Dark Souls III, is arguably the most anticipated game of 2016 alongside Uncharted 4. However, unlike the latter, the final iteration of the Dark Souls franchise doesn’t signify the end of a series, but marks an end of an era. Because to most people, Dark Souls is more than just a game, it released on the back of critically acclaimed PlayStation 3 exclusive Demon Souls, and has turned a niche title into what is now known as one of the best genres in history of the videogame industry. Genres, because the unforgiving, hard hitting, design resonated so well with the fans of the medium, it has become a genre of its own, and whenever an alike title, such as Lords of the Fallen appears on the market, it is instantly classified as Souls-like. However, last year’s PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne¸ has proven that while the labyrinthine essence of the Souls series is in fact one of the best in the business, it still has a lot of room for improvement.

Gothic, Lovecraftian setting of Bloodborne, while taking away from the core in-game mechanics, by limiting the number of weapons and skills, has in the end massively improved the now tiring combat. Weapon transformations allowed players to alternate play-styles on the fly, and the lack of inventory weight limit allowed for creation of countless combinations. Constant switching between two weapons, and four different transformations, has turned mundane battles into large scale spectacles. And the addition of active firearms, which replaced the Dark Souls shields, only furthered the excitement of each and every encounter. Therefore, one could argue that the developer From Software, has taken a tremendous leap forwards, and from that point on could only improve on the formula of the Souls series with Dark Soul III, however, this turned out not to be the case.

reportada

The uncharted territories which From Software has claimed with the release of Bloodborne, unfortunately have been abandoned by the developer within the digital boundaries of Dark Souls III, as within mere hours’ players are presented with wider array of weaponry and armour, than in the entirety of Bloodborne. And while many will be pleased with the return of an abundance of leggings and broken daggers, a vast majority will never be used. Yes – it could be argued that a large pool of weaponry extends longevity of the title, and allows the player to create a Bloodborne like spectacle with selection of four different weapons. But ultimately such is hindered by From Software’s reluctant approach to progress, as even if anybody finds a combination of two or even three weapons, which can be used to chain striking combinations together, he or she will be disallowed from doing so by the sheer, poindexter-like, limitations presented by the numbers of endless, and unnecessary stats of Dark Souls III.

Souls series apologists were surely waiting for statement such as this to simply say ‘’you’re not limited by the weight capacity, you can simply fat-roll’’, but saying that one can result to using his or her favourite weapons, by sacrificing the life-saving ability of rolling, is like saying that you can keep your dog forever, but you have to euthanize it first, and then mummify it. It simply doesn’t work. In fact, fast rolling (which is the only way to play) is riddled with issues of its own in Dark Souls III, as pacing of the title at times makes it extremely difficult to time the lifesaving action. This is because, Dark Souls III is an eerily strange game. It feels like it is stuck in limbo between Dark Souls II and Bloodborne. Some enemies are agile, and can deal a quick series of punishing attacks, just like the Bloodborne’s hunters, whereas others are large, slumbering figures capable of only singular, yet devastating attacks, which can be easily dodged, and resemble the Dark Souls II’s Lost Sinner. And while existing separately, within the boundaries of two different titles, such are exceptional, however, once placed within a single game, which in this case is Dark Souls III, it is simply a hindrance.

Dark-Souls-Arrows

Constantly having to alternate between different forms of enemies disrupts the Souls­-like flow of the combat, and instead of feeling the constant, progressive improvement in player skill and ability, anyone who will play Dark Souls III for any period longer than an hour at the time, will feel like he/she is constantly getting worse. As receiving damage from Skeleton Wheels and lowlifes alike, can be really demeaning. However, while the flow of the combat is not as good as one would come to expect when it comes to the sinister creations of From Software, the mechanical side of it has been significantly improved.

Previous iterations of the Dark Souls series, as well as Bloodborne while being exceptional titles, had a tremendous problem with the mechanical side of the in-game combat. And while such was a spectacle, it was more infuriating than one-hit kill enemy attacks, due to the tragically poor hitboxes. Memories of death at the hand of a sword which was visibly meters away from the game’s protagonist still haunt many fans of the series, however, Dark Souls III will make all these nightmares go away. Throughout many hours which I’ve spent with the game, not once have I stood up and said, ‘’that was absolute f#@&ing bull#%@t’’, because unlike before, I’ve never felt like the game was unfair in any way shape or form, yes – it has dropped an enemy on the top of my head once or twice, but never has an action which was completely out of my control, led to my death. And at least to me, this is the biggest improvement in the history of the franchise.

2980097-dark-souls-iii-6

As it has been already underlined, Dark Souls III, has improved upon its predecessors greatly in terms of behind-the-polygons, in-game mechanics. But while such greatly improve the enjoyment of the title, they do not support the performance of it, and it seems like From Software has done very little to improve such. Throughout the entirety of the title, certain locations and enemy attacks, which feature a large amount of individual particles, affect framerate so much, they turn the game into a slide-show like crawl. One would expect From Software to learn from its past experiences, and abandon the use of smoke as in Bloodborne it has led to loss of frames, and sometimes crashed the game completely. But it looks like From Software, learnt nothing and decided to cover a vast majority of early in-game areas with smoke. And as the player finally makes his/her way out of the 15 fps hell, and has a brief stint walking around various swamps, he/she ends up having to traverse even more migraine inducing areas, as the developer clearly couldn’t stop itself from swamping the player with a ton of game crumbling particle effects.

While many would question the drop in frames due to Dark Souls III’s not so spectacular visuals, such is understandable as the sheer amount of objects appearing on the screen, is at times overwhelming. When From Software finally patches the PlayStation 4 version of the game, it will be an experience like no other, as Dark Souls III’s environments are simply breath-taking. And while the polygon count and texture resolution are nowhere near as good as the one of the titles’ such as The Order 1886, the design and overwhelming variety continues the trend established by previous iterations of the series. Golden brown villages populated by the undead, grim and sinister Catacombs of Carthus, and last but not least the frozen streets of the Irithyll of the Boreal Valley all contribute to the immense sense of place which Dark Souls III is in possession of. Once such is combined with the numerous NPC encounters, which pave additional narratives in front of the player, Dark Souls III becomes the ultimate Souls-like game, which will surely satisfy both the hard-core fans as well as newcomers. As arguably it is the most approachable game of both the series, as well as the Souls genre.



Author

Kamil

My name is Kamil, and I'm the 'Feature Man'. I write news, and reviews just like everybody else, however, feature articles are my true forte. And this is not because I'm another self-centered, pseudo-intellectual games journalist, but because there are many discussion worthy matters which go unnoticed in the flurry of other video-game related articles. If you want to read more of my #HotTakes and #Opinions, or if you simply want to fight me over the internet, you can follow me on Twitter @Kama_Kamilia.