Let me be upfront here. While I’ve always admired the Souls series for it’s gameplay, I’ve never really been very good at them, despite the game’s design being based around making you a better player by learning from your many failures. Nevertheless, despite the punishment, I’ve still come away from Dark Souls III feeling impressed.
Starting up the Dark Souls III demo, I had a choice of classes to play from, with some classes having quicker weapons or a focus on magic attacks. I stuck with what I’m used to and went for the Knight for the sword and shield combo. I knew the only way I stood a chance of completing the demo was behind a trusty shield. I only had 20 minutes to navigate through a castle to reach and defeat the boss (ha!), which for me, sounded like a tall order. I’m a very cautious player when it comes to Souls games, I like to take my time investigating every nook and cranny looking for items and any enemies lying in wait to take me out. As I progressed through the castle, there came a point where a dragon swooped down, scorching the enemies in my path. The path split at this point though when I went in the other direction, thinking it was out of the dragon’s gaze, it still threw it’s fire breath in my direction. Luckily, the dragon ended up taking out all the enemies in my path and with a timed dash, I made it through to the other side unscathed. Unfortunately, I died a few moments later after a Knight enemy took me out.
One thing I noticed is that you can seemingly tell which enemies are going to be tough by their behavior rather than their looks. You’ll take on enemies that just lunge at you but aren’t too much trouble to fight off. When I fought the aforementioned Knight however, it walked slowly and proudly into my view, knowing it meant business. It was a tricky opponent as it was quite fierce and relentless in its attacks, keeping me playing defensive with few opportunities to strike myself. While I died on my first attempt, I was successful on my second and frustratingly found a bonfire where I could save my progress just past where the Knight awaited me. Moving around and combat seems faster than it did in its predecessors. It’s certainly not as fast as I found Bloodborne to be and the two still handle very differently. I don’t quite feel the weight of my heavy armour as I’m rolling around for my life anymore but each strike I deal and receive still feels like it packs a punch.
After navigating through the castle’s multiple paths and taking out a huge mutant slime monster by literally killing it with fire, I eventually reached the courtyard leading to the hall where the boss was located. To my horror, I saw it was being patrolled by several of the Knight enemies I encountered earlier. Knowing I was quickly running out of time, I tried to make a dash to the boss but I was caught by one of the Knights and ended up dead on the floor. I had run out of time on my way back to the courtyard and my time with the demo ended there. The tweaks to the Dark Souls formula seem small but all together add up to something I think will feel familiar to returning players but also offer a more accessible experience to those who are new to the series.