Superb exploration and a finely balanced difficulty curve makes DS3 a series highlight.

User Rating: 10 | Dark Souls III PS4

What amazes me most about the Souls' games is how they are equally complex yet simple at the same time. Your goal is to simply fight from one bond fire to the next until you reach a boss fight. Yet the complexity comes from all the potential character builds and the vast array of weapons at your arsenal. In their first attempt to return to the any of the Souls' games it is clear From Software is in their groove. Dark Souls 3 is easily the most balanced game in the series offering a challenging but fair difficulty curve. Yet beyond just the challenge is a wealth of exploration and customization that makes this a highlight of the series.

I'll admit that the line between how difficult the game is and my natural abilities from being a series veteran starts to blur. However, you reach the first boss quite fast and he is a clear message to anyone playing that this game isn't going to be a cake walk. Once you get to Firelink you're back to normal with Andre ready to reinforce your weapons, the Fire Keeper ready to upgrade you stats, and Hand Maiden ready to sell you goods. Of course you'll need to defeat some enemies and collect souls for any of that stuff. Even in the first zone you warp to you'll start to encounter so quite tough enemies which you can try your luck on or come back to fight when you're stronger.

The highlight of this game is the incredibly clever level design. Each stage fair number of different paths to explore along with many little nooks and crannies. It is definitely worth taking a look around because there are items lying around everywhere. Many time you'll see items you can't yet reach and start searching for a way to get to them. What I find especially nice is besides options through each zone many times you have two or three zones to choose from. This is genius design because as the player if you find the zone you're in a little too difficult you can just try on of the other paths. Even many of the bosses are optional along you to decide if it is worth fighting them or to continue in another direction.

Until now I've usually found the boss fights to be the least appealing parts of the Dark Souls games. The first game had some really challenging boss battles that require very precise strategies while the second games bosses were more straight forward and a bit easier. However, this time I feel like From Software has hit that sweet spot somewhere in the middle. These boss fight will still challenge you to memorize simple patterns while also punishing greed or ill timed estus flasks. Yet I feel they offer a little more variety in the way you can approach the fights. What is particularly clever is how each fight has a second stage that triggers when the boss gets around half health. These second halves are much harder as they really force the player to stay alert and keep in rhythm.

Although first two Dark Souls game were really good this one really feels like From Software's crowning achievement. From the clever level design to an incredible balanced difficulty curve this game has it all. The amount of polish it takes to make the progression through such a challenging game seem so natural is incredible. Finally we have a series of bosses that although fiendishly clever feel do able with the right equipment and patience. Having scoured about every inch of the realm I'm quite impressed with the game clocked in at about 55 hours in length. If you new to the series this is a great place to start and for veterans you'll find more of what you love. Either way this is a must play action rpg for anyone that enjoys a good challenge.