GammaSquad Review: ‘Dark Souls III’ Is Ready To Kill You In Many, Many Ways

From Software has carved out a heck of a niche making tough action RPGs, and Dark Souls III has been eagerly anticipated by From’s growing fanbase. So has anything substantially changed, or are you just going to die a lot more?

Artistic Achievement

The first Souls game made for the current generation looks very, very pretty. Albeit also very, very brown and grey, since Lothric isn’t exactly a cheerful, colorful place. But you can see the filigree on every piece of armor as you’re getting stabbed to death by a knight, so it’s some pretty, pretty stuff. It also sounds good, although being a Souls game, it’s light on score, which is a good thing. Not that the score’s bad, it’s just they don’t call this game Bright Souls, so it can get a bit heavy after a while.


Let’s be honest here, From makes one type of game, the tough-as-nails action RPG, and they make it well. Aside from some tuning of the controls, some tweaking of a few systems, and so on, this game is like slipping into an iron maiden with fuzzy slippers on. That said, the loot system has been revamped; now everything you pick up is useful, instead of being designed for exactly one play-style or to do one job. You also now have a central hub to explore and build out with NPCs.


It’s almost like preaching to the choir, here; either you’ve already bought this game, or you’re never going to touch it. But while From isn’t interested in rocking the boat, there are some pretty intriguing changes for the better here. I will say these are minor changes we’re talking about. This game is still dense, bordering on obtuse in places; it still rewards exploring while simultaneously making that a bit harder of a task than most games. You’re still going to die a lot. There are still traps and level designs that funnel you toward tougher enemies while hiding useful loot along the way.

What’s changed, perhaps, is that From has spent a lot of time polishing every aspect of this game. They haven’t compromised a bit, of course, but the game feels more streamlined, making it easier to play, if not to win, encounters. Enemies and their attacks are easier to read, strategies are more comprehensible, the controls have a great feel, and the level design is rewarding to explore. The placement of bonfires is slightly more generous.

Some things that need changing, alas, haven’t. The camera can still get stuck and screw you over in a fight. Some of the animations are a bit off, and the game, despite feeling tough but fair most of the time, still has a few obtuse moments. Suffice to say completing every side quest is even more important than it’s ever been, and they can be hard to find.

That said, if there’s a problem beyond the mechanics here, it’s that From’s games are so rich with stuff, with enemies to strategize against and riddles to solve of the “Wait, what do I use this for?” variety, that it can be overwhelming. The game is so intense, right from the beginning, and never lets up, that by the time you crack just a little bit of it, you’re ready to play something else for a while. This game doesn’t need an easy mode, but it’s a game you creep through methodically, and there comes a point where you’d like to sprint occasionally.

Staying Power

You can easily spend 40 hours or more on one playthrough and not find anything; even the first sidequest you can uncover in Lothric is a convoluted trip. Expect to spend a ton of time playing this game.

Bullsh*t Factor

There is, of course, DLC on the way, but it’s hard to imagine where it even fits into this game. It’s so packed with stuff you might never finish.

Final Thoughts

Dark Souls III doesn’t push this particular semi-retro niche to any new or surprising places. But it’s so finely polished, and so tightly tuned, that even when you’re constantly dying, you’ll have a ton of fun doing it.

Verdict: Clear Your Calendar