Dark Souls is the spiritual successor to Demon Souls, the highly acclaimed RPG exclusive for the PS3. Both of which are titles that will show you a new level of determination and endurance that you never thought you had, whilst at the same time breaking you down into fits of rage and moments of deep sadness, almost tears. It’s very rarely for a game to promise to kill you, repeatedly, and even rarer for that to be absolutely brilliant.
The handful of Dark Soul booths available at Eurogamer (2011) appeared to be playing on various different characters within a similar, if not the same, environment. It was hard to tell this however as each had been left off at a different location, no doubt from the previous gamer having had his fill of deaths and being unable to continue forward.
I stepped up to the console which had me standing at the foot of a tall staircase, looking upon a small plump figure with a small round shield and long sword. I had a similar small round shield with a scimitar, so the fight looked easily matched. This wasn’t the case. For each blow the enemy struck me with I’d lose 25-50% of my health, whereas he would lose only a few percent of his own. This battle alone, a single normal NPC, took me over 10minutes to get though (and my survival was only due to the game giving me a seemingly unlimited supply of health potions, where typically I’d have very few).
Upon my triumph I noticed the console to the right of me had a character in large black spiked plate mail with a huge shield and sword taller than a man… I quickly sidestepped across. Enemies were now being knocked down from the large swing of my sword, and damage negated heavily by my superior armour. A clear demonstration of the benefits that reward those that hunt down the gear and progress their character, as found with Demon Souls.
It was with this new found strength that I found myself pushing my luck once again, an all too familiar experience. One more staircase. Just up this ladder. Around this last corner. The game had me as did the prior, the sense of danger and exploration was keeping me hooked until the ‘final’ doorway held the first boss encounter which promptly slaughtered me, leaving all my progress and achievement in a pile at my corpse waiting for the next suspect.
Dark Souls is as evil and overly difficult as the first, a constant punishment and struggle… and it’s one of my highlights of the year, a game which I’ll be eagerly anticipating in the weeks to come.