banner.jpgDark Souls III, the highly anticipated action role-playing game from famed Japanese developer FromSoftware, launched with record breaking first week sales. It has quickly become the most successful day-one launch and fasting selling title in Bandai Namco Entertainment America’s history. The latest chapter in the Dark Souls series gives players an all-new world to explore filled with hidden secrets, breathtaking environments, and monstrous enemies—giving you a deeper sense of role-playing than previous games.

With its trademark sorcery and sword combat, this rewarding action-role playing game will keep you coming back in the hopes of overcoming some of the most demanding challenges.

 

box.jpgGame Details

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Developer: FromSoftware, Inc.
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Genre: Action role-playing
Modes: Single-player, Online multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)

The Kingdom of Lothric

Like its predecessors, Dark Souls III takes place in the same world and revolves around the first flame. You’ll play as an undead warrior known as the Ashen One, who must avert an oncoming apocalypse brought about by the ongoing conflict between Light and Dark. The Lords of Cinder have been reborn but have left their thrones, your mission is to find and bring back the Lords of Cinder: Aldritch Saint of the Deep, Yhorm the Giant, Farron’s Undead Legion the Abyss Watchers, Holy King Lothric, and Ludleth the Exiled. Return them to their thrones at the Firelink Shrine, in order to link the flame once again.

Finding the five Lords of Cinder will prove to be a daunting task; it will take determination, strength, and endurance if you are going to be successful.

New Dark Souls combat mechanics

If you’ve had the chance to play FromSoftware’s epic PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne, you’ll see traces of Bloodborne in Dark Souls III’s combat. Your character is now more agile than before, your weapons now swing faster allowing for more damage in a shorter amount of time, and combat is now slightly more balanced and varied. Dark Souls III offers a wide variety of character customization options, and character classes. You can play as an archer, caster, shielded tank, two-handed brute, dual-wielding mercenary, speedy Bloodborne-style hunter, and more.

Depending greatly on the playstyle you choose, you can equip your character with a greater variety of weapons, spells, shields, and rings, as well as a new feature called “battle arts”, which give weapons unique attack options. Similar to Bloodborne, each of your character’s attacks comes in two different strengths—a standard attack and a slightly more powerful charged up attack. The standard attack is good for a quick jab against your enemy, while your charged up attack will deal more damage to your enemy.

Although dealing more damage to your enemy is a good thing, you’ll have to take into consideration the fact that you will be more vulnerable to a retaliation attack by your enemies. Each encounter with your enemy has the potential to kill your character, so you’ll need to be constantly evaluating your surroundings and enemy’s behaviour to decide when, where, and what type of attack would be most suitable.

In addition, attacks can be evaded through dodge rolling, and bonfires return from previous games that serve as a checkpoint allowing you to save your game and heal. The way in which you choose to play in the Dark Souls series has always greatly affected your overall experience, but it has never been quite fair. For example, playing as the pyromancer in the first Dark Souls game allowed you to complete the game with relative ease. Luckily, Dark Souls III appears to have solved this unbalance with the introduction of the new magic system. Focus points are now required in order to cast a spell, and are only refilled when your character consumes a Estus Flask filled with magic fuel. Nevertheless, you’ll now have to decide how many of your Estus Flasks will be filled with magic fuel, or the regular health fuel. Choose wisely!

gameplay.jpgEpic boss battles

Dark Souls games are known for their epic boss fights, which have been the topic of discussion for many fans of the series. In Dark Souls III, FromSoftware have put a heavy focus on boss fights, delivering a variety and challenge unseen in previous games. Most boss fights have two phases similar to that of Bloodborne, which can result in new movesets and sometimes a new health bar emerging halfway through the battle against your foe.

Dark Souls III contains traditional boss encounters, which are incredibly challenging straightforward fights with well-placed weak spots that you must target to deal damage. Most are defeated as part of the mandatory story progression, with the rest being optional. Be prepared to be patient with Dark Souls III’s bosses, more often than not you will have to face them several times before beating them. Although it may get frustrating at times, when you do finally overcome these bosses you will be left exhausted, weary, and smiling with a sense of accomplishment.

The bosses in Dark Souls III are challenging for good reasons, by using one of the game’s new mechanics called Embers, you can elevate your character from Unkindled to Kindled form. This gives your character’s armour a cool burning effect, increased HP that is lost on death, and gives you access to online features. Co-op online play and password matchmaking made jumping into fights with friends a quick, fun, and painless process. I never really had an issue with finding Embers, most of the time enemies would drop them, and in rare occurrences if needed, I could find a merchant at the hub who was selling them.

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A darkly beautiful world

Designed exclusively for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, it is easy to see that Dark Souls III has benefited from the extra horsepower under the hood of these powerful machines. This game simply drips with atmosphere in a world that manages to transition from one darkly beautiful sight to the next. With a world that is packed with secrets to find, there is much to do and see around every corner—it’s almost unimaginable.

Although there are some occasional framerate dips here and there in areas with many enemies, for the most part Dark Souls III is able to maintain a solid 30 FPS on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While the PC version is also susceptible to these framerate dips, when Dark Souls III is running at full speed on all platforms, the amazingly detailed graphics will have you in awe.

Dark Souls III sound track is a perfect fit to the game and series as a whole. It fits in nicely with the environments and picks up during dramatic boss fights. The rousing, gravelly rhythm will send shivers down your spine as you are face to face with horrifically potent beasts. With plenty of characters to meet and interact with, the voice acting in Dark Souls III is top notch. Pretty much everyone you will meet is filled with personality, and will offer up hints about the world around you.

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Final thoughts

The world design and pacing of Dark Souls III will keep you busy, and provide you with a sense of accomplishment after taking down some of the most challenging bosses in a video game. Filled with intense combat and excitement, I never grew tired of Dark Souls III. No matter how many times I saw the dreaded “You Died” screen, I was ready to jump back into the game and continue my journey.

Dark Souls III reminded me of why I love the Dark Souls franchise. There isn’t a game in the genre that gives you breathtaking environments, an enticing story, captivating gameplay, epic boss battles, a challenging quest, multiple endings, and over 60 hours of gameplay quite like Dark Souls III does. I can only hope that Dark Souls III won’t be the last installment in this epic franchise.

Let me know in the comments section below what your favourite character class is in Dark Souls III and why.

+ Amazingly detailed environments with lots to explore
+ Deadly enemies coupled with epic boss fights
+ Rewarding gameplay
+ Online play allows your friends to help in those almost impossible boss fights 

– Ocasional framerate dips

OVERALL

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Sound: 4/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5

Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)

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