A while back, I wrote a review of Dark Souls III for Darkstation and found it to be a familiar, though great, game. If you’re the kind of person who liked Dark Souls and wants to play more of that, Dark Souls III is happy to oblige. In fact, the game has a much deeper connection in form and function to the original game even though it borrows quite a few ideas from Dark Souls II.
I finished earlier this week and achieved the End of Fire ending – the one I really wanted to get on the first run. I deliberately looked up all the information I needed because I didn’t want to be soured by an unsatisfying ending on my first try. Because Dark Souls III is the literal end of a franchise I love so much, I didn’t want to soured on the goodbye. Though, technically speaking, the ending of Dark Souls III carries on the grand tradition of being a non-ending, as it hints that everything done will happen all over again. Still, End of Fire is the most fitting and appropriate: an end to a cycle that began with the hubris of gods.
Spoiler. Highlight to read:
I was also moved by the ending’s last bit of dialog. We are told by those who want us to link the First Flame that the world will plunge into terrible darkness and that civilization will come to a complete and total end. As the light dramatically fades from the world, the final words are spoken by the Fire Keeper: “Ashen One, can thouset hear me?” I love this because it tells the player character that even though light has died, everything will be (kind of) okay. The Age of Dark has settled and Man is ready to pick up the mantle. At least, that’s my interpretation.
I’d have to say that Dark Souls III ranks as my second favorite game of this franchise mostly because it offers the most awesome collection of interesting places. Each are feasts for the eyes and show a great story. Unlike Dark Souls II, each area feels large and more organically connected to one another. In the last game, you had to go to Majula to reach other areas. In Dark Souls III, after warping to a specific realm, I have the option to, for example, walk from the Abyss Watchers to Undead Settlement uninterrupted. That’s what I really liked about Dark Souls. The interconnected-ness of the areas give off a wonderful atmosphere and a real sense of place.
Those places also happen to be gorgeous, even in their dilapidated state. The Undead Settlement is a festering stink hole of death that is very reminiscent of Undead Burg and Bloodborne‘s Central Yharnam. Irithyll Valley is gorgeous and the gentle falling snow makes it look like the sort of place Elsa would hang out in were she an unrepentant tyrant. Smouldering Lake is unabashed Dark Souls fanservice but it provides for some satisfying imagery for those hounded by a certain demon. Untended Graves is endlessly fascinating because of how it twists the early part of the story (and is the most “time is convoluted” area of Lothric). With so much death and decay lingering throughout Lothric like an oil slick, Archdragon Peak represents a completely out of character location for a Dark Souls game. Set high up in the mountains, it punches through the greasy haze and stormy clouds and presents a play area bathed in warm, iridescent sunlight. Knight Solaire would be proud. You should really put in the work to go visit – you’ve never seen a From Software sky so blue.
The game offers a nice collection of bosses, a couple of which require some degree of thought. I was successful in taking out some of the early enemies by myself but as the adventure continued, I found myself relying on other players. In return, I made myself available to them which is something I never dabbled in other games. I’m really dumb for not doing it sooner because it’s a great way to earn a small fortune in Souls. And it’s fun to pay it forward for all those times people helped me. I don’t feel too bad about getting help because many bosses were simply more than my character could handle. I’d often do well enough to get the boss down to its second phase (and even to its last third of health) before my character just tires out – no stamina, no Estus, no hope. Sometimes the bosses had luck on their side. Sometimes it was on mine. There’s nothing more wondrous than getting one of your messages rated during a boss fight. I had this happen during an attempt with Aldrich and getting the free shot of health was enough empowerment to persevere. I still died but it was a great feeling.
New Game+ awaits and I wonder what changes are going to be made. Does it just increase the difficulty like Dark Souls? Or does it add/change/modify enemy placement and phantoms like Dark Souls II? I’m both scared and excited to find out.