Dark Souls III Reviews

  • Slam Shot SamSlam Shot Sam1,185,417
    16 May 2016 01 May 2017
    19 7 7
    Dark Souls III | Xbox One

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    Ever since debuting, the Souls series has been synonymous with difficulty, establishing and fully embodying its taunting “Prepare to Die” tagline. Whilst this remains true in the case of Dark Souls III, the supposed final entry in the franchise, you shouldn’t be put off by the challenge; instead embrace it to discover an exquisitely rich gameplay experience.

    Before even leaving the main menu we were enraptured - Yuka Kitamura’s stunning composition is goose-bump-inducing - you owe it both to her and to yourself to play wearing headphones in order to best absorb its grand and bellowing tones.

    After tearing ourselves away to actually begin the masochistic adventure into Lothric, a bleak and desperate CGI introduction establishes the story. As the Ashen One, the player must hunt down and defeat the reawakened Lords of Cinder to enkindle the First Flame, and return vigour to the crestfallen realm. This might sound familiar to series veterans, and it should, because it’s the third time it’s happened. Narrative was never a main focal point for the series, but it remains compelling thanks to the ever-present shroud of mystery that necessitates an active and intelligent level of engagement.

    The Lords of Cinder glimpsed in the opening are a tantalising and terrifying prospect, as boss battles are, simultaneously, a thorough highlight and a pant-wetting terror. The behemoths are fabulously grotesque in their design, which coupled with punishing difficulty - intensified by mid-battle transformations, à la Bloodborne - makes their abundant encounters carry a tangible sense of danger. More stellar audio work, both in the bloodcurdling sound effects and intense, evolving soundtrack, evoke genuine fear, resulting in an experience that wouldn’t feel out of place in the horror genre.

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    In the face of such horror, it’s incredibly easy to be panicked into button mashing, but there are few faster ways to invite your own hollowing. To succeed, you’ll need to carefully monitor enemy attack patterns, block, parry and dodge with finesse to be presented the perfect moment to launch a satisfyingly weighty counter-attack. Even in these moments, you must be careful not to be too greedy, as if you consume all of your stamina on the offensive, how will you answer the opposition’s rebuttal? Cool heads prevail in Dark Souls III - great care and consideration must always be employed, which, if you’ve grown accustomed to Bloodborne’s scrapper take on series combat, may take some readjustment.

    The experience is further distanced from Bloodborne by the plethora of weapons available to the player, rather than the former’s more succinct arsenal. As usual, provided you have the relevant stats to wield them, each weapon has both a one and two-handed stance variation, whilst new to Dark Souls III are Weapon Arts. With a weapon two-handed, a simple button press will employ what’s essentially the weapon’s special move - these vary from sharpening a blade (to deal increased damage for a time), to steeling oneself, delivering devastating combos, automatically positioning for a critical backstab, charging forwards with a polearm and more.

    These powerful abilities are limited by the new FP (Focus Points) bar, which functions in much the same way as a typical mana gauge. FP also governs the use of Sorceries, Pyromancies and Miracles, while the new Ashen Estus Flask serves to replenish FP, doing away with the old system of limiting casts to a certain number between rests at a bonfire safe haven. It makes more sense, and lowers the point of entry somewhat for newcomers. Even more accommodatingly, the Estus allotment can be changed at any time, meaning if you wish to simply have a hoard of standard, health-replenishing Estus and no FP-replenishing Ashen Estus, you can - and vice versa.

    Players are spoilt for choice, which can admittedly be daunting, but it really serves to ensure everyone can find their niche with a little experimentation. It also means tactics can always be switched on-the-fly to best combat any of the numerous and varied enemy types housed within each different environment.

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    It’s no exaggeration to say these environments are gorgeous. Visually, there are some truly breathtaking vistas to behold. From a game design standpoint, they’re even more impressive, the gracefully interconnected world holding innumerable secrets that beckon you to explore deeper and deeper into the crushingly oppressive rabbit hole. You aren’t explicitly guided down any of the multitude of split-paths, instead the resistance you face offers a gentle indication of whether you’re ready to tackle it. If you’re up to the challenge, only your grit and determination stand in the way of progress, offering a liberating sense of freedom. Miyazaki offers another absolute masterclass that sees the series return to its glorious roots, following the slight misstep in his absence during Dark Souls II’s development.

    The one and only foible on this front is that some environments hold a reasonably strong sense of déjà vu. Whilst this is contextualised by the repeating lifecycle that the narrative’s built upon, some more variation would’ve been nice. The game as a whole is more of the same, but frankly that’s only because they had the formula perfected right from the start.

    Underpinning everything is the returning, uniquely integrated multiplayer. If you’re playing in online mode, you’ll see remnants of other players as they make their journey through Lothric - ghostly phantoms relay their current location and actions in real-time, bloodstains on the ground can be interacted with to gauge how adventurers met their end, inviting you to adjust your approach accordingly, and messages scrawled on the ground either serve to help or hinder their fellow man.

    Whilst these passive effects add to the world’s already stellar ambiance, more actively, players can engage in co-op and PvP. If you’re struggling to overcome a particularly difficult boss, pride permitting, you might summon a couple of pairs of helping hands. If you’re low on Souls, you can invade another player’s world to pillage theirs, though be warned that the favour can be returned. These PvP duels are incredibly intense and range from well-mannered - the invader presenting themselves and bowing to bookend a fair, clean fight - to deviously deceptive - the invader laying in wait to launch a devastating ambush.

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    Covenants return to encourage online interactions, each varying in respectability and tasking the player with different objectives. Completing a relevant objective grants covenant items, which are subsequently used to deepen your allegiance and unlock unique rewards. Changing covenants is now a simple case of switching your sigil; gone are the desertion penalties that previously somewhat discouraged experimentation with the system.

    Unfortunately, the occasional connection issue still somewhat dampens the multiplayer experience. In much the same way, occasional texture pop-in and frame drops can negatively impact busier moments throughout; though this is apparently less of an issue with the PlayStation 4 and PC versions of the game, so bear that in mind when considering your purchase.

    Dark Souls III is a fitting series send off that excels on all fronts. Superlative audio, gameplay and design combine to offer an end product that’s constantly enthralling. Simply an absolute joy to experience - despair has never felt so sweet!


    + Interconnected world
    + Tactical, satisfying and varied combat
    + Outstanding soundtrack and sound effects
    + Intriguing, mysterious story and characters
    + Intense boss battles
    + Integrated multiplayer
    + Balanced level of difficulty
    + Somewhat more welcoming to newcomers


    - Slight technical issues
    - Slight feeling of déjà vu


    Dark Souls III's achievements are typical of the series, largely pertaining to defeating bosses, seeing all endings, collecting all spells/rings/gestures, as well as upgrading weapons and the Estus Flask. The need for multiple playthroughs and covenant item grinding means achieving 100% completion will require a large time commitment.

    Originally written for Pass the Controller, a digital copy of the Deluxe Edition was provided by the publisher.

    If you vote negatively, please consider leaving a comment as to why to help prompt improvement. Thanks for reading.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    KanchanaburiI want this to be 5 stars, but after playing DSII on the Xbox X last year, playing this game makes and looks almost identically the same IMO. Don't get me wrong, it's great, but I would have expected it to look and feel much better than a remaster of a last gen game. Still, I am thankful for my experience on DSII as i know it has made my journey thus far on DS3 much easier. The game is really not that punishing as people's perception of it has been.
    Posted by Kanchanaburi on 28 Jun 20 at 01:27
    SpartanWolf 187Great review! Loved the game quite a lot. Hoping for a remastered 60fps version on the series x. 👍
    Posted by SpartanWolf 187 on 03 Aug 20 at 05:33
    Posted by DaedricWolf on 03 Sep 22 at 20:31
  • Madknight 64Madknight 64477,450
    04 Nov 2018 04 Nov 2018
    7 1 1
    Dark Souls 3 was a fantastic game to wrap up the Dark Souls trilogy, and had some of the best boss fights in the series. The environments are incredibly beautiful, there is a variety of enemies with different abilities, and the bosses all feel unique and powerful. The game feels like the developers took the lessons they learned from making the first two games and really made the best experience that they could.

    The player is an unkindled undead and must travel through the world taking down previous Lords of Cinder. As you travel through the world you may notice many previous areas from Dark Souls 1, and it is really interesting to see how they have been incorporated into the environment. The game has beautiful cinematics to introduce bosses, story events, and some character interactions. There is a more prominent story in this game compared to the other two, which was really refreshing, though a lot of the lore is still only hinted at, or through reading the different items that you get

    Game Play
    Dark Souls 3 is just as brutal as any of the other games in the series, but without the death punishment mechanics that were incorporated into Dark Souls 2. The enemies hit hard, and the game can punish you and ruin a run that you are on, so back to the bonfire to run back to your souls. As usual, you can build your character any way that you want, so each player will have a slightly different playthrough, and experience. The controls feel smooth, and are like the other Dark Souls games.

    The music and visual in the game are top notch. The music really makes the environment alive, but can make the entire landscape feel sparse and barren. The environment is beautiful and I found myself at times just stopping to look around at the scenery, or pausing to look at the amazing landscapes.

    Last Thoughts
    I highly recommend that anyone who is a fan of the Dark Souls series, or games that present a punishing challenge to complete. If you are new to the Dark Souls series, this is also a great game for you. The story is presented in a way that even if you haven’t played the first two games in the series, you can still play this one without any issues. The game was a ton of fun to play through and I can’t wait to do it again with a different build.
  • KingsOfDispairKingsOfDispair1,660,198
    02 Aug 2016
    3 4 0
    Ascending From Ashen
    Originally on http://www.player2reviews.com/home/dark-souls-3-review

    Welcome Ashen One! I am the Reviewer, the Fourth Lord of Penmanship, and I will be your guide throughout your quest. Your quest, if you chose to accept it, is to read this review and take from it what you will. Decide whether you agree or disagree and be wary as you will face many foes along your journey. In the end, your thoughts will reign supreme and help you decide if this is for you. Continue on if you accept this quest and are ready to face the Lords of Cinder.

    Dark Souls III is an action-RPG developed by FromSoftware and is the fourth game in the Souls series. Dark Souls III puts you in the role of the Ashen One, whom is arisen from the grave to take down the Lords of Cinder and Link the First Flame. Although this is the task that they give the Ashen One, the game has a choice element (not very vast, but a choice element nonetheless) by letting you chose how the game ends. Each choice has a different cut scene after the game, but that’s really all the choice will do. Without going into too much detail that would spoil the end of the game, the choices the Ashen One is presented with are: Link the Fire, Usurp the Fire, Fire Keeper’s Ending, or Don’t Link the Fire.

    ​Game modes included in this game are only a campaign, which can be played in various ways. The game can be played in single player, cooperatively online with up to three people, and also in a Player vs. Player mode known as ‘invading’. When playing single player, you can (but not required) set the game to offline mode. This will keep the PVP section of the game from invading your game. When playing co-op, you must be online and you can summon two people into your game normally (three with a certain in-game item), however; the invaders can enter your world at any moment. The co-op in this game is not like your generic run-of-the-mill co-op. To play the co-op, you must be summoned using a summoning sign and invited into your friends’ games to help them through the section of the game. This use to be a nightmare in previous installments, but FromSoftware included a password system in this game that made this much easier. The third option of the PVP section requires some in-game items and allows you to enter the worlds of other player to kill them for other in-game items. I personally do not like this mechanic to the game, but some people find this one of the most fun elements to Dark Souls.

    This title offers various way to play the game, from hack and slash to ranged and swords and shield to spears and much more. While it might seem difficult at first, once you learn the control mechanics and how to predict enemy movements. The game will get easier in time. Not saying that it still won’t be difficult, that is the charm that Dark Souls provides you with. You will very quickly fall in love with the story, the world, and the atmosphere that it puts off. Speaking of that the visuals and soundtrack in this game are second to none. They are just absolutely breathe-takingly beautiful. The game makes you wish that you could travel to the lands of Dark Souls (actually, maybe not all things considered.) This game offers a modest amount when it comes to replayability with featuring a new game plus which you can do various playthroughs one after another. It also contains various optional bosses that you can go back to after beating the game if you felt that you are under leveled for it before the end game.

    All in all, Dark Souls III is a phenomenal title that provides a large of amount of gameplay and will let you get your money’s worth for a game of this magnitude. So grab your favorite broad sword, a couple Estus Flask, and your trusty bow and I wish you the best of luck…You are going to need it!

    Final Score: 10/10

    +Beautiful Visuals
    +Amazing Soundtrack
    +Phenomenal Gameplay

    ​-Difficult if unaware of Souls experience
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