|Publisher(s)||JP From Software
NA Namco Bandai Games
EU Namco Bandai Games
AU Namco Bandai Partners
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
JP September 22, 2011
NA October 4, 2011
AU October 6, 2011
EU October 7, 2011
AU August 23, 2012
NA August 24, 2012
EU August 24, 2012
JP October 25, 2012
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, open world|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, online multiplayer|
|Media/distribution||Optical disc, download|
Dark Souls (ダークソウル Dāku Souru ) is an open world action role-playing video game developed and published for PlayStation 3 by From Software in Japan. It was published for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by Namco Bandai Games internationally. Previously referred to as Project Dark, it is the spiritual successor to Demon's Souls. It was released in Japan on September 22, 2011, on October 4 in North America, on October 6 in Australia and on October 7 in Europe of the same year. A PC version was released on August 24, 2012 which featured additional content and was labeled as the Prepare to Die edition. The additional content from the PC version was later released as downloadable content for both consoles in October 2012 labeled as the Artorias of the Abyss expansion.
The game takes place in the kingdom of Lordran, where the player character is an undead chosen to make pilgrimage. Dark Souls has a minimalistic plot and much of it is interpreted by the player on their journey. The difficulty level of the game cannot be adjusted and penalties upon death reinforce careful decision making by the player. The world is filled with weapons, armor, and items to assist the player as they progress. The game has online features where players can summon each other for help in defeating foes, or invade each other's world with the objective of killing each other.
Dark Souls was well received by critics and is known for its considerable difficulty, which has prompted much interest and discussion. In April 2013, From Software announced Dark Souls had sold more than 2.3 million copies. The PC version was the second most played Games for Windows Live title in 2012 based on unique users. Dark Souls II was announced in December 2012.
Gameplay consists of dungeon crawling in almost relentlessly hostile environments. Dark Souls takes place in a large and contiguous open world environment, with the player able to travel to and from areas and explore various available paths seamlessly, though certain prerequisites may have to be completed to unlock some areas. Bonfires are scattered throughout the world; these function as resting hubs and checkpoints for the player. Resting at a bonfire causes all normal enemies to respawn, but also fully restores the player's health and healing flasks, along with any equipped spells. The player can be in either "hollow" (undead) form or human form, and death in human form reverts the player to hollow form. In hollow form, the player is unable to kindle bonfires or summon help from other players; at the same time, players in hollow form cannot be invaded by other players. Death in either form results in the loss of all carried souls and humanity, both of which act as forms of currency in the world, though they are each used for different purposes. The player will then spawn at the bonfire last rested at, and has one chance to recollect the souls and humanity by reaching the location of their death; failing this, they are permanently lost. This is due to the mark being replaced by the new death.
Souls are awarded upon killing any enemy, other online players included, with the amount rewarded being proportional to the toughness of the enemy. Humanity is much rarer. Some enemies have higher chances of dropping humanity. Humanity also has several subtle effects on gameplay, such as increasing item discovery rate and buffing some of the player's resistances. Certain weapons also scale in damage considerably with the possession of humanity.
Dark Souls features an online mode which is active whenever the game is connected to the internet. The online mode adds numerous dynamic interactions between the individual players, including limited co-op and player versus player, within certain conditions. Communication between players is deliberately limited. If the player is in "party chat" on the 360, the game will be set to offline mode; on the other hand, private chat between two players at a time is allowed.
The online interactions can facilitate a great amount of PvP activity. Under certain conditions, one player can invade another player's world with the goal of killing the other player; if they succeed, they are sent home with a certain amount of souls and one point of humanity. Some areas of the game have been designated unofficial PvP hotspots by the community; in these areas, it is common to find hundreds of players either invading or waiting to be invaded in order to engage in 1v1 duels. Two elements of skill are generally involved in PvP: the dueling itself, which relies on reflexes and on-the-spot thinking, and the planning and development of the character build, which involves carefully engineering the character's stats to reap maximum benefits from a chosen configuration of armor and weapons.
Dark Souls has a minimalistic plot. Events and their significance are often implicit and left to player interpretation rather than fully shown or explained. Much of the story and lore of the world is given to the player through dialogue from characters within the world, item descriptions, or the scarce cutscenes. It is up to the player to put the pieces together.
In the founding of the universe, the Earth was unformed, covered in crags, and dragons held sole dominion over the world. However, The Lords of Fire along with the human race eventually came into existence for reasons long lost to time. From the Dark, which gained meaning in contrast to Light from the newly kindled flame, emerged four powerful entities—Nito, the first of the dead; the Witch of Izalith and her daughters of chaos; Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, and his faithful knights; and the furtive pygmy, so easily forgotten—who harnessed the Souls of Lords to combat the dragons, eventually overthrowing them and launching humanity and its new lordly gods into a golden era known as the Age of Fire. Many years later, however, the flames supporting the Age of Fire are fading. Along with this, humans become afflicted by a mysterious mark known as the Darksign, which brands them as nigh-immortal but decrepit-looking beings known as "Undead." Some Undead become insanely violent and are referred to as "Hollow."
The player character is an Undead, who has yet to become Hollow. The protagonist escapes from the northern Undead Asylum with the help of another Undead and learns of the prophecy concerning a chosen Undead who leaves the Undead Asylum in pilgrimage and rings the two Bells of Awakening in Lordran, the land of the ancient lords.
Once the character has rung the Bells of Awakening, one in the heights of the Undead Parish and the other far, far below in the poisonous swamp at the base of Blighttown, the gate leading to Sen's Fortress and Anor Londo is opened, and the Primordial Serpent Kingseeker Frampt is awoken. He tells the player that he or she is the Chosen Undead who must succeed Lord Gwyn and remove the affliction of the Darksign. It is implied that Frampt is very old and has awaited the protagonist's arrival for a very long time. To achieve this given task, the character must get the Lordvessel from the land of Anor Londo, a forsaken city bathed in sunlight. When the task is done, the character must obtain the four powerful Lord Souls: one from Seath the Scaleless, the proud dragon who betrayed his own out of deep anger over his lack of immortality; one from the Four Kings, ancient rulers of New Londo who fell to Dark and were banished to the Abyss; one from the Bed of Chaos, a mass of life and the source of all demons which was the result of the failed experiments of the Witch of Izalith to recreate the primeval Flame; and Gravelord Nito, the first of the dead.
If the player refrains from placing the Lordvessel on the altar, he can instead meet Darkstalker Kaathe in the Abyss, a different Primordial Serpent who opposes Frampt. After informing the player that he is a direct descendent of the pygmy, who obtained the Dark Soul, Kaathe will present the protagonist with a different path: to end the Age of Fire and "usher in the Age of Dark." Kaathe stated that Gwyn had wished to "avoid the course of nature," prolonged the Age of Fire, and in doing so branded Undead with the Darksign, which only caused suffering. In Linking the Fire, Gwyn sacrificed himself, becoming the Lord of Cinder. The Age of Dark will erase this curse. Kaathe implies that the prophecy of the Chosen Undead espoused by Frampt is a lie crafted by the gods to trick the player into sacrificing himself in order to prolong the tyranny of the old order of deities; indeed, Kaathe implies that the deity status of Gwyn et al. is only granted to them by the primordial Flame so long as it is kindled. After careful examination of the facts, it becomes apparent that both Frampt and Kaathe have been feeding the player half-truths in order to advance their own agendas. The player must come to his own conclusion regarding which path will save the world, and which will continue to condemn it.
After offering the four Lord Souls to the Lordvessel, with the help of either Frampt or Kaathe, the character must go on to defeat Gwyn. Once he has been slain, the player is given a vague choice which affects the ending. The player may choose to either sacrifice himself in order to re-kindle the Flame and prolong the rule of the existing order of deities or to let the Flame wither and die, ushering in the Age of Dark (or of Humanity as Kaathe would suggest), where the player character will become the "Lord of Dark."
|Official PlayStation Magazine (UK)||9/10|
|Official Xbox Magazine (UK)||9/10|
Dark Souls received critical acclaim. Famitsu gave the game a highly positive review, scoring it 37 out of 40, based on four scores of 9, 9, 9, and 10. One of the reviewers for Dark Souls described it as "a very hardcore dark-fantasy RPG" that is "role-playing right down to the roots," and stated that the "massive field map and powerful enemies serve to rev up both your sense of adventure and your sense of dread." Another reviewer stated that "the sheer happiness you get after the trial-and-error pays off and you overcome the challenge is absolutely impossible to replicate."
GameSpot scored Dark Souls a 9.5/10, complimenting almost every aspect. Much praise was given to the online system, as well as the sense of jubilation felt when conquering boss fights after numerous failed attempts. They also suggested that casual gamers may struggle to progress, whereas RPG enthusiasts will thrive on the difficulty.
IGN gave Dark Souls a 9.0/10, praising the well-thought out level design, variety, strong emphasis on online features, excessively dark tone and atmosphere and deep gameplay. They also noted that it is not a game that one can simply jump into and play for plain enjoyment. They went as far to say that it is not a game for the timid and that the game requires both skill and strategy almost all the time. While praising the extremely high difficulty, they stated that "there's a difference between punishing, and downright unfair."
Eurogamer gave Dark Souls 9/10, saying "If adventure is to surprise and mystify you and invite you to uncover the secrets of a forgotten world, then Dark Souls is a great adventure game. If entertainment is fun without failure and progress without pain, you'll have to find it somewhere else. But you'll be missing out on one of the best games of the year."
Writing for Slate, Michael Thomsen asked if a 100-hour video game was ever worthwhile, writing:
There is real beauty in Dark Souls. It reveals that life is more suffering than pleasure, more failure than success, and that even the momentary relief of achievement is wiped away by new levels of difficulty. It is also a testament to our persistence in the face of that suffering, and it offers the comfort of a community of other players all stuck in the same hellish quagmire. Those are good qualities. That is art. And you can get all of that from the first five hours of Dark Souls. The remaining 90 or so offer nothing but an increasingly nonsensical variation on that experience.
Jason Killingsworth wrote a response to Thomsen's review for Edge:
Thomsen mentions that we could use that 100 hours to train for a marathon. Dark Souls’ vertigo-inducing breadth makes it the gaming equivalent of a marathon...Reading War And Peace? Dark Souls immerses us in war, and lots of it. But it also lets us taste the most incredible peace – sublime moments of quiet interspersed between the violence like rests in a musical score...Taking a roadtrip from New York to Los Angeles and back again? Dark Souls invites us on a journey that makes the sights of middle America pale in comparison...invites us to criss-cross a world. To adore games is to be an insatiable wanderer. When I finished my long trek through Dark Souls, do you know what I did? I clicked on the New Game+ option and began all over again. And I didn’t look sheepishly at the clock on the wall to beg its permission.
Post-release, the game's director, Hidetaka Miyazaki, contemplated adding an easier difficulty level, saying: "Dark Souls is rather difficult and a number of people may hesitate to play. This fact is really sad to me and I am thinking about whether I should prepare another difficulty that everyone can complete or carefully send all gamers the messages behind our difficult games." Namco Bandai claimed Miyazaki's statement was mistranslated, and should have read "This fact is really sad to me and I am thinking about how to make everyone complete the game while maintaining the current difficulty and carefully send all gamers the messages behind it."
Namco Bandai’s yearly financial report stated that the game sold 1.19 million units in the United States and Europe by March 2012. From Software announced in April 2013 that the game had sold 2.37 million units worldwide.
Game Revolution gave Dark Souls the Community Choice Game of the Year award. IncGamers also gave it the "Game of the Year" award. Q-Games' Dylan Cuthbert and Double Fine Productions' Brad Muir chose Dark Souls as Game of the Year. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Eric L. Patterson chose it as Game of the Year. GameTrailers gave it the "Best Role-Playing Game" award, while also nominating it for the "Best Multiplayer Game", "Best Trailer" and "Game of the Year" awards. GameZone gave the game the "Best Action/Adventure" award and chose it as the runner-up for the "Best RPG" award.
The Daily Telegraph gave the game the "Best Integration of Online Features" award, and nominated it for the awards of "Best Director" (Hidetaka Miyazaki), "Best Level Design", "Best Sound Design", "Best Original Score" (Motoi Sakuraba), "Best Developer" (From Software), and "Game of the Year". TeamXbox gave it an honorable mention as the runner-up for the "Best RPG" award. 1UP.com gave it the "Most Rewarding Game" award. Game Informer gave it the award for "Best Boss Fight" (Sif). It also received the "Best Boss Fights" awards from GameSpot, including both the Editors' Choice and Readers' Choice awards. Famitsu gave it an Award of Excellence in its 2012 awards ceremony.
PC version 
Following the game's release, many gamers expressed their hope for a PC version. Namco Bandai administrator, Tony Shoupinou responded on their page that a PC version was possible, saying:
There is always possibilities to have games adapted on PC and the good news is that Dark Souls is not a 100% typical Console game so the adaptation is possible. Now to make things happen, let's say the demand has to be properly done. Someone to make a successful petition?
Damn you are amazing! I honestly wasn’t expecting such a massive support. My boss(es) even came to talk to me about this, after it exploded all around the world. If you wanted to have the attention of Namco Bandai Games, now you have it. The future is in your hands, and I hope you will keep supporting this. I make a personal objective to make sure every relevant person at Namco Bandai Games is in touch with this formidable effort.
The PC version of the game was confirmed on April 7, 2012 via the PC Action magazine. Re-branded as Prepare to Die Edition, it came out in August 2012 and featured new content, including bosses, enemies, equipment, and NPCs. The new content, titled Artorias of the Abyss, was released for consoles in October 2012 in the form of DLC. Soon after, it was announced that Dark Souls for PC would use Games for Windows – Live for online play and DRM, spurring fan backlash. However, the final release uses Steamworks as its DRM along with GFWL for online play for digital versions of the game.
The PC version of the game was released on August 23, 2012. While it had been known during the development process that From Software had been having difficulty with the port due to inexperience with PC as a platform, a hack to 'fix' the resolution cap was made shortly after release.
In GameSpy's review of the PC version, the port was referred to as "shabby", citing the game's limit of 30 frames per second, poor mouse and keyboard controls, and nonadjustable resolution, but the expanded content was praised, giving the game an overall favorable review. Eurogamer also commented on the quality of the port, stating: "Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition does not come with the technical options you would expect from a well-engineered PC game, because it's a port of a console game, and that's all From Software ever promised to deliver. Anyone who passes up Dark Souls for this reason is cutting off their nose to spite their neckbeard of a face."
- Jayson Napolitano (September 29, 2011). "Big names behind Dark Souls soundtrack". Retrieved September 29, 2011.
- "Face-Off: Dark Souls". Digital Foundry. October 5, 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- FromSoftware, Inc. (2012-10-25). "Dark Souls With Artorias Of The Abyss Edition - From Software". Darksouls.fromsoftware.jp. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- Anoop Gantayat (February 1, 2011). "Demon's Souls Followup Officially "Dark Souls"". andriasang. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Andy Robinson (February 4, 2011). "Dark Souls 'is not a sequel to Demon's Souls' - Dev". ComputerAndVideoGames.com. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
- Anoop Gantayat (May 11, 2011). "Dark Souls Arriving First in Japan". andriasang. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
- Pete Haas (September 19, 2012). "Dark Souls Artorias Of The Abyss DLC Release Date Announced For PS3 And Xbox 360". Cinema Blend. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- Jeff Bakalar, Scott Stein, Dan Ackerman (October 7, 2011). "Is Dark Souls too hard?". CNET.com. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
- Phillips, Tom (12 April 2013). "Dark Souls worldwide sales total 2.3 million". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Conditt, Jessica (2013-01-23). "Top Xbox Live, Arcade, Indie and Windows games of 2012". Joystiq. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
- "Dark Souls". Gamerankings. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "Dark Souls". Gamerankings. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "Dark Souls". Metacritic. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "Dark Souls". Metacritic. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "Dark Souls". GameStats. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "Dark Souls". GameStats. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- Welsh, Oli (2011-10-03). "Dark Souls Review • Page 1 • Reviews •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Gifford, Kevin (2011-09-14). "Japan Review Check: Dark Souls". 1UP.com. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
- Markovic, Denny (21 October 2011). "Dark Souls Review". PALGN. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Parkin, Simon (3 October 2011). "Dark Souls review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Developers' Games of 2011". Eurogamer. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- Patterson, Eric L. (December 19, 2011). "EGM’S BEST OF 2011: ERIC L. PATTERSON’S PICKS". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- "Community Choice Game of the Year". Game Revolution. December 23, 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Robertson, John (25 December 2011). "Game of the Year 2011: #1 - Dark Souls". IncGamers. United Kingdom. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Best Role-Playing Game". GameTrailers. December 28, 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Best of 2011:Best RPG". Games.cz. Tiscali. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- Splechta, Mike (December 29, 2011). "GameZone's Game of the Year Awards Day 3: Genre Awards". GameZone. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- Lord, Jesse (December 29, 2011). "TeamXbox Best RPG of 2011". TeamXbox. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Monster Hunter 3 G Takes Top Prize in Famitsu Awards". Anime News Network. 2012-04-18. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- Juba, Joe (December 30, 2011). "The 2011 RPG Of The Year Awards". Game Informer. p. 2. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "GameSpot's Best of 2011 Special Achievements". GameSpot. 30 December 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Plait, Phil. "Dark Souls review: Is a 100-hour video game ever worthwhile? - Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- "Opinion: Long live the long RPG | Features". Edge Online. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (2012-09-04). "Dark Souls director considering adding optional easy mode • News • PlayStation 3 •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (2012-09-07). "Dark Souls Easy Mode quote a mistranslation, apparently • News • PlayStation 3 •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- PS3 (2012-05-08). "Namco Bandai Touts Dark Souls Sales, Over 1.19 Million in US and Europe". Playstationlifestyle.net. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- "Dark Souls Worldwide Sales Exceed 2.3 Million Copies". GamingUnion.net. 2013-04-13. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
- "GameTrailers Game of the Year Awards 2011". GameTrailers. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Telegraph video game awards 2011". The Telegraph. 27 December 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "1UP's Best of 2011 Awards: Editors' Picks". 1UP.com. December 22, 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition". Steam. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
- "Dark Souls. Prepare to Die Edition". 1C-SoftClub. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
- Conditt, Jessica (2012-01-08). "Dark Souls admin suggests PC could happen with a petition". Joystiq. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- "Petition: Dark Souls for PC". 6 January 2012.
- Grayson, Nathan (January 13, 2012). "Dark Souls PC petition at nearly 70,000 signatures, Namco listening". PC Gamer. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- 07:51 PM (2012-04-12). "View Single Post - Dark Souls confirmed for PC, has new bosses". NeoGAF. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- "Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition coming to PC in August « GamingBolt.com: Video Game News, Reviews, Previews and Blog". Gamingbolt.com. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- Cullen, Johnny (May 31, 2012). "Dark Souls PC coming to Steam, consoles to get PC content". VG247. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Makuch, Eddie. "Gamers rallying against Dark Souls PC using Games for Windows Live". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- Purchese, Robert (2012-05-31). "Dark Souls PC for Steam, extra content for console • News • PC •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- "Dark Souls™: Prepare To Die™ Edition on Steam". Store.steampowered.com. 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- Escapist Magazine
- Modder Purportedly Fixes Dark Souls PC Resolution Limitations in 23 Minutes 
- Janicki, Stefan (September 30, 2012). "Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition Review". GameSpy. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- Stanton, Rich (2012-08-28). "Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition Review • Reviews • PC •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- "Dark Souls 2 announced - Video Game News, Videos and File Downloads for PC and Console Games at". Shacknews.com. Retrieved 2012-12-08.