Cool Stuff From Around the Web: Eli Roth Directs an Animated Dark Souls Trailer


Actor and Director Eli Roth has just released this gory little trailer for Dark Souls 3. While the overall trailer feels more related to Dark Souls tonally more so than anything else, i found this to be a fun watch. Just know before watching, this does get pretty gruesome.

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I Finally beat Dark Souls 2.


Back in November of last year I reviewed Dark Souls 2, but I never got around to beating as I often have to move from one game to the next. The fact that the game simply didn’t live up to the first game didn’t help matters much either. But with Dark Souls 3 coming out next month and Destructoid’s Joe Parlock doing a video series of him Beating Souls bosses I decided to sit down and finish the game properly. And as I did last time I thought I’d give you all my thoughts on the experience.
In the end, I still agree with everything I wrote in the review. It never quite reaches “bad” territory, but it never gets past “unremarkable”. I’ll probably give it another go to get my Souls fix before I can get Bloodbourn and Dark Souls 3 (which I’m hoping I can do sometime next month), but this made me regret trading in both Dark and Demons Souls, as I truly believe they are better games all around.

Salt and Sanctuary Multiplayer Gameplay and Impressions


Ever since i beat Dark Souls (and made the stupid decision to trade it in) i’ve been looking for new games to fill the whole in my Hollowed Heart. Because of that Salt and Sanctuary has been on my radar for quite some time now. And once you look past the painfully awkward voice over here, i think you’ll see why. with the sole exception of the perspective shift this could almost be made by using a “find an replace” creative tool. But i’m okay with that. As much as i love the Souls games, i’d like to see more developers try their  hand at creating a similar experience as that brings new perspectives too each game. I’m still hoping someone eventually makes a Souls-like game with a non-western setting/mythology, but for now i’ll take what i can get.

Dark Souls 2 Review


By William Shelton

Release Date: March 11, 2014
Systems: PS3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PC
Developer: From Software
Rating: T
Metacrtic Score: 91

Dark Souls 2 is disappointing to the point that at first I thought it was just a bad game. It’s not, but the lack of creativity and passion here really diminishes the experience as a whole. Where the previous “Souls” games filled me with a sense of wonder and triumph as I marveled and slowly defeated their challenge, Dark Souls 2 only ever managed to keep me just entertained enough to keep playing.
The issues start right as the games begins with it’s over long and dull opening cinematic. As deep and interesting as Dark Souls lore can be, few would say the games story was it’s main draw. The original game got around this issue by focusing it’s opening on the games most interesting characters, showing some great tableaus (Nito holding the flame, Seath on the mountain of dead Dragons ect.) and most importantly, getting to the point with haste. Dark Souls 2 does none of this.
The stories first mistake is that it focuses on the single most uninteresting element it has: the player character. For all Dark Souls talk about “prophecies” and “chosen ones” it was always made clear that the player character was just another undead hopeful. Here, however, the entire first cinematic is dedicated to talking about you and your place in the game world while saying nothing of interest. No real lore is explained, no villains set up, no reason given as to why you’re headed to Drangleic, just “you’re undead, go here”. What’s worse is that this scene just drags on. It may only be about as long as the opening to the first game, but it feels so much longer as there’s so little of interest happening. In the end, I may not have cared about Dark Souls lore as I played, but I cared enough too look into it and find out what was really going on. Here I just don’t care.

What's going on? Trust me, you wont care.

What’s going on? Trust me, you wont care.

Gameplay wise things get better, but barely. In a lot of ways the game feels like classic Dark Souls with its tight controls and finely tuned combat, but the little changes all add up to a much less enjoyable experience. For example, there isn’t a shield in the early game, robbing players of any defensive options early on. This would be fine if the game was aiming for a more aggressive combat system like what From would go on to do with Bloodborne, but it’s not; the combat is still based around the slower and more defensive oriented system they had with the first two Souls games. Another ill-advised change was to the estus flask. You start the game with only one of the refillable life giving potions but a new consumable item, life gems, can be obtained and used in a pinch. However, these restore health so slowly that using them when you really need them (like in a boss battle) is functionally useless as you will rarely gain enough health in time to not be killed the next time you’re hit.

I beat this boss without getting hit and still didn't feel as accomplished as the first Dark Souls made me feel.

I beat this boss without getting hit and still didn’t feel as accomplished as the first Dark Souls made me feel.

The new death mechanic is also an interesting but flawed idea. Upon death, instead of losing half your life you lose a small portion. The more you die the more of your life that’s eaten away until you’re down to half health. This can be avoided by using a human effigy which brings you back to life and too full health. The issue is that early in the game they are too few and far between (you don’t gain them as you beat bosses anymore) and later they’re too abundant. Because of this, I had to beat early bosses with out taking a hit and latter bosses weren’t an issue as I had so many human effigy’s I could just keep using them to make sure I was at full health.

The new fast travel system eases back tracking but makes the world less interesting to explore

The new fast travel system eases back tracking but makes the world less interesting to explore

Fast travel has also been reworked for the worse. From the start of the game you can teleport between any bonfire you’ve lit. While this does ease some of the pain from needless back tracking, it also made the world much less fun to explore. Seeing how everything was connected in the original Dark Souls was always a delight in my opinion, but that’s sadly not present here. Worse yet, enemies will start disappearing as you kill them. This is meant to encourage players to move on instead of farming souls, but I couldn’t help feel that it just made the world feel that much more empty.
Yet all of that could be forgiven if not for one major flaw: the game simply isn’t as rewarding as the original. It’s not “easy”, don’t get me wrong. But as I overcame challenges I never felt the same high I did in Dark Souls. In the original game after nearly every boss I beat I took a second to congratulate myself and bask in my accomplishment. Here I just moved on with out a word. I never had that real “Hell yeah! I did it, I can do anything!” moment. This could be do to the over use of humanoid enemies. While there are still interesting foes and patterns to learn and recognize, having nearly every enemy be some kind of human both diminishes the threat as well as give the player a baseline for what to expect. I know I can beat a human in a fight, and I know how a human is supposed to behave, so seeing just another big dude standing in my way just doesn’t feel as threatening. However, I wouldn’t mind the dull enemies if it wasn’t for the absurd number of copy-and-paste boss fights. Several bosses from the first game make an appearance with only minor changes to their look to differentiate them from their original counterpart.
With all of that said, I still enjoyed most of my time with the game. I may not have celebrated my victories against the games bosses, but I never thought to my self “well that was a waste of time”. I may not have been patting myself on the back, but I was never itching to put the game down, either. In fact I may still go back to this.
Lastly the music is….completely unremarkable. I put the controller down just a few hours ago and I cannot remember a single song or vocal performance. I don’t recall hating anything, but it’s sad to see that there wasn’t anything as memorable as the Lord Gwen music.
In the end, the game reminds me a lot of “Bioshock 2”, not bad just needless and underwhelming. Because of this it’s hard to recommend this. If you haven’t played either for the first two Souls games you should play them first. You will enjoy the game, but you’ll enjoy the first two more. And if you have played one or both of the first Souls games, there’s not enough here to justify getting this game.

Score: 2/5

Another Dark Souls Up Date: I Just Beat The Game


A Little while back I made a post boasting about finally beating Ornstein and Smough for the first time. Well, now I’m back to say that I’ve joined the “I’ve Beaten Dark Souls” club. What a journey that was. Pretty much every boss between Seath the Scaleless and Bed of Chaos. Seath took me a few tries due to me not knowing what was causing me to get cursed and Bed of Chaos….nothing made me feel dumber than learning how to defeat that boss. I must have went at the damn thing 100 times thinking I had to find a way to climb up it. Gwen though, Gwen pissed me right the hell off. It seemed like no matter what I did he could just blow right through both my stamina and health, forcing me to attack with the last of my stamina and hoping he’d jump away long enough for it too recharge, which he never did. But i’ll be damned if I don’t feel like I could take on the entire world right now. I promise I wont flood you guys with this non-scenes now that I started NG+, but I feel good and thought I’d share.

Pointless Update: I Finally Beat Ornstein and Smough


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One of the hardest parts about trying to be semi-professional about this blog is how little i get too revisit some of the great games I’ve played. I haven’t been able to play much Shovel Knight after reviewing it and that was one of my favorite games from last year. Hell, i haven’t even gone back to “The Swindle” after reviewing it a couple of weeks ago. However, there are two games i’ve been forcing my self too keep playing because i just love them too death and i want too get as much out of them before moving on. Those games are Dark Souls and Fallout 3.
As the title suggests i just (as it, about five minuets ago from this writing) managed to beat the bosses Ornstein and Smough. I swear to god, these two were the biggest pains in the ass out of everything I’ve gone through so far. Everything else in the game felt fair and balanced save for these two. Not only was the fight hard, but my game kept getting invaded and i lost all my humanity so i couldn’t even bring some help into the fight to distract one of the assholes while i worked on killing the other. but after a very, Very, VERY long fight i managed to beat the both of them ON MY OWN. Any ways, i may do this again when something else cool happens.

16 Minutes of Dark Souls 3 Gameplay and Impressions


My Thoughts:

First off, sorry for the poor quality. I work with what i can get, and this is what i got.

Like i said in my trailer review, this seems way too much like Bloodborne, and that has me worried. I still think the game will be good, but i don’t want to see these two franchise become the Action-RPG version of “Modern Warfare” vs “Black Ops”, where the only real difference is the name of the game you’re playing. I want this too be good; more so than any game in recent memory. But from this all i can see is the beginning of a great franchise stagnating.

Dark Souls 3 trailer and Impressions


My Thoughts:

One of the major complaints about Dark Souls 2 was that the enemies were too humanoid. Due to the ubiquity of the criticism, i find it odd that nearly every enemy in this trailer is also humanoid. Maybe this was done in an attempt to not spoil anything, but i can’t help but feel that it only would have helped had From Software showed off some more interesting monster designs.

You know what else may have helped? If they remembered this was a Dark Souls game, and not Bloodborne. Now don’t get me wrong, Bloodborne is the first game i intend to get when i get a PS4, but one of the things that makes me want to play it so badly is that it isn’t the same game play as the Souls Games. So when i see a souls game with faster, more agile, Bloodborne style combat i begin to get worried. Things don’t get any better when you consider that Bloodborne came out this year an Dark Souls 3 is slated for an 2016 release. With these two games suffer the same fate as the Call of Duty franchise, yearly installments of nearly identical games with only a title to differentiate them? I hope not, but that is where this looks to be heading.

The Extra Credit Guys take on Dark Souls


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If you read my review for Dark Souls, then you know i haven beat the game yet. Well, i’ve been trying to fix this by playing the crap out of the game for the past few days (as of right now i’m at level 60 and am about to take on the Anor Londo boss) Well it seems that Daniel Floyd the voice from Extra Crdits is right there with me, and he and James Portnow (the shows writer) have gotten together and have started a new show: Side Quest. The point of the show? Beat Dark Souls. They look at the game form a design stand point as well, but the main point of the show is simply to see if they can get through the game. I meant to upload this when they uploaded the first time….but i got distracted. Today the uploaded the third and fourth episodes…and guess what i’ve got here….give the episodes a look, especially if you’ve wanted to get into the game but have been scared off by the games difficulty.

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Poor Mans Reviews: Dark Souls


Release Date: October 4, 2011
Systems: PS3. Xbox 360, PC
Developer: From Software
Rating: M
Metacrtic Score: 89

I had wanted to get this review up by the time “Bloodbourn” was released, but between getting the game and now I haven’t gotten very far. In fact, i’ve only managed to ring both bells of awakening twice with two character builds. This has given me a grasp on how the game play between classes differ, but some criticisms maybe the fault of my limited time with the game. I will try to point out where I think this may be an issue.

Story:
In the World of Lordran, the fires of life once buried bight, ushering in the Age of Fire. But now the fores are burning out, giving way to darkness and monsters. You play as an Undead who has been thrown in the “Undead Asylum” where you were put after your death in case you go “Hallowed” (undead who lose their mind). One you get out you learn that there is a prophecy that an undead will ring the two “bells of awakening” and you are swiftly taken to Lordran to fulfill it. Will you rekindle the fires, or simply stop them form going out just a bit longer?
The story here is very minimalist with little being told to you. Almost every character you meet is there to sell you something or upgrade your equipment, not to give you exposition. In fact, most of the exposition you get is brief and serves only to tell you head next.
The biggest issue I have with the games story is that there is actually a lot of lore to the world of Lordran, but I found none of it through the game itself. While the idea of shared knowledge is a huge part of the “Souls” series I don’t want to have to quit my game every time I want to learn some of the back story. While this doesn’t really take away from the game, I found this storytelling tactic to be not as effective as it was in “Half-life”, we’re you can learn most of the back story and gain a deeper understanding of the world by paying attention to the rest of the characters around you. In the end, the games story can have all the complexity of an early “Super Mario Bros.” game, but it’s up to you to decide if you want more out of the experience. The lore I found on line was interesting, but I don’t like not being able to learn it in game. I know that you can, but how to do that is left a mastery.

Story: 2.5/5

Like it’s predecessor, “Dark Souls” sells itself on difficulty. Until you can level up to the point of being overpowered for a give area each enemy encounter can be your last. Enemies are tough, deal massive damage and are often pretty smart, staying behind cover or throwing firebombs at you from a far while it’s team mates go in close for the kill. If you’re not paying attention you can go through all your Estus Flasks (the item used to regain health) and have to go back the a Bonfire to regain you health and Estus Flasks. But doing this also brings back all the enemies, save for bosses, forcing you to re-fight the enemies that forced you back to the bonfire. This forces you to think and take battles slowly. In the regards the action is more like a puzzle that what you’d find in your typical hack-and-slash game. But as you kill your foes, you gain souls, and souls have power. Souls are used to upgrade stats, upgrade weapons or repair broken ones or buying spells, miracles and pyromancy skills. But you can’t do all this at once.
As you upgrade skills and weapons the cost to upgrade them more increases, and in order to to gain spells and pyromancy you have to first find and save them, then make your way back to the first area to actually buy the stuff you want from them. And all the while, there are still plenty of enemies who want nothing more than to see you dead. The kicker? If you do die, you drop all the souls you were carrying forcing you to go back to the point where you died and retrieve them. But if you die before picking those souls back up, they’re gone for good. This has lead to a lot of frustrating moments when 10’s of thousands of souls were lost after one careless mistake.

gaping_dragon
The biggest difference between this game and it’s predecessor “Demons Souls” is the world itself. In the last game you were had to visit a shrine in the hub world in order to go to each of large but linear worlds the game had to offer. Here, once you ring the bells of awakening you are pretty much free to go where ever you want with out hesitation. What really makes this great is that there are plenty of short cuts that connect the world together. So may may spend about 10 hours getting somewhere only to find a short cut that leads back to and early starting area. However, some of these could have used a bit more planing. In my first play through I managed to skip the iconic “Gapping Dragon” boss fight that leads to Blight Town as I found a short cut there. Speaking of Blight Town, this is commonly agreed to be one of the hardest parts of the game (witch I agree with) and it’s the only time I ever saw the frame rate taking a dip. Every time I went, in both playthroughs, the frame rate began to slow down considerably. I don’t know about you, but when i’m knee deep in a poison swamp, with toxic spewing flies, fire breathing mutant mosquitoes and fat bolder throwing assholes swarming me, the last thing I want to fight is the frame rate.

dark-souls-magic_100801-1280x800
Another change I…don’t really know how I feel about…was to the change to the magic system. The last game functioned like most fantasy RPG’s with a mana system that can be refilled using potions. Here, you by a spell, like Soul Arrow, then you can use that spell a set number of times before having to go to a bonfire to refill them. This is both good and bad. It’s good because the game is based on close quarters combat, and this does make that something you have to get good at. At the same time though this does make the magic based classes nearly obsolete, because you wont be putting many points into things like “Strength”, and thus when you are out of magic you’re pretty much screwed. And say what you will about how playing as a sorcerer is the games “easy mode” (it kind of is, to be honest) I like playing as a magic user, and this infuriated me on my second playthrought. All in all, if you can deal with the slower and more difficult combat and many, many deaths, give this a look. The game play would be perfect if not for a few technical issues. Beating a boss in this game is one of the most satisfying experiences i’ve had scenes….playing “Demons Souls”, and I think you’ll have the same experience.

Game Play: 4.5/5

Music and Sound:

The few voice actors do their jobs well enough, but most of them souls half asleep. This could have been a reflection of the people being tired, beaten down by the decay of the world around you, or were they just not being paid enough to bring their A game? We may never know. Every things else works pretty well. The moans of the Hallowed, the roars of the Dragons, the slashes of swords on skin, it all sounds great.

Music and Sound:

4/5

Overall Score: 3.6/5

Who is this game for:
If you want a challenge, a puzzle, a more thought full approach to combat, this is something you should pick up. Or if you wanted to get Bloodbourn but can;t get a PS4, then give this a play or replay.