Until the remake of Demon’s Souls comes out for PC, or if by some miracle Elden Ring drops next week, I’ll be stuck with the original Dark Souls trilogy. I’m not complaining, though. I recently got all the achievements for the whole trilogy. Here’s my take on why Dark Souls III is the best of them.
What Dark Souls III Does Well
Dark Souls III never feels unfair. The difficulty is ramped up, and the game is more fast-paced on the whole, but the dedicated player can see that they can overcome the challenge with enough dedication. Of course, there are floor traps and enemies shooting arrows (or fireballs) at you from afar, but it never feels like You Died because of something that is completely out of your control.
There are narrow hallways and tight areas with a lot of enemies, but if you are careful and observant, DSIII is much better at telegraphing big challenges than previous entries to the series. There is always a way to pull away one enemy at a time, and there’s never an overwhelming sense that a big gang of enemies could pop out from behind a wall and ruin you.
There are so many viable builds in DSIII that really any play style you want to choose is usable. A dexterity build can stand toe-to-toe with a strength build. Miracles are actually useful. Magic builds don’t trivialize the challenge. The game doesn’t feel as slanted as the first two in regards to build viability. Of course, there will always be a most efficient way to play, but if you’re not a speedrunner, you can get a ton of fun out of any play style.
Dark Souls III’s boss fights are absolutely incredible. Most of the fights feel, for lack of a better word, epic. Walking into Pontiff Sulyvahn’s boss room for the first time is one of the most incredible gaming experiences I’ve ever had. And don’t even get me started on how good the Midir fight is.
The combat is extremely fast, and bosses clobber you so quickly that a lot of fights can be overwhelming, but learning their patterns and creating a strategy is most of the fun. Even with its increased difficulty, boss fights are rarely as frustrating as the first two games. Mostly because of my next point:
With DSIII’s closer bonfire placement, the player’s skills become the biggest bottleneck in gameplay. In the first two games, frustration was the toughest enemy in some instances.
Nothing is worse than feeling like you’re so close to killing a boss, then having a grueling run back to the boss room from some far off bonfire, just to die to a random mob on your way. If I had a dollar for every time I put my controller down and walked away from Dark Souls or Dark Souls II because I fell off a cliff or got sniped by some enemy on the way to a boss door, I’d be Bezos rich.
I could say plenty more about the game’s strengths, but I do have some complaints. It’s sort of linear in comparison to the first two games. While there isn’t a strict path you have to follow, there is a decidedly much, much easier path compared to any alternate routes to the end. That linearity is sort of remedied in subsequent playthroughs when your level and abilities make it viable to take whichever route you like.
Despite that previous segment about the game’s bonfires, while they are convenient, some of them are extremely redundant as well. There are a few moments where you can see the next bonfire from your current one. It takes away a lot of the challenge and cleverness of the first two games’ checkpoint placement.
Needless to say, Dark Souls III is an excellent game. If you’re new to the series with Demon’s Souls for the PS5, definitely head back a generation and give it a try. If you’re an old fan of the series and you hate Dark Souls III, that’s fine too. It is rare to have a franchise that doesn’t have a bad entry, and I think most people can agree Dark Souls III is a fantastic entry to the series.
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