Posted on 28 Apr 2016 by Sawyer Scherbenske

Dark Souls III

The Defence

Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Action, Role Playing
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: 12 Apr 2016

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i3 3.1 GHz
AMD FX 3.6 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 750 Ti
AMD Radeon HD 7950
HDD: 25 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 60
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 3.5 GHz
AMD FX 4.0 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 970
AMD Radeon R9 290X
HDD: 25 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 60

The Case

Dark Souls showed gamers castles in ruins, poisonous swamps, a world that’s on the brink, but more than all that they introduced us to an all too familiar screen. What I’m here to tell you is that through all the times you’ll die, all the walls you’ll hit, and all the skeletons that’ll run you over, it’s all worth it.

The Trial

Besides a few framerate drops and some bosses deserving to be downgraded to minibosses, Dark Souls III still carries an epic world that manages to find beauty among all the suffering. The weapons all carry weight with every swing, enemies are varied, most bosses are actual challenges, environments are simultaneously gorgeous and haunting, and all those features merge to forge our hero, The Ashen One’s, journey.

That journey is going to be long with places like “crucifixion woods,” “Irhyll Dungeon,” and “Lothric Castle.” It’s the best looking Dark Souls yet by a long shot, even one-upping classic moments like seeing Anor Londo or the Dragon Aerie in the previous Souls games. Each area is built with its own individual color palette, owns its own sound effects, and the surroundings, whether they be trees or belfries, set apart each area. The 60FPS and revamped cloth physics don’t hurt the game either when they manage to work and not bug out.

Pray for your soul.

As pretty as the areas are though what’s more important is the stuff to do in them. There’s so much loot that you’d think a Final Fantasy party grinded in the area and forgot to pick up their rewards after the fights, but no Final Fantasy troupe could combat the enemies you’re forced to combat in Dark Souls III. Bosses are hard, but Lothric knights are no pushovers either, and even the basic dog enemies are faster and bite harder than ever. There’s a myriad of enemy types both old and new, but the basic ones are the hardest of any Souls game yet.

You won’t just be finding adversity in enemies though, as it’s easier to screw up friendships and questlines than ever now. Questlines for the handful of NPC’s you meet along your journey have never been exactly intuitive in Souls games, but they’re downright cryptic in Dark Souls III. For one NPC you have to defeat a boss in one area, warp back to an old area, talk to a well, and then buy armor for him. That’s just one step in his five-step questline, and there’s no shortage of eccentric individuals you can meet. Thank goodness for New Game+.

Lothric seems to be a mimic and crystal lizard breeding ground, making exploration more exciting, and dangerous. Most of these mobile treasure chests are hidden away in the darkest corners of each area, but they’re always worth the effort. Hidden goodies being locked away in the hard to reach areas seem to be a theme of the game, as some of the most memorable areas of the game are located in the shockingly good optional areas. There are two optional areas this time around, both of which are goldmines for loot, one of which is just as hard to get to as the end of an NPC’s quest line.

It is hurting me way more than it is hurting you.

Weapons are less hunks of metal now and more an arsenal of choices to wallop enemies with. There are so many weapons, items, spells, miracles, and ways to tackle enemies that the 3 new slots for weapons and shields feel almost necessary. Move sets aren’t nearly as varied as they were in Bloodborne, but on NG+ picking up everything I can I’m still missing about half the arsenal available. Weapons are quantity over quality as they’ve always been in Dark Souls.

The new weapon arts and mana gauge, or FP as the game calls it, have replaces the limited spell uses and add a new level of intricacy into the combat and character to the weapons, but make no mistake, swinging your sword with stamina is still the bulk of what’s there. While weapon arts lend a good way to get around shields or turn yourself into a top with a greatsword, on the typical encounters it doesn’t add much unless you’re either using miracles to heal or shooting magic with your FP. As unfortunate as it is, magic still can’t compare to a hunk of steel to the kneecaps.

Of course not all hunks of steel are forged equally. What constitutes a “good weapon” has always been up to how skilled the player is, heavy weapons like greatswords do well in PVE while others like daggers and curved swords do well in PVP, but the moment you use a dagger in PVE you’re in for a much tougher game. It’s not impossible to beat Dark Souls III with a dagger, I’m sure people will have beaten it with their fists or a Rockband guitar within the next month, but basic straight swords seem very powerful in comparison.

Are you afraid of the dark?

Each weapon is only good when you can actually hit with it though, and as usual, Dark Souls PVP is filled with lag and ghost hits. It’s probably the best PVP to date for the Souls series with the possible exception of Bloodborne, but PVP and PVE are still two very different games.

The biggest criticism, and compliment I can levy against Dark Souls III is that it’s very much a Souls game. Unlike Dark Souls which broke the mold and reshaped the RPG genre, Dark Souls III doesn’t bring much of its own to the table. Weapons, armor, locations, and enemies are all reused from old games, and while it starts out as a nice bit of nostalgia, those references span the entire game up to the very last boss. I love Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, but when I’m wearing the Elite Knight set for the 3rd game in a row fighting the same enemies in similar locations I did five years ago it’s time to show me something different.

The Verdict

Dark Souls III may tip its hat to its previous games a few times too many, but they’re good games, and DS III is no exception. The Souls game’s variable combat, legendary difficulty, and beautiful areas are even more emphasized in Dark Souls III making it a worthy ending to Miyazaki’s legendary series.

Case Review

  • Legendary Difficulty: Dark Souls still hasn’t downgraded its difficulty and provides both a fun challenge and satisfying reward after every fierce battle.

  • Atmosphere: No two spots look or feel the same thanks to the design, graphics, and enemies living in each area.

  • Combat: New and familiar weapons and armor are used to face off against the tough enemies you can expect to fight around every corner.

  • NPC’s & Exploration: NPC’s and optional areas are both great, but finding them is no easy task.

  • Nostalgia: There are plenty of nice callbacks to Dark Souls I and II, but there might be a few too many if you were expecting Dark Souls III to be its own game.

  • Too familiar: Miyazaki is great at creating atmospheric worlds full of interesting NPCs and stories, but this story has already been told twice now, and it’s getting a little old.

4.5 Score: 4.5/5
Still brutal, still deadly, still amazing.


  • Visuals: Graphics, aliasing, and texture quality options that range from “low” to “max” for things including shadow and water quality, as well as motion blur options that let you choose if you want your DSIII experience to look like a PS2 game or a modern PC one.
  • Audio: There are the standard sliders for master volume, music, and sound effects, but nothing too spectacular.
  • Gameplay: This is Dark Souls! You’re not going to get any gameplay options other than what the game gives you from the new game to the ending scene. For the first time in the series Dark Souls 3 lets players set a password in the options menu that makes it easier for friends to join you, but otherwise it's the problematic standard fare Souls matchmaking that we’ve had for the last few games.
  • HUD: The HUD elements like health, stamina, and items are all stuck where they are and you can’t edit them.
  • Controls: You can customize your key bindings on either a gamepad or keyboard and bind them to anything, though only real masochists will use a keyboard. You can toggle auto lock-on on or off if you want to click to target a new enemy after a kill, or you can enable manual attack aiming if you want more mobility over accuracy.

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