Dark Souls III Review!

by on May 1, 2016

Introduction
                Dark Souls III may very well be
the end of a long journey, but what a journey it has been. I still remember starting
up the first game back when it came out on PC, only to give up one hour later due
to mounting frustration. One year later, I returned to it and this time, I went
through until the very end. The immense satisfaction of overcoming a fair challenge
that I deemed impossible not long ago, the sense of wonder and dread as I
explore a masterfully built world that’s hell-bent on seeing you succumb to its
perils, the struggle of putting together tiny bits of cryptic information in
order to understand that world and its history… these were all novel to me at
that time and made the experience of playing Dark Souls extremely memorable.
Unfortunately, the second game did not continue on the same path (at least in
my opinion), and although it was saved by the remarkable DLCs, its vanilla
content lacked in quality due to its poor boss fights, artificially increased
difficulty obtained by throwing large numbers of enemies at the player and the general
subpar atmosphere and world design. Nonetheless, when Dark Souls III was announced,
I found myself excited at the thought of a worthy successor of the first game
and a fitting conclusion to the series. Despite the catastrophic staggered
release which had non-Japanese fans left waiting while streamers and youtubers were
tossing spoilers all over the internet (we weren’t relaxed enough, so we couldn’t cover the game sooner…), I still counted the days
and hours left until the release. After more than a week since the game came
out and after 71 hours spent in it, I’m ready to share my thoughts on whether Dark
Souls III lives up to the hype or not.
                Right off the bat, it’s clear
that the game’s major inspirations were the first Dark Souls and Bloodborne, which
should be a given since the same From Software team worked on all three. The
pace of combat has been substantially increased -from weapon animations to
healing speed-, whereas the dodge-focused gameplay from Bloodborne is king at
least for the first half of the game due to the weaker shields and very
aggressive bosses that eat through your stamina. Besides that, there is a lot
of Dark Souls fan service, from the obvious similarities in theme and plot and
the returning/similar NPCs to revisiting already familiar zones such as
Firelink Shrine and others. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as most of
these are bound to take you on a nostalgia trip if you’ve enjoyed the first
game. Not to worry though, as there surely is enough new content to satisfy
anyone: at the faster pace of a series’ veteran who had gone through all the
Soulsborne titles in anticipation for this one, the game took over 40 hours to
complete and there were still many secrets left to uncover. Overall, Dark Souls
III does not go to great lengths to change the classic formula, but rather
refines certain mechanics in order to improve the fluidity of the gameplay while
keeping the core of the series’ experience intact.
Story
Wolfe:
                We’ll first take a look at the
game’s plot, of whose intricacies are just as elaborate and difficult to piece
together as always, despite the fact that the main pillars of the story are
more clearly presented to the player this time around. Many years after the
events of the first game, we find ourselves in the kingdom of Lothric with the
purpose of restoring the reawakened Lords of Cinder -powerful beings who once
linked the fire- to their thrones and absorbing their powers so that we can link
the fire ourselves once again. The Age of Fire-Age of Dark cycle returns, except
that this time around it is seen from a more apocalyptic and ultimate point of
view, as the world appears on the brink of collapse and the remaining embers
are about to fade out for the last time.
The story comes to life, as always,
from the description of items you come across, but also by interacting with the
few NPCs that you meet on your journey, who almost without exception have
missable questlines just like in Bloodborne. However, here they may even branch
based on some of your actions, and there’s one pretty complex questline which
leads to the most satisfying ending, at least from a lore perspective. All in
all, the plot pays a lot of tribute to the first game, yet adds a few twists of
its own through the new cast of characters and bosses, with the multiple
endings offering answers towards some of the big questions raised by the confusing
presentation of the series’ themes. I have personally enjoyed all the lore references
and throwbacks to the first Dark Souls, but I could understand if other players
might feel as if there’s not enough novelty in terms of story concepts.
Nodrim:
                As
everyone reading the above realized, Wolfe talks about the series as a true and
dedicated fan. My “intrusion” into this review is that of a more sceptical gamer
with a dark analytical side who’s experienced enough with the series
(experience gained in record time), but is not willing to let go on what others
clearly ignored from the beginning.
                Bandai
Namco pulled a weird publicity stunt with the game’s release and being a bench
warmer waiting for the game to come to the mere mortals while streamers and
youtubers were filling the internet with spoilers it is reprehensible. The
gratification of potential customers in the detriment of the waiting customers
isn’t something new in the business environment, but this practice is far from
pretty.
                Firing
off with the story, something that I value immensely in an RPG, the Dark Souls games
are rather different than most of the games attributed to this genre and the
third title in the series doesn’t make an exception. For the most part the
story is hiding in plain sight (literally), as it is told through visual design
and small details that can easily be missed. The labyrinthine mystery that
engulfs this world is part of the series’ charm and each interpretation of the
story can be wildly different, but probably none of them are close to the
truth.
What I’ve seen was another cycle in which
darkness is taking a higher toll out of each corner of the world, more than it
ever did before. As the fire fades, the bell rings and the Unkindled one rises
from the grave entrusted with the colossal task of bringing back the Lords of
Cinder to their thrones. A perilous journey awaits, in an apparently nonsensical
world, leading the protagonist to strange places which have spawned even
stranger creatures. This testing journey will deem if the Unkindled one is
worthy of the choices that await him.
                From
a lore standpoint I find the story of Dark Souls III fascinating. In all
fairness I had to put the story together myself (like puzzle pieces) by reading
the description of every item and associating the given lore with the events
and places of the world. Even then things weren’t clear, so I went on reddit to
compare my theories with those of other players and many hours later I came up
with something that’s probably off by miles. I guess that’s the beauty of the
so called storytelling in Dark Souls, it isn’t the conventional RPG filled with
dialogues and choices, but it makes up for that in its own weird way.
The chills!
World design
Wolfe:
                Given the fact that Miyazaki had been in charge
of the development of this title from the beginning (unlike with Dark Souls
II), I started playing expecting a more coherently build world that would also
perhaps inherit the interconnectivity between locations presented in the first
game. My wish came half true: there are multiple vistas from which you can see some
of the areas you’ll be exploring later on, and progressing from one to another always
feel natural and logical in terms of the change of scenery. There’s also a
great deal of verticality involved in the way the world is built, as in one of
multiple instances I felt very pleased to look down from the top of a castle
and see the village at its base from where I started, which is a neat way of
acknowledging the player’s progress. Unfortunately, it seems as if the masterfully
built connections between multiple zones from the first game had
been a onetime stroke of genius, as they are not present in this title just as
they weren’t in the second Dark Souls. This results in a more linear game world
that offers alternative paths of progression only two or three times (and on
some of those times, one of the branches leads to an optional area).
Nonetheless, while the world design isn’t as great as I expected it to be, the
individual level design is very good, with two areas where it is even
excellent. In one of these you start from a bonfire and spend the next few
hours unlocking all sorts of new shortcuts and passages that come together in a
quite smart and satisfying way.
                So overall, the focus in area design has
switched from linking together multiple locations to making these locations
loop back unto themselves, just like in Bloodborne. Finally, I felt as if all
the places I’ve visited were sufficiently diverse, although it did get a bit
stale to see the same old (old as in setting, not as recycling) castles or swamps
or catacombs, so the fact that this might be the final Souls game and From
Software may change the setting sounds like a great thing to me.
Gameplay
Wolfe:
                Now, in terms of actual gameplay, the other
major change besides the faster pace combat is the introduction of Focus Points
(or mana). Spells no longer have casts, but cost FPs, except that this time
around sorcery and pyromancy seem to be a playstyle that’s harder to pull off,
as opposed to the other Souls games. The damage scaling for Intelligence/Faith starts
making a difference only upon heavy investment in those stats –at that point,
it becomes very powerful-, which is a way of avoiding the Havel mages from Dark
Souls II. However, it also increases the difficulty in the early sections of
the game for mages, as the bosses leave you little breathing space and your
magic attacks do not deal that much damage. FPs are also consumed by the newly
added Battle Arts. These are special types of attacks which are unique to each
category of weapons/boss weapons. Katanas have a long charging slashing attack,
one greatsword allows you to perform two iconic moves of a boss from the first
game, while other weapons go up in flames and send shockwaves of fire. Despite
the fact that Battle Arts are a neat addition by representing an incentive to
try out new builds, the way combat plays out is not affected drastically by it,
as most of the time I never used my weapon’s Battle Art and even if I did, it
did not make a great difference. Aside from this, one thing that frustrated me during
my playthrough was the way poise and stagger work. One of my favourite boss
fights was almost ruined by the fact that the boss would get staggered way too
easily, effectively turning him into a pushover. Although the effects of poise have
yet to be precisely defined, it is clear to me that there’s something wrong
with it, as for example you can get staggered in PvP by light attacks spam
regardless of how heavy the armor you’re wearing is, which is complete
nonsense. Regardless, I felt as if the increased speed of combat encouraged a
playstyle focused on dodging, which is way more stamina efficient than
blocking, at least until you come across shields with greater stability. This
was a gladly welcomed change for me, as the snail’s pace from the previous game
almost drove me mad.
Nodrim:
                I’m happy to see the change of
focus from the slow paced combat of Dark Souls II that almost forced shields onto
the players, to a faster and more skill based combat system. The execution of
combat is closer to what Dark Souls had to offer, but with plenty of little
improvements that make for a better quality of life while fighting your way
through the lands of Lothric. Sadly, the balance between archetype play styles
is terrible. The strength, dexterity and quality builds are working great while
magic builds, especially sorceries, are a slow descent into madness as the cast
time and FP cost imbalances are completely ruining what could be a nice way to
play (don’t get your hopes up if you want to play as an archer). But I’ll give
them that, considering it is hard to find the proper balance between melee and
ranged style while keeping the game fairly challenging for both. What I can’t
excuse is the large amount of bugs I’ve experienced without even having to dig
deep for them as most of the issues of the previous games have been carried
into this one… The problems are familiar, so many players/fans might have
gotten used with them, but that’s hardly an excuse and as someone whose joy of playing is always overshadowed by the game’s
problems, the task of speaking about bugs has fallen upon my shoulders.
                It all starts with the port,
which is the best in the series, but the series is not a standard for such
comparisons. Leaving aside the controller icons which are still present when
playing with mouse & keyboard, the keybinding is problematic as the mouse
buttons and various keys cannot be used as one pleases. Early in the game it becomes
clear that the mouse is an inconvenient addition that was forcefully introduced,
so, beware what you are clicking on the interface as you might find yourself
attacking someone or falling off a cliff.
               The kick has returned
and while for some this is good news, for me it is a mechanic that builds up on
frustration. As a non-keybindable action, kicking is a combination of two
commands that more often than not are triggered involuntarily while trying to
move forward and attack leading to awkward moments during fights and potential
death.
               The targeting system
has been improved with a greater maximum distance and a more elegant icon for
the selected target. While playing a melee build using the targeting isn’t as
important for an experienced player, as a caster it’s mandatory and playing as
one brings up problems that otherwise might slip away. The range is better from
a melee perspective, but for a caster at times it’s barely useable. The target
picking while facing a group of enemies is still a matter of chance and the 180
degrees switch for invisible targets for some reason it still exists.
               But these are bugs
that even I can live with, the problems that haunt the gameplay of Dark Souls
III as they did with its predecessors are much worse. The weapon collision has
remained one sided, so enemies can still hit you without problems while you are
staggering to death trying to get a hit from a doorway. The highlight here is
when a knight managed to hit me through two walls and a staircase. The chances
of unnecessary deaths increase even further with the existence of a commands
queue with an execution as late as four seconds and a small but still
noticeable input lag that isn’t present all the time but might betray you on
your finest dodge. I wouldn’t even dive into describing the camera problems,
I’m just going to say that there will be bosses that will take a hit on you
while you have to work hard to see them doing that. Seeing these problems
haven’t been fixed, having the liberty of canceling animations or dodging
straight from running seem like a farfetched dream.

OK…
                It wouldn’t be a Souls
game without new bugs, the ones that stuck with me were movement being blocked on
one direction while playing with m&k and the infamous autosave freezes costing
me deaths while I still had enough time to save myself.
                Now that I went on ranting for
an entire page about the gameplay related problems, I have to say that even
with them I found the gameplay of Dark Souls III captivating and enjoyable.
There were a lot of moments when I swore at the screen and for good reasons,
but that didn’t stop me from going forward. I’m just disappointed because I was
expecting more from the last title in the series and it would have delivered if
the old problems weren’t here and as a testimony to the improvements stand the
100+ hours I’ve spent to date in Dark Souls III.
Wolfe:
                If Dark Souls III inherited
something from its predecessor, it definitely is the vast array of weapons and
armour available to the player. There are plenty of options to choose from in
terms of playstyle, and Fashion Souls is at its best in this title. Plenty of
armour sets are returning from the first two games, and the ones that are new are
great as well (come to think of it, all my favourite sets are new additions).
The upgrading system is now based on infusions, which are ways of imbuing your
weapons with different elemental powers or improving certain stat scalings. The
removal of armour upgrading was also a good idea in my book, since it always
felt like a chore in terms of souls/material investment. On the whole, I was
pleased with how the itemization was handled (especially in terms of boss soul
weapons), and during my two playthroughs I’ve fully upgraded and used around
ten weapons with different movesets.
Nodrim:
                I have to agree that the
itemization is almost spot on, with a ton of options for weapons to create
builds around them and fashionable armor sets that make you look like a badass
or a complete weirdo (your choice!). Even so, the options aren’t as many as
they were in the second game. I know that Dark Souls II has three DLCs under
its belt while Dark Souls III has just been released, but the former did a much
better job to give an incentive to continue in NG+ and further playthroughs by
adding plenty of new items. Dark Souls III just adds a bunch of upgraded rings
and a (cool) sword, so there are little reasons to go on and as a result the
replay value is diminished.
Patience is the key.
Bosses and difficulty
Wolfe:
                One of the most iconic aspects of the
Soulsborne series is its challenging nature which encourages the player to
persevere in front of initially overwhelming odds. As
mentioned previously, I played through the both previous games and Bloodborne
in order to prepare myself for the new journey, and my conclusion upon
finishing this one was that I may have been too
prepared. Obviously, a game’s difficulty is a subjective issue and no
Soulsborne title will ever be as hard as the first one you experience, yet I
will try to provide an objective view on this. Despite the fact that no boss has
taken me even ten attempts, I consider the roster of nineteen bosses from Dark
Souls III to be the best in any From Software game. Gone are the bland encounters
from the second game and the triple Asylum Demons from the first one, as a
close look at all the fights reveals a great variety and an equal amount of attention
in design. The tutorial boss is the best introduction to a Souls title I’ve
seen so far, the mandatory group boss actually has some interesting mechanics,
while a good number of fights (around a third) are optional and a few of them are
quite tough and unforgiving. Almost all encounters are split into two phases, something
which I’ve personally enjoyed as most of the time it means that you will have
to adapt on the fly against two different movesets. It is disappointing however
to see that two encounters rely on some gimmicks that make them boring to go
through on future runs. Nonetheless, the boss fights in Dark Souls III should
provide the typical amount of Souls challenge to an average player and from a
difficulty perspective, they are about as difficult as the ones in the previous
titles. It is also worth mentioning that the difficulty curve is well thought
out, as I found myself dying more and more as I advanced through the game and
the challenge increased.
Nodrim:
                My
experience with the boss encounters in Dark Souls III is fairly similar to
Wolfe’s, but with a few more attempts on a couple of fights which I attribute
to my age (don’t worry Wolfe, you’ll get older too!). I can’t say I had many problems beating the challenges in this game and my worst nightmares in
the series still remain Manus and Fume Knight, but that’s not really fair to
the game. I’ve been prepared for the coming of Dark Souls III and that showed, but
the difficulty level of these games is not something you can pin point so
easily, it varies from build to build and from play style to play style.
                The
design of the bosses is excellent, the multiple phases and the numerous
abilities with varied attack speed make up for entertaining and adrenaline
pumping fights. If I have one complaint it comes from the over commitment of making
some of these fights truly epic. There are a few bosses for whom I found the
difficulty to be extremely random as their number of abilities was so high that
they ended up using only some of them, this lead to a contrast in my attempts
when the bosses were incredibly powerful or quite weak.
                The
thing I absolutely loved about the bosses was their artistic design both
through visual and audio presentation, building up on the mystery of the story
by presenting the bosses as cryptic lore puzzles that have to be solved. I feel
like some of these boss battles will stick with, not because of the challenge,
but for all the elements that went into creating them.
Hauntingly beautiful…
 
Wolfe:
                Although
I haven’t had a hard time with most of the bosses in the game (except for three
or four), the same can’t be said about certain mobs and mini-bosses. I’ve found
it ridiculous that at times I would kill a boss on the first try, proceed further
and then get smashed by one of the few enemies that have such erratic movesets
that winning against them is mostly a matter of luck. I’m almost sure that on
several occasions, some mobs have infinite stamina, as they have no trouble hammering
away at you with lengthy combos of attacks. Thankfully, this problem does not
manifest itself during boss fights, except on maybe one or two fights. All in
all, the nature of the presented challenge is quite fair with some exceptions,
and I would expect an average game completion duration of somewhere between 40
and 50 hours for most players.
Online
Wolfe:
                It wouldn’t be a Souls game without some jolly
cooperation, invasions and duels, and the mechanics of online play have changed
a bit in this iteration. Matchmaking is now based on Soul Level (as opposed to
the monstrosity of Soul Memory from the second game) and weapon upgrade level, and
there can be up to six players in the same world. I have to admit that the
Covenants are the most disappointing aspect of Dark Souls III for me: there are
two which work the same way as the Forest Hunter one by summoning you to defeat
“trespassers” in some areas, but I rarely saw any action after progressing past
those locations. Perhaps I had become overleveled, but then that would simply
be poor design, as members of those covenants would only have a small window of
guaranteed activity. Asides from those, there is the common invading covenant, the
Sunbros, the three affiliated covenants (Way of Blue and their protectors, The Blue Sentinels and Blades of the Darkmoon) and two other which aren’t very
different.
                In my opinion, the effort spent on covenants just feels lazy this
time around: Dark Souls II did so much better, it had a few PvE focused ones
that even unlocked an optional and very difficult boss, whereas the Rat King
covenant offered an original way of PvPing. There was also the Brotherhood of
Blood, which featured the PvP arena that is lacking in Dark Souls III. Most of
the time you’ll find yourself invading a host that has probably already
summoned two other phantoms, so you’ll resort to dueling or partaking in the
PvP tournaments that happen in the player chosen hotspot (which is very well
chosen this time around, as I hated the Old Iron Keep bridge).
                The lack of a
better diversity of well thought out covenants has the potential of harming the
game’s lifetime, which is truly a shame and I am hoping that From Software will
address these issues with patches and even DLC content.
Nodrim:
                The Online aspect isn’t
something that interested me in the previous games. I prefer the challenge so I
don’t resort to co-op summoning to get past difficult bosses and I wasn’t much
into PvPing before, but I acquired a taste for it in Dark Souls
III. Sadly there are some gameplay factors that negatively impact to great
extent the PvP.
                First of all, there is a
terrible issue with the balance, both in PvE and PvP. It mostly comes from the
fact that the fast weapons can easily combo for many seconds. While the combos
can be avoided, a single hit can turn out to be deadly due to Poise stat being
useless leading to dagger hits staggering Havel armor users.
Secondly,
there is no real comitment to online play. There are no dedicated servers to
sustain a lag free environment for PvP and more often than not the fights are a
complete lag fest with players hitting each other from the distance with
invisible weapons. I also find disappointing the lack of a PvP arena with a
matchmaking system and even a leaderboard. The anticheat solution, if there is
any, doesn’t do much good in preventing hackers for ruining other players good
time and in some of my invasions I was expected by unkillable foes.
The PvP
community is vibrant, there spots where players host duels and even tournaments
with prizes. It is sad to see that the developers aren’t putting more effort
into the game design to help these players in their quest for epeeness.
Respect your opponent.

 

Graphics
Nodrim:
                Dark
Souls III is a masterpiece of visual artistic design hindered only by its
incapacity of keeping up with the times. Lothric has leaped into my top of the
most well designed and artistically good looking worlds I’ve seen in video
games. The constant antithesis between the almost grotesque presentation of a
world that is coming to its end and the imposing vastness of the architectures,
speaks of a time of greatness that is coming to pass. The transition between
each of the world’s explorable areas represents a transition in the story
itself, following a thread of visual narration that speaks both of past,
present and future in a most surprising way.
Years from now I’ll remember about my
journey from the foot of Lothric Castle to its highly placed royal chambers. A
journey that took unexpected turns into lands that seem geographically
dislocated converging in a palpable way to serve the story’s purpose.
Amazing!
 
 
                On
the technical part, Dark Souls III is the only game in the series that is remotely
close to the quality standards of the year of its release. The overall graphics
are pleasant to look at with lighting sources, enhanced reflections, higher
quality textures than before and even some particle effects. But looking at the
graphics in detail reveals many flaws.
From a certain distance, everything looks
good in Dark Souls III, but as you get closer things become rather flat. The low
quality meshes and the textures low resolution become fairly obvious even for
an untrained eye. From Software allowed a full customization of the graphics
and provided the PC version with an anti-aliasing soltuion, which is standard
procedure for all the console ports these days. But the in-game anti-aliasing
can’t be adjusted and proves incredibly inefficient as jaggies can be spotted
even on the objects closer to the screen.
                There is a visible lack of production value
when it comes to graphics and possibly even the lack of interest on making the
PC version more competent. There are a lot of places where lighting doesn’t
cast shadows even on the player character, pop-ups and visual artefacts are a
common sight, some textures don’t load, the blood splatter looks like cheap
ketchup and to top off the list of immersion breaking problems, there is no lip
work on the NPCs.
Shame!
 
                Ironically
enough, despite being somewhat technologically behind, Dark Souls III doesn’t
even run smooth on a competent rig. As an AMD GPU user I’ve experience a certain
amount of performance problems. At first, the game run smoothly on the highest
settings, but as I’ve progressed I noticed the appearance of small freezes
which increased in number. I’ve managed to pinpoint the freezes to the autosave
feature which works zealously saving with almost each looted item and as it
turns out, running the game from SSD made no difference. 
Another problem that was common for me in
the second half of the game was stuttering accompanied by visible dips in
fps.  These issues were particularly
annoying during boss fights as they were affecting my gameplay performance in a
noticeable and frustrating way.
Players have also been complaining about
crashes, but I only had three of those so I can’t really say it was a problem
for me.
                But
there aren’t only reasons for complaining, somehow, despite being dated on
graphics, Dark Souls III is quite in shape when it comes to physics, courtesy
of Havok engine. The physics are extremely detailed with many of the in-game
objects being breakable. The cloth physics works great with little clipping mishaps,
an issue hard to avoid considering the sheer amount of combinations when it
comes to weapons and armors.  There is a
great synchronization between the model animations, clothing and weapons which
make up for spectacular combat scenes.
                In
the end, Dark Souls III makes up for its outdated technology through
breathtaking artistic direction featuring some of the most impressive locations
and architectures I had the chance to explore. But as with the gameplay, it
feels like things are just partially complete and the developers didn’t go the
extra mile to make Dark Souls III the game that should have been and that’s a
shame.
When I grow up I wanna go there!
 
Audio
Wolfe:
                I’ll admit that one of the most
important elements for me that contributes to a great atmosphere and helps immerse
me into a game is the soundtrack. Great music during a boss fight can not only
dictate the pace of the encounter and add momentum, but it can also be the
perfect means of encompassing what the respective boss represents as a
character besides its fighting moveset. Thinking back of Gwyn, throughout the
game you kept hearing about the awe-inspiring Lord of Sunlight who brought the
downfall of dragons and you expected an epic fight with a god. However, the song
that plays during his fight reveals his true story and downfall to a Lord of
Cinder. The sad notes of the piano reflect the nature of one who had sacrificed
everything in order to prolong the flames and only a cinder of his true self
now remained. The Soulsborne series has always had some fantastic songs spread
through its games (my favourites would be the themes of Gwyn, Alonne and Ludwig),
but I feel as if nothing comes close to the general quality of the soundtrack
in Dark Souls III. From the main menu music that manages to pump you up before
you even start playing to the mindblowing theme of the final boss, I was
surprised to notice that I love at least half of the songs, which is a very
high number. The tracks are usually split into two parts to reflect the two
phases that almost all bosses have, and they generally fit the pace of the
encounter extremely well. Here is an example of one of my favourite pieces of music where you can
notice how perfectly it fits the transition between phases and also the killing
blow.
Anyhow, despite the fact that music is obviously a subjective issue, I
definitely consider that the soundtrack in this game is the best in the series.
Aside from this, the sound effects are as good as always. The sounds of weapons
colliding, slashing, thrusting or making contact and of shields blocking are
convincing, whereas the shrieks of some enemies and bosses were genuinely
unsettling. Voice acting wise, things are good as well: there is a wide range
of well performed characters, from the easily recognisable returning narrator
of the first game to the soothing voice of the Firekeeper. Overall, the game
fares very well of the audio side.
Nodrim:
                From the first moment I fired
off this game and I got to the main menu I knew I was in for a musical treat of
epic proportions. The main menu music is of such an intensity that you won’t
find in many games during gameplay sessions. The music score really strikes the ear and the heart during boss battles. Each
boss fight has its own music, transitioning from phase to phase and capturing
the atmosphere and rhythm of the fight while staying in tone with the lore of
that boss. It’s something marvelous what the composers managed to do and my
words can’t cover the true emotions given by the music in this game.
                Like in the previous titles, the
sound design delivers only partially. There are many monsters that can creep
the life out of you with the combination of diabolic and animalistic sounds
they produce. The ambient sound of each location melts together with the music
to ramp up the immersive factor to eleven. But as for quality sound design,
that’s how far the game goes. Surely there are battles when the clashing of
weapons against the enemy’s armor make you feel like you are there fighting for
your survival. Yet, the more I played the more I realized that sounds tend to
repeat, a lot. Most of the weapons sound similar if not identical and the
sounds produced by the player’s action lack the quality reverberation effect
that really makes you feel as part of the world. Then there is the sound
location in space which felt really off for me as huge and noisy enemies
managed to sneak up on me without any audio notice.
                I found the contrast between
music and sound design to be extremely representative for the whole game, as
the artistic part hits home every time while the technical component is a
lackluster.
Metal Gear Souls III
Conclusion
Wolfe:
                Generally, the worst thing that can happen to a
games series is to run out of ideas and to continue going on only as a revenue
maker (Assassin’s Creed?!). If Dark Souls III is the last game of the Souls
series, then it is a worthy finale, one that goes out with a boom. It changes
just enough in terms of mechanics to make the gameplay feel more fluid and
refined, while offering the best collection of bosses that sprawl some amazingly
designed areas. Although its world may not be as meticulously built as the one
of the first game and the future of its online component is uncertain as of
now, it is a hell of an experience that kept me addicted for two weeks straight
and offered more than enough quality content to leave me satisfied. Despite
enjoying it a lot more than Dark Souls II, it hasn’t managed to impress me as
much as the first one did, but that’s perhaps because it was my first Souls
experience.
                On an ending note, I can’t wait to see what From Software will do
with the DLCs (expect reviews for those as well!), as in all previous cases
they have surpassed the vanilla game experience. What’s more, I’m excited for
the possibility of new Souls-based games in different settings that are built
on the same design principles.
Nodrim:
                I
like the game, there is no denying that, especially since I’m close to
finishing my fourth playthorugh, yet I can’t be ignorant just because of that.
The greatness of every component that makes Dark Souls III is crippled by its
poor technical execution and I’m afraid this is a result of the fans’ and
journalists’ attitude towards the game. Praising without
questioning has given the developers a free pass with the end result being
countless bugs and problems that went unfixed throughout an entire series making
their way into its finale.
                Dark Souls III is a good game
that combines most of the great elements of its predecessors into one final
blow. The impact of the finale is subject to each gamer perception towards the
series. In my case, I said that the best way to improve on the series is to
find the balance between its two predecessors while focusing on fixing the
problems of the past and Dark Souls III did only half of that. How important
each half is? I guess the time spent playing the game can be interpreted as an
answer to that.
After countless battles, it’s time to rest…
Pros:
+ Impressive artistic
design
+ Epic soundtrack
+ Mysterious and
captivating story
+ Good level design
+ Refined combat
system
+ Greatest roster of boss battles and the best difficulty curve in the series
+ Atmospheric
+ Good itemization
+ Fun PvP
Cons:
– Bugs from
the previous games made it into this one with new additions
– Some issues with
mouse & keyboard
– Linear
world design with a few exceptions
– Perhaps too much fan service
– The graphics quality
and graphics related problems
– Little incentive to
continue with NG+ and onwards
– Weapons balance issues due to Poise stat having no effect
– The lack of proper support for the Online component
– Annoying lag in
Online play
Wolfe & Nodrim

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