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‘Dark Souls 3’ remains challenging, retreads worn ground

Screenshot courtesy of Chris Rehling ’16 – Dark Souls 3, the final installation in the series, takes the player through a journey of Lothric.

“Dark Souls 3”- From Software
Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
7 out of 10

By Joseph Valencia ’17

The “Dark Souls” series has become a staple in the world of gaming, known for its brutally punishing risk and reward gameplay and cryptic story.

From Software, a Japanese game developer, have developed stories that involve typically eastern mysticism with western settings, as each entry in the franchise is set in a kingdom. “Dark Souls” was set in Lordran, “Dark Souls 2” was set in Drangleic, and “Dark Souls 3” is set in Lothric.

Lordran and Drangleic were kingdoms that were slowly falling apart due to plagues that caused their citizens to become zombie-like beings. Lothric is a kingdom rapidly coming undone, beset by beasts made of cinder.

The player takes the role of a warrior that has set out to slay the Lords of Cinder, the leaders of the beasts that attack Lothric. As in “Bloodborne”, another game by From Software, currency is earned by killing beasts, and is used to buy equipment and to level up.

The combat, the main selling point of “Dark Souls” games, is faster and tougher than ever.

While the previous entries have had slow, methodical combat, From Software has added their fast paced combat from “Bloodborne” into the mix. The result is an extremely versatile combat system where the player has an unprecedented amount of freedom.

In the past, a solid strategy usually entailed equipping your character with heavy armor coupled with a sword and shield for maximum defense. Now, players have the option of using lighter armor and weapons in favor of quick dodging and light attacks.

The most significant addition to the combat system are “Battle Arts.” These are essentially attack boosts that are unique to each weapon.

For example, the boost provided by bows allow the player to fire off arrows much faster, improving the amount of damage they can deal over time. Another example would be the battle axe providing the player with a powerful upward strike that sends enemies flying.

The boss battles are greater than ever, and have superb designs both aesthetically and in combat. The final boss in particular, Prince Lothric, was the most challenging boss that From Software has ever created.

Prince Lothric is an extremely aggressive enemy with rapidly changing attack patterns, forcing the player to constantly readjust their strategy throughout the battle. If that wasn’t enough, he reanimates after he’s beaten him the first time, forcing you to face him again without replenishing your resources.

In terms of story, “Dark Souls 3” builds off of a cycle of destruction and rebirth set up by the first two entries in the franchise. As one kingdom falls, another emerges only to fall in the future.

I was hoping the cycle would be broken in “Dark Souls 3,” as it is the last entry in the trilogy. However, the multiple endings of “Dark Souls 3” are essentially carbon copies of the endings of the first two games.

The setting of Lothric is also a bit drab to look at, even though it’s very enjoyable to explore. It greatly resembles Lordran, the setting of “Dark Souls,” with the gray color palette from “Bloodborne” tacked on to create a greater understanding for how quickly Lothric is decaying.

Dark Souls 3 is a superb game on its own, but falls flat in solidifying the “Dark Souls” franchise by being similar to its predecessors and failing to end the overarching story of the series.

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