Form is temporary, class is permanent.
Imagine walking on a narrow piece of land surrounded by water on both sides, with a seemingly hostile atmosphere that keeps you on your toes. You know something is going to happen but you don’t know when, or what is going to give you the beating of your life. As you are cautiously walking, checking your surroundings for any enemies that may pop up, a massive Hydra appears. You stand there stunned with no idea what to do, whether to run or face the giant behemoth. You finally make up your mind and run and take shelter in a tree, only to be smacked senselessly by a giant walking Mushroom. Welcome to Dark Souls.
The console version is something I regard as one of the greatest games ever made, and From Software had to try really hard to botch up the PC version, and you know what the funny thing is? They almost succeeded in doing that. Dark Souls PC is one of the worst ports of all time, but as they say–form is temporary, class is permanent. That applies here, even though there are minor inconveniences like shoddy image quality or poor framerate, it still manages to rise above all that.
Set in a world called Lordran, the moment you set your eyes on it, you will be completely immersed and curious to know what lies ahead, and what your goal is because the game won’t tell you anything. It’s how the narrative works in Souls games, you explore the world and try to join bits and pieces together to formulate your own opinion. It’s quite effective, too, as the environments are completely unique and connected in such a way that makes you admire the fantastic level designers at From Software. The PC version features some additional levels and they can be accessed via loading screens unlike other areas.
Fair enough, though, as the content titled “Prepare to Die Edition” contains a bunch of additional boss fights and new areas, not to mention some new NPCs too. The base game which is exactly the same as the console version features some tweaks and is quite balanced making you work hard to progress further in the game. It is imperative that you play with an Xbox 360 controller because the Keyboard Mouse combo is not suited at all, and is poorly implemented too. Some games are better with the controller and considering you can use the DS3 via third-party software like Motionjoy, there are a lot of options to choose from.
Dark Souls’ difficulty is something you’ve no doubt heard of, but I actually believe there are a lot of trial-and-error moments that you must go through because learning enemy attack patterns and all that jazz which can kill you instantly requires a lot of time and patience. Needless to say, if you are new to Dark Souls or haven’t played the brilliant Demon’s Souls on the PS3, be prepared to get your ass kicked because the learning curve will be huge. For people who have played Demon’s Souls, it will be easier to learn the gameplay mechanics since they are quite similar games.
The game has an innovative message system where other users can give tips or troll you. When I mean by troll, I mean causing you to punch a wall. Trust me that can happen. The game’s level design is quite stunning, with interconnected levels, and a lot of shortcuts which, once you unlock, will reduce all the backtracking. Such example of clever design will make you appreciate what From Software has done with this game. The game is hard, but only if you don’t play carefully as dying will result in a loss of souls and just like the first game, you have one chance to go back to the area where you died to reclaim those souls.
Dark Souls is a really expansive game and not that much linear as well, which is quite a stunning achievement. It’s not a technical showpiece considering it ran terrible on consoles and on PC, it is locked at 30 fps and at a sub-HD resolution. Fortunately, there is a fan made patch for the game which you can download from here. From Software gets negative marks for this lazy show considering a fan managed to get the game in a respectable condition on the PC.
The boss fights are one of the weak points of the game. They look stunning, but they are extremely easy to dispatch and it’s something that compared to Demon’s Souls is quite underwhelming. The normal enemies can kill you in one hit too, and not to mention the traps and ledges which can really put you in a tough situation. It’s a lot satisfying to backstab a Knight and you know what? Knights are friggin’ cool in this game. You will find a puny one to a big giant Knight, and all of them are quite enjoyable to kill. The skeleton ones with Rapiers can mess you up in one move though, so you gotta be careful.
The major improvement in the PC version is the addition of a matchmaking system for instant PvP. The console versions didn’t have it and something like this is quite appreciated if you just wanna kill some human players. There are invasions, there are some freaky enemies, and there are things that will chew you up fast. It’s a relentlessly hardcore game and I don’t even use that word a lot. PC gamers have to be grateful for this and angry too, considering the shoddy work From did on optimizing the game for the platform.
There is no way I’m not going to recommend this as it’s one of the best games ever made.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Spectacular level design. Art design stands out. Enemies are tough. The multiplayer is unique. PC version has extra content.
Locked at 30fps. Lack of graphical options. Boss fights are weak.
There is no way I'm not going to recommend this as it's one of the best games ever made.