Dark Souls
Gamescom 2011: Dark Souls Hands-On Preview - A Hard Day's Knight
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Do you remember that really hard PS3 game Demon’s Souls? You know the one, the game that pretty much hated your existence and wanted you to suffer for even having the temerity to assume that you could best it. Well apparently a small minority felt it wasn’t actually hard enough and, even worse, that small minority happen to be the developers. So for sadists the world over they have created Dark Souls, a game that pretty much wants to eat you up and spit you out, then laugh as you squirm about in agony, then invite your friends over to kick you while you’re down. Gird your loins folks.

It started innocently enough, as the games fairly chipper producers Daisuke Uchiyama and Kei Hirono were on hand to demonstrate a few new locations and one of the epic boss battle. I suspect anyone who picks up this game in the near future will be cursing their names, but hey, they seem nice enough in person. Obviously the difficulty spike was the number one question on everyone’s lips and they were quick to broach the subject, pointing out that the game had indeed been toughened up but the difficulty was meant to act as a learning curve for the player rather than a hindrance.

Suffice it to say that the team demonstrating the game were pretty experienced with the build, and had brought along a suitably buff character to get the job done, but even they managed to die multiple times throughout the brief segment on display. So for those looking for an easy ride it is safe to say that this is hardly the game for you. In fact the overriding goal of the developers was to make progression and completion immensely satisfying, and that is directly tied into the toughness of the foes and puzzles on offer.

The world of Dark Souls is a fairly open one, with a huge world to seamlessly explore fall of sprawling heights and dizzying depths. Considering the world is three times as large as the last title then it is good to know that each section can be traversed at your own speed, and just the area on display here, the Duke’s Archive, was suitably epic. Fairly soon an enormous boss, Seath the Scaleless, turned up to ruin their day. The huge ice dragon made short work of the player and banished them to an icy prison. The game wasn’t over there though as the player had a chance to escape from his newfound jail and seek his revenge.

The clever ideas were in full evidence, as even defeat can lead to a new segment of the adventure rather than just a game over screen, then a musical box was deployed to flood the area with creatures. The jail was soon full of merciless, tentacle covered foes that could kill you with one attack. So rather than facing them head on he stuck to the shadows, and basically did a runner if they get too close, activating a nearby bonfire meant he had a handy checkpoint in case the worst should happen (and it did – twice). After carefully negating the dungeon, and dispatching some snake headed foes, he managed to turn off the musical device that was controlling the army of foes and send them back to their lair. As a result the path was open to make good their escape. If it sounds easy, then believe us it was anything but and they even made the point that regular players would probably have much more of a hard time thanks to the fact their character would generally be much weaker. They want to hurt us guys and gals, they want to make us suffer.

Obviously you can tool up your character with all manner of weapons and equipment, with a variety of brutal swords, axes and maces on display as we watched. You can tailor you skills and items to suit the situation at hand, and the real onus is on experimentation and a willingness to learn from each grievous mistake. If you are liable to get easily frustrated then this is certainly not going to help matters, as the developers felt that just getting past the first level might take over one hundred deaths assuming you had a character starting from scratch. That is probably an exaggeration, but you do get the sneaky impression that it will not be by much.

There are also online aspects to the game that seem designed to increase the challenge rather than diminish it. Other players can pop into your game and leave messages lying around to help you out or even turn up in person to assist you with taking down especially tough foes. Of course, this is the internet, so it is more likely that people will jump in and help to beat you up or leave rude or unhelpful messages to send you in the wrong direction.

For anyone seeking a challenge in the upper echelons of the difficulty spectrum then this is for you. The game has a suitably gothic feel, and the play areas are vast and just priming with potential. There is really no right or wrong way to approach each area either so a willingness to try new approaches and think on your feet could well be essential. Plus, we all know that popping into a friends game and screwing them over is pretty much a game in itself. Assuming you’re evil that is. However, the toughness of the game may also be it’s Achilles heel as there is no point having a vast world to explore if new players are never likely to see it, so it will be interesting just how bad the learning curve is from the get go. If things can be perfectly balanced then we could be in for a treat.

Get ready to die, a lot, when Dark Souls comes for your throat on the 4th October in North America and 7th October in Europe.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #1 by ufcmike1
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 11:18:21 AM
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Great preview. I haven't really been reading *that* much about this game. After reading this preview, I'm a little bit interesting in this game. I've never played Demon's Soul, so I suppose this will be a first experience for me.

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #2 by Smoeey
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:09:41 PM
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I did own a PS3 but decided to change over to an Xbox. The one thing that I did miss was Daemon Souls as it was such an amazing game. I can't wait for this! The only game that I've pre-ordered so far.

Forum Posts: 227
Comment #3 by muzykalscorpio
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:14:45 PM
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This is the only game I have pre-ordered for this year, everything else that I'm looking at is slated for 2012.

Though maybe it was just me, but Demon's Souls felt more like trial and error in the grand scheme of things, it was just -very- unforgiving.

Still, can't deny just how much fun I had with it, and can't wait for this one to be a challenge as well.

Forum Posts: 71
Comment #4 by Olrox
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:33:30 PM
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Demon's Souls god damnit!
I don't know if I should be happy about this game or cry a lot.

Forum Posts: 32
Comment #5 by Vandiloo
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 12:43:41 PM
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Demon's Souls was the main reason I bought a PS3. I'm curious which version will be better. Since the original was a PS3 exclusive, I'm worried the Xbox version won't be up to snuff. I like my 360 better but not enough to suffer through a bad port of a game. So I'm waiting for the reviews to see if the Xbox version is just as good.

Forum Posts: 315
Comment #6 by CrownlessKing
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 01:45:21 PM
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I can't understand all the hype behind this game. A game that sounds ball-breakingly difficult, and is basically trial and error over and over again? Talk about "niche". A company could probably come out with a high quality roguelike title and it'd do better then this.

Forum Posts: 122
Comment #7 by Ashes in Fall
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 01:54:38 PM
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Too bad games are way too fucking easy these days. That's not a bad thing, but when games do try to be difficult, they do it it really cheap ways. This game is legitimately challenging. The euphoria you get from beating a boss or even a segment of a level in Demon's Souls is astounding for a videogame.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #8 by Cheesy12
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 02:25:35 PM
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A true 1000 gamerscore =)

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #9 by PickVanCleef
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 02:27:45 PM
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Prepare to die.....I'm going to hate this game when it demolishes me (I know it will...again and again...) but for now....I can't wait for it :D

Forum Posts: 322
Comment #10 by Farrmark
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 02:35:21 PM
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Same here, I bought a PS3 and got an Asian copy of Demon's Souls, then when the UK Black Phantom Edition came out I bought that too. I've got the Day One Edition pre ordered on both formats at work for October and I'll get whichever gets the better review (or whichever my pals are playing too).

I can't wait to die horribly loads of times :)

Forum Posts: 51
Comment #11 by leeroy1975
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 02:42:16 PM
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Agreed i would go as far to say 85-90% of games today are way to easy. As an example the earlier COD's on veteran were way tougher than the later ones. I think cheevo's have something to do with it, don't get me wrong i love my cheevo's, but people moan about the difficulty of a game because they want the cheevo's quickly rather than having to put in some effort.

Forum Posts: 1195
Comment #12 by Hoborg
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 04:40:14 PM
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I will not buy or play this game because it is simply too hard. I go to school full-time, I work, I don't have time to waste playing the same level over and over. It's not fun, you don't achieve anything but a grand headache.

Forum Posts: 122
Comment #13 by Ashes in Fall
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 04:56:14 PM
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So... essentially, you're a baby back bitch?

Forum Posts: 7
Comment #14 by Stinkingooze
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 04:57:49 PM
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I seriously cannot wait to play this game! I never got to play much of Demon's souls despite how much I liked it. Roll on october!

Forum Posts: 43
Comment #15 by Walter B Willis
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 06:35:13 PM
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@13 spoken like a boss from Dark Souls :P

Forum Posts: 657
Comment #16 by BBowles
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 08:02:38 PM
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You don't have the time for this game, but you enjoy spending what little free time you have making posts to insult a game?

Some people have the same workload as you and DO enjoy a good challenge. Some people enjoy actually accomplishing something, instead of having it handed to them like most games do. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of both. Sometimes I want to play Halo on easy and just run shit over. Other times I feel like spending 600 hours grinding out Star Ocean battle trophies.

Either way, it is not your job to decide what is "fun". What gives you a headache may be the greatest accomplishment to others. Missed Demon's Souls since I don't have a PS3, looking forward to this game.

Forum Posts: 271
Comment #17 by the action frampton
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 05:37:46 AM
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Still undecided about this game. Was hoping this 'preview' would help. It hasn't. The only information I got from the above was that it's hard, so very hard. But, I already knew that.

Guess I just wait to see what the community thinks before I get it.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #18 by ServbotNamedSxE
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 07:25:51 AM
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@16: So the guy isn't allowed to voice his opinion? It's not like he said everyone who plays the game are stupid or are just wasting their time or lives away, he's just saying that due to his lifestyle such a game isn't his cup of tea.

As for the ppl saying that it's 'euphoric' to get past a boss and just about every other game out there is 'too easy' they really need to get help cuz they proly have an addiction (anything that loses it effect on you to where you need a stronger version of it to feel that sense of 'euphoria' again is clearly grown tolerant to it from more then their share of exposure to it). I'm not getting the game simply cuz their are way more games coming out before and after that will have my time and money, not to say that I won't at one point just not on day one or even by the end of the year. It'll mostly depend on the opinion from friends who play it that will be the deciding factor form me picking it up.

Forum Posts: 221
Comment #19 by the ferenczy
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 08:26:42 AM
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Pass. I play games for fun, not to torture myself. Also, my controller is begging me not to get this.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #20 by Nekrobutcher
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 09:41:40 AM
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High definition re-releases of the King's Field series now, please.

Forum Posts: 122
Comment #21 by Samurai Kadaj
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 10:51:01 AM
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I agree with #7 as far as most games that are difficult tend to just do it in cheap ways. Like Call of Duty: World at War, veteran is only a huge bitch just because it showers infinite amounts of grenades on that difficulty. It'll be cool to try a game that's genuinely difficult, not cheap.

Forum Posts: 122
Comment #22 by Ashes in Fall
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 06:08:42 PM
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I guess you never learned about hyperbole in high school, huh? It's not that I'm sick of games being easy. It's nice to have a challenge every now and then though. I always play games on the hardest difficulty it has by default now because of a lack of challenge.

Forum Posts: 108
Comment #23 by aosiding
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 06:50:44 PM
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Ninja Gaiden: A Knight's Tale

Forum Posts: 53
Comment #24 by Coruba
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 09:29:48 PM
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Personally I like to use my xbox for 'fun' and 'entertainment' and while some people find these ultra challenging games fun I don't really have the time to invest in them to get the most out of them so whilst this looks like a lot of fun I'll stick to Castlevania Lord Of Shadows for my epic fantasy fix.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #25 by crunchb3rry
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 01:13:05 AM
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The problem is developers just can't have appropriate difficulty levels anymore. Easy, Medium, Hard. It's not rocket science and things used to be that way industrywide. This Nightmare, Veteran, etc. nonsense is stupid. Just make the game, call it Normal. Make it easier for casual gamers, call it Easy. Make it hard for those who want a challenge, then call it Hard. And really limit how many achievements you're going to tie to the hard difficulty. I've got plenty of games I will never 100% because the developer thinks you're some poor bastard that only owns like 4 games and will play their game for 300+ hours. I would use Oblivion as an example of a long game, but can't speak much for difficulty because they wisely put in a slider bar that makes the game perfectly accessible to ANYONE.

Forum Posts: 55
Comment #26 by Throrin
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 12:31:55 PM
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Is it only me that i didn't find Demon's Soul that hard as all internet says? I do not say that it was easy ... but it wasn't that much difficult. I actually found it perfectly balanced. You just need to settle and think before going into battle. Go slow and never rush, and try to take enemies 1 at a time. You are not Chuck Norris you now !!! :-)

Maybe it's because i'm 36yo and i miss the old games that i'm used to. Back then most of the games were a lot more difficult than Demon's Soul. I think the problem is that today 99% of the games are way too easy (so they can sell a lot more) and when we a GAME (with capital letters) is as it should be (at least) we find it difficult because we are used to easy games.

That is my opinion.
It is not hard, its perfectly balanced .... BUT .... we are just addicted to easier games.

Forum Posts: 291
Comment #27 by ViNyLek
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 03:56:33 PM
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I guess they should only have one achievement for 1000GS - Beat the game - LOL! I won't be getting this, hard to say, but I am definitely not the patient type when it comes to games. I'm patient at work and with my family, so I have to take it out somwehere:-P

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #28 by ServbotNamedSxE
Sunday, September 04, 2011 @ 07:45:20 AM
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And I guess you never learned contradiction in high school, huh?

" It's not that I'm sick of games being easy. I always play games on the hardest difficulty it has by default now because of a lack of challenge."

You're not sick of games being easy, but you play every game on its hardest by default. I'd say you are contradicting what you say. How would you know what's easy!? You play everything on its hardest! A game may be less challenging to you from the next pending on how well you got through it at max diff. but to say they are in general too easy is bigotry. If someone say a game is too hard or "challenging", but isn't by your standards you dismiss them as in your own words " a baby back bitch" for stating their opinion. That's messed up man.

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Game Info
From Software
Namco Bandai


US October 04, 2011
Europe October 07, 2011

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