Serving as the capstone for the Dark Souls trilogy, this final game allows FromSoftware’s famed dark fantasy franchise to go out with a bang. Combining the greatest strengths found in the core series and its spiritual successor Bloodborne, what we have here can be considered the definitive version of the Dark Souls franchise.
Set long after the two prior games, the world has slid closer towards Armageddon. Ash now chokes the land and undead once more stalk the abandoned cities, now occupied by monstrosities born of the impending cataclysm. The only salvation lies in the Lords of Cinder, champions who once linked the fire but following their corruption they refused to retake their thrones…
From the synopsis you can probably guess that FromSoftware are sticking to their guns on this one. In terms of mechanics and overall storyline, it serves as a much more refined and well-rounded version of a Dark Souls experience. Even when you encounter some composite character or a suspiciously similar NPC to those met in past outings, they will usually feature some innate twist on their prior incarnation. This is matched with the overall level designs, which are familiar but vastly more chaotic and disturbing than anything met in the past two games. This proves to be especially true of the boss fights, each of who proves to be a vast improvement over the disappointing heavy hitters of Dark Souls II.
The mechanics themselves stick to what you know, and while there is a chance for faster reactions or a few fun weapons, it never veers away from the formula which made the series successful. The real fun, however, stems from the world’s structure. While admittedly linear, it’s considerably better paced, laid out and structured when it comes to encountering foes. There’s also multiple opportunities left to still stray off of the beaten path, and run into all sorts of surprises, deadly or otherwise. Equally, backtracking and returning to past locations remains a core part of the game, and combined with a New Game+ mode (which features more than a few new surprises) and the replay value here is through the roof.
There are few games truly worthy of being called “perfect” but Dark Souls III comes closer than any game in the last decade. Barring a few odd frame rate issues on console, and the aforementioned linear structure which may be off-putting to some veterans, there are no criticisms worthy of levelling at this game. Any fan of the grim fantasy genre, any gamer who can preserver through death time and time again, this is most definitely the game for you. Grab it without hesitation.
DARK SOULS 3 / DEVELOPER: FROMSOFTWARE / PUBLISHER: NAMCO BANDAI ENTERTAINMENT / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW