With the current release of Bloodborne on the ps4, I wanna take a second out talk about my love for the past games and what got us to this point. The souls games have been such a staple in the last generation of consoles me. So let me take you through the past games and why me and so many other have such of an infatuation with this series.
Back in 09 I recall a time at my best friends house scrolling through a popular video game website. My friend told me that I had to check out a video of his up and coming game. That game was Demon’s Souls. His description of the game was that this is suppose to be one of the hardest game on the ps3. From Software was making it with the backing of Sony first party. When the game launched we both picked up a copy and jumped into the world of the souls.
Demon’s Souls was such a fresh and painfully unique experience compared to anything on the market at the time. I remember exchanging texts with my friend or hooking up on Skype on our phones, spending late nights chatting about our progress and the mystique that all souls games posses. One of the most stand out mechanics was the online mechanics. Players can leave messages on the ground for other players to see. Either helping you with useful knowledge or just straight up trolling you with bad advice. Also the ability to summon up to two other online players to help you with the punishing boss fights that lay ahead. The opposite edge of the summon feature was the ability to invade other peoples worlds/games. Though I never got into this feature, many time I would be on a roll and be invaded myself. You have to kill or be killed to banish the other player or face the loss of your souls that you have collected on that run.
I have a great respect for this game, bar to none. The challenge of the simplest enemy that can kill you at any time if your game is off, the game demands the up most attention and respect. The game featured a safe place called the Nexus where you can port out to levels, ie 1-1 or 2-1. This was a throw back to the old styles of NES games in a sense. I love me a horror game or two for sure, but no game offered the amount of dread I felt, as crept forward with my shield up at all times. The penalty of losing all you gained in a matter of seconds was brilliant, and the now traditional mechanic of only have one shot to reclaim your souls where you left them rounds off the genius of the games design. It may be hard to go back to this game now, but there is no doubt this game is a game changer for modern game design. For that I salute you Demon’s Souls.
Two years later From Software released Dark Souls under the publishing support of Bandai Namco. The name was changed due to rights that Sony held on the name, but thankfully they stuck to their guns and delivered. Dark Souls has to be one of my top 5 games of the last generation for sure. Like its predecessor it plays exactly the same in all respects with way more features. Dark Souls features an open world design in some respects compared to the past game where it had a hub world that you warped out to levels. You are in the world and anything you can see in the background you will eventually visit. The nexus was scraped as I just mentioned and replaced with the bonfires acting as checkpoints. Bonfire offer the player some sort of safety and the ability to upgrade and replenish on health, The new item called the estus flask was added for the healing item instead of in the first game you would heal yourself with grass, lol i know, and have to grind to find more if you ran out. With the flask every stop at the bonfire refills your flask.
The beauty of Dark souls is in the art and design of the massive world. With the grim castle feel to the beautiful bright forest areas. The change from the standard grey color pallet that the previous game used pays off here big time. The same multiplayer functions were kept exactly in place and always added that extra tension to the game, please dont invade me right now. The npcs were more scattered about the world and offered you tons of goodies if you didn’t kill them by accident. The addition of joining a covenant by making an oath with an NPC, who is also often the covenant leader. You are rewarded for following the rules of the covenant and punished if you break them added a whole new dynamic to the online. You can always have the option to kill a Npc and they might have a good drop for you. The game is heavily based on stats, and the complication of what does what might have turned some people off right from the get go.
The beauty with all of the souls games is that these games are community driven experiences. The first couple weeks to a month these are some of the most enjoyable experiences from a gaming community perspective. You live and learn together and the constant chats and forum threads about peoples experience can drive the game to the next level. The farther you progress in this game the more you realize the brilliance of its art and design. The later game rewards you with the ability to fast travel from bonfires and upgrading high level gear. New game plus is a staple in the series too. This was the first souls game I took a second crack at. Dark Souls scales the enemies so that you can always have a challenge ahead of you. This is hallmark of the franchise and anyone with an interest should give it a shot.
Three years after the release of dark souls then squeal came out on most of the platforms for once. The game launched with the critic reception of a great game but no Dark Souls. This was mostly because of the addition of more helpful items and features to the game. The ability to fast travel straight form the start is great in my opinion. Also Dark Souls 2 added way more boss fights and mini boss fights, which some claimed was too easy. I have to agree from my perspective beating some bosses in one go did take away from the lure of the series, but also made me feel like had advanced as an overall souls player. The game still featured an open world feel but had a safe zone where all your npcs that you collected on your journey would help you upgrade your gear and such. Some say that this feature took away from the feeling that Dark Souls had. In Dark Souls you were just on a mission always trying to progress forward. In the second you could just zip to and from where you wanted with the fast travel system.
The sense of dread I once felt in the first game seemed to wear off by this point. The first dark souls did for sure offer that sense of suspense. Maybe it was just because I was so use to the formula and what had to be done, that being on my guard was just natural to me. The one main addition some people might not even know about this game was the new game plus features a whole new set of enemies not seen in the first run. I remember firing up a new game and running in only be attacked right off the bat by an enemy I have never encounter. I was simply blown away with that. The rest of game was peppered with harder enemies spread out in place. And npc phantoms roaming places that I was at least expecting them to be. To me Dark Souls 2 is a fantastic experience, once that I played twice and will do so with the re release on ps4 on my birthday next month. Packed with 3 dlc packs, addition of new gear and npcs it is worth it for anyone to check out.
Now. I haven’t completed this game, we are less then a week in here and I am still grinding away in my adventure in Bloodborne. This game made me think to myself why do I love this series so much, and maybe I should write about the previous games and why they mean so much to me as a fan. I have to admit I was super skeptical at the release of Bloddborne. The look and feel of the game is nothing like the series has had before. The three previous games have high fantasy feel to them, knights and dragons mixed in with a little demons and death. Where as bloodborne is a straight Victorian Gothic depressing mess of blood, in a good way. The game is dark and only gets darker, there is no light and bright areas that I have experienced so far. The enemies are constantly growing and seem to get stronger as the game goes on.
The one main difference is the loss of the shield and the addition of the gun in the left hand. In the previous game I was a shield and sword guy all the way, where as high level players were always rocking one handed weapons with a fast moving player build. This new addition adds more an action element to the game and makes players get in and get dirty or be punished. Bloodborne is 100 percent a souls game in ever respect, the only difference is name changes that are in place to all the stats and items. Instead of souls to collect for currency we have blood echos… and so on. It did feel off at first but now am truly emerged in the experience. All I think about when I am not playing these games is where and what to do next, I just want to get in there and get me some more of it. That my friends is the soul hook… More to come on this game soon.
Praise the Sun.