Well, it was a long time coming, but Dark Souls has finally made it to the PC. The 2011 action RPG took fans on a difficult, yet rewarding, ride and now PC gamers can experience it as well in the form of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition.
Dark Souls is an action RPG that has you creating a character and molding them into a play style of your own choosing. You can chose what kind of armor to wear, what weapons to wield, and what skills to take with you into battle. The customization is completely up to you, and there are a ton of things you can do with your character.
The activities of both exploration and combat require patience and caution. Rushing into a fight or certain areas will risk losing your life. You will learn very quickly to take your time and access the situation if you want to survive. Even then, you will die. I can promise you that.
Let’s talk about dying for a moment. You see, when you die in the game, you will return back to bonfires that are scattered throughout the world. These serve as checkpoints. When you die, you lose all your souls that you have collected from defeated enemies. Souls are both the currency in the game for purchasing everything as well as what you need to level up your character at bonfires. If you can reach the point where you last died, you can reclaim your souls. If you die before reaching your souls, you lose those souls and where you died this time will be your new “bloodstain.” Also, every time you die or rest at a bonfire to refill your healing item or to heal yourself, all the enemies in the world respawn.
Luckily, you don’t have to brave this difficult path alone. The game uses a unique co-op system where you can summon or be summoned into other people’s games and lend a hand when taking on a boss fight. You will also be able to summon some NPCs that you meet in the game as well. Aside from the co-op play, you can also invade other people’s games and try to kill them. If you succeed, you can take their loot for your own. Of course, doing bad deeds like this may result in some really bad NPCs hunting you down.
The overall look and tone of the game really set this game apart. It has a medieval feel to it, but with a much darker tone. Everything just feels dreadful and really compliments the feel of the gameplay. You never know what lies in wait for you around the already scary looking corner.
The game has no hand holding. It drops you right into the thick of it with very little explanation. This may turn off some players. The game really wants you to explore on your own. Sure, the game may be difficult, but it is fair. Experimenting can sometimes help you out when trying different tactics. This game is all about learning how to deal with situations, almost to the point of memorizing it.
Now, as brutal as the game is, and as impossible as the boss fight may seem to be, the game is very rewarding. The sense of accomplishment when you finally take down that giant boss that had been killing you for the past three hours is amazing. It really is what keeps you going during the game. You slowly start to see yourself getting better and better until you become good enough to win. It can get controller-throwing frustrating at times, but if you stick with the game, and play it how it wants to be played, it just clicks.
The game is massive. You can easily sink 40 hours into the game before completing it, and even then, new game plus awaits all who dare to take up the challenge. The Prepare to Die Edition also comes with all new areas that the consoles have yet to see. These areas are recommended for players that have put in at least 15 hours and strengthened their characters.
I do recommend playing the game with a gamepad or Xbox 360 controller. The mouse and keyboard controls are too convoluted for what the game does.
Of course, the big elephant in the room is the PC optimizations; I should say the lack thereof. Yes, the game only runs at 720p at only 30 frames per second. Yes, it is very noticeable when you play the game that the visuals look somewhat blurred, and yes Games for Windows Live is as big a burden as it always has been. I understand the complaints, but I can totally see past them due to how good the game is.
If you have the patience, and don’t mind some repetitive game play along with very little explanation, this game is for you. Fans of stat-tracking RPGs will eat this game up, and action fans will find a good challenge when trying to strategize situations. It may be a brutal game, but if you let it hook you, you really won’t mind dying. The faults this game has are there, but if you look at it for what the actual game is and not how it looks on PC, you will see just how brilliant Dark Souls really is.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.