Dark Souls III - The Ultimate Ending

Dark Souls III - The Ultimate Ending

Dark Souls III is the third and last installment in From Software's brutally difficult fantasy role-playing series. Starting out with only a few messages on the ground in the tutorial area teaching you controls, you are left to decipher cryptic dialogue from an abundance of NPCs and short cinematic cut scenes in order to understand what the hell is going on in the apocalyptic land of Lothric and what your purpose is here.

Stunning graphics

My first action coming into a new area is to immediately soak in my surroundings, and as my character rises out of a grave and into a dreary clearing, I actually forgot the title of this game was Dark Souls III. All I was thinking was Bloodborne 2. And I only mean that in the best possible way.

After hearing the president of From Software, Hidetaka Miyazaki, was back to being lead director on Dark Souls III, my excitement hit the roof. To sum up, I wasn’t too impressed with Dark Souls II, not even bothering to finish it. Overall area design was disappointing, most bosses were beyond disappointing, and the slow speed combat was infuriating. You can tell this was not a Miyazaki masterpiece.

I was expecting Miyazaki to transfer his new found wisdom with From Software’s first next-gen exclusive game Bloodborne across to his next instalment into the Souls series, and he pulled it off perfectly. From the eerie overgrown grave yards, to the subtle flow of cloth on the character and enemy mobs, and especially some disgustingly grotesque creatures. Of course, this wasn’t the Victorian era to which Bloodborne is set in, but there is an obvious likeness between the art design of both games.

Alomora64 gaming blog Dark Souls 3 screenshot Lothric castle
Just like in Bloodborne, the sky changes in Dark Souls 3 as you progress through the game.

Fast and fluent combat

Looks were not the only likeness. Dark Souls III has the fastest and smoothest combat in the Dark Souls series thus far, but also the quickest enemies. Countless times I was slaughtered in mere moments with no time to roll away from intense successive attacks. I was left staring at the screen dumfounded as to how I died so quickly. This calls for learning quick reaction times just like Bloodborne. Although true to Dark Souls fashion, using a shield and learning enemy movesets are key to easy progression.

The new Weapon Arts mechanic is an interesting edition, not changing the core combat much, but certainly adds a new tone to the already fluent gameplay. Most weapon types have the same weapon art but some special weapons, particularly the boss weapons, take a step further into insane moves.

To your valour, my sword, and our victory together.

Long may the Sun shine.

Rich lore and hidden secrets

This series has always been rich with lore but Dark Souls III is packed full to the brim. Everywhere you look, something matches up with something else. This also comes out heavily in the area design. At one point about 10 hours in I took a double take at a distant high wall and realised that's where I was just a few hours prior! There were many more occasions where I could see a distant land mark and it would either be where I came from or where I was most certainly heading towards.

Out of the 50 hours it took to complete my first playthrough, most of this time was spent exploring these massive areas. The second main area took me around 5 hours alone (not including the boss!). Dark Souls III has the most shortcuts, hidden areas and secret paths I have ever seen in this series. Even after finishing the game I'm still finding new things in early areas! A neat addition to Dark Souls III is you decide when you want to continue into the next playthrough after triggering the end of your current one, so you can explore as much as you'd like in end game (very handy for farming all weapons / armour sets).

Alomora64 gamer blog Dark Souls 3 boss encounter screenshot

It's not Dark Souls without intense bosses

Dark Souls III has some of the best boss designs I’ve seen in any Souls game and spiritual successors. Quite a few stand out just because of their lore/back story alone. As an interesting addition to boss mechanics, there are a few bosses that require figuring out particular weaknesses in order to take them down effectively. Unfortunately this made those fights the easiest out of all the bosses, but at the same time made them the most interesting. And it is nice to have a break from getting pounded into dust every now and then!

Dark Souls III is definitely not without the most agonisingly difficult bosses. Some actually forced me out of my comfortable play style in order to beat them. This is helped immensely by the amount of equipment available to you, even during early-game. With over 100 weapons and a tonne of armour sets to be discovered or purchased from various merchants, there was always another build to try. What is awesome is the amount of upgrade materials given, especially after mid-game when you are encouraged to try new things, which means it is actually viable to try new gear. There is also an NPC who will allow you to respec your attributes, phew!

From Software takes out all the nitty gritty so you can get on with it

The best change in Dark Souls III is how efficent everything is. Bonfire travel is available to you as soon as you reach the main hub, where most NPCs who come into your service will locate to. Shortcuts in the main menu have been added, with an extremely handy second item-shortcut bar, perfect for summoning/invading items (and don't forget your binoculars).

Well, I'm going to have myself a little nap.

The only thing to do, really, after a nice toast.

Let’s go again!

I have never been more hesitant to finish a game before, simply because I really didn’t want it to end, just like a favourite book series. What’s great about Dark Souls however, it doesn’t have to end. I guarantee you won’t find all secrets in your first playthrough, or finish every NPC side quest. There are all sorts of different ways to challenge yourself during a new game, like the Soul Level 1 challenge (starting as Deprived class and not levelling your attributes at all), or if you are insane like this Twitch streamer, the SL1/no rolling/blocking/parrying NG+7 challenge.

I’ve enjoyed my time with Dark Souls III more than any game since Bloodborne’s release. From Software has truly made an unforgettable series, and has ended it on an ultimate high and the best in the series, no doubt about it. I absolutely cannot wait to see what they cook up for the two DLC pack, with the first expected to release sometime this Spring. Maybe we’ll see a sneak peak at E3 next month, one can only hope!

Alomora64 video games blog Dark Souls 3 screenshot
Death by victory.
15 May 2016 4:53 PMBrittany Mitchell