Boomer's Take, Video Game Reviews

Dark Souls III, a Boomer’s Take — the Light and Dark of the Soulsborne Genre

Dark Souls III is a third-person action RPG developed by From Software and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The Soulsborne genre gleaned its name, in part, from the Dark Souls games, and like others in the genre, Dark Souls III was built to be gruelingly difficult. 

The game takes place in the Kingdom of Lothric, which has been led, up until now, by Prince Lothric…

Clearly, South Park rules apply.

The Age of Fire is coming to an end and the Age of Dark is taking over, bringing with it a horde of undead. Prince Lothric and the other Great Lords are supposed to prolong the Age of Fire by sacrificing themselves, but they have abandoned their duty. 

Your job as the main character is to bring the Lords together. At that point, you can choose whether you want to prolong the Age of Fire or welcome the Age of Dark, and your actions throughout the game determine which one of four potential endings you’ll see. 

Dipping a Toe in the Soulsborne Genre

I’m relatively new to soulsborne games, and it’s been an interesting adjustment. It’s been a while since I’ve screamed at my TV in frustration over a game.  

If you’re also new to the Soulsborne genre, or thinking about trying one, please don’t get caught up in the hype of how difficult the games are.  The thing is, at least with the few I’ve played, the games are very playable. They’re just set up differently and have an acute sense of rewards and consequences.  And, there’s not much in the way of hand holding…

So, a couple more general comments on the genre.  They don’t have maps, at all!  I used to bitch when a game had a poor map system, but after a few souls games, I’d pay extra for them to include a basic map that would give me some idea of how the areas tie together. 

Me, every time I boot up the game.

Another thing to know about Soulsborne games is that when you die, you generally lose whatever currency you’ve looted or earned to that point.  Your loot is generally at the location where you died, so if you can get back there without getting killed, you can regain it. 

The thing that makes this frustrating is that the currency in a souls game is what you use to level up.  In other words, you purchase stat boosts with the currency, and those stat boosts are equivalent to levels.  

There are other quirks to this type of game, but if you’re willing to learn a new strategy of gaming, and you have some experience and skill with shooters and RPGs, you might enjoy the challenge of a souls game. 

It Starts with You

The choice of starting stats, character traits, and skills is important.  It’s best if you understand what your own playstyle is when making this initial choice.  Sure, it may be fun to try a magic user, but if your playstyle is to get in there and hack and slash, magic might not be the best thing to focus on. 

Narwhal Blast will not get you far in this game.

On my first character in DSIII, I chose a character who literally had a loin cloth and club.  My thinking was that I’d get to build the character from the ground up.  

That seemed like a good idea until I was almost immediately faced with a boss.  I mean, I was pretty proud of myself when I managed to beat that first boss barefoot with a club. But I still ended up re-rolling for an initial build that was more my style.

Watch and Learn

As mentioned, DSIII virtually starts with a boss fight.  There are a few enemies before you get to the first boss, but not many.  

Fortunately, the first boss is beatable with a club and no armor, but it still may take a few tries.  If you have trouble with the first boss, try not to get frustrated.  Easier said than done, I know, but since it’s the beginning of the game and there’s not much to lose, when you go back into the arena…

Eventually, the boss will reveal his moves, and you’ll be able to determine the best way to beat him… or her… or it.

I always like to be strong enough to do a stand up fight with a boss or enemy, but my usual tank-and-DPS approach had to be adjusted to make significant progress in a souls game.  So be willing to adjust your play style to meet the needs of the boss you’re playing.

Resting and Progressing

Once you get to your safe haven—the place where you can make upgrades and buy and sell things—you’ll have a save point.  

Keep in mind that every time you rest at, or use, a save/fast travel point, nearly every enemy is respawned. 

Always do a perimeter check.

Bosses and special enemies don’t come back, however, and found loot (as opposed to dropped loot) will not respawn. 

Now, here’s a hint for anyone, like me, who doesn’t pick up on some of the subtle hints the game drops on you:  In DSIII, there is no way to leave the starting area except by the fast travel point.  

Usually, you can’t travel to somewhere you haven’t been, but in this case, you simply rest at the fire and choose to travel to the first location. 

I know, right?  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to leave the safe haven and finally looked it up.

Boomer’s Take

The bottom line on DSIII is that it’s very playable. And although it’s touted as being among the harder games, if you think of yourself as being a decent gamer with reasonable skills and abilities, you would probably enjoy this game.  

Expect to die.  Expect to learn.  And accept that you’ll probably have to look some things up to get through a tough area or boss.  

You might even decide not to finish the game.  I’m still playing, but I’ve been tempted to quit a couple of times.  Oddly, if I were to quit playing DSIII, I still feel pretty satisfied with my experience. It almost feels honorable to tip my hat and say, “you got me, this time, but I’ll be back when I get a bit more experience, and I’ll build a slightly different character and we’ll do this dance again.” 

I think I’m close to the end though, so I’m not quite ready to quit.  

On the Boomer Scale, it’s an 8.5/10.  It’s a challenging game with a lot of secrets to unlock, and it’s  a game you’ll want to brag about playing. 

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