Dark Souls Xbox 360Having never played Demon's Souls for the PS3, I was able to start this game with a clean slate and no predisposition of what the game "should be like".
Dark souls is a game that reminds me of many games. Be it the hack and slash online MMO Mabinogi Heroes (Vindictus in the U.S.) , the soul collecting platforming of Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver, the more realistic "If I was given a broadsword and asked to fight a dragon, I'd barely be able to fight with it and probably run like hell." Monster Hunter , or the epic Larger than life boss fights in Shadow of the Colossus. This game takes elements from those games and makes them all its own. The grimy , hellish creatures of Dante's inferno are reminiscent here as well.
Unlike all of those games, it adds a dimension of difficulty not seen since the old NES days.
Unlike our good buddy Skyrim, Dark souls approaches the overhead map by not having one. All travel is more like a giant maze (dungeon crawling) with many many layers; much like an onion. And much like an onion you do not want to just take a big bite out of it , chew it and swallow it like Mel Gibson in Leathal Weapon 2. That would be bad, and you wouldn't enjoy it very much.
The weapons, combat, and enemy physics are realistic. So much so that, even if your character is thoroughly leveled up and you have decent equipment, you can still find yourself dead if you are ambushed by 2-3 lower level enemies. That's real. You must plan out your route, strategize and use different tactics constantly. This does not mean farming potions for a week just to endure the battles. It means making mistakes, getting killed over and over but learning from your mistakes and growing. Not growing in the power-leveling sense either.
The level design is a far cry from the cookie cutter dungeons that we've all grown to love in old school dungeon crawlers like Phantasy Star or even the newer Fallout games. The levels are well thought out and very creative. Hell, they take on a life all their own. I'd even go as far to say some of them are straight up terrifying. I would expect to see dungeons like the catacombs in a Silent Hill game. It's rare to see an action RPG actually getting the atmosphere right for a change. There were times as well where the Castlevania music went through my head from Lament of Innocence or Curse of Darkness when navigating the forested areas of this game.
Boasting over 500 unique enemies, you are never bored in combat. Not since Parasite Eve have I seen a game where you have to study your enemies animations and find an opening in their attack pattern and exploit it. But unlike Parasite Eve there is no pausing combat to dig through menus. Everything happens in real time. If you are well prepared and arm yourself accordingly, you'll do fine.
Many reviewers have condemned this series for it's "frustrating difficulty" and say that they've felt they've "wasted time" having to backtrack if they get killed. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you are in a combat situation in real life guess what? You would have a very high chance of dying. (S.T.A.L.K.E.R anyone?) There are traps and ambushes everywhere. You must tread carefully and not just run into the game balls out and try to destroy everything in a blaze of glory. If that's your kind of game, this is not the game for you and you'll be missing out on tons of content.
Other notable things:
The bugs and glitches in Dark Souls have been patched and are not nearly as game breaking as anything Bethesda has developed in the last decade.
Character creation is not as in-depth as a Bethesda game or even Phantasy Star Online but that may have detracted from the game's appearance since you are always in a ton of armor anyway.
Dark Souls doesn't have nearly as much dialogue or story as Skyrim. It's more for a "man of action" and not a man of words.
Overall Dark Souls is a good game. If you must, rent it first and then decide to buy it when and if you get absorbed in the game.
Review submitted by Azahm S.