Dark Souls isn’t really as hard as people make out. Of course you will die hundreds of times and there’ll be a handful of times where you lose tonnes of souls (kind of xp/currency) and progress, but you haven’t lost everything. You’ve learnt something.
This series has always taken a different path to most other story-based games, it doesn’t hold your hand, it doesn’t tell you what to do, and the first boss definitely isn’t a pushover. Instead it teaches you that dying is just another learning method and every mistake you make is hopefully one you won’t make in future. We’re not particularly good at games but by the end of Dark Souls 3 we were dodge-rolling, waiting for openings, and backstabbing like nobody’s business. OK so we never really got the hang of parrying, but who needs parrying when you can just roll over and over again for minutes at a time?
In terms of its place within the series, it’s hard to see a way that the other games were any better than Dark Souls 3. Demon Souls had much more mystery and greater challenge, the first Dark Souls possibly had more interesting bosses, the second game had some nice varied locations and Bloodborne had a spectacular art style, but the final entry just seems to get everything right. You’ll be retreading some ground from the older games to be sure but everything about every single system feels so refined it’s simply a pleasure to play. There’s no backtracking because you can teleport between shrines, co-op and PVP is simpler to get into than ever, healing feels a little more generous than before and no stat is really a bad stat (except perhaps luck). We’ve been playing this game for 35 hours and are well on our way to finishing it for a second time, but we’re still going back to it because it’s so much fun. Every kill is so satisfying and slicing through low level plebs is just as good as taking down those horrific shield and spear knights from the later areas. Every kill is a victory, and every kill is a relief.
Of course the challenge does remain, you will die a lot and sometime it will be exceptionally frustrating. The curse mechanic is back and can lead to what feels like slightly unfair insta-deaths, but thankfully this only really happens in two areas of the game. There’s an enemy that can reduce your health bar and kill you in a single hit, but again, just in one area. Nearly every treasure chest is a mimic which can kill you if you try to open it, but after the first one you quickly learn to give every chest a tap first just in case. When the difficulty gets too much you can always summon someone else to help and bonfires are so close together it hardly ever feels unfair.
The game looks beautiful too, with some really spectacular vistas and enemy designs. It’s definitely a good idea to play the game on PC as 60fps makes an incredible difference to games like this, and being able to see fine details right out into the distance helps to convey the sense of scale of the cities you’re crossing. The art style feels just as good as it ever has and I’m sure if we had any idea what was going on in the story we’d appreciate all the attention to detail in every area.
This is a dense game, and one that doesn’t owe anything to any other games other than its own series. With this being the end of Dark Souls, it feels like the end of an era. But at least they went out on a high and made Dark Souls 3 the game the series always wanted to be.