“Dark Souls’ grand heresy against prevailing games industry wisdom is the idea that, if you want to be rewarded in this game, you are going to have to do something worthy of reward. 2011 has been the year in which many developers have found riches in creating game experiences that challenge us not to excel but rather to mindlessly persevere. Increase the abilities of your avatar by simply playing the game every day and you will eventually prevail, they say.
Dark Souls, by contrast, is a game in which you must improve yourself before progress can be won. In that sense it is as orthodox as the earliest arcade games and yet, in sticking fast to this fundamental, feels like the freshest game of the year. It’s a game that asks you to look before you leap, to learn enemy attack patterns before launching your own offensives, to observe.
And in its tall challenge, many of the greatest thrills in the medium are to be found. It’s a game to create an oral tradition, players sharing stories about the time they felled the twin gargoyles on the chapel roof, or when they were cursed by a bug-eyed newt in the sewer and had to fight their way out with a broken health gauge. It’s a game that encourages players to share tips in excited whispers around water coolers and on gaming forums, the kind of game that creates an unspoken connection and understanding between two veterans when they meet for the very first time. ‘You made it through Dark Souls? Sit with me, friend.’
It is a game that brazenly proves game design fashions are just that; transient, fleeting trends that, in attempting to lay down a set of rules only throw down a new challenge for how things might be done. No video game released this Christmas runs contrary to prevailing fashion as hard or fast as Dark Souls. And no video game is quite so exciting or exhilarating.”
- Simon Parkin, Daily Telegraph
[Belting journalism .. and right on the money!]