Dark Souls Review: Death by Design
Page 5 of 9
When you die in Dark Souls, you will resurrect at a Bonfire. Bonfires act as hubs, waypoints, save points, and eventually opportunities to manage inventory and repair and upgrade your gear. They are oases of calm in a world of depravity, and discovering one while in the bowels of some fetid dungeon is cause for celebration. Resting at a Bonfire will restore your health and refill your Estus Flask, a sort of rechargeable potion canteen that replaces Demon’s Souls’ unwieldy system of consumable grasses.
Resting will also ensure that the next time you die (soon, more than likely) you’ll respawn at that particular spot. There’s only one catch: all the world’s monsters (except bosses and mini-bosses) will respawn also. This is frustrating, to be sure, but the agony is mitigated by From’s incredible level design — Dark Souls’ environments deserve to be played through more than once. The developers are also careful to ensure that progress is always just over the horizon, in the form of a new Bonfire or a convenient shortcut.
Still, every death means that you’ll have to wade back into fray, with all of Lordran’s nastiest denizens rejuvenated and hungry. Creature design is the third pillar of Dark Souls success, and it demonstrates the same understanding of the uncanny apparent in the environments
At various points, players will confront shambling undead, flailing wildly with torches; armored warthogs; poisonous, multi-tentacled horrors; madcap walking shrubs; grim knights; knife-handed, razor-toothed ghosts that attack through walls and can only be damaged in special circumstances; and headless, one-legged, one-armed demons whose limping gait belies their devastating strength.
Special mention is reserved for the game’s demonic frogs, which feature bulging, reddened eyes and belch forth huge clouds of smoke. Unfortunate adventurers who get caught in the smoke are cursed — frozen, like victims of Medusa. They are turned not to stone, however, but into strange statues, bristling with silver leaves that are subtly but unmistakeably those of the marijuana plant. Whether this is intended as a pro- or anti-pot statement, only From Software can say.