Way Back When
FromSoftware’s 2009 role-playing title Demon’s Souls was a surprise hit in the West, offering tough-as-nails combat and an endlessly enjoyable world filled with an abundance of secrets to find. It managed to sell well enough among genre enthusiasts to earn its niche cult status, but it sadly failed to engage mainstream audiences due to its lack of marketing and exclusive release on PlayStation 3. Knowing there was something special about what had been born with their first outing, though, FromSoftware returned to the concept once again and threw their whole weight into it. In doing so, the company birthed one of gaming’s most well-known titles and a subsequently prolific genre.
Unlike its predecessor, 2011’s Dark Souls received substantial marketing and multi-platform release that allowed it to showcase what made the game such a special entry in the role-playing space. Most notably, it introduced the concept of extremely challenging but rewarding gameplay to a generation of gamers that had slowly but surely been fed simpler and less demanding experiences over the decade prior. Though it certainly alienated a group of gamers happy to avoid its overwhelming challenge, it also created a new group who were all too eager to chase down that immense sense of satisfaction from overcoming the game’s many devious obstacles.
The dark and interconnected world of Lordran was filled with monstrosities waiting to kill players in only a few hits, while each gigantic boss promised hours of challenge for all but the most skilled. Pushing through the game’s various oppressive locations required intense focus and an unflinching desire to see things through to the end. But dying meant losing all unspent experience points (souls) and respawning at a typically far away checkpoint, providing players a single opportunity to return to the spot where they met their demise and recover what they’d lost, lest it all be gone forever. This was Dark Souls, and it would go on to forever change how some gamers viewed a sense of accomplishment in video games.
Dark Souls has been touted as one of the best games of all time and certainly ranks among the most influential titles of the past fifteen years. It has not only spawned two direct sequels and a collection of similar titles from FromSoftware (collectively known as Soulsbornes), but its combat system, exploration methods, difficulty, and even interface elements have been adopted by dozens of other games in the years since its release to spawn a full-fledged genre known as Soulslikes. While it’s debatable which of FromSoftware’s entries in this growing genre is truly their ultimate achievement, there’s no denying that Dark Souls is the most important among them.
Where You Can Play It Now
Thanks to the 2018 release of Dark Souls: Remastered, this classic title is available on every major modern platform. The remaster is the original game in all of its glory aside from a handful of welcomed quality of life changes to inventory management and online player capacity. Additionally, the improved graphics, lighting, and framerate make it a bit more attractive, though it remains a dated title.
Here are the modern platforms on which you can access Dark Souls:
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 5
- Xbox One
- Xbox Series S and X
- Nintendo Switch
If you’re able to overcome the enormous challenge of the original Dark Souls, you can also play all of the subsequent games in the series on most modern consoles besides Switch. Get out there and get your ass kicked. It’s good for you.