Demon Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls III – Metacritic Score: 89
In a three-way tie, these iconic action/RPGs helped revolutionize the genre itself thanks to their innovative gameplay, wonderful level design, punishing difficulty, and awe-inspiring bosses. Yet, each one is important for a very different reason as they all affect fans and the actual franchise itself in new and interesting ways. Despite having some problems, these titles were largely hailed by critics and fans alike with all three receiving a hefty 89% on Metacritic.
Released back in 2009, this PS3 exclusive by From Sofware took their experiences with previous dungeon crawler genre titles and fused them into a more modern, yet still brutally hard title. Demon Souls was a title that didn’t compromise its gameplay for the sake of difficulty, but instead found a unique balance between the two. Bosses and levels are exceptionally difficult, but never to the point where it was unfair to the players. It also introduced an interesting PvP mode that allowed players to not only invade, but become a literal boss at a certain section. While there was still a lot of refinement needed for the combat, exploration, and movement, this game helped lay the foundation for the rest of From Software’s catalog.
While Demon Souls was a cult classic among the gaming community, Dark Souls helped push this series into the mainstream. A critical success, Dark Souls was hailed for its fantastic level design and bosses which still stand as some of the best in the series. The world was interconnected, allowing a deeper sense of exploration and discovery among the community. From a narrative perspective, the story was incredibly cryptic which forced players to look for answers within the actual maps themselves. Notes, NPC dialogue, and art helped give the users clues about the world and it was an interesting way to tell a story that helped it stand out among the competition. However, Dark Souls claim to fame was the inventive and awe-inspiring boss battles that are still regarded as some of the best in not only the action/RPG genre but gaming itself.
The last entry in this iconic series, Dark Souls III delivered on what made the series fantastic while expanding upon the lore, character designs, and weapons that were laced throughout the world. Yet, it’s the refined combat and gameplay mechanics that made the third entry such a hit, as every aspect of the actual gameplay felt polished. Battles had a nice mix of defensive and aggressive play that allowed users of all playstyles to be viable for PvE combat. On the PvP side of things, Dark Souls III expanded upon the covenant system, while making it easier to locate and join a match. Even with a few small problems, namely some issues with the camera and underwhelming areas, Dark Souls III was a worthy send off for this franchise.