- Developer: FROM Software
- Publisher: FROM Software, Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
- Release Date: 24th March 2016
The (supposed) finale of the series that has been brandishing death and frustration for over half a decade.
I was pretty late to the party having only starting with the release of Dark souls II but after that took my soul for over 300 hours I have been a massive fan of the whole series since. So this review is from a biased perspective. If you are new to the franchise I would see my Dark Souls 2 review as that game is probably a little easier to break into.
Dark Souls III is a great game, but in the same way that Star Wars episode VII is a great film. It is definitely for the fans. There is a heady mix of items, characters and locations spanning back over the whole series, with FROM Software’s other baby Bloodborne having an obvious impact on game core mechanics and enemy design. Combat is faster and straight swords seem to have a slight upper hand this time around rather than the slow and heavy greatswords that have ruled previously. Also bosses now have 2 or more phases to keep you on your toes and poison is a lot slower so cheesing with poison arrows is no longer a viable option.
This is undoubtedly the most beautiful game in the series and the audio is also spot on. From the eerie score, to the thunderous boss music, to the murmurings of beasts that are just out of sight it really is pleasing to the eyes and ears.
Character creation feels similar to previous but for the first time it is possible to create a face that doesn’t look like last nights curry on the way back up. Stats seem to be far simpler this time around and there is no stat that isn’t clear exactly what it does. Main difference this time around is that there are no hexes as such, but this seems to have been melded with pyromancy which now requires a combination of both intelligence and faith. Dying isn’t as punishing as it was, gone is the hollowing of Dark Souls 2 where you lost a little of your total health each time until a Human Effigy was consumed, this time around you have Embers which give you more health and a funky fiery glow, these are fairly plentiful and extras can be gained from helping others out with bosses.
We have a Firelink shrine again, however it is much more reminiscent of the Nexus from Demon’s souls. Andre, everyone’s favourite beardy blacksmith returns and Patches is back just to piss everyone off. One of my main gripes with this incarnation is the NPC side quests. Some NPCs just turn up and you have no idea what to do with them until you accidentally join a certain covenant and make them hostile, other NPCs will up and leave if you don’t go and speak to them and give them items in an allotted time and one, who is tucked away in a corner bloody dies once you defeat one of the first main bosses so is easy to miss completely! The Souls series has always had fickle side questlines but I found this time around it would be nigh on impossible to figure some of them out unguided.
The overall world is massive with a huge amount to explore, with plenty of secrets to keep everyone busy, from icy landscapes to fiery pits with a fitting selection of enemies for each, although some do get recycled towards the end of the game this is done conservatively and not as much as previous games have. In comparison to its predecessors, this is a very linear experience, first timers will think I am insane when I say that, but seriously, it is far clearer where you need to be going next than any of the others. I am still unsure if this is a bad thing or not. Part of me says no, as no one likes wandering into an area that is far too hard for them and getting their arse handed to them repeatedly, but on the other hand, there was a kind of glee that you got going back to an area that beat you in to submission a few levels later and beasting your way through it like a boss. Although main story (ha!) would be unaffected by a little more freedom, the already fickle NPC side quests would be further hindered so this is likely for the best.
Having only seen one ending so far, it does feel more purposeful than previous efforts and looking at the conditions to get one of the three, it better be good! The last area of Dark Souls III is Lothric castle and this is HUGE, it have several areas in one and at least 2 proper bosses. It really feels like the end of the game which pleased me as normally this is not the case.
This is “More Souls” and it should have enough of all the previous games to make you happy no matter where you started. I wish they had done a little more with it, as big and enjoyable as it is, there isn’t much that hasn’t been done before, aside from a few bits they shoehorned in from Bloodborne. That being said, if you are a Xbox One or Pc user, this may feel very different to you as Bloodbornes influence is apparent.
My score for Dark Souls III is