Dark Souls III is the latest edition in a franchise that began back in 2009. While the third edition of the action role-playing game is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4, we reviewed it on the Xbox One.
The 3rd person game starts with an a series of activities to introduce you to the controller scheme. Annoyingly the education approach is outdated, which sees gamers search for a tutorial location, then tap and wait for a modal dialog which that takes you out of the action, then tap again to return to the game.
Over recent years, games have come a long way in terms of education new users to the control of a character and how to get around an extensive list of options and combinations. These should be more natural, fluid and the recent Tomb Raider is a prime example of this done well.
Once you master the skills of swordsmanship, running, jumping and moves to avoid or deflect an array of enemies, you’ll start your adventure through the world, just get ready to die, a lot. You’ll want to find your way to a campfire which doubles as a save point, because you’ll be revisiting it frequently.
Enemies get progressively stronger as you learn more skills and increase your weaponry until ultimately you reach the bosses. While moving throughout the world is easy enough and fighting general enemies is dynamic enough, boss battles are incredibly flawed in this game.
To fight a boss, you also have to fight the camera. As it clumsily follows you as you attempt to roll and run to avoid the oversized boss. The solution is not immediately obvious, press down on the right thumbstick to target lock on your opponent, then the camera behaves in a completely different manner.
My biggest problem is the strategy imposed is one dimensional, its such a tired recipe of avoidance and attack repeated over and over, many times to make any meaningful impact on the boss health. At any stage if you miss time a doge, jump or run to avoid the incoming attack, you die and often, you’ll have no visibility of the incoming attack. It’s not smart, its not challenging, its just outdated repetition that makes the gamer frustrated they stepped outside of the precise single programmed method to defeat the boss, its just not fun.
Throughout Dark Souls, you need to collect souls and you’ll find a counter in the bottom right of the screen to keep track of them. These can form a type of currency or can be traded for upgrades, just keep in mind, if you die, you loose them. If you return to wherever you died, you can reclaim these lost souls.
There are times in this game where the graphics are fantastic, especially looking out into the distance of the seemingly never ending environments. At other times, the graphics are unimpressive with hard edges showing where they really should be curved using modern game engines.
Its a similar story with textures in the game, if you look from a far, things look great and detailed, but get closer and things are pretty clearly not the highest quality.
The player and enemy models look good, especially well done is the dual-handed or dual-wield attack which changes compared to a sword/shield combo. Occasionally you’ll see player animations that are not as fluid as they should be, especially noticeable when changing heights like jumping down from a cliff.
Compared to the last version, graphics are considerably enhanced with dynamic lighting and particle effects being the highlights to create moody environments.
Price & Availability
Dark Souls 3 was released on the April 12th and is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. JB Hi-Fi has the game on all 3 platforms for the same price right now, A$89.00.
EB Games has an exclusive Apocolypse Edition for the hardcore fan for A$109.95.
Ultimately Dark Souls 3 is a disappointment with the user tutorial too start-stop and doesn’t encourage natural discovery and experimentation or in any way dynamically responsive to the user learning sequence.
The issues with the boss battle mechanic made me frustrated with the game, to the point where the challenge quickly became a frustration that made me want to put the game down.
Internationally the game is doing well with it now achieving the title of Bandai Namco’s fastest selling game in the US and more than 200k sold in Japan in the first 2 weeks. Despite strong sales, based on my experience in the game, I can’t recommend you buy it unless you’re an absolute die-hard to the Dark Souls franchise. There’s a lot of great games on the market and competition for your dollars is hard earned.
No game should ever need a 36 minute video to explain how to use it, if it does, the developers should start over.