10 Things That Make Dark Souls Games So Good

Things that make dark souls games so good
Who's ready for a fight?

Virtually every Dark Souls game won numerous awards, including game of the year awards from multiple networks.  I’ve played this series since 2011 when the very first installment came out, and I’m ready to tell you about what separates Dark Souls from other action RPG games in the market.  Let’s talk about the top 10 reasons why these games are universally loved and celebrated among serious gamers.  


1. Every Object, Every Character, and Every Place has a Purpose

A meeting of fates

The developers at FromSoftware don’t waste their time, and they don’t expect players to either.  Every nook and cranny of the level design of Dark Souls games is filled with secrets that don’t exist anywhere else in their universe.  The attention to detail is what sets Dark Souls apart from other titles in the genre.

You won’t find a +11 Shield, and later a +12 shield and a +13 shield in the same dungeon.  Each item is unique, and many have their own backstories and lore.  Characters are sparse, and encountering them always comes with a sense of mystery and excitement.  The lack of repetitive content makes every interaction in the game valuable.  


2. These Games Require You to Explore

Beginning an epic journey with a single step

The first thing you’ll find out about Dark Souls when you begin playing is that it doesn’t hold your hand.  They’ll tell you the controls (mostly), and that’s it.  They leave it up to the player to figure out how to explore their environment, understand their tools, and conquer their enemies.

Dark Souls doesn’t have a minimap.  It doesn’t have objective markers, a journal, or hints to keep you pointed in the right direction.  Just like in real life, when you want to get something done, you have to do it the hard way.  While this may seem daunting, it ensures that your feeling of accomplishment when you navigate out of a dark labyrinth or castle will be real.


3. The Game Mechanics Have a Steep Learning Curve

Gargoyles provide a serious challenge 

I would describe the combat and movement in Dark Souls games as “heavy.”  Your character doesn’t respond with the floating, weightless agility of a fast-paced first person shooter.  They’re locked into their motion, making each button push and movement important.

This differentiates itself from many of the games in the RPG category that prioritize player comfort over player experience.  The controls in dark souls are unlike other game series, and learning how to effectively navigate your character through combat is as rewarding as it is difficult.  


4. Dark Souls is Unforgiving, but Fair

You'll be seeing this often

The next thing you’ll learn when you begin playing Dark Souls is that you’re going to die- a lot.  Like, a lot, a lot.  This is a game where even a high level character with the best weapons and items can be killed by a common enemy if the player makes a mistake.  Dark souls demands total attention and mastery of its controls in order to progress in the game.

As difficult as these games are, they have a justice inside of them.  You won’t die due to bad luck, random chance, or a glitch.  Each death in Dark Souls represents a mistake.  And Dark Souls lets you fix your mistakes and try again.  Over, and over, and over again.  


5. Character Development is Shown, Not Told

The beloved Seigmeye 

In such a cruel and unyielding environment, a friendly face connects you to the heart of the story.  Interactions with NPC’s in Dark Souls games can be described as esoteric, prophetical, and uncanny, but their actions speak louder than their words.  

One of the most beloved characters in the series, Siegmeyer, tells the player through hints in the dialogue that his thirst for adventure is the only thing that keeps him from losing his soul and hollowing.  Later on, he (spoiler alert!) sacrifices himself for the player so that his daughter can see him die as a hero rather than put her through the pain of being forced to watch him hollow. 


6. The Lore Goes Deep

Rennala's minions clamour to tear you apart

The series does a fantastic job of telling you just enough about the gods, dragons, and humans that inhabit this world to keep you wanting to know more.  Direct information is scarce to come by, but when it is there, it’s rich and textured by grand arcs of historical wars and epic battles.  When you begin to piece the picture together, you’ll find a grand tapestry of characters and legends that serve as the backdrop of the series.

George R.R. Martin, author of the prestigious Game of Thrones series, contributed to the writing of Elden Ring.  His imagination fit perfectly with the series’s commitment to storytelling and depth of background.  It’s easy to get lost in the fantastic world that FromSoftware brings us, making it another reason why Dark Souls is so beloved.


7. Combat is the Central Focus

Optimize your character, but choose wisely

Sometimes in the AAA title gaming world, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees.  Celebrity voice acting, flawless water physics, and realistic face models don’t make a game fun to play; gameplay does.  Dark Souls does this but cutting away all the unnecessary elements that distract from why we’re really here- to kill bad guys.

The combat in Dark Souls requires constant attention and adaptation.  With perfect timing, you could beat the entire game with the worst of weapons.  You just have to, as players say, “git good.”  Few other action RPG titles can boast that their combat systems are as robust and engaging as Dark Souls.


8. Distinctive Environments

Some enemies don't die so easily

The Dark Souls world feels like a high fantasy fever dream.  Instead of high elves and bearded dwarves, you get grotesque and twisted imaginations of human-like beings.  The castles are crumbling and overgrown with fungus and ancient plants.  The ground itself is stained with putrid blood. 

I can’t count the times that I’ve turned a corner or summited a peak in Dark Souls to be met with a visually striking scene unlike anything else in the game.  It’s something that isn’t commonplace anymore in the market- levels that are radically different from one another in design and function.  Dark Souls keeps players wanting more by straying away from recycled elements of design.


9. Extraordinary Boss Fights

Hope you brought your A game

The most memorable moment of any good action video game should be the boss fights.  I’ll stand by this statement until the end of my days.  And Dark Souls delivers some of the very best in the business.  Fights with unbelievably powerful and twisted characters require you to memorize long series of timing responses to overcome their attacks.  

Many of the fights have multiple stages, and take place in strange and bewildering environments.  When you overcome a boss that’s killed you dozens, or even hundreds of times, you will feel an enormous sense of accomplishment.  You didn’t overcome them by luck or by abusing a broken system; you overcame them through sheer learned skill.


10. Endless Replayability

Avoid hollowing at all costs

The first time you enter a Dark Souls game, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into a unknown world.  But upon subsequent playthroughs, those same dungeons and valleys might seem strangely like home.  

The memories you form along the way of these highly challenging games attach themselves to the places and locations that surround them.  And the 2nd or 3rd time you pass through, you’ll be experiencing them in an entirely new way.  With the New Game+ system, the games reward continued exploration through these vast and detailed mazes, making Dark Souls one of the most replayable game series around.


Born in the late Cretaceous period, Jake intentionally entombed himself in a glacier to avoid the unbelievable boredom of being alive 65 million years before the advent of microprocessors.
Gamer Since: 2000
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void, Dead Space