Dark Souls 3 is a third person action role playing game developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is the third game in the Dark Souls series. The game is set in the fictional world of Lothric, where the Age of Fire is ending and the player is tasked to prolong it by finding the Lords of Cinder.
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- Dark Souls 3 is a beautiful game, and right from the start, it pulls no punches in showing off its stunning environments. The first boss battle, which occurs a few minutes into the game, takes place in an open area beside a cliff, allowing the player a breathtaking view of the far off scenery. The field is covered in water, with ripples and reflections that add further to the intricate beauty of the scene. This make an excellent backdrop for the boss fight, generating awe and capturing the attention of the player as the game begins to kick off. Subsequent areas and battles each have their own method of drawing the player in, sustaining interest in the game and compelling the player to move on.
- Of note is the game’s rather distinctive flavor of fantasy, which often skillfully combines elements of the magnificent, the glorious and the lovely with the disturbing, the grotesque and the broken, resulting in enthralling designs that invoke a mix of emotions, and differentiating this game from other more generic fantasy titles in the market.
- While the graphics are not the best for its time, they are still of high quality and of a level one would expect from a AAA title. Controls with the keyboard and mouse on the PC might be considered clumsy, and there is also the problem of lag during multiplayer, which impedes player enjoyment, especially in a game where quick responses and precise controls are needed.
- The mechanics Dark Souls 3 balance well to create a sense of player progression while still rewarding skillful play. On one hand, the player is able to level up and obtain various equipment throughout the game, which can help strengthen the player character and adds a sense of progression. On the other hand, good equipment or high levels alone are scarcely enough to achieve victory (unless one spends an unhealthy amount of time farming for these resources), thus the player is still encouraged to play carefully in order to advance.
- There is also versatility in the way the player invests their resources – players can choose to increase different stats or use different equipment that grants different benefits. These choices allows the player to feel more in control, encourages experimentation, and increases replay value.
- The plot of Dark Souls 3 is simple. The player is told near the beginning of the game that they are to find the “Lords of Cinders” and return them to their thrones, presumably by fighting and defeating them (as is the conventional way of solving problems in video games). From then on, there is little interference from the narrative.The lack of interference from the narrative can, perhaps ironically, allow for greater immersion into the game, as less control is taken from the player through hand holding by the narrative device, and the player is left to wander freely by their own goals instead of having one forced upon them.
- While the main plot is simple, a large part of the story is contained in the game world’s lore, which, instead of being told directly to the player, exists like bits and pieces of a puzzle, scattered among the various items and NPCs in the game. This, coupled with the somewhat detached method of storytelling, means that players can absorb only as much of the story as they care to find, and uninterested players can easily ignore this part of the game and move on with their other goals. Nonetheless, those that prefer a more active involvement of the story might find this approach lazy and unengaging.
Lens of Emotion
- Dark Souls 3 invokes a variety of emotions in the players.
- Frustration and satisfaction. Frustration happens more often in the earlier parts of the game. When the player is still unaccustomed to the Dark Souls style gameplay, or unfamiliar with the enemies’ attack pattern, they might find themselves seeing the iconic “YOU DIED” message all too often. Fortunately, the game is largely fair with its difficulty, and many players eventually discover a way to overcome the obstacles in the game, which brings with it a sense of satisfaction.
- Awe and dread. There are many beautiful environments, with fine details and grandeur which inspires awe in the players who set foot in them. However, these environments are often dangerous, with traps and deadly enemies at every corner, filling the player with dread as they try to find their way through. There is no lack of powerful enemies, with overwhelming might, speed, or stature that inspires awe in the players who face them, and at the same time dread as players question their own ability to beat them.
- Desolation and Camaraderie. The world in Dark Souls 3 is cold and unforgiving. Most of the denizens of the world are hostile, insane, or treacherous. The player has little else to count on other than themselves. However, there exists a few NPCs who are there to lend their strength in jolly cooperation, or just to brighten the dreary mood. It is in this desolate place that their companionship really shines, building attachment and a sense of camaraderie with these characters.
Lens of Surprise
- The game throws its share of surprises at the player. These surprises are often avoidable by playing cautiously and being observant, thus encouraging the player to remain on guard and increasing the tension of the game.
- One classic trick in RPGs is the “Mimic” monster, which poses as a treasure chest to ambush unwitting adventurers. The one in Dark Souls is particularly horrid, with a grotesque appearance and dangerous attacks, giving a good shock (and possibly swift death) to unobservant players who fall for its disguise.
- Seemingly dead enemies/inanimate objects come to life and attack the player, often at inconvenient moments.
- Enemies ambush the player from their blind spots, such as from above, or from a corner.
Lens of Endogenous Value
- “Souls” currency can be obtained from defeating most enemies, and as treasures found on the map. This is the main resource in the game, allowing the player to level up or purchase items/equipment, which can make them more effective in combat.
- Various items/equipment can be obtained from defeating various enemies, or as treasures found on the map. They can confer various benefits to the player, such as better defense or higher attack, which can again help in combat. Wearing different equipment also changes the appearance of the player character, which may add value for some appearance conscious players. Even if the item/equipment will not be used by the player, they may still have value as their descriptions often contain pieces of game lore that give a little more detail about the Dark Souls world.
Lens of Griefing
- Players can grief by tricking others into being banned from multiplayer. Possession of items obtained through illegitimate means (save editor etc.) can get one’s account banned from multiplayer. However, there are players who obtain these illegitimate items and give them to other players. This can result in the other players getting wrongfully banned, even if they did no cheating of their own, causing much frustration and compromising the game experience.