I was practically dead-on-arrival as my character exited the first major room into a long corridor with a single undead knight at the end. What occurred next was somewhat beyond my expectations, as I was quickly and easily dispatched by the hulking monster and left for dead – “hallowed,” as the game calls – on the castle’s cobblestone floor. I looked behind me at the sea of people waiting to play, and then again to Josh, who was handling the camera operations, before politely asking the patrons behind me if I could have another go. The general consensus seemed to suggest I take another whack at that knight, and damn it, I wasn’t going to be embarrassed in front of a crowd of people.
For my second attempt, I took my sword- and shield-wielding warrior back into the hallway for another go. A few moments to gather my wits and plot a quick strategy would certainly turn the tide of this fight in my direction. Or so I thought. Again, I was knocked aside and battered in the confined space, forcing me to retreat back from whence I came. I had considered the knight thoroughly behind me, but alas, he found me cowering behind a wooden table, which he splintered with a single, mighty swing of his blade, then once again perforated me against the castle wall.
So ended my brief time with Dark Souls. Yes, it had bucked me from its saddle as though I was a greenhorn city-slicker. To my amusement, however, it seemed that other people were having similar experiences. To put it bluntly, this is not what one may call an “accessible” game. Yet, considering this game’s eccentric fan base, I’m sure that fact is entirely on par with everyone’s personal expectations.
The whole game looks, sounds and feels like Demon’s Souls, complete with messages on the ground and soul retrieval. The new weaponry on display was actually quite satisfying, but don’t expect the game to hand any fight to you on a silver platter. As the claymore wielding Dark Knight, I found myself constantly overwhelmed by damned skeletons. Yes, the most basic enemy in the game was even a challenge when my sword swing was too slow to deal with a single (let alone four or five) nimble, organless beasties. Never mind the giant dragon or the huge boar-like creature that guarded some castle steps. Those were far out of my threat-range and I was feeling more inclined to actually get a handle for the controls. Even some experienced Demon’s Souls players were left dumbstruck by the new creatures, but they all seemed pleased at the new design choices. I recorded some of my own preview, plus the game of another, more experienced player, to help demonstrate the game and show off the new enemies and lock-on system.
The game does play a lot like its spiritual predecessor, Demon’s Souls, so be sure to pick it up if you want to brush up on your dungeoneering before this new sadomasochist’s dream hits stores. Though I was beaten bloody in record time, I refuse to let this game get the best of me, so expect a full review later this year when the game drops for PS3 and Xbox 360.