One noob’s journey through Dark Souls III
The Dark Souls series is one I came to rather late. Too late. I wish I could have experienced it all from the beginning, but instead I found myself jumping on the bandwagon when DSIII was released. I preordered and everything.
It began with IGN’s Prepare to Try series, which I implore you to check out. The premise of the show was basically, “can one ‘noob’ defeat Dark Souls before Dark Souls III is released?”. Not only was the show great to watch because of the guys involved, but the lore of game really captivated me and I found myself becoming attached to the storylines and characters of the game, despite not actually playing.
I had played Bloodborne, with little success and a great amount of frustration, and eventually I chickened out of it; so it was with trepidation that I preordered my copy of Dark Souls III. My journey began.
For anyone who isn’t well versed in gaming, Dark Souls is notoriously difficult and attracts a certain type of masochist. The game is difficult enough on its own, with challenging bosses that can destroy you in seconds and long periods of gameplay without a ‘checkpoint’. But there’s some people who find this isn’t enough, some people try to complete the game without being hit once, for example. It’s got a very special and unique following, almost its own culture.
As well as its challenging nature, gamers are drawn to Dark Souls because of its deep and rich lore and the gaps in the lore which encourages players to fill in with their own theories. Its almost Tolkien-esque in the detail. There’s thousands of years of history just waiting to be explored in-game. I can’t express how much I wish I’d been on-board since Dark Souls I.
Dark Souls III is a game that captivates you from the first second of the opening cinematic. It gives you some background on what has happened in the previous games and sets up your own journey with mystery and intrigue. You’re awoken as an Unkindled, unfit to be even be ash, and your job is to hunt down the Lords of Cinder. The game provides you with countless questions that you have to seek the answers to throughout the game by talking to the right people and reading the right item descriptions. Sure, you can just run through the game without paying attention to any of this but there’s something so rewarding about finding a link between two characters or discovering a piece of history about a boss you’ve just beaten. You take out what you put in. The story draws you in, fully immersing you in the world of Dark Souls. It almost teases you. Giving you snippets of information but never the full picture.
There’s a great number of references to the previous instalments too, most of which have probably passed me by, but many of them I found satisfying and nostalgic, thanks to Prepare to Try. I’ve now found myself going back through the game to follow different character quest lines and to uncover secrets I missed first time around. There’s not many games I’d immediately jump back into, but with this, I was back in Lothric in under 24 hours.
The game is beautiful to behold. From the High Wall of Lothric to Anor Londo, the visuals are spectacular. It’s a world thats expertly pieced together as you’re guided towards Lothric Castle on your quest to return the Lords of Cinder to their thrones. Every now and again, I found myself stopping just to take in the scenery around me, looking back at where I’d been and looking on, to what was yet to come.
The game play and combat style are unique to this game series (and Bloodborne) and this is where the challenge lies. As a beginner, it’s hard to get to grips with how you’re supposed to play this game. Unlike most main-stream video games, Souls requires you to tactically defeat your enemies. This requires studying your opponents moves and timing your parries, rolls and attacks accordingly. It’s such a rewarding system. When you finally figure out how to beat a boss and actually manage to implement that plan to perfection, theres a huge sense of achievement that I’ve never experienced in a game before.
And there’s where the beauty lies. Dark Souls is so rewarding and that’s thanks to the immersive story that doesn’t spoon-feed players the lore and history of Souls, it rewards exploration and experimentation and it challenges you to defeat enemies that, at the beginning of my journey, I never thought possible.
If you enjoyed this article, we have a special bonus podcast episode all about gaming. We cover games from our childhood and our current favourites, including (obviously) Dark Souls.