After a sequel that irritated many series purists and a sidetrack into the Bloodborne universe, Dark Souls has made its return with the third series.
While the core mechanics may relatively be the same as the first entry in the series, there have been plenty of refinements to Dark Souls 3 to make the series its own unique entry, one that definitely warrants being dived into on the latest consoles.
Like other Dark Souls titles, the story is as muddled and confusing as always. Your undying is trying to kill the Embered and take their fire to relight the fire of the world. There’s plenty more story hidden away in the game, complete with hidden endings, but only for those that take the time to read the item descriptions and go out of their way to find them.
When you start off the game, you may find it easier than some past entries. That’s because early on it does seem more of a retread of the first title, including areas you’ve visited before. For the most part, the game feels a bit linear for a while, going from one boss to the next without a lot of exploration for shortcuts or hidden items until later in the game. Plus, enemies early on are a bit easier to detect and dispatch (don’t worry, it doesn’t stay like that throughout).
Later on, even normally enemies get downright vicious. Black knights, complete with shields, mimic many of your same tactics, forcing you to do small jabs and feints as you try to exploit any kind of weakness. Wraiths, if not eliminated quickly, can drain your health permanently, and most chests in the game are mimics that are ready to demolish you. Plus, enemies constantly respawn instead of permanently dying after so many respawns at a bonfire.
Bosses also give a great challenge now. Most have tricks and tells that need to be learned and gotten used to before finding out a regular pattern to watch for or another form’s pattern, meaning multiple deaths at a boss are the norm.
One thing to note about combat is it’s unlike Bloodborne and more like the past Dark Souls titles. Instead of going for fast attacks and counters, combat is slower and methodic. You’ll be blocking and rolling around waiting for the opportune moment to attack, especially with some boss fights.
Added to the game is a new type of Estus Flask called the Ashen Estus Flask. While the regular one is still in the game and still refills your health, the new version recharges spells and special abilities that weapons come with. Early on, those not using spells may not find a use for these new flasks, but they become just as necessary as a normal flask later in the game. Thankfully, you can convert regular flask to an Ashen one and vice versa at a bonfire.
One nice change in the latest entry are the graphics. The areas, both old and new, look amazing, even as depressing as they are. Your character has a distinctive, unique feel, one that makes them look livelier than past entries.
The graphical upgrade also makes it easier to see traps and enemies waiting to try and carve you up in the distance. Sure, the fog between some areas are still there, but astute players will be able to use the better graphics to their advantage to extend their lives longer.
Dark Souls 3 still makes every loss and death seem worth it as you climb forward, pushing into new territories and past some of the toughest bosses the series has had. While some are already speed running this game in a few hours, a normally playthrough will probably take you at least 50 hours as you die and get used to the game’s mechanics to figure out how to overcome them and become better. If you’ve liked any of the Souls games, this one also deserves a spot on your shelf.
Final Score: 9.0