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A Game Series With Soul

Dark+Souls+3+was+released+on+April+12th.
Dark Souls 3 was released on April 12th.

Dark Souls 3 was released on April 12th.

Dark Souls 3 was released on April 12th.

Dawson Burden, Editor

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The Souls Series is nowadays one of the most popular game series for those that are fans of role playing games (RPGs). The “Souls Saga” encapsulates Demon’s Souls (2009), Dark Souls (2011), Dark Souls 2 (2014), Bloodborne (2015), and the upcoming Dark Souls 3 (2016). All of these titles boast worlds rich in Lore, Dark themes, interesting characters, and satisfying victories. However, the reasons for these victories being so satisfying is exactly what shuts many out of the franchise.

Despite the series being well known by most who keep up with gaming circles, many are scared of putting forth any amount of time or funds to it. This is because the series most infamous call to fame is it’s difficulty. Here, an example may be in order.

Picture your average RPG. They may devote an entire third of the game guiding your hand, teaching you the ins and outs of every mechanic, until it feels you are truly ready to take on the task before you. Whereas  Dark Souls is content to give you the controls, and quite literally drop a skyscraper-sized demon on top of you to slay. Or, most games give quest markers in order for you to know where you are going. Dark Souls is absolutely happy to let you bash your heads against the Army of the Undead not 30 feet away from the starting area that you are supposed to take on in the middle of the game.

Now do not take this as the game being unfair to the player. For the boss fight previously mentioned, you are expected to read the message left  at the front of the door to tell you that you are meant to escape the demon at first, and then come back with the gear you selected to start with. Likewise, a non-player character (NPC) warns you about the graveyard, and points you in the right direction, but only if you speak to him. While yes, you do die in only a few strikes to most enemies, the game gives dozens of ways to avoid attacks, until you can find armor stronger than tin foil. It is not as though it expects every player to be a god, (it still expects you to die quite often, the motif of the game lends itself  to learning from your mistakes), the game only truly demands that you pay absolute attention. I cannot name how many times even in games I love like Skyrim and Final Fantasy I’ve entered a sort of “auto pilot”, knowing exactly how to win at all times and thus only repeating the same things to achieve victory, my brain was not strategizing, I only used it to form a checklist “Spell, spell, swing-swing-swing.”

One of the most amazing, yet often polarizing aspects of the Souls games, is how they handle Multiplayer. Most games hold separate game modes, or “jump-in co-op,” so to speak. Most games’ multiplayer modes only truly hurt the story, feeling like a separate reality to the single player game. The multiplayer of the Souls games is not only heavily embedded in it’s story, but it is designed to be as seamless as possible without becoming unfair.

The player is given multiple items throughout the game related to multiplayer. In the case of Dark Souls, we will label this general item the “White Soapstone,” though its name is different in “Demon’s” and “Bloodborne,” the items there work by the same principle. When a player is having a rough time in an area, or against a boss, they can search for white signs left by other players. People who wish to help others through a fight whether it be for souls or out of the good of their hearts, leave signs with the Soapstone in order to be “pulled to the other player’s world.” This transition for the summoner is seamless, as a “phantom” of the person they summoned appears to aid in their battles for a short time.

Do not think it is all hugs and kisses, however. There are also those that look at other players as an opportunity for easy pickings. The only thing a player will see is that a “Dark Spirit” has invaded, but they have unwillingly been flung into player-versus-player combat (PvP), as the Dark Spirit now also resides somewhere in the level, ready to hunt you down.

The reason I previously said that this was polarizing is because of the people. Most newcomers to the series are already under enough pressure from the game itself. Now, we add people who have hundreds or thousands of hours invested into the game, building their skill, just coming along and ruining your day. In addition, the community can become quite toxic and elitist at times.  Do not take this as reasons to not play the Souls games yourself. The games contain multiple modes of play where you will never have to touch multiplayer.

In conclusion, I beseech to you, reader, that you not be afraid to try the Souls series. Yes, the game is difficult, the game does not baby you, and the multiplayer community may very well wipe the floor with you on your first playthroughs, but always keep this in mind: The game is built from the ground up for you to be able to learn from your mistakes, to be able to learn what is up ahead, and see every challenge before you and to be able to surmount it. With the newest game, Dark Souls 3, coming out April 12th for PS4, Xbox 1, and PC, I hope that some of you who may have been to worried about your ability, who though they would try it once and rage quit, will now give the series the chance it deserves.

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