Dark Souls Gameplay is Terrifyingly Refreshing
A New Spin with an Old Feel
The Dark Souls gameplay is uniquely From Software's own flare. Yet I cannot help thinking of it as a more brutal version of Zelda's game mechanics at times. For anyone unfamiliar with this masterpiece of a game, Dark Souls is the underground blockbuster of From Software. It is by far the best RPG I have ever played, and maybe one of the most addictive games I have ever played as well.
I have literally dumped over a 100 hours into this game so far and there is no end in sight for me! To give you fair warning before you buy this game, make sure you enjoy a good challenge. The games motto is "Prepare to Die" after all. Which should tell you a thing or two about what you are getting involved with here.
The thing I really love about this game is that no matter how powerful you get, even the weakest enemies can still take you down if you are not careful. They cannot take you down in the sense that they level up with you, scaling with your own growing power, rather they can take you down in a much more realistic and very gritty sense. After all, you are only one human right? I guess in the Dark Souls gameplay you are actually Undead most of the time, but you catch my meaning.
So let's get into the thick of it.
Essential Elements of Dark Souls Gameplay
The first thing that becomes very clear is that you are not going to be told anything of what to do in this game - only rarely are hints given to you that aid your progress. As you battle your first monsters, pay attention to the currency you get every time you kill something. These things are called souls, souls are both money as well as your experience points.
This is really important to recognize early in the game. The only way you can level up is by resting at safe points in the game known as Bonfires. You use a certain amount of souls to gain your level with each level costing more and more souls to attain. The thing is, you also use these souls to buy arrows, armor, weapons and special online play items.
(By the way, I highly recommend playing this game with an Xbox Live Membership. The Dark Souls gameplay is uniquely reliant on assuming you are playing online. If you are still pondering whether it is worth playing games online, check out this article on why Microsoft's Xbox Live is worth it.)
The most important thing to realize about souls is that you can lose them by dying. Every time you die, you will have to run back to your corpse to recollect all of your lost experience and humanity. By the way, the monsters have all regenerated. If you die again, that corpse with all of its goodies is gone forever. Good luck! Hope you make it...
Humanity is the next marker to learn in Dark Souls. Basically what Humanity is are these small black sprites you can collect that allows you to reverse the Hollowing process. Being a Hollow basically means you are Undead, which means you cannot summon other players to aid you in combat and you will find less treasures through your gameplay.
Having Humanity will allow you to kindle your Bonfires and increase the amount of Estus Flasks you can equip with your character as well. These are pretty important as they are one of the few items that can heal your health. Something you will likely be using a lot.
Also when you are in Human form, not only can you summon other players online to battle the bosses with you, but you can also be invaded by other players. This adds an intriguing element of PVP (Player Versus Player) to the game that has surprised me more than once - often while I am surrounded by other non-PVP monsters that are having a field day with me.
Combat is really where the Dark Souls gameplay shines.
In so many RPGs, combat is almost always the most boring part. If it is not boring, then it gets old incredibly fast. With this game, you will constantly be rolling, dodging, timing your attacks just right and attempting to sneak up behind your foes to do a quick backstab. You will become a master of evading, be careful... play this game successfully for too long you will find yourself having a dramatic increase in hand-eye coordination. It happened to me and it could happen to you.
You will want to be careful with what kind of armor you wear since mobility is so important in combat. The heavier armor you have, the slower you will be. If it is too heavy you will not be able to roll or later do the cool ninja somersaults. You can increase the amount of armor you can hold while still being able to roll as you level up of course, but that means sacrificing precious points into purely one stat - no worries though because the particular stat that governs this is Endurance.
The two most important stats for your character in the Dark Souls gameplay mechanics would have to be Endurance and Vitality. Endurance, like I said before, controls how much weight you can wear and still maneuver rapidly doing rolls and somersaults. The other thing Endurance does is increase your Fatigue - an extremely important thing to have. The more Fatigue you have, the more hits you will be able to do on the enemy as well as the more damage you can take. When you block in this game and an enemy hits you, it actually drains your fatigue but if you ever run out of fatigue you will break and the hit will damage your health. Often a hit that is landed on a character without any Fatigue left will stun him for a second as well. In a game so heavily based on good timing, a single second is the difference between life and death.
The second statistic that is extremely important - and you probably guessed what it does - is Vitality. Vitality controls how much health or hit points you have for your character. Do not be unmotivated by how little your HP increases with every point added into Vitality - it all adds up and greatly helps.
With these few essentials, I believe you will have a good head start on surviving inside of the Dark Souls gameplay mechanics. A word to the wise - magic is extremely PVE (Player Versus Environment) friendly in this game. Also, make sure you are playing online because you will be able to summon other players to your aid, take part in the joys of being invaded by another player, as well as read/leave messages that can either by helpful hints or deceiving messages left by other players. It is all good clean fun.
Out of all the games I have played, the Dark Souls gameplay is one of the most fun times I have ever had. If you have yet to get this game, I highly recommend buying From Software's Dark Souls today and treat yourself to its frustratingly hard and rewarding gameplay.