After more than 500 hours of playtime in this game, I can safely say that Dark Souls 3 is my favorite game.
It is an action role-playing video game from a third-person perspective. The game focuses heavily on high-intensity combat with the ability to dodge, block, parry, and stamina management as each action costs stamina which adds a certain challenge to the game.
The screenshot of the game UI. This is the first boss that you will face in the game and it is surprisingly difficult for a first boss.
Action screenshot from the same boss.
Link to the YouTube gameplay
To start, the game looks amazing visually for a game released in early 2016. The art style is inspired by culture from the late middle ages (1500 – 1600) and the amazing, slightly surreal gothic architecture adds to the unique aesthetics of the game. The music and art style really immersed me in the game and gives a certain dark and gloomy personality to the game which fits the main story.
The combat in this game is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is extremely fast-paced where I need to be aware of your enemies and surroundings at all time as a few hits are enough to kill my character. Not only that, there is a stamina bar which gets depleted every time you do an action (attack, dodge, run) and thus, it requires me to pay attention to stamina management too on top of the difficult, action-packed combat. While this overwhelmed me in the first few hours, it wasn’t long before I got used to it and started to really enjoy the fast-paced combat system. The difficulty of the combat keeps me on my toes at all time while playing the game which prevents the game from being boring/too easy near the end where most games would start to die down in terms of excitement or challenge (Card 38, The Lens of Challenge).
Despite the game being really-difficult, it is still very fair to the player. The enemies have well telegraphed attack animation with incredibly-accurate hit boxes which can be countered by dodging or parrying at the right timing. This is a skill than can be acquired through practice and it is not unfair to the players as experienced players can even complete the whole game without being hit once by paying attention to the enemies’ attacks. Moreover, the game starts of easy and gets progressively more difficult later-on which gives time to the players to get better at the game as the game progresses. I can really feel myself improving as I continue playing the game and it shows in the decreasing rate of my character dying (Card 39, The Lens of Skill).
The difficulty level is also mitigated by the appropriately-designed reward system. This game rewards players that are willing to take risks by exploring the harder areas early-on to get really-good weapons and armors that can carry them for a good chunk of the game. While playing this game, every reward that I got, be it item or weapon or armor, still give me a sense of pride and accomplishment as all the rewards require you to defeat a hard boss or reach a hard-to-reach areas. Moreover, each reward is always worth the effort it takes to get them where the harder it is to obtain the reward, the better it is. This amazing reward system is what made me want to keep playing the game as I feel like I am getting significantly-stronger after every reward that I get (Card 46, The Lens of Reward).
The game world is completely explorable and there is no explicit direction pointing towards the next checkpoint or goal. As such, you are free to explore the game without being forced to proceed in a certain way. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea as this could possibly cause some players to get stuck and unable to proceed, I still find it to be enjoyable. By not having a clear direction, I feel truly immersed in the game as every direction is point my character to is completely based on my own decision and not influenced by the game’s storytelling or guidelines. This gives me a sense of freedom in gameplay as it allows me to choose what I want to explore in the game (Card 79, The Lens of Freedom).
The game’s story is not based on expositions or dialogue but more on the world-building. There is rarely any interaction or dialogue and the expositions are extremely cryptic. However, the game world is rich with unspoken stories. For example, a certain cursed area of the map shows signs of decay and the enemies gets more and more distorted as my character slowly fight his way to the center of the curse. As you progress through, more and more information about the curse slowly gets revealed before the climactic fight with the boss of the area. There was no dialogue throughout this whole section, but I still managed to get what the story is and how it happened. Moreover, each item in the game has a backstory to it (even objects like a candle) and this allows me to understand the story even more. This unique approach to story-telling really hooked me in as the lack of exposition is mitigated by not only the story-rich game world but also my imagination as to how things could have happened (Card 78, The Lens of Story).
Referring to The Elemental Tetrad
Amazing gothic aesthetics that fits the game’s dark tone and gloomy atmosphere which is complemented by the somber story of the game. The incredibly-accurate hit boxes of every single enemy in the game and the main character really shows how incredible the game’s technology is and the graphics is quite amazing for a 2016 game.
The combat mechanics are where the game really shine where the fluid, fast-paced, and action-packed combat managed to keep the me engaged throughout the whole game. Usually a game feels stale when approaching the ending of the game, but this game still managed to keep me on my toes the whole time even until the 2nd time I played it. The need to manage my stamina, while at the same time avoiding enemy attacks, and the fluid player attack animation makes every enemy encounter exciting.
Overall, this is a very solid game with fluid combat and awesome art style. Despite the game being almost 4 years old, it still has an active community playing which shows just how amazing this game is. I would give it a 10/10.