With its beautiful areas, unique storytelling and intuitive yet always challenging gameplay, nothing, including its sequel, could or has come close to the original “Dark Souls”— until now.

“Dark Souls III” is the third and final installment of the “Dark Souls” series, and in many ways it equals and even outshines the original.

The environments of the game, like those of the original, are absolutely stunning. From high-walled castles, gorgeous cathedrals and sprawling towns to dark swamps and dreary forests, almost every area of the game shines in some way. Highlighting the game’s stellar design, all the areas connect in one way or another, even allowing the player to see previously ventured areas off in the distance while traveling through close-by locations.

Courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

In many different places the player will be tempted to pause and drink in the atmosphere, to see just how large the castle was and feel so insignificant in comparison. This feeling of insignificance and ever present dread is perfectly cultivated by this design and also the gameplay, which is also top-notch.

The trademark “Dark Souls” formula for gameplay, then, is fully present in this iteration. Players will die, and often, but each time they do they will learn valuable information on how to do better next time — whether it be beating that one enemy, or safely passing through that one room. The combat is also extremely solid, but does take a bit of getting used to, as it is a very different pace than most games provide.  

The existence of phantoms is also a very interesting mechanic, which is brought back from previous Souls games. If players are having trouble with a current area or boss, they can call in a friend to help them. This also comes with the danger of a random stranger coming into the game to try and kill the player, making for a great balance of risk-reward. Due to these factors and more, a steady hand and mind are both needed to see “Dark Souls III” through to its end.

Courtesy of Youtube User Machinima

In terms of story, the game is like its predecessors. The player is given a task, but has to perform it in darkness. Players never know the reason for their task, who these people are or where they come from.

Instead, players must piece the story together by reading item descriptions and paying close attention to the infinite amount of detail the game’s developers have invested. Entire YouTube channels and websites exist to piece together the story of this game, and one could spend hours upon hours theorizing what is really going on. The story does not require playthroughs of the previous games, but it certainly does help with this jig-saw puzzle process.

Finally, the game is massive, taking hours upon hours to complete. Playthrough lengths can range dramatically depending on whether optional areas and storylines are taken on or not. All told, the game has hundreds of hours of content, with four different endings to be uncovered.

Even after beating the game, it’s not over, because a “New Game +” option allows the player to start over at their current level with the enemies powered up to match.  

From beginning to end, “Dark Souls III” is a sequel that truly lives up to the original, and is fit for a fan of the series, or simply any gamer looking for a real challenge.

5/5