For: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Namco Bandai
When? Autumn/Winter 2011

What’s it all about? While not quite a sequel to ‘hardest game ever made’ Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls is nevertheless produced by not only the same designer and studio, but also features such similar gameplay that only a lack of association of world and narrative prevents the sequel tag being stamped all over it.

So, if you missed Demon’s Souls, what exactly does that mean? First of all punishingly difficult damage models in which a stray arrow or chance fall will fell your fledging warrior as assuredly as a hammer blow from one of the game’s many and varied demonic behemoths. Be prepared to die and then die some more; all in the name of learning the ropes you understand.

Set in a similarly fantasy role-playing inspired environment, players assume the role of a sole knight on a quest to rid the land of the foul beats currently besieging it. OK, we’ll be honest, much more than that of the plot we don’t know as yet know but rest assured said courageous knight is set to be up against it. What we do know is that your character will be chosen from a variety of classes (ten and counting) and there will be more emphasis on role playing with player’s encouraged to interact to solve problems.

What set Demon’s Souls apart (other than that difficulty) was the ability to see messages written by your fellow gamers in your game. Whether a particularly irksome trap lay just ahead or a fearsome, screen filling monstrosity, help was always on hand thanks to the efforts of those that had come before you and fallen at said hurdle and it seems we can expect more interaction along those lines.

Visuals appear markedly improved from Demon’s Souls too with lighting and textures each receiving a decent amount of work, truly taking advantage of current generation hardware – just look at those images. The combat appears to have been similarly upgraded with the player character and his armaments more comprehensively upgradable throughout the game meaning your playing style can be constantly adjusted as you progress.

Worth the wait? Make no mistake about it, Dark Souls is videogaming the way it used to be and demands your attention whether you’re a grizzled campaigner of its spiritual predecessor, or a fresh faced gamer looking for a challenge. With the visual side of things having been ratcheted up a notch, and its developers having had chance to gauge and process all that was good and slightly too frustrating elements of Dark Soul this could be a sneaky pick for game of the year once it lands.