Dark Souls, the dark-fantasy RPG game developed by From Software, is probably one of the most influential games of the last decade, and not for the reasons you might initially think. It was not revolutionary in terms of graphics, storytelling or even gameplay, yet its release in late 2011 was the start of a renaissance for RPG games in the tail end of the seventh generation of consoles.
Probably the most well-known characteristic of Dark Souls is the difficulty. Sure, it is a relatively hard game to pick up, but it is not unfair and is incredibly rewarding once mastered. Additionally, the title showed the general public that challenge could be fun, unlike other 2011 AAA titles developed by marketing boards, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Dark Souls provided a game that was complex, engaging and entertaining with great replay value.
But let’s go back to the game itself: you are a “cursed undead” tasked with succeeding an old deity in reigniting a primordial flame in order to prevent an age of darkness. On the way there you will be mauled, crushed, and slashed by several monsters, knights and dragons trying to stop you from completing your quest.
The combat is the meat of the game: it not only challenges the player but also allows for several playing styles. Do you want to be a sorcerer? You can. Do you want to run around wearing only boots and wielding a massive dragon’s tooth as a weapon? You can.
Every area of the game is splendid to look at from a visual standpoint and perfectly planned to complement the combat. Overall, the level design plays a huge part in the experience as exploring this surprisingly interconnected map will reveal important details about the lore of this collapsing world.
The game had problems on the technical side, for example its multiplayer was very…. dysfunctional… and remember Blighttown? I don’t want to. But these are not deal breakers and easily forgivable sins.
Dark Souls continues to influence gaming years after its release. For example, we now have a whole new RPG sub-genre named after the series: the “Soulslike”, describing any RPG with a dark theme and a steep learning curve. If you ever played games such as Hollow Knight, Nioh, Salt and Sanctuary you have experienced games that have been influenced by Dark Souls. Even the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt explicitly took inspiration from the Souls series.
• Gameplay: 5/5
• Graphics: 3.5/5
• Story: 3.5/5
• Immersion: 4/5
• Fun factor: 4.5/5