After GOW3, Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition!

After I finished GOW3, I figured I should enjoy some punishment for a while, so I started Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition on the PC. Dark Souls, like its predecessor, Demon Souls, is a game that you love to hate or hate to love or some of both. It is amazingly atmospheric and absorbing, yet absolutely punishing and brutal. I don’t know of any game that can make me feel as wary and nervous as Dark Souls (and Demon Souls), yet gives a big sense of accomplishment and RELIEF after you make your way through a harrowing path to kill a boss. It really needs to be experienced, as no description can do it justice.

First, a few words about the PC port of the game: absolute shit! Can I be more clear about that? The PC port is horrible. The only good thing about it is that it mostly works. When it starts, it isn’t in full screen mode, then it teases you that it can use the full monitor resolution (2560×1440 in my case), but then it turns out it really renders at about 1024×720 (even still, it doesn’t look terrible – the visuals are that good). Then, if you have any kind of game controller plugged in besides your Xbox 360 for Windows controller, it can’t find the Xbox controller. So I had to unplug my joystick, and finally the controller worked (and yes, you need to use a game controller for the game, as the keyboard and mouse are inadequate to the task). I know where is a user-coded patch that will improve the rendering quality, but I wanted to experience it as the devs intended. Turns out, I will apply that patch if I ever go back to continue the game.

The game throws you into a scary world with little instruction, yet enough to get by. As I said, the game is incredibly atmospheric, so you really need to play it to understand. Right from the start, you kill some other undead (did I mention that you are undead? You are, but it can be fixed), and get a little cocky, since they are easy. Then you meet your first boss, where your choices are to run or die. Later, you will come back and kill him to progress in the game.

As you kill enemies, you collect souls, which you can spend to level up and for weapons and other goodies. The problem is that if you die, you drop your collected souls where you died, and if you don’t recover them (i.e. you die again on the way back to where they are), they are gone forever. And you can’t save the game and try again. No, this is a punishing game that punishes attempts to explore or try new things (oops, you fell off that ledge: you died!). When playing this game, caution is the required stance. Always. Even if you are a badass, because the guy around the next corner may be able to kill you!

The online play is fascinating. You can see messages left by other players, warning you of danger or telling you of a treasure. Sometimes, you can click their bloodstains and see their ghosts and how they died so you can avoid repeating their mistakes. In some situations, your world can be invaded by another player whose job is to kill you, but if you kill them, the reward is great (I haven’t experienced this in Dark Souls, but I got my ass handed to me a few times in Demon Souls). So it is a very unique and somewhat terrifying experience.

After each death, you are respawned at the most recent bonfire you stopped at with all your collected souls removed and all the enemies put back into place. So even though you just fought your way through tons of baddies to get to the boss who thumped you, you have to do it all again. This is why I gave up on the game, at least for the moment. I will go back, however, because it is very compelling (and annoying).

Comments are closed.