Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition Review
'Prepare to die' is a pretty ballsy, threatening slogan for a game to have - and a slightly scary one when you realize that the game in question will brutally destroy you at every opportunity it gets. Once you embrace those deaths, though, you're prepared to play Dark Souls. The newly updated version of Dark Souls, subtitled the 'Prepare to Die Edition', is packed with new content in addition to the original game that launched last year. Does this updated version of the game and its new material beckon you to die once more, or is it better left behind?
Dark Souls’ narrative premise is unique in the sense that you’re given a short prologue about how the land of Lordran has fallen into darkness and a legend was passed down about the mystic art of fire. With lore delivered you're given control of your character, who is within an asylum they must escape from. It's a confusing but simple introduction.
It’s hard to swallow exactly why you're here and what you're doing, but the only option is to soldier on and escape. After escaping you must ring two large bells - though their purpose is unclear - and only then will slowly piece together the puzzle that is the narrative of Dark Souls.
Rather than seeing elaborate cutscenes that explain the entirety of Dark Souls' story, the player must discover it. The game gives explanations and meaning to your quest at the bare minimum, and as a result it feels like the player is sometimes left hanging. While this may sound like a bad thing, the way in which story doesn't come in the traditional package of cutscenes is unique and exciting.
Interpreting the architecture of buildings, reading the history behind certain items, and discovering hidden characters will expand the world of Dark Souls and its narrative to unparalleled proportions.
The core narrative between the original and the Prepare to Die edition remains largely the same. Rather than changing the story greatly, it elaborates on some of the lore that was previously left untouched or largely unexplained. Artorias of the Abyss was one of the more popularized characters in the Dark Souls fandom, and From Software developed on Artorias’ story prior to his death or disappearance in this version.
The way the new story content can be approached is a bit interesting but can be a tad disappointing since everything plays out like one linear aspect rather than weaving in the various narrative pieces throughout the game. Nevertheless, the story is extremely satisfying and gives even more amazing moments in the Dark Souls universe.
Dark Souls is a combat oriented RPG that stands out among its peers particularly due to its resource management system.Utilizing a stamina bar, players must act carefully in a fight since everything they do essentially drains stamina. This means that if you have no stamina and you wish to dodge an incoming attack, you’re out of luck.
The idea of understanding what exactly your character can do greatly helps to build better players since those who have a general idea of how many times to attack and then proceed to dodge will end up coming out on top. The stamina bar is important not because of its resource management but because of how clever and difficult the enemies are.
They will hit you hard and they will utilize tactics to kill you. If you’re blocking they they might barrage you with sword slashes until your stamina meter drains. On the same token, it never feels like the enemies who defeat you cheated since the tight control of your character will always make evident of your mistakes.
Stamina aside, the various weapons at your disposal lends to the depth and diversity of combat. Weapons such as whips, spears, swords, and katanas all feel very different from each other, with each having their own different animations and timings for hiting enemies.
When you acquire a new weapon type and wish to use it you must learn every aspect of the weapon if you want to energe from the game’s dastardly encounters alive. In addition to weapons you can utilize magic such as pyromancy and miracles. Each offer a different style of fighting but both feel satisfying especially when they land blows on enemies.
The spectacular diversity of your arsenal is heightened by the amazing collision detection in combat, which is the game’s highlight. Using a shield to defend attacks, dodging by rolling out of the way, or simply running away are all acceptable tactics when tackling the difficult enemies in your way. It’s satisfying to kill an enemy as you must learn what they’re capable of and using that knowledge to win.
In a way, it’s almost as if you’re analyzing an enemy and must anticipate moves and predict how you will take your current situation to change it into a win. As a result, the overwhelming feeling of success and pleasure you get from overcoming the harsh challenges is something that stands far above many other games.
While the standard enemies are challenging, it’s the game’s extremely difficult and massive bosses that will stand out in your mind.
Ranging from your character size up to one that is 100x bigger, the bosses in Dark Souls are no pushovers. They hit hard and sometimes one strike can easily knock out more than half your health.
Even so, you’re not at a complete disadvantage since you have the ability to summon allies to help you. Using Dark Souls’ unique networking system, players have the ability to summon up to three other players that will aid their perilous journey. Bosses fight become more manageable and less frustrating, but will still give you a hard time.
While you can summon players to help you, other players can invade your world and come to kill you. It’s extremely frightening when you see a notice that someone has invaded and you have nothing but paranoia crawling underneath your skin. It’s a very unique feeling.
To keep track of your journey there are numerous bonfires spread throughout the map. Here you can replenish your healing items and use up Humanity. Humanity is a resource that changes you from an undead to a living person. Being human has its benefits as it’s the only way to summon players but it’s the only time you’ll be invaded. Resting at a bonfire will replenish your health bar but it will also respawn all the enemies. It’s a clever idea and you have to sometimes ask yourself is it worth healing for the enemies to respawn that could possibly kill you.
All of the new content will take roughly ten hours, depending on how quickly you proceed with it. The new enemies are extremely fun to fight and the dungeon designs are clever. The overall gameplay of the new content is consistent with the rest of the game and if you were craving for more Souls then this will definitely do the trick.
The sound work on Dark Souls is phenomenal and deserves a nod. Ranging from haunting music that will give you the willies to a blasting brass anthem the music can simply be described as exquisite. Each track fits perfectly with the atmosphere and the encounters match how you should be feeling.
In ways, the soundtrack amplifies your emotions and gives a sense of urgency or gloom. The voice acting stands out as well. While sparse, the dready dialogue and conversations heard all over Lordran give a sense of lifelessness that is prevalent in the world.
Another stand-out is in visual design; the gothic styled architecture and dark and foggy forests are only some of the environments that truly bring Dark Souls to life. It almost strikes fear and marvel at the same time as giving a sense majesty.
Even so, the technical side stands lower than its art. On PC, the native resolution of the game blurs textures and details making it look like a poor console port. Luckily there’s an easy to use mod that’s out online that will easily remedy this - but one has to wonder why the developers couldn't accomplish this.
Dark Souls is a fantastic game from beginning to end. Extremely difficult and challenging, it'll test your skills as a player - but is also rewarding. The expreience and the thrill of having your butt handed to you time and time again is something that is uniquely enthralling - this is a game that gives you a true feeling of accomplishment after overcoming the challenges. Dark Souls remains to this day a cohesive and compelling game that warrants a try -- even if death scares you a bit.