Despite the relentless horrors its inflicts, the merciless enemies, and the unapologetic ability to leave me crying on the floor, the Dark Souls series is one I cherish. It wasn’t always this way, though. It took me three attempts to get into the first installment, excluding the fact I had to restart with anew character because I botched my character build. It took many hours of repeatedly charging at bosses to learn their moves, even after consulting the gaming oracle that is GameFAQs. I got there, though, slowly but surely, and with each victory my character wasn’t the only one who was becoming stronger – I felt empowered on a personal level, too.
Or so I keep telling myself after mopping up the tears in front of me.
You see, despite the world being littered with messages, and the fact there’s a chance murderous invaders can ruin your day, Dark Souls is a very personal experience. It’s about perseverance and patience in a world that does not takes fools lightly, and its rewards are more spiritual than (virtually) physical. I can still remember the elation I felt when I beat Ornstein & Smough on the first try, and the relief when I finally slew Seath the Scaleless after days of failing to kill him. In a way, it’s very similar to how I felt defeating raid bosses during my World of Warcraft days – the main difference between the two games being that death in WoW didn’t look absolutely horrific.
However, the biggest reason why I’m such a fan of the series is its approach to world-building. Capable of visually overwhelming vistas, whilst at the same time being so minimalist, the levels From Software create encourage exploration. Sure, the unknown can lead to heartache and murder, but even a dead-end can contain beauty. Unless there’s a Mimicry there, in which case it’s a terrible place and I want nothing to do with it.
Having watched the Japanese launch trailer this morning (viewable at the top of this post) it’s clear that Dark Souls III will deliver more of what made the series so critically acclaimed. The beautiful vistas are there, the murderous enemies are certainly waiting, and the glory from defeating them is there for the taking. If word from the internet is to be believed, it appears From Software have taken the best parts of both the previous installments and Bloodborne to hopefully deliver its most intense experience yet.
If I do have one wish, it’s that there is a moment that equals the (heartbreaking) beauty of the Sif boss fight from Dark Souls I. Perhaps there will be something else that unexpectedly surprises me, creating another memorable moment that will stay with me, or maybe it will just be crushing defeat and crushing defeat (emphasis on the “crushing” part.) Either way, I’ll be knee-deep in the corpses and clutching my Estus Flask tightly when it releases in a few weeks time, for I am prepared to die.
Dark Souls III releases on April 12th for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. For more information, head over to the Dark Souls III website.