Ahead of its launch next week in the west, publisher Namco Bandai has come out with some big words for those expecting Dark Souls to be an easier ride than its predecessor. Protip: it isn't.
Namco Bandai UK marketing director Lee Kirton has told VG247 that the RPG, made by From Software, won't let up in its difficulty, but promises it will be rewarding in the long run for those who stick with it.
"In the end the game is tough. But it’s also quite cheeky and rewarding," he told us this morning. "You need to learn how it works and think about each situation. I know many mainstream action games that are the same.
"Take Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which I’ve been playing a lot. It’s got old school mechanics whilst delivering lots of what makes a great FPS, stealth, and yet throws some genuinely challenging moments at you which can frustrate yet deliver such joy.
"Dark Souls has some classic gaming moments and also it’s never the same experience. I think that this is a game that everyone should try. It is incredibly rewarding and we’ve kept a lid on a lot of story and gameplay. One of the most rewarding video game experiences ever made, I’d say."
The game released last week in Japan and went straight to the top of the charts, doing better in its first week than Demon's Souls did in its first ten months on sale in the country.
It's also been getting some good early western scores, taking a 9/10 from gamesTM and a 5/5 from 360 Magazine. Kirton is hopeful of big success and a high Meta average.
"We have always been very positive about Dark Souls, its development, its studio, and the fact that it one of this year’s best and toughest videogame experiences," he said.
"I think that this is a game that everyone should try. It is incredibly rewarding and we’ve kept a lid on a lot of story and gameplay. One of the most rewarding video game experiences ever made, I'd say."
"Our pre-orders have been really positive and we have been pushing the title heavily to all the communities and reaching out to fans of games such as Skyrim and general action games. It’s a proper video game that doesn’t hold your hand. We are really hoping that word of mouth helps in Dark Souls' success as well."
He continued: "GamesTM arrived today with an incredible cover, wallet and a superb feature on From Software and a superb 9/10 cover. They said it’s 'nothing short of extraordinary,' and 360 magazine has given the game a 5/5. This is the first Xbox 360 review score I’ve picked up on. I think the MetaCritic will be very high on this beauty."
From Software had said back in February it wasn't planning any DLC for Dark Souls, but when asked about why it felt DLC wasn't a fit for the game, Kirton stayed mum.
"I can’t comment on the DLC side of things because sometimes things change," he said.
"The focus has been making a rewarding, huge experience which is unlike any other game. It’s a massive game which has huge replayablity and unique online features that will keep people playing it for many years. It’s worth its purchase price in content, I can tell you that."
From Software had previously said that western publisher Namco Bandai - From's doing the duties in Japan - had kept a hands-off approach with Dark Souls. That was just from a developer's standpoint, though: what about the publisher?
"Namco has left the experts to do what they do best," said Kirton. "We have supported the franchise as a business and worked closely with them on creative, art, and promotions.They are incredibly talented at making games, and especially a game like Dark Souls.
"They have delivered something unique and we have supported them by bringing Demon’s Souls to Europe and also making Dark Souls a bigger experience."
With Dark Souls coming next week, there will be players making the transition from Demon's Souls, but could there be problems making the switch? Either way, Kirton was keen to point this out: "It’s not the same game!"
"It’s the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls. It’s much bigger, has lots of new features, online modes, many different character classes, customisation, new richer visuals, open world, more bosses, more weapons, armours, items and spells," he continued.
"It has a lot of other stuff that we’ve kept quiet about as well. Fans of Demon’s Souls are excited about Dark Souls as it’s another new challenge. I would go as far to say that some are really excited. I just hope they’re ready.
"We also wanted to create a ‘day one edition’ of the game which allows all fans who pre-order or buy at launch a special big box with a soundtrack, making of DVD, artbook, and a digital game guide. All this is packed together similarly to the ‘Black Phantom Edition’ for the same retail price as the normal game. We have built this for the early adopters."
But while PS3 owners of Demon's Souls know what they're getting into, this'll be the first time 360 owners will get the sense of brutality that awaited players in Europe last year. As the game's main tagline suggests, and it seems very noteworthy for the Microsoft massive, "Prepare to die."
"Xbox 360 owners are in for a treat as they are now going to part of a new phenomenon," said Kirton.
Dark Souls releases on Tuesday in the US and next Friday in Europe for PS3 and 360.