Why Dark Souls Could Win Game Of The Year 2011

Fancy a challenge…a real challenge? Well, if you haven’t done so already, go and grab yourselves a copy of Demon’s Souls, one of the most formidable RPGs that you’ll ever play. Though it wasn’t marketed particularly well outside of Japan in the lead up to launch, word did get around fast among the gaming community. As such, by the end of 2009 and into 2010, forums were buzzing with talk of Demon’s Souls' challenging yet incredibly rewarding gameplay and appealing dark fantasy aesthetic. In our own review, we praised From Software’s RPG for its compelling action combat and smooth integrated online multiplayer. PSU’s U.S. editor, Adam Dolge, summed up the Demon’s Souls experience perfectly when he wrote, “Be prepared for an exciting, brutal, and cruel action RPG experience unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed before.”

With Dark Souls, the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, due for release later this year — and with Namco Bandai steering the marketing wagon in North America and Europe — there’s no danger of anyone missing out on the marketing hype this time around. And with each droplet of information, and every screenshot and trailer we see, we’re getting more and more excited about its release.

If it does hope to grab a few Game Of The Year awards this year, Dark Souls is up against some tough opposition in the RPG genre. With the likes of the award-winning Mass Effect 2 debuting on PlayStation 3 in January and with Dragon Age II and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim coming up — not to mention big PC titles such as The Witcher 2 and Guild Wars 2 — it’s a tough genre to compete in. But Demon’s Souls was a great game, and Dark Souls already looks like it will offer something different to the others that could make it stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

This is where Dark Souls looks likely to excel…

An Appealing Game World Full Of Fantastical Beasts

The dark fantasy setting in Demon’s Souls was an enticing and dangerous place to explore, and Dark Souls looks even more ominous, yet appealing to any suicidal RPG enthusiast. Judging from screenshots and trailers, the game will offer an open-world steeped in both dark fantasy and high fantasy themes, with a heavier focus on exploration and rewards for having the guts to stray where angels fear to tread.

Furthermore, you can now seamlessly move from one area to the other completely free from load times. Any open-world game that doesn’t have load times always makes for a more immersive experience, so there’s high hope that Dark Souls will have that ability to suck you into its game world. The screenshots released so far show familiar RPG locales, such as forests and castles, brought to life with clever lighting effects and solid design, while the creature concept art showcases the creativity of the team at From Software incredibly well.

Dark Souls is a PlayStation 3 exclusive in Japan — and Demon's Souls was a proper exclusive — so there’s no doubt that it’s a game developed specifically to take advantage of the console’s hardware. We firmly expect the PS3 version to knock the socks off the Xbox 360 release.

Groundbreaking Online Features

Since the announcement of Dark Souls we’ve heard a lot about the “groundbreaking online experience” we can expect, but very little has actually been revealed. We know that they’ll be cooperative and competitive play with other players. We also know that the recently announced Beacons, which will also act as safe havens and respawn areas in the game, will come into play, run alongside and merge with the single-player experience.

Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki talks about a multiplayer component that distances itself from traditional multiplayer gameplay by offering some unique twists. We know, for example, that players will be able to leave messages for each other when they die, perhaps revealing the ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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  • Related game: Dark Souls

    Release date (US):
    October 4th, 2011
    From Software
    Role Playing Game - Fantasy
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    Up 0 places (in last 7 days)

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