Dark Souls Review: Death by Design

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The game’s bosses are one of the chief sources of Souls, which act as a multi-purpose currency. They can be spent to level up your character, purchase items, or upgrade and repair the gear you already have.

Acquiring souls involves an element of risk, however. Die, and they are temporarily lost. Resurrected at a Bonfire, you must return to the spot of your death and retrieve them. All the monsters between the bonfire and that spot have since respawned, however, and if you die again, your souls are gone for good.

In contrast to other RPG’s, which are powered by the effortless, inexorable collection of XP, earning Souls is more like speculation, a careful balance between risk and reward. Once you’ve earned a significant number, you’ll want to return to a Bonfire quickly to spend them. When you’re close to the number you need to gain a level, is it worth venturing out to top off your supply? Can you risk losing them all? Anyone who has ever played the Souls series has a horror story about a trove of souls accidentally squandered.

This sense of shared sorrow and community is a key element of the experience. If your console is connected to the internet, you’ll be able to take advantage of Dark Souls’ unique online features. Ghostly players will appear next to you at Bonfires, and shadowy adventurers will brush past you as you traverse the world.

Even more fascinating is the Orange Sign Soapstone, which enables players to leave messages for each other on the ground using a primitive but robust sentence-building tool. Some are helpful, calling attention to a secret area or a useful tactic. Some are malicious, suggesting that you “Try jumping” at the edge of a deadly ravine, or promising an “Amazing ring ahead,” right before an ambush. Others are humorous: before a showdown with buxom witch, I encountered a message that read “Amazing chest ahead,” repurposing a word the developers included to refer to a box filled with treasure.

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11 Comments on Dark Souls Review: Death by Design

Darkraidor

On October 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

damn, nice review ben

Hangedman

On October 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Good work on this huge review ! I loved your opening, it is EPIC !

JosephPS3 Dead State

On October 15, 2011 at 7:58 am

great in depth review Ben.

Turbo-Maniac-

On October 16, 2011 at 6:16 pm

After reading your review I will not yell
at the tv screen anymore and die with without
complaint. Cheers

LeonPS3 Hollowed

On October 17, 2011 at 5:43 am

One of the best reviews I have ever read. Well done.

Method

On October 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm

EPIC Review !!! This is the only Dark Soul’s review that has even came close to describing this masterpiece of a game into word’s like you did.

Atmic

On October 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Absolutely fantastic review. I’m going to use this review to describe it to any newcomer friends unaware of this fantastic series.

Adam

On October 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

the problem is, the better you get at something, the more you should be rewarded. Simply dying as a REQUIREMENT to overcome obstacles because there’s NO WAY to avoid it without knowing the encounter beforehand is STUPID. Not fun.

Ninjat_126

On January 5, 2012 at 2:32 am

Just a note, the invasion-aiding-consumables have been patched so they’re only consumed on a successful invasion.

Also, bosses can be breezed through with some aid from a phantom: my pitifully low-levelled character killed the Taurus Demon on the first try with a little jolly cooperation. After my other character died twenty times trying to block the hammer/axe with a parrying shield.

cbogen

On February 16, 2012 at 3:41 am

I just beat the great gray wolf earlier, and later learned there was a way to spare him. I found it strange the sympathy I felt for this giant beast, after it was recently trying to kill me. I played a few more hours, and in his memory, I have not and will not use his soul for anything. Rest in peace Sif.

Jordan

On January 29, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Love the review. I am a Dark and Demon’s souls veteran and you just pointed out every detail someone needs to know before even attempting to play this game, 5/5 star review.