Dark Souls III
NOW 30 PER CENT LIGHTER
NOW PC, PS4, XBOX ONE ROM THE Doomladen opening to its final, nightmarish boss, Dark Souls III is an oppressive, grim experience that will see you butchered by harmless-looking trash mobs and crushed to bloody ruin by hulking, story-high behemoths. And Dark Souls fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
Risen from an ancient grave, you set out to hack and slash your way through Lothric, a dying land where humanity’s works have been reduced to ash and embers. Your aim is to defeat the Lords Of Cinder in an effort to restore the Flame Of Life. As ever with this series, the baffling lore is secondary to the struggle, whereby you gradually explore the city’s crumbling majesty while engaging in battles with a menagerie of unholy minions.
Souls’ particular brand of thirdperson combat has always been its biggest strength and this offers a keen evolution, with new character types, weapons and spells. The more flexible character creation opens the game up to varied play styles, although many of the more nuanced classes will only shine in the hands of seasoned players.
But while the challenge is significant, Dark Souls III isn’t nearly as tough as its infamous predecessors. And when difficulty is an integral part of the series’ appeal (integral even to the real-world mythology surrounding the games), that’s both a blessing and a curse.
It’s never easy, but it is more forgiving, making it more accessible to players who have been tempted by the series but deterred by its reputation. For instance, weapons now have Battle Arts: more powerful attacks made available when using a two-handed grip, making melee battles more akin to magical ones. These feel like a direct concession to newcomers, a kind of failsafe attack — ‘unleash in case of Yhorm Of The Profaned Capital’. Defeat major enemies and you’ll glow with the embers they leave behind, boosting both health and power.
Even the most skilled players will still die, frequently, and progression demands a fanatical memorisation of enemy positions, attack patterns, boss strategies and more. But the changes in Dark Souls III, while mechanical improvements of the overall game, seem to have placed the lure of a bigger audience above the army of masochistic loyalists that built the game’s legend. MATT KAMEN
Dual attack: Academy
Assassin and Herald Of White join forces to battle The Dancer Of
The Boreal Valley. Praising the sun in the medieval kingdom of Lothric. Telltale Games’ series
of spin-offs continues with everyone’s favourite urban samurai in the title role. Like Telltale’s original game, this is an interactive story, with bouts of gory violence interspersed with
tricky moral decisions that have
far-reaching consequences. Episodes 1 and 2 (of 3) are available now. Having re-released
Square Enix has skipped over and gone straight
to Initially under-appreciated, this instalment is actually one of the better ones, adopting
a more classical fantasy setting than
its immediate predecessors and blessed with a more coherent story. Not cheap at £14.99 but
with an easy 50 hours of gameplay to be had, is enormously rewarding.