Quick hands-on / Dark Souls

Played Demon’s Souls to death? Are you so crazy and bereft of social obligations that you think it’s easy? From Software has a fresh new fix of vicious challenge with merciless consequences for you in Dark Souls, its spiritual successor. And this time more people can get in on the fun, as it’s finding its way to the Xbox 360 as well.

The main setup is very similar to Demon’s Souls, and my brief time with it at E3 felt nearly identical to that game. Make your way through grim-feeling medieval fantasy realms killing off all kinds of vile vermin, but any time you die you’ll be sent all the way back to the start, with all once-dead enemies respawned just like you. It’s brutal, possibly even moreso than before.

It’s been a while since I played Demon’s Souls, but combat and movement feel exactly the same. Item management requires as much thought and precision as a swing of your sword or cast of your spell, and so a victory leaving you unscathed is as satisfying as ever before.

This time around there are camp fires, or more simply, check points. As you progress through a level, you can come across camp spots you can ignite, and from then on become your spawn point. An act of mercy, you might think, but a small one, as it turns out. I was told that each time you die, the enemies only get harder.

Not on display was the game’s “multiplayer,” which will allow for more players this time around. In the first game, another player could jump into your game and just completely sabotage all you’d worked toward. Now, you can call in reinforcements for that occasion, just adding to an already chaotic situation. Sounds absolutely mad, and thus true to the spirit of the first game.

There is still more to learn, like how the soul collecting system will work. It was actually not active in the demo at all, and the guide wasn’t able to give a concrete answer on the subject. But still, for those of you looking, this is more of that über difficult fantasy hack n’ slash you know and love, and it will arrive this October.

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