Developer: From Software
Publisher: Namco Bandai
"You might make it boy, but by the skin of your teeth."
Rarely has a lyric in a trailer ever described a game so perfectly. That line from The Silent Comedy's "Bartholomew" arguably sums up the Dark Souls experience more aptly (and certainly more succinctly) than the visuals it accompanied: visuals of giant wolves, axe-tailed gargoyles, colossal stone knights and numerous other imposing beasts. They all serve to paint a picture of darkness, death and despair, but that lyric still says it best: you can make it through this game, but you're going to have to fight tooth and nail (and sword and shield) every step of the way.
Of course, this is nothing new for PS3 owners, who have had this game's superb predecessor Demon's Souls for over two years now. Indeed, a veteran of Demon's Souls will feel instantly at home here in the Dark: an identical control scheme, familiar combat and even many of the same voice actors welcome you into the experience like an old friend. Well, maybe not an old friend, maybe an older brother. An older brother who used to beat you up. For those unfamiliar with the Souls games, I should explain: Demon's Souls was an action RPG known primarily for its extremely high difficulty level and the equally high level of satisfaction it offered to players who could conquer it. Dark Souls takes the formula that its older sibling established and runs with it.
The back story of Dark Souls, such as it is, begins with a war between a group of supremely powerful humans and a race of ancient dragons - dragons which somewhat confusingly apparently existed before fire, but we'll overlook that. Betrayed by one of their own, the dragons fell, leading to the age of fire and the oncoming darkness. You might think this sounds like fairly standard fantasy fare, and you'd be right, not to mention charming and handsome. In truth, the story here is not a particularly important part of the package - it's there and it's fine, but it's just the necessary frame to provide you with a vague motivation ("Go and ring a couple of bells," an early NPC tells you, "and something will happen") to spend 60 or more hours in Dark Souls' world.Can Dark Souls live up to the hype? Is it more fiendish than its predecessor? Find out after the jump...