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Dark Souls

October 4, 2011
Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Violence

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review: March 3, 2013
Format Reviewed: PS3
Language / Country of Origin: English / Japan
Single- or Multi-Player: Single player with multiplayer elements
Online Capability: Players can leave notes for one another, view each other’s deaths, and enter each other’s games to aid or kill one another.
Series: Spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls (PS3, 2009)
Expansion Pack: Dark Souls: Prepare To Die
Equipment Needed: None needed beyond standard dual-stick controller.
Maintenance Required: None required.


The primordial world of Dark Souls was ruled by dragons. With the birth of fire, the dragons were driven from this world, and humanity took hold in the Age of Fire. The power of this ancient fire is beginning to wane, and the gathering darkness has created a legion of Undead who languish in growing insanity as the Hollow. You are the chosen Undead who has escaped from the Undead Asylum to make a pilgrimage to the kingdom of Lodran and rekindle the fire.

The player explores a dark and hostile fantasy world filled with grotesque monsters and dangerous eccentrics. Progress through the game is nonlinear, but exploration is simultaneously encouraged and punished in a sprawling environment littered with treasure, traps, and formidable bosses. Progress is hard-won, and mistakes are punished severely.

The souls of defeated enemies serve as the game’s currency, and they can be traded for character and equipment upgrades at the bonfires scattered throughout the environment. If the player dies, he or she resurrects at the nearest bonfire, but all of the slain enemies in the area resurrect as well. The player can recover the lost souls from the bloodstain marking his or her most recent death, but these souls are lost if the player dies en route to the bloodstain. Thus, the game’s most precious commodity is also its most precarious, giving the game a pervasive tension.

When the player dies, he or she becomes Hollow and cannot summon players for aid or be invaded by other players. The player can consume humanity to become Human, but this opens the player up to invasion by other players as well as assistance. Humanity can be acquired by assisting or killing other players.

Cultural / Historical Value:
Dark Souls has received critical acclaim for bringing uncompromising challenge back to a gaming industry that caters to a wider audience at the expense of the hardcore niche.

Teaching / Learning Characteristics:
Death is inevitable in such a difficult game, but it is never the end. Through skill, perseverance, and a willingness to learn from his or her many mistakes, the player can conquer every obstacle in this grim, uncompromising world. One must by wary of other players, but one must also rely on them to progress.

Replay Value:
Since the player’s character is highly customizable, the game can be replayed using a variety of character builds and techniques. The game can also be replayed in New Game Plus mode, in which the already considerable difficulty is increased to a nightmarish level.

Likely Audiences:
Hardcore gamers who like a challenge.

Overall Score:

Other Reviews:

About the Author:
Brendan Themes is human-computer interaction designer who lives in St. Paul, MN. He enjoys playing games and making music.


Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2011Best RPG Nominee
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Best RPG Nominee
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Top Gaming Moment
(Beating Ornstein & Smough)
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Ultimate Game of the Year Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012Online - Multiplayer Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012Strategy Nominee

Additional Info

ESRB Description:
Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Violence



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