Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition |
Let me just start off by saying, if you havenít played Dark Souls yet, youíve been missing out. And if the reason you haven't played the game is because it hasnít been available on the PC, well then itís now time to jump into one of the best games to come out this generation. However, I will leave you with this word of warning, do not expect Dark Souls to be kind. Before starting your journey through this fantastic, painstakingly tough RPG, understand that frustration is a friend you will soon know well.
Explaining what Dark Souls is can be fairly tough. At its core, itís a lengthy RPG where you equip items and level up different skills like Vitality, Strength, Endurance, etc, but the game that surrounds it is so much more than that. Similar to something like a Metroid game, Dark Souls is a giant world in which you need to explore, but instead of locking you out of sections because you donít have items like a Metroid game would, Dark Souls locks you out of sections of the world simply because the enemies are far too strong to take on without first leveling up a bit. The interesting part is thereís no way of really knowing where to go next in the game other than paying really close attention to some of the easily missable dialogue, and exploring the world until you find a place where the enemies are manageable at your current level. This lack of information isnít a bad thing, rather, itís something truly key to the experience Dark Souls provides. The game is as realistic as if you were dropped into this world, and forced to find out the truths on your own.
Dark Souls is a game that accesses core parts of your being. It punishes you harshly for even the smallest of mistakes, and rewards you greatly for your accomplishments. Thereís an intangible difficulty to Dark Souls that doesnít make you feel cheated, but rather, teaches you to think before every action in a way that forces you to get better at the game, or die trying. Rushing into combat is never a smart idea. After dozens, even hundreds of hours of play, being careless can cause death during what seems like the most tame of combat encounters. This is because the movement in the game is deliberate. If I press the attack button, thereís no going back, and my character will be vulnerable if I made a poor decision. Also, every dodge, attack, and block takes away some stamina, and once the stamina bar has been drained, enemies will jump at the chance for an open strike. These systems can prove frustrating for players used to the style of many other third person action games, but this style forces each parry, each step, and each slash of a sword to be calculated and planned. And although this may seem to limit the combat, there is a very risk versus reward system at play that allows players to develop their own unique combat style.
Dark Souls is not an impossibly hard game. I know, this is kind of a crazy thing to say, but it really isnít as difficult as one may think. The fact is, Dark Souls forces you to play by its rules, and once you understand those rules, you can use them to your advantage. The easiest example of this is the punishing death penalty that really makes Dark Souls tough for those starting out. Upon dying, a blood stain appears on the ground where you were standing a few seconds before your last death, and all of your souls are lost. The only way to retrieve those souls, is to make the trek back to your blood stain without dieing.
This is extremely important because souls are everything. They are how you level up, and how you buy items and spells. Without souls, you simply canít proceed. This will cause new players to want to rush back to their dead bodies as quickly as possible, when instead, they should take their time so they donít risk losing progress. This requirement of extreme self control and patience is something Dark Souls forces you to have not only in death, but also when in combat against even the weakest of enemies. At first it can be extremely frustrating to lose hours of progress due to making one stupid mistake, but even the toughest of enemies can be conquered by a little patience and perseverance. Eventually, that dragon that sent you running in terror will seem like nothing more than a mere pathetic lizard standing in the way of your grand adventure.
So, even though Dark Souls is definitely an amazing game unlike anything else around these days, the port to the PC is not without its shortcomings. Leading up to the release of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition on the PC, there was a fair amount of criticism towards the developerís decision to use Games for Windows Live instead of just using steam. Add the fact that there seems to be a problem with textures in the game that make it look worse than it did on the console, and there were definitely some caveats about buying this PC port. Thankfully, I didnít have very many problems with Games for Windows Live or the bad textures, and I didnít really notice the latter because there is an easy fix out there for the texture problem. Itís really too bad From Software wasnít able to do this itself, but a fan of the game was able to create a pretty easy to use mod that makes the textures look as they should. So, even though it isnít excusable for there to be such a fundamental issue with the game, at least thereís a simple and easy fix out there for it.
For those still worrying about the implementation of Games for Windows Live, well, I may have some bad news. Dark Souls has always had connecting issues with their unique drop in, drop out co-op, but on the PC itís even worse. Of the fifty to one-hundred times I tried to summon other players into my game to help me out with a boss fight, I was only able to get someone to successfully join my game once. Thatís pretty terrible odds even compared to how bad it was on the consoles. Iím not exactly sure whether or not this is simply a Dark Souls problem, or if itís due to Games for Windows Live, but either way itís really disappointing to see such a cool multiplayer system go to waste because of bad implementation.
Of course, multiplayer isnít necessary to complete the game, but it does greatly add to the experience, so itís hard not to feel somewhat slighted for the sloppiness of this much awaited PC release. Even the design for keyboard and mouse controls is lacking, thankfully, being that itís on Games for Windows Live, the game supports the Xbox 360 gamepad, which is really how I would suggest playing the game.
Even with all the unfortunate problems, Dark Souls is still an amazing game, and the Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition does at least make up for it in some ways with some amazing, currently PC exclusive DLC. The Artorias of the Abyss DLC is definitely one of those cases where a developer goes all out for their game and their fans. This addition adds a slew of new content including areas, bosses, and weapons. Thankfully, the DLC will be coming out later this year for those who already have the game on console. Itís really up to the buyer whether or not purchasing a whole new version of the game is worth the early access to DLC, but I will say the DLC is definitely worth playing no matter what decision you make. All things considered, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition has some flaws, some easily avoidable, others not as much, but the game is just so incredible that there really is no reason to let those things hold you back from experiencing such a unique and fantastic game.