Do you enjoy video games?
Would you consider yourself masochistic?
Does being ruthlessly punished over and over again by a video game that has no regard for your sanity appeal to you?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above (more specifically the second two) then you might be interested in playing “Dark Souls 3,” released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PCs on April 12. If you plan on playing, get ready for a major dosage of pain, death and a whole lot of failure.
From game studio From Software, the “Dark Souls” series—along with the spinoff “Bloodborne”—has been breaking controllers and inducing to more rage-quits than a game of “Mario Party” since the release of the first game in the series back in 2007. Often considered one of the greatest in recent memory, the franchise is known for its unrelenting difficulty and punishing boss fights that leave players screaming. But the rewards from all the pain and defeat are often as satisfying as a sip of ice-cold water on a hot, sunny day.
“As someone who’s been gaming his whole life, I love the ‘Souls’ series. They respect you as a player and don’t bother holding your hand,” said junior Joseph Delos Reyes, who has his copy preordered to ensure his fair share of punishment on launch day.
“Dark Souls 3,” rumored to be the final game in the series, takes place in the Kingdom of Lothric, a land on the verge of an apocalypse. Players take on the role of an “Unkindled”—an undead warrior cursed to walk the land—as one of nine different classes including Knight, Warrior, Cleric and Pyromancer. As the end of the world nears, the player is tasked with facing the “Lords of Cinder” to prevent the coming chaos. Players then use a variety of deadly weapons including spears, swords, battleaxes and magical spells to fight through the swaths of formidable foes where even the slightest miscalculation can lead to death.
The “Dark Souls” series is often credited for the care given to building expansive, open-ended worlds full of its own rich backstory, which has been developed over the past nine years.
“The lore is so fascinating,” Reyes said. “Each iteration of the franchise introduces a complex web of characters, events and areas so I get drawn into the universe because it’s so fully fleshed out.”
But not all gamers are itching to get their hands on the game. Graduate student Corey Patton finds the lengths the series goes to make itself difficult unnecessary.
“I’m not terribly interested in it, because the main appeal of ‘Dark Souls’ is how mercilessly unforgiving it is,” Patton said. “I personally dislike how the series takes difficulty to a hyperbolic extreme by doing things like intentionally programming input lag to make combat feel less responsive. The series strives to be hardcore in that sense, which is fine, but definitely a niche that won’t appeal to everyone.”
Already receiving high praise from critics, “Dark Souls 3” has earned several high marks from sites like IGN and PC Gamer, which gave the game scores 9.5 and 94 percent respectively. IGN’s Chloi Rad wrote in her review that the game delivers as a piece of the “Dark Souls” series.
“While not all the risky changes land as neatly as others, ‘Dark Souls 3’ is a powerful journey and the sequel the series truly deserves.”
Junior Jacob Buchbinder also finds the lore appealing, but was initially deterred by the game’s difficulty.
“I was too intimidated by the harsh learning curve to really get into the game, or very far for that matter,” Buchbinder said. “Eventually I read up on the expansive lore and found it interesting enough to give it another try just this last year. Now that the third game has come out, it has really restored my interest in the series.”
This might have all seemed like a warning, what with all the talk of punishment, pain and misery. And it is —there’s no doubt about it.
But it is also a call to arms; to stand up and fight what many call impossible; to hold firm in the face of crushing defeat; to fight until victory is finally achieved and the title of “gamer” is truly earned.
Now, who’s with me?
Scott may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Johnson is a senior Film Studies and Journalism double major. You can follow him on Twitter @scott7893 and find more of his reviews at RagingFilm.com