Friday, January 03, 2014

For The Love of Dying

That's a Dragon, cause, y'know, why not?
I've very recently beaten Dark Souls, after over 60 hours, and I have to say that I'm ready to do it all again but with feeling. Dark Souls ends with credits like any other game, but also ends with the game's beginning again, placing the player back into the world but with enemies with more piss and vinegar than before. Everything is harder to kill and kills harder, but the game doesn't feel more difficult, it's only just as difficult before.

The amount of creativity in Dark Souls is astounding. The first ten or so hours of the game are spent looking at brown wall after grey wall and back to brown again, but the art doesn't end there. The enemies often feel fresh (although they don't often change) because each scenario is important and the enemies aren't always predictable. Even though everything is always in the same spot, they won't always do the same thing (except for early game enemies which lay along a much more linear path.) Every moment also feels like an accomplishment, even when the game starts to grate and grind. Every enemy from the tutorial until the final boss feels powerful.

The game starts with an overwhelming amount of exposition, but the story stays almost entirely out of the way after that. The world tells the story on its own. Every weapon has just enough flavor text to give an impression and every boss and its environment has its own tale. If the player wanted, they could ignore all of it and the game wouldn't be any more or less, but this is how story should be done in video games: with the world, not with words. The story is complicated, but I don't think much would be lost without the into exposition.

It's not just every enemy and boss that feels important, but every build of the player character is thought out as well. Every weapon, power, and magic is well balanced. Pyromancy and magic are powerful throughout the game, but have their own sacrifices like cast time and cast amount. Armour has realistic weight and every piece of equipment seems to come at cost that's more than money. Every thing seems to be used by the player at the right time as well. All equipment has requirements for proper use, and using a weapon like an Ultra Greatsword early game isn't easy, but even weapons found early game can be used for the whole campaign.

I'm not sure if I could say that Dark Souls is the best game ever made, but sometimes it feels like it's the only game made in the last ten years.

No comments: