Demon’s Souls was first released to North American audiences it was purported as one of the most difficult games in existence, a reputation it rightly deserves. Friends traded stories about this excruciating challenging title to other friends (and for those that eventually went on to complete the game there was no shortage of bragging rights to be had either). As word spread about Demon’s Souls’ notorious difficulty more became interested in playing it and in the two years since its release a rather sizable audience was prepped and ready for a sequel. So the question became how do you create a sequel to one of the most challenging games ever created? The answer: you make it harder. That end product was ‘Dark Souls‘.
Those that haven’t played either game will likely scoff at its difficulty so let me discuss it in further detail. If you die at any point within the game you lose all of your collected souls (the game’s currently). Similarly, you automatically lose half your power bar until you go back to where you last died (also known as “reclaiming” your soul). If you die twice you’re confined to that half power bar. Checkpoints are few and far between and success depends as much upon the careful leveling of your character and equipment as much as it does killing enemies.
Dark Souls ups the ante in very specific and key ways. The Nexus (the neutral ground where players replenish health, purchase equipment, and save games in Demon’s Souls) is replaced with bonfires, in-game checkpoints where if-used re-spawn all enemies the player has killed. In Demon’s Souls players choose to play in one of five worlds, whereas in Dark Souls players interact as part of one persistent world. Also to note the online component is more comprehensive and at certain points necessary if players wish to complete bosses and enemy-heavy areas.
While Dark Souls is known for its steep learning curve, the game is praised for its in-depth progression system, epic visuals, and sweeping level design. Like any great dungeon-crawler its dark fantasy atmosphere lulls the player to explore every corner and seek out every room, but only at your own peril. As trite as it sounds Dark Souls isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes an iron-clad will and steadfast endurance for those that dare try and complete this title.
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