Friday, July 5, 2013

Dark Souls: Fantastic Vistas

As I emphasized in the previous post Dark Souls is an electronic game that most closely emulates the feel of old school D&D.  It is simple yet contains a great deal of depth, the more effort you put into learning to control it and understanding the inner workings of its world the more you will benefit and the easier you can progress.  As a longtime DM I find the idea of not just mechanics, but basic gameplay that motivates the players to become more engaged with handling their characters but most especially learning about the world you've created to be a very fascinating and coveted concept.  One way Dark Souls approaches this is simply the scenery and setting and the gorgeous vistas you can reach if you simply pay attention.

Perhaps this Crow can take you somewhere new

Taking account of the world around you can be the single most valuable thing you do.  With a keen eye you may notice the hands grasping onto the railing signifiying the hidden enemies waiting for the moment you pass so that they may spring up behind you.  You may notice the slightly upraised plate that will send darts streaking across the air to impale you, and if you're particularly crafty you can lure enemies into taking the hit for you.  There are plenty of useful treasures you may notice on ledges below you can drop down to or show an area you had previously overlooked on the other side of a ravine.  Many times you may notice a suspicious outline that turns out to be a secret door, or a false tree blocking the path to a fun-gus filled corridor.

The panorama is for much more than ambushes, traps and treasure though.  The most incredible thing is the number of giant archdemons that are clearly visible if you simply take a moment to look up.  Even in the very beginning you need only look up to see the hefty demon waiting above you.  First in the introduction before the nearby sign tells you to run for it, later for the first boss demon waits above a crumbling tower poised to leap down on you.

Be sure to return the favor.

One of the biggest criticisms in Demon's Souls and often the initial quitting point was the bridge full of Dragons making strafing runs.  This makes a return in Dark Souls but it provides more warning than just the charred bodies in your wake.  If you take a look at the beautiful vista right after setting foot on the bridge by fan-favorite Solaire  you can actually witness the hellkite making its way towards the bridge to unleash fire and brimstone on the unsuspecting lot below.  If you're particularly crafty you may find a vantage point free from his flames to antagonize him with the death of a thousand arrows.

Simply put Dark Souls is a game that allows you to progress if you are cautious and rewards those who pay attention to their surroundings.  Those that do not will suffer the logical consequences of a dangerous world.  After all, if it wasn't dangerous where would be the adventure?  Just remember, some inhabitants are just as watchful as you.

Continue to part 4 here:

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