec 13
"A game should be accessible for everyone."? This is a flawed, dangerous assumption. A game should be good at what it aims to do. Pandering to every audience ever is impossible and it just causes games to be watered down and lose quality.

Also yes, the game may not have pause, but every time you open the menu it autosaves, so you can simply quit if you need to do something.
comment #22639 acornz 30th Dec 13
I claimed no such thing; it seems like you're confusing me with someone you'd been speaking with previously. And there's a big difference between a game's accessibility and the ability to be good at it in general; one is a skill floor, the other is a skill ceiling. There's nothing stopping everyone from being good at a game, regardless of its accessibility.
comment #22640 MFM 30th Dec 13
Codafett, the review is for the pc port and the reviewer seems to want a pause function, so I offered a good mod that also fixes a lot of other issues with the port. Pc games can be modded and with Dark Souls it's basically required because From Software made an awful port (Thankfully they're not making the same mistakes with Dark Souls 2). If you want to talk about the console version, maybe you should do so in a review for the console version.

As for accessibility, I feel Dark Souls' lack of accessibility has been a good thing for the community (And I don't meant that from a "I don't want stupid casuals to play" elitist perspective; I want more people to play Dark Souls and I want to offer any advice to new players so that they'll have a better time.). More obscurity means that online orange soapstone messages are more important for tipping off players, it means that co-op players like Sunlight Covenant members can offer people more than just muscle, and it means that sharing secrets online let's us all experience surprises.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't like more clarity on things like weapon ascension or covenants. I just feel that Dark Souls manages to keep a tight-knit community because we all have something to learn from and share with each other.
comment #22641 Scardoll 30th Dec 13
Why did everyone decide to comment as soon as I said something?
comment #22710 Codafett 4th Jan 14
You see, it was dead before you said something. Since you said something, it "bumped" it up to the top, so more people see it. If you hadn't said anything, it would have stayed dead, buried under all the reviews that had been made since. Now it is at the top of the list, if you click "Review" it is the first thing you see. And it would have died again, but you posted again. Now it is at the top again.
comment #22711 Atha 4th Jan 14
Then who exactly is it for Zaptech?

People who enjoy it, obviously.
comment #22823 Zaptech 12th Jan 14
That's not saying much, since that could be applied to anything.
comment #22993 Austin 22nd Jan 14
In order to post comments, you need to Get Known
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