10 Questions about Dark Souls Answered

Dark Souls (Xbox 360)

I thought I knew a lot about From Software’s critically acclaimed RPG before actually playing it, but that certainly wasn’t the case. Since there might be some people in the same situation, I decided to write a comprehensive guide with some questions that came up either before or during my playthrough of the game that might help you decided if this game’s for you or not. I purposely avoided any sort of spoilers or specific references to the game so that you can start playing without a lot of information in your head which is kind of how you should start.

Is the game really that difficult?

There are many words I can use to describe Dark Souls, but difficult isn’t one of them. The game can be demanding and challenging (since it’s constantly testing your skills,) but believe it or not it isn’t that difficult. Everything about Dark Souls is intimidating at first, but once you’ve played the first few hours of the game without quitting, you’ll be there for good. And once you start beating some of the most menacing bosses, you’ll feel an amazing sense of reward and satisfaction. You’ve heard this thousands of times, but this is a fair game and if you die, it’s probably your fault.

How long does the campaign take?

This question is really hard to answer because it varies from player to player. It depends on how long it takes you to master the game’s mechanics and how many times you die. According to How Long to Beat, completing the main campaign should take you around 50 hours and add 20 hours if you want to explore every nook and cranny and find all the extra content. Personally, I can say that it took me around 50 hours to reach the final boss, so I guess it checks out. Of course, speedrunners can complete this game in a matter of minutes, so there’s also that.

Should I play Demon’s Souls before Dark Souls?

You’re probably asking the wrong person, since I haven’t played Demon’s Souls (even though I really want to.) According to what I’ve read, you can play Demon’s Souls first if you want, but you don’t have to. Although both titles have been developed by the same team and Dark Souls definitely reuses a lot of the same mechanics introduced by Demon’s Souls, there’s nothing in the story that prevents you from playing those games in the order you want. Also, most people who have played both say that Dark Souls is a much more accessible title.

Demon's Souls

Which version should I get?

I played the game on the Xbox 360 and I have few complaints about it. There were specific parts where the game suffered from noticeable slowdowns, but I could still play just fine. Still, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for the PC is probably the version to get, since it comes with new bosses, new areas, new NPCs and new armor and equipment. Also, PC ports are usually better from a technical perspective. If that’s not an option, either the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are fine, but you wouldn’t be getting the extra content.

Is there anything specific I should know before playing Dark Souls?

I think this is one of those rare cases where the less you know, the better. The ubiquity of Dark Souls is almost inescapable, so if you like video games but you haven’t read or watched anything about it, try to keep it that way for as long as you can, even when you’re playing the game. There’s nothing as satisfying as finding the perfect strategy to defeat a boss on your own or finding a glitch or a trick by yourself. That’s definitely part of the experience.

Is it true that there are no maps in this game?

Yep, that’s true and the best part about it is that you’ll just miss that for the first few hours and then you’ll get used to exploring the environments on your own. Not having a map seems severe at first, but the Souls series has always been about not holding your hand and showing you that what seems impossible is in fact possible. Also, you’ll reach a point in this game where you’ll make entire maps on your head.

Dark Souls - Taurus Demon

I don’t get it, why do people play a game like this?

In an era where pretty much every single game that comes out (particularly AAA titles) holds your hand from beginning to end, Dark Souls is a breath of fresh air, not only for the action-RPG genre, but also to the medium in general. This is a game that presents a scenario that seems impossible at first (usually in the form of bosses,) but let me tell you, when you overcome those obstacles, you’ll jump from your chair, you’ll chant and you’ll feel like victory was achieved.

I get frustrated easily, should I still play this game?

I get frustrated easily as well and that didn’t prevent me from loving this game. I’m not going to lie, there were instances where I was trapped in that cycle of dying over and over and I wanted to quit the game and play something else, but the game always gave me the tools to deal with what was in front of me. I persevered and I’m glad I did because this game has the potential to become a personal favorite.

I’ve already played Dark Souls do you have more recommendations of similar games?

Absolutely, I actually worked on a top ten article that focuses on some of the best games that are similar to Dark Souls, so feel free to check it out. Make sure you read the description for each one, since some of them are similar in tone, but the mechanics are much simpler, for instance.

Kingdoms of Amalur - Reckoning

I’m sold, do you have any advice before I start playing?

I have a couple actually. You can check out this article I wrote recently about some tips and tricks before playing the game. Also, don’t forget to praise the sun. Don’t worry, it’ll make sense soon…