While at Namco Bandai's Ignite 2011 event Takeshi Kajii, Dark Soul's producer, showed off the first gameplay footage of the upcoming dark fantasy action-RPG. Several of the game's locations were revealed along with an emphasis on the importance of stargazing your own style of gameplay. A tactical approach to defeat enemies is the only way that will allow you to survive to the next level. Kajii assured gamers the difficulty they loved in Demon's Souls, the game's spiritual prequel, would be returning. He even laughed and was optimistic Dark Souls would earn "10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000 deaths." Based on some of the gameplay we saw that doesn't seem like an unlikely goal.
The gameplay demo featured the knight from Dark Souls' debut trailer. Before the demo began Kajii let us know that the only way to get through this part of the game without dying over and over again was to basically use God Mode on the knight. That's how hard this game will be, the developers had to amp up characters to get through a presentation.
The first area they showed was called the Castle Grounds and begins in a grassy area. The Castle Grounds level appears to be crumbling around you, the graphics convey just how many bricks once went into the fortress. Players will see the area for themselves after the game's tutorial section. In this mission the knight had to sneak by a sleeping dragon and defeat a few undead soldiers. Even with near-God Mode the knight wouldn't be able to defeat the dragon just yet. As they played through this level Kajii emphasized just how much this game is about exploration. You really can go anywhere you can see, explore every tunnel, cavern, hallway. While walking down one of these dimly lit hallways a giant "cute" rat popped out and began to attack the knight to which Kajii replied, "if we used the regular characters this presentation would probably end right now."
In this area we saw one of the game's mini-bosses; he was anything but mini. The giant horned ogre was armed with a cross between a scythe and a hammer. And he was at least 12 times bigger than the knight.
Just as I begin to size the monster up and think about what I would use if I were playing, it began raining down arrows. Yes, the knight is being attacked by even more enemies. The knight climbed up to solders shooting him to take them out before moving onto the the mini-boss.Good strategy I thought. The mini-boss disagreed and proceeded to jump up to where the knight was hiding, crushing the ground as he landed.
The moral here: No where in Dark Souls is safe.
Falling off, getting hit by traps, being pushed into new areas by enemies; they're all part of the exploration of Dark Souls. There's no way you'll see everything this game has to offer. Being pushed off a ledge will force you to discover new rooms, new enemies and other obstacles you'd never have seen had you not fallen.
The next area they showed was called the Dark Forest, a level that will invite you to get lost in fantasy, but also just to get lost. The knight they used in this part of the demo was dubbed the onion knight, as he was fat and liked to roll around. After he roamed the forest they showed us Underground Hell; a level full of lava and unnamed beasts. We didn't get to see much of this level because it was "so dangerous" but admittedly it wasn't finished yet either. Playing with bugs would be "dangerous for the devs too.
The final level we saw was a favorite of the developers, it's called Trap Road. This level is true to its name and is full of traps. While showing us a trap involving swinging blades Kajii said, "We want the player to die." After seeing this level, I understand that.
Dark Souls isn't just about swords, you also have a wide-range of magic attacks to aid you on your journey. One basic move is the video game staple fireball. More advanced moves include turning into iron or steel. This makes your defense against enemy attacks high but it also makes you so slow you can't even roll away. Easily the best new magic attack lets you turn into objects. When they told me this I was confused, that is until before my eyes the knight turned into a vase.
The vase proceeded to hop down some stairs and hide in a room full of other vases. The perfect camouflage.
Gamers will have to use their brains before they start swinging their swords. This is definitely not a hack-n-slash. If anything it's a trial-and-error slash. 100 different types of weapons will be at the players disposal and each has its own unique action, purpose, strengths and weaknesses. There is no ultimate weapon that can take out any enemy. Instead there's the playstyle that suits you and your style of gameplay. Gamers will have the option to duel-wield and use the environment to their advantage. A small blade will mean the wielder is quicker and can sneak in close and jumping from up high up will make the attack more powerful; both tactics I plan on using.
Kajii joked that the game is known for its cute characters like this onion knight and the rats. He also said to keep in mind these knights were like Samus, there's a hot girl underneath all that armor. We wouldn't see the hot girl in this demo he clarified, "or maybe ever" but they are definitely there. I choose to believe that.
Dark Souls will be released this Holiday 2011 for the Xbox 360 and PS3