Dark Souls

[E3 2011] The Soul Still Burns

Wrong game? Wait until you give Dark Souls a little hands-on time and see if you aren't severely inflamed.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: June 16, 2011
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But that's not what happened to us.

No, the boar gored us, it flung us halfway across the room, it trampled and pummeled us, all while a pair of archers flung arrows at us and a shuffling group of zombie-like critters hacked away. We died. And died again. And died some more. Even after completely starting over (bear in mind this encounter can be found about 30 seconds after starting) with a new class, we were repeatedly beaten and sent to an early grave (or at least respawn) before attempting it all again. After all, every time you die, all those enemies you killed come back too. Fun? Oh yes, you'd better believe it.


Eventually we were able to make our way farther into the level by dashing into a narrow hallway the boar couldn't fit through. Here, in the shadows, waiting many a sword-wielding bad guy, and it gave us a chance to (clumsily) try parrying with our shield, then just blocking and finally running away until the numbers could be thinned by taking them on as they climbed up a series of ladders. A pair of what amounted to blue-eyed knights from Demon's Souls (read: a bad fight if you're just starting out) waited for us, and beyond them in a massive cathedral, a mad warlock, who was all too happy to introduce us to searing agony in the form of fireballs.

Around the side of the main sanctuary waited the final challenge of the demo: a gargoyle that came to life on the rooftops and carried with it a massive spear with an insane range. He could do plenty of damage, and though we thought we could defeat him before having to leave, we definitely couldn't have taken him and his buddy on. Again, though, this is the way of Dark Souls. It will kick your ass -- repeatedly -- and you will learn to love it.

We, of course, already do. While Namco Bandai reps were careful to point out that this was something specially prepared for E3, we're guessing at least some part of the demo will end up in the full game, and at this point we'll take any familiarity with this scary new world that we can get. After all, if Dark Souls is about anything, it's trial and error and learning through death. Lots of death.

Something we weren't entirely able to grasp was the game's new multiplayer aspects. Like the first time around, you'll be able to see people in the same realm as you running around as white ghosts. The message system returns, now as an item that can be quick selected and used with the d-pad instead of buried under menus that don't pause the game. Also, there's a new system in place for pledging aid or combat with other players, and up to four characters can now inhabit the same world. Instead of invading, you can now be called into a friend's world to help them fend off invaders, but with the obvious increase in the size of the world, it's no surprise that there are more possible invaders this time around. Hey, on the bright side, you can still turn yourself into a vase, right?
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