Dark Souls is always a tall order. From Software’s series is difficult and demanding, as well as time consuming. We’ve had about a week with the game, but we’re not quite ready to give our verdict yet, so we wanted to give some impressions of the game so far.

Dark Souls was magnificent, thought its sequel less so. I ended up liking Dark Souls II once I was finished, but my initial review was quite negative, and I still agree with what I had to say. Bloodborne was excellent, but it was a divergence. Dark Souls III, then, is a return to form in many ways.

Looking simply at the game world itself, you have a much more interconnected and multi-layered map when compared to the relatively flat and segmented world of Dark Souls II. It’s not quite the honeycomb from Dark Souls, but it’s still packed with meaningful shortcuts that have the ability to change how you think about getting around the game world.

It has taken a few notes from Dark Souls II, though, opening a fast travel option right away and bringing back the hub area as well. The hub area, the Firelink Shrine, feels more alive than almost any place in the series, though. While it’s not exactly a tavern or something like that, it feels like a place people like your character are drawn to and end up interacting with one another. It makes it feel like maybe there’s a living world out there, rather than just a super cool amusement park to explore.

In that world, there are quite a few familiar, though not identical, environments – old castles, dilapidated towns, catacombs – but there are some great new ones as well, with a snowy medieval town being one of my favorites in the series so far.

The enemies, too, are a call back, but in a good way. Dark Souls II‘s roster of enemies was mostly just dudes in armor, but sometimes they were extra tall or extra shiny or something. Even only partway through Dark Souls III, I’m already seeing lots of truly discomforting monsters, things that make my skin crawl. I kill them fast because I’m scared of them touching me.

I have a lot more to play, but so far Dark Souls III seems to me something for fans of either of the first two games. The review should be ready later this week, so keep an eye out for it soon.

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