Did I Actually Just Finish Dark Souls III?
Yes. Yes, I did.
It took me over 50 hours to grind my way through, which is apparently WAY over the curve, but I’m fine with that. I was very uncertain about what I was getting myself into back on April 10th when I decided to give Demon’s Souls a try, and I am still somewhat in awe at the notion that I managed to get through the entire series.
It was my first attempt at playing a glass cannon, and I definitely felt brittle the entire way. It was somewhat made up for by getting to watch enemy health bars drop in massive chunks rather than slivers, particularly once I got into the last couple of zones and unlocked the BIG nukes.
I also did a ton more multiplayer this go ’round, so that added quite a bit of time to the total. Most of it was on my own terms, but I did get invaded (and generally stomped into the dirt) a few times after killing a boss put me into Ember form and made me a target. In the entire time, I only won one 1v1 invasion, and that was thanks to an invader who didn’t expect the shield-piercing lunge from the Moonlight Greatsword. Most of the time, I just saw the “you are being invaded!” message and went to go find a bonfire to die near.
But I’ll set that aside now so I can talk a little more about the game, which was brilliant. I suspect that I’ll always have a soft spot for Demon’s Souls (and you can count me in with the masses slavering after a PS4 or PC version), but Dark Souls III felt like From had taken all of the good ideas from the first two games, chucked out some of the annoying ones (particularly a couple of questionable design decisions from DS2), and given it all a very shiny coat of paint.
I particularly appreciated the level design and the way rough bits were almost always followed by shortcuts, From’s way of saying “You’ve proven you can get here on your own, you don’t have to keep proving it” and frequent bonfires kept the post-failure loop to a minimum, which is important. I’ve discovered that I’m not turned off by difficult games, but I AM turned off by difficult games that put extra hurdles between the point where you’ve died and the point where you get to try the fight again.
They also put the story a little more front-and-center in this one. Your hub slowly fills up with NPCs, and most of them have a fair bit of information to impart about exactly how terrible the world has gotten and how it got to that point in the first place. There’s still a lot of reading item descriptions to fill in the blanks, but I felt much more part of the story this time, rather than just a random undead bouncing off the plot on occasion. Not that knowing the story was particularly complimentary at times – it’s made very clear that you’ve been charged with the job of saving (as much as that means anything) the world not because you’re any good, but really because you’ve already tried and failed once.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone play DS3 as their first Souls game, but I’m having to resist the urge to get super annoying with friends and try to convince them that they need to drop everything and play the entire series from beginning to end.
I guess I should probably try Bloodborne at some point now. I’m giving myself advance permission to decide that it’s not my kind of game, though – it sounds a little too fast-paced for my reflexes. 🙂