thu 20/06/2019

Dark Souls III | reviews, news & interviews

Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III

Snap defeat from the jaws of victory in this hardcore RPG action adventure

'Dark Souls III': No pain, no gain

The Dark Souls series is a franchise based on steep learning curves, uncompromising enemies, frustration, repetition and reward. It doesn’t suffer fools, it has an unwelcoming personality, and it’s neither funny nor always fun to play.

A game that isn’t always fun to play! Now there’s a unique selling point. So why have the two previous instalments been so highly regarded? Why do action RPG fans talk about the trilogy with hushed reverence and knowing looks that infer taming of this unforgiving beast is a rare badge of honour to be worn with pride? Because the payoff, the overwhelming sense of achievement when you defeat a behemoth boss on the 20th go, after deploying a new strategy that you really should have worked out sooner, is like nothing else out there.

Beautiful, brutal and ridiculously challenging, you’ll need the patience of a saint

Dark Souls III is a reincarnationist’s dream and a masochist’s ground hog day, such are the number of times you will meet a sticky end only to be born again and relive the happy moment of being mercilessly pummeled by an axe-wielding giant-phantom-wraith-demon-thing.

Exploring the eerie gameworld, it feels like death is lurking around every corner like an obsessive stalker. And it is. But with every death you’ll learn more about how to defeat your foes, whether it’s a change in gameplay strategy or a study of your opponent’s movements so you can launch a more effective attack. It’s the eventual hard-earned victory that delivers the overriding sense of accomplishment.

We’re in the free-to-roam open world of action-role playing where melee fighting is top of the combat menu and the specials board leads with character customisation and weapon skills, one of the surprisingly few new features to be added to this third outing.

Dark Souls IIIWeapon skills allow your character to pull off special moves, add attack-modifiers to weapons and boost spells, giving you a much-needed tactical advantage and adding a greater level of character customisation depth as you develop your own style of play.

Your enemies are more aggressive and faster than before. Timing is still paramount when trying to hack and slash your way to victory. But defence, in particular shield blocks and dodging, is still more important than blindly bludgeoning.

But to veterans of the series – the core market for this final instalment – the game feels surprisingly familiar for the duration of the first act. It’s only when weapon skills are properly introduced that hours upon hours of slow and steady progress start to reveal new gameworld design and story twists.

The bosses are some of the best you’ll ever fight against, the art direction and beautifully depicted level design is, as it always was, a thing of beauty, and the combat is as technically on-point as you could wish for. But there’s every chance that newcomers to this intolerant franchise will detest just how stupid this game can make you feel.

Beautiful, brutal and ridiculously challenging, you’ll need the patience of a saint and the resolve of a warrior to get the most out of this unforgiving but highly rewarding action adventure. Don't say you haven't been warned. 

Exploring the eerie gameworld it feels like death is lurking around every corner like an obsessive stalker

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters