How to Stop Worrying and Love to Die – Dark Souls III Review

I’m probably extremely stupid, but Dark Souls infuriates me to the core, and none of my attempts to join in the mass enthusiasm have been successful. Seriously, how do you guys play it? It’s just a parade of game design monstrosities disguised as a product for a “hardcore” audience. And no matter what, I can’t see the hardcore aspect – all I see is artificial difficulty caused by poor execution, extremely unfriendly controls, and a whole bunch of other factors worthy of a separate text.

I would probably just sit here with my Dragon’s Dogma In an embrace, splattering mud on everything that comes out of FromSoftware’s pen. But no, they had to go and make Dark Souls III a good game.

A dark and soulful adventure in Dark Souls III

What is she good at? Well, at least she fixes the main flaw of the previous parts – the talentless introductory element. It used to be like this: you came to play yourself – figure it out yourself. No one told you why, for example, you should fill your pockets with humanity, how the crafting system works, what these covenants are, what is happening in general, and how to navigate all of this. The player, in essence, was arrogantly pushed into the epicenter of events and left alone with an unattractive, incomprehensible gameplay stuffing, the acquaintance with which was considered part of sophisticated fun. It seems that many were not bothered by this at all, but I never understood why dying in vain attempts to learn how to play is cool and difficult. Since we’re at it, you can go into a ranked match of StarCraft II from your Korean friend’s account and get similar portions of fun from public humiliation. But now, thank God, the authors have realized that the game itself should be difficult, not the process of mastering it.

Perhaps the lyrical digression in the form of the well-groomed Bloodborne played its role, but Dark Souls III is friendly, accessible, and clear. It no longer hides key mechanics in the shadows – everything you need to know and be able to do is presented sequentially and in detail. There is an excellent introductory part here, which gives enough time and space to get some practice before real battles. Groups of weak mobs for practicing rolls, blocks, and strikes, a relatively difficult boss on which it is not shameful to die a couple of times, consolidating the material, and a full-fledged hub location where they will gladly explain everything about trading, leveling up, and upgrades. If there are still questions after such hospitality, there is always a convenient and pleasant interface ready to explain any menu item down to the last icon.

To pull out giant swords from unfamiliar uncles is, of course, dangerous, but no one interferes with so that something is drawn again.

Pulling out giant swords from unfamiliar uncles is certainly dangerous, but in case of anything, you can always pull them out one more time.

And now – yes, adaptation to the local realities is progressing interestingly and effortlessly, slightly reminiscent Lords of the Fallen, which caught my attention precisely with its clear introduction. There is still no condescending attitude, but where clarity of what is happening is desired, it is definitely present. Free from vague ambiguity in important details, this is perhaps the only Souls game with a structure that is understandable to the average person and captivating from the first minutes. For those who have once walked the path of suffering in previous installments, these changes may not mean much, but newcomers will appreciate them. From now on, you can play without studying thematic wikis!

The gameplay itself feels much smoother and polished. The combat system has been sped up, eliminating its annoying sluggishness, and hitboxes have been updated to the delight of fans. into a separate genre of pornography, the probability of taking damage through walls has been reduced (hooray!), and thanks to the “Bloodborne” style control tweaks, the character’s movements are now completely unrestricted. The keyboard and mouse, unfortunately, are still not very effective, but on a gamepad, all actions are performed with flawless precision.

The only complaint that can be made is about the camera, which during intense battles doesn’t hesitate to examine the insides of enemy models. Most of the time, its mischievousness is tolerable, but there are occasions when a misaligned view at the wrong time hinders the execution of a decisive attack and cruelly wastes an hour or two of progress.


No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Did Dark Souls become easier after this? Definitely. However, it is not expressed in the sense that you need to press fewer buttons to win, but rather in the refined mechanics that should have been working from the beginning. With a normal learning curve, a human tutorial, and polished combat, playing became much more comfortable – and therefore easier. This does not mean that the game doesn’t know how to kick your ass. It definitely does.

After getting rid of the tutorial routine, Dark Souls III starts to mockingly whirl with difficulty. At one moment, you can feel like the king of the game, literally cutting through entire locations, and in the next moment, you find yourself trembling, trying to find a way out of a labyrinth filled with deadly enemies, hoping that there will finally be a long-awaited bonfire ahead. It seems that there is some logic in this, combining a sense of tangible progress with an unbeatable challenge, because if everything is difficult all at once, then nothing is difficult.

But the overall level of extremity, based on the superficial impression from previous games, has noticeably increased due to the design of the enemies. Many regular enemies now showcase combos of five or six moves with unpredictable intervals and often surprise you with something unexpected, so you will have to actively dodge and die a lot, just like in the good old days. Sometimes, regular undead enemies with axes can pose a problem that is much greater than the bosses they guard.


As for the latest ones, everything is predictably great with them. FromSoftware’s creativity in creating memorable villains cannot be denied, and the latest game, as it should, surpasses the others in this regard. Without giving away any spoilers, it is enough to say that the bosses here justify any difficulties and outshine their dull colleagues from the second part by several heads. They are spectacular, unusual, and diverse enough to make you want to dance with them for three or four hours, sprinkling them with moderately obscene expressions in the process – it just doesn’t work any other way.

However, only a couple of the main bosses pose a serious threat, and you reach many of them already heavily leveled up – but on the side paths, even a character impressive by story standards is brought to their knees in no time. For example, my knight received quite a beating there after successfully completing the entire path from the prologue to the final boss – it’s scary to imagine how many nerves owners of weak characters leave there. Either way, shifting the main focus to the side sector seems like a reasonable and right decision: if you don’t want to suffer, follow the story and suffer less. But then it’s still better to come back and suffer in the secondary locations, it’s worth it.

Once I joked about an arrow in the knee ...

Once upon a time, I also joked about an arrow in the knee…

A special mention deserves the world of Dark Souls III, which, despite its external decrepitude and gloominess, manages to burn with a vibrant life, provided by its devoted community. This aspect of the game has always amazed and impressed me, but I only managed to be at its center now: firstly, the post-release chaos is still in full swing, and secondly, the network code has finally stopped generating problems one after another. And by God, such unity with the rest of the world, playing the same game as you, is rarely experienced.

Other people constantly write messages, foolishly die in the most absurd places, invade other worlds, help less fortunate comrades with particularly difficult sections of levels, adhere to some whimsical codes of conduct, and generally create a miniature MMO in the best sense of the word. I wasn’t particularly drawn to the PvP part, although I recognize its depth and enjoy throwing “hello” gestures before a duel, but the traces of experienced players have greatly enhanced my journey. Whether it’s helpful advice like “someone will hit you around the corner,” victorious cheers upon leaving a boss arena, or even deceitful tricks that make you roll around in hopes of finding a secret passage nearby – all of this adds a significant amount of pleasure to the progression and thorough exploration.


However, the praised exploration is slightly overshadowed by the excessive linearity of the terrain. The map is undoubtedly extensive, but straying off the main road is rarely allowed, which means that the content runs out somewhere around the forty-hour mark, which is catastrophically little for a linear game. On the other hand, such brevity is more likely to encourage trying out “New Game+” or starting a fresh run with a different character.

Fortunately, there is enough potential for both. There are simply countless equipment options – unlike the meager yet colorful arsenal of Bloodborne – and it is physically impossible to try them all in one go. Dozens of halberds, swords, axes, shields, and armor sets differ drastically both visually (Fashion Souls is still a thing!) and in terms of combat parameters that determine behavior on the battlefield. In addition, each weapon now has a couple of unique moves that consume familiar focus points from Demon’s Souls, and with them, extraordinary combinations can be performed. For example, a special attack from a two-handed falchion is convenient for breaking an enemy’s defense, a rapier is suitable for elegant dueling strikes, and a katana in skilled hands unleashes a true Devil May Cry on the heads of opponents. There is also a wide range of magic… In general, the variety of gameplay styles is definitely in order.

The expression of emotions boiling during the battle is a ritual of special importance.

The expression of pent-up emotions during a battle is a ritual of special importance.

And Dark Souls III is not just beautiful, but downright terrifyingly beautiful. The signature visual design, full of luxurious architecture and unashamedly epic in scale, is accompanied this time by equally impressive technical execution, making Scholar of the First Sin with its flat lighting seem like a relic from the early 2000s. All the trendy shaders, for which you save up monthly for upgrades, suit the game very well, and only the shameful draw distance reminds you of the era of unattractive Souls.

So there you have it. I hate Dark Souls, but apparently now I love Dark Souls III. It is the only one that managed to show me what you all have been so passionately engaged in for all these years in your Boletarias, Lordrans, and Drangleics – and only it managed to keep me engaged long enough to teach me all its intricacies. Because here you die not because they make you look like a fool, hiding half of the game’s rules from you, but because each subsequent challenge truly requires a little more dedication than the previous one. I have finally mastered the art of perfectly timed rolls, become accustomed to the main timings, and taken my first steps in the art of parrying, and I enjoyed it. What do you think, is it worth giving the series another chance with such experience? Well, since the third game turned out to be so short…

Veteran Souls addicts are already screaming with joy and grandeur at the epilogue, but for newcomers, the finale of the saga has every chance of being just as important, because starting with Dark Souls III is easier and better for getting acquainted with the series.

Dark Souls III
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Action, Adventure, RPG, Co-op, Multiplayer
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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