When Demon’s Souls launched in 2009, there was little reason to think it would kick off a video game series that millions of players would embrace. Souls games, as they’ve been dubbed, do away with most of the conveniences you’ll find in other big-budget games. They’re dark, relentlessly challenging, and opaque to the point that even fans can be unaware of some of their basic principles. On the other hand, these games get under your skin in a way that’s rare for video games. There’s nothing quite like a Dark Souls game.
We’ve already gone over some of the reasons you might not want to play Dark Souls 3. Now it’s time to shower some praise on this deserving game.
1. It offers a great challenge
If you’re the type of person who cranks up every game’s difficulty to Nightmare, or if you reminisce about the good old days when games didn’t hold your hand through every level, Dark Souls 3 is for you. Just about everything in this game is out for your blood. Whether you’re fighting bosses big enough to stomp you to death with a single step, or you’re tiptoeing across a narrow bridge while skeletons pelt you with arrows, your life is always on the line in Dark Souls 3. Even the weakest enemies pack a punch in this game, with fast flurries of attacks that can cut through half your health bar before you have a chance to raise a shield.
2. Epic boss battles
Even the regular enemies in Dark Souls 3 are well designed and animated, but the bosses are something to behold — even if they can be horrifyingly grotesque. Most of them are many times your size, and often they move with a quick ferocity that’s downright scary the first few times you attempt to fight them. But once you start to learn their patterns and figure out how to avoid their attacks, you can take them down. You just have to keep at it.
3. It looks better than ever
Obviously a new installment of Dark Souls built from the ground up for the latest gaming hardware will look better than the previous ones. But even coming to it knowing that won’t prepare you for how good this game looks. The graphics are absolutely stunning, from the gothic castles and deadly forests to the ferocious enemies. The human characters still look like they’re made from plastic, but they’re few and far between. In general, Dark Souls 3 looks stunning.
4. The music is perfect
The soundtrack of Dark Souls 3 isn’t something you’d want to listen to when you want to relax. It’s more like what you’d listen to while working out or psyching yourself up for a competition. There’s nothing subtle about it. Filled with haunting choral arrangements, bells, strings, timpani drums, the soundtrack fits perfectly with the game’s bleak setting and epic scale. You can listen to the whole thing above.
5. Ultra-tight controls
A game this demanding would fall apart with poor controls. As usual, the controls in Dark Souls 3 are incredibly responsive. Each controller input results in a predictable onscreen action. Larger, more heavy-hitting weapons have longer windups, but deliver more powerful blows. Lighter weapons let you attack quickly, but don’t drain as much of the enemy’s health. Similarly, if you clothe yourself in heavy armor, you can take more punishment, but you’re slower when evading enemy strikes. But regardless of how you outfit your characters, controlling them feels just right.
6. It gets under your skin
Since every inch of progress in Dark Souls 3 is so hard-won, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself thinking about the game when you’re not playing it. I’ll come up with new strategies to try while I’m lying in bed. I’ll wish I had rolled out of the way of that crippling attack that lost me a boss battle. I’ll watch Let’s Play videos to see how players much better than me can help me improve my game. Maybe that’s not healthy. But if it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Dark Souls 3 is not a game for everyone. If you’re not up for a challenge, or you don’t have time to uncover basic gameplay mechanics like how to play co-op, Dark Souls 3 isn’t your game. But if you want to lose yourself in a grim world full of mystery and challenge, this game delivers in spades. We’ve even got some Dark Souls 3 tips to get you started.