Despite some disappointing PC port problems, the game below the surface remains amazing as it ever was.
- Heroes have a high mortality rate in Dark Souls.
- Excellent new content.
- New bosses are some of the best to date in the Souls series.
- Faster loading times and network features (summoning succeeds/fails faster)
- Obvious port will alienate newcomers. It does not make for a good first impression.
- Some control quirks.
- FPS problems still remain in certain areas such as Blighttown. However, New Londo seems to run smoothly now.
- Locked internal resolution, a PC-enthusiast has already made a custom patch for this that allows you to render Dark Souls at any resolution, however.
- Non-existent mouse support (see controls below)
Overview/Conclusion/The Only Thing You're Going To Read:
Dark Souls is an incredible game, not just in it's gameplay but in it's attitude. It could not be plainer that this is a game that simply doesn't care about your feelings. From the moment I launched the game I immediately was a little miffed that the game didn't launch in fullscreen and I had to turn on the option first. People asked, kicked, begged, and screamed for a PC version, and From grudgingly obliged. They couldn't care less how you actually feel about it, however. Thankfully, the gameplay of this port is still gloriously intact. I would recommend a gamepad, but it isn't necessary to enjoy the game.
I first want to address the issue of controls that everyone seems to be having. When you first start to play Dark Souls, you're hands will immediately fly to the WASD keys and you'll find they work just as intended. Then you'll move your mouse around and gasp in horror at the terrible camera manipulation of the mouse. But this isn't how the game is designed to be played. It actually works with a mouse-free WASD+IJKL setup that, after getting acquainted with it for an hour or so, works perfectly fine. If you've played the console version of the game you'll notice immediately control similarities. The right hand controls the right hand, and vice-versa.
Comparing my performance with keyboard versus gamepad input, I was able to perform at practically identical levels of skill. Movement and camera control will feel a little robotic when playing with WASD+IJKL, because it functions exactly the same as an 8-way DPAD. This matters very little in Dark Souls however due to the Lock-On nature of combat. A simple tap of the O key will lock the camera (notice how it's located right next to IJKL, the camera controls). Once the camera is locked, movement becomes much more natural and combat begins in true Souls fashion. The Spacebar is used for dodging, a perfectly sensible choice, although it will take some getting used to holding Space to sprint. But this is no different from pushing B to dodge and holding B to sprint on the 360 version.
I was actually able to do certain things on a keyboard I was unable to do on a gamepad. It's mainly nothing very important, but it's a snap to adjust the camera, move, and change which item I'm using all at the same time on a keyboard. You can't do this on the gamepad due to the fact that people generally only have two thumbs.
There is one bizarre foible about input I will complain about however, and it's that you have to push "START" for certain prompts and "A" for others. This isn't a problem in the 360 version because the A button worked for all of this. But for the PC version you sometimes have to push "A" and "START", which are "Q" and "Enter" respectively, separately for different prompts. Here's a perfect example: "Found item (press Q)" immediately afterwards "You got the key item. (press Enter)"
Where to begin? Dark Souls already ambushed console gamers with it's immensely enjoyable, challenging gameplay. Very little has changed in this PC edition, although there are some very welcome improvements. For one, you can now Warp to a huge list of Bonfires compared to console versions. This expedites traveling and really helps make quick trips to smithies when you need to upgrade weapons. A new PvP matchmaking system is implemented, accessible once you beat a certain boss in the new content areas.
Apart from that, I have noticed a few gameplay balance adjustments to items, weapons, and stats here and there, but nothing major.
And now we arrive neatly to the area that everyone is complaining about. I must say I'm more than a little embarrassed by the PC community at this point.
From Software never intended the game to be on PC, and only agreed to port it after a long slog of fan pleading. Then we complained about LIVE For Windows. Now we're complaining about internal resolution and 30 frames per second (Did you know cinema movies play at 24 frames per second?).
Technical views aside, From Software has a fantastic artistic style. Dark Souls immediately sets the tone and mood of each area, usually very grim and bleak. You are constantly reminded that you are alone, and just when on the brink of losing hope, you reach that next bonfire.
True PC gamers will have already installed the resolution-unlocker patch and be amazed by how incredible this game looks when rendered in true 1080p. The rest of them will sit and bemoan their ill fortune of blurry pixels and somehow try to claim that it's the only thing worth caring about in this game. Yes, by default the game will look blurry, but it's hardly unplayable. It's identical to the console versions, which is the spirit of this port.
Dark Souls audio is a bit hard to rate seeing as almost the entire game has no music, except for boss fights. The boss music is perfectly fitting, with a definite grim, medieval sounding theme, but you likely won't remember much of it. The sounds in the game are perfectly acceptable and do their job at letting you know what move the boss is using and what spell is being cast. Metal clangs on metal and slices flesh. Acid sizzles and lightning crackles and sparks through the air. It's not revolutionary and mind-bending but it never draws attention to itself either.