It’s getting late but I’m almost through the Irithyll Dungeon. The area’s considered one Dark Souls 3’s more challenging late game sequences most notably for its resident enemy, the jailkeepers, who can hurt you just by looking at you. I’ve unlocked most of the shortcuts, laid waste to the sleeping giant, even slaughtered dozens of nightmarish undead and some other bug-eyed worm monsters that may or may not be aggressive – I’ve learned to distrust everything in this game to stay alive.
My last challenge is a room of patrolling jailkeepers, so many goddamned jailkeepers. I’ve gotten good at luring them out one by one with a careful arrow to the face and am slowly picking apart their ranks. Suddenly my screen flickers for a frame and I feel my heart sink. A prompt on the screen warns me of what’s to come, “Dark phantom Dark Bluntz has invaded your world.” Shit. I’m embered and didn’t even know it which means I’m exposed to the online world who can suddenly jump into my game and try to kill me. Not only that, I’m going to be attacked by a guy who calls himself “Dark Bluntz.”
This is the unfriendly world of Dark Souls 3.
Dark Souls 3 represents the swan song of developer FromSoftware’s Souls series that began with the PS3’s Demon’s Souls back in 2009. This is the fifth entry into this obtuse franchise and represents perhaps the best combination of the all of the possible ingredients that have appeared in earlier series. Yes, the rechargeable Estus Flask is back after disappearing briefly in last year’s Bloodborne. You’ll revisit familiar sites like Anor Lando from Dark Souls 1 or talk once again with the Onion Knight Siegward. Shields matter again but parrying and mobility all still a viable play-style. Coop play is much more streamlined and intuitive than in previous games. Boss battles are as always epic in scale and now alter mid fight a la Bloodborne. The game can take dozens of hours to finish and there are multiple endings based on your actions. It’s arguably the best Souls game and the perfect send off to the franchise.
With that said, you can’t help but feel as though the franchise is running out of steam. We’ve partied too long and the sun is starting to come up. That’s to say it does feel tired to play – perhaps this is due to having a followup so quickly after Bloodborne last year. It’s almost fitting to revisit old settings like Anor Lando and (spoilers) see the helpful giant blacksmith now dead and rotting or the once opulent cathedral now in darkened ruins. The world is ending and as much so is the franchise itself. It’s time to move on from Dark Souls.
It’s the best of the best in regards to the franchise. Combat is fair, multiple play-styles are possible, the world is as dense as ever. If you’re fan or just curious about the franchise, this is the game to play.
What doesn’t work
FromSoftware nailed it but it’s time to close the book on Dark Souls. The series is getting stale and these talented developers should try to take on an original property.
Overall: Rent it
That is to say you should try it no matter what and if you’re a fan you should easily just buy it. We are ready though to see what FromSoftware takes on next and are pleased to see the Souls franchise end on a strong note.