Version Reviewed: Xbox 360
What they say: Live Through A Million Deaths & Earn Your Legacy
Enter a dark world filled with despair and threaded by hope where your ability to creatively strategize, learn and overcome unpredictable and unique challenges determines your fate. Dark Souls will demand your absolute concentration, unflinchingly punish your mistakes, but reward your ability to learn from death. Each challenge is a mind game met with endless combinations that will test your ability to creatively strategize a way to conquer unimaginable monsters and progress deeper into this bleak and forbidding environment filled with the un-dead.
What I say: Does that description above sound scary? It does not even begin to scratch the surface of how evil this game is. Being the spiritual successor of Demons Souls, Dark Souls follows a similar structure but opens the world up so that you can tackle the game in whatever order you want (or are able to). Demons Souls has a hard game but it was surmountable with a little bit of knowledge and persistence. Dark Souls punishes you relentlessly if you played Demons Souls. Everything you were used to has been tweaked, changed, and fiddled with as to use those expectations against you. And if you have not played it, you are even worse off.
I played Dark Souls for a year off and on (thus why this review is just now hitting), and there were numerous times I just had to walk away for a while. But the last time I got back to the game it really hit me what this game is really about. On the surface it may seem like a fantasy RPG, a damn hard one to be sure, but it does seem like fantasy right? Wrong! The game is a carefully crafted metaphor. A metaphor for what you might ask? I’ll tell you what; Dark Souls is a metaphor for being in an abusive relationship.
Now I really want you to think what about what I just said. Why in God’s name would any rational human being continue to play a game like this, let alone finish it? I’ll tell you why, like an abusive relationship, once you start it, put time into it, and at one point enjoy it it’s hard to let go. You have invested time and yourself into the experience, and you want that to pay off. So you continue to work at it, you yell and scream, you make progress and feel better, then you fall back into the abuse and God help you, you miss it when you leave. It feels like you are a quitter when you give up and you come back. Again.
After all the frustration, aggravation, and high blood pressure you see a light at the end of the tunnel. I was stretched almost to madness more than once completing this “game”. But the feeling you get when you finish the game, the elation, it mirrors the feeling that one must get when they finally get away from that abusive husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/pimp. It feels GOOD despite the fact it has easily one of the top five worst endings in video game history. Usually I get mad about a weak ending but I didn’t care in Dark Souls, it was over and that’s all that mattered.
I’m sure it seems like I’ve been awful hard on Dark Souls, but I’m glad I played it. It really made me rethink how I feel about entertainment and how that entertainment affects me. Despite all the anger, rage, weeping, sadness, depression, explosive diarrhea, emasculation, and madness I have never felt the rush I got when those end credits rolled. I truly felt like I accomplished something, but I don’t know if it was worth the cost to my health and sanity.
There is an expansion available but I won’t be playing, I have been abused enough.
Dark Souls: 7/10