FromSoftware has a history of crafting worlds with hidden passageways, deadly threats, and a gorgeous world that incentivizes exploration. Dark Souls III doesn’t stray far from this formula, for better and for worse.
As an Unkindled, you’re sent to Lothric to find the Lords of Cinder, and bring them back to their thrones. The story in the game isn’t spoon fed to you via cut scenes, but tucked away in item descriptions, dialogue, and level design. Fromsoft demands you pay attention to your surroundings to get a sense of what happened to the land of Lothric. The world is steeped in lore, and every level has intricately placed details to add to the story. Item placement, enemy placement, and level design aren’t just random here. It all links together to build the overall game world.
Speaking of the game world. The level design here is some of the best we’ve seen from the series. I won’t spoil anything, but I was constantly in awe at the vistas in the game. I can’t count how many times I looked at my TV and said “Wow!” when playing the game. While I did miss the vastly different environments the second entry in the series had, I never tired of exploring the levels looking for secret areas, some that are devilishly hidden.
Basic combat still functions the same, there’s a wide variety of weapons to choose from, and you’ll want to select a weapon that complements your stats. Enemies attack a lot more frequently than in the other Souls games. I found that attacking with a great-sword, I was trading hits with the enemy more often than not. With this faster combat style, positioning myself played a major role in taking out basic enemies than in the previous games.
The bosses in Dark Souls III are some of the toughest FromSoft has created, with many battles coming down to a sliver of health left on you and the boss, and getting those last few hits in. My favorite boss is a late game optional boss. It’s not that difficult, but it’s a cool set piece battle that had me smiling the whole time.
There are few caveats to the game. For instance, playing on console, I did notice that the frame rate dropped below 30 in areas that had tons of enemies. I also hit a wall about halfway through, where I didn’t have a certain item to proceed. Having unlocked a ton of areas, it was daunting going back to find the correct way forward, as I had no idea where the item was, and no NPC was willing to part with a hint about it’s location. As of this writing, the online component is broken. When summoning in help, I often got a “Unable to summon phantom,” prompt. Summoning worked when I created a password so a buddy and myself could play together. The PVP element of the game is working just fine.
With Dark Souls III, FromSoft has crafted a fitting end to the series. It rewards long time players with references to Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. If this is your first Souls game, don’t let the callbacks stop you from playing.
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