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Most contemporary games are unctuous, clingy suitors, welcoming players with fawning deference and open arms. Conversely, Dark Souls beckons the masochistic with its chilly indifference. If you steel your nerves and persevere, the loot you'll uncover is an adventure so exquisitely morose and far-ranging that it will tug at your mind insistently during the hours you spend apart. After more than 60 hours into our journey, an NPC clucks: "How do these martyrs keep chugging along? I'd peter out in an instant." We do so, quite simply, because other games feel comparatively bland, facile and unsatisfying. Few will complete Dark Souls, but that fact won't nullify the adventures they've had straining toward its elusive summit.
Official Xbox 360 Magazine, 9/10.
For a game that's sometimes frighteningly unfair, it's shocking just how compelling Dark Souls is. While the first game was merely ruthless, its successor feels like full-on psychological warfare - we've played difficult games before, but this is the first we've seen that actively seems to be conspiring against you. If that's not a challenge you're comfortable with facing, stay the hell away. For everyone else, this might just be the game of the year.
Xbox World (via Computer and Videogames), 9.6/10.
Its stupefying breadth will surely capture your imagination like few other worlds you've explored in games - and because of that, Dark Souls is, simply, an RPG to die for.
The cure for the common Triple A title, Dark Souls takes every gloriously strange and punishing moment from Demon's Souls and expands and improves upon it. While its fundamentals hew closely to the original's, Dark Souls is a completely unique experience with no direct competition on the market. For those who get it, it's undoubtedly one of the year's best.
There is much more to Dark Souls such is the extent of its scale that we are still yet to see, and that's a wonderful thing. Any reviewer claiming to have to have witnessed everything the game has to offer is either talking nonsense through ground-down teeth, or hasn't eaten, slept or seen sunlight in the couple of weeks since the code arrived. It's vast, brutal and downright brilliant everything the follow-up to Demon's Souls should, and had to be. It's easily one of the hardest games of this generation, but it's also one of the finest.
Electronic Theatre, 89%.
There are many reasons that Dark Souls will be recognised as a success, and first-and-foremost will surely be that throughout the extensive campaign, every corner turned feels like a new challenge. Every enemy felled is a success. It's a videogame experience that grips the player and doesn't let go, despite the additional investment that may be required as players break their controls in a fury of anger. Should Dark Souls prove to be the commercial success it deserves to it will surely be responsible for the ushering of a new era for videogame development: one in which publishers are no longer scared to take risks on videogames targeted at the core gamer not just in their themes, but in their delivery also.
Some might be intimidated by its difficulty and its predecessor's notoriety, but persevering through the most frustrating moments rewards players with an astonishing feeling of success, and the promise of recovering lost Souls at the scene of your previous death is enough to tease you into giving a difficult segment at least one more shot. Dark Souls is easily one of the best role-playing games released this year, and the dozens of hours of immersion, challenge, and enjoyment you'll derive from it makes it well worth the thirty pound price tag.