Metascore
89

Generally favorable reviews - based on 66 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 64 out of 66
  2. Negative: 0 out of 66
  1. Nov 5, 2011
    100
    Dark Souls is a neat, die-hard and time-consuming game – aside from its predecessor the only one of its kind. This game is not for everyone – that's not a flaw, but a virtue.
  2. Oct 24, 2011
    100
    Prepare to die! You might thing that Namco's newest role-playing game only exists to torment you. But look deeper and you'll discover that Dark Souls is one of the best adventure games in years. With an incredible amount epic boss battles, hundreds of hours of gameplay and a unique online interface, Dark Souls is one game you'll be thinking about for years to come!
  3. Oct 16, 2011
    100
    Fantastically well-crafted, unbelievably atmospheric and impeccably balanced, Dark Souls will test your patience and your skill repeatedly, but the rewards are more than worth it.
  4. Oct 10, 2011
    100
    Game of the year? Probably.
  5. Oct 8, 2011
    100
    Dark Souls is the girl you had a crush on in high school. The one that really enjoyed teasing you, making fun of you or punishing you. But you couldn't help being drawn to her. And even when she was as mean as she could be, you still loved her. You knew in your heart of hearts that the torture was her way of saying she loved you. As harsh and unforgiving as Dark Souls can be to casual players, the pleasure and gratification received from completing seemingly impossible tasks are still off the scale. Bigger, harsher and even more atmospheric than Demon's Souls, this is an immersive and immense experience.
  6. Oct 5, 2011
    100
    That's Dark Souls in a nutshell. The stakes being as high as they are adds a level of excitement all too rare in the hold your hand games of this generation. Without the punishment, there's no real fear, and without the fear there's no thrill. And in Dark Souls, much like Demon's Souls before it, you will most definitely fear.
  7. Oct 4, 2011
    100
    It's tragic that not all of us have the time or temperament to play through Dark Souls, but one truth remains clear: if you're ready for it, it's ready for you.
  8. Oct 4, 2011
    100
    In short, it's everything I could have hoped for in a (spiritual) successor to Demon's Souls. I'm pleased to recommend it to anyone who wants to see the medium pushed to its limits and beyond.
  9. Oct 3, 2011
    100
    No video game released this Christmas runs contrary to prevailing fashion as hard or fast as Dark Souls. And no video game is quite so exciting or exhilarating.
  10. Oct 17, 2011
    98
    It is, hands down, the best RPG of this console generation, but that one minor control issue keeps it just shy of a perfect score.
  11. It captures you imagination like few other worlds in games. [Christmas 2011, p.100]
  12. Oct 21, 2011
    95
    Dark Souls is a game for many hours and one of the most intriguing journeys this year. But unlike most games, it's not a trip to a lovely holiday resort where all your whishes come true. On the contrary - From Software's game doesn't want for you to get to know it. But after some hard work and battling all the odds you get to the end. And then you know: it's an experience that will stay in your memory for a long time.
  13. Oct 18, 2011
    95
    One of the best games of the year and one of the most punishing ones. Dark Souls is superb, but it's not a game for everyone. You have been warned.
  14. Oct 11, 2011
    95
    Dark Souls is easily one of the best RPGs on the market and manages to even eclipse Demon's Souls, its predecessor. The gameplay is slow and methodical, but never in a way that feels boring. The game is hard, but almost always in a fair way.
  15. Oct 3, 2011
    95
    Dark Souls is an extraordinary role-playing game that transports you to an awesome and menacing world you may never forget.
  16. Oct 12, 2011
    94
    This game will beat you to a pulp and not apologize for it, and then it will beat you again for bleeding too much. The small touches and attention to detail really make this game shine as one of the most difficult, rewarding, and unique experiences I have ever had while playing a game.
  17. Oct 11, 2011
    93
    It is not a game for everyone, but From Software can again be proud of producing an instant classic in the action-RPG genre, which will be talked about for years. It is not as surprising as the original Demon's Souls, as we had great expectations for this spiritual sequel, but it improves on it and becomes one of the greatest games of the year.
  18. Oct 27, 2011
    92
    So if you loved Demon's Souls, or like games that sadistically punish you for your mistakes, go out and pick up Dark Souls right now. If you like those types of games, and haven't played Demon's Souls on the PS3, then go get both (if you have a PS3). While it's not perfect, it can be a hell of a lot of fun and is definitely worth the purchase price.
  19. Oct 21, 2011
    92
    If you enjoy games to relieve stress, this isn't the game for you. If you love feeling accomplished for completing something innately difficult, then you'll feel right at home.
  20. Oct 3, 2011
    92
    Dark Souls is a game without compromises: you'll either love or hate it. The very high difficulty level could discourage the less undaunted players, but if you'll take your time to master its mechanics and "enter" into the game, you'll be rewarded with one of the most satisfying and memorable experiences in your life as a gamer.
  21. Oct 3, 2011
    92
    From Software achieves one of the most addictive games this year. Dark Souls' difficulty level can sound just as heavy as it is, but at the same time it's enough to keep you engaged to its addictive gaming experience.
  22. Oct 10, 2011
    91
    For those that enjoy a real challenging action RPG, than Dark Souls is the game for you. However if you believe that over the top challenges make a game more annoying than rewarding, than I strongly recommend you that you run for the hills or maybe stick to something like Zelda.
  23. Oct 9, 2011
    91
    On a deeper level, Dark Souls' audacity at shoving you into an adventure, giving you a colossal world to explore, and forcing you to earn every speck of progress is downright exhilarating.
  24. Oct 7, 2011
    91
    If you're looking for something that will kick your ass yet keep you coming back for more, look no further than Dark Souls.
  25. Oct 3, 2011
    91
    It's still a brutal experience, surely the most difficult game of this generation. The idea of setting it in a wider world even raises the bar, but the freshness of the first one is sadly gone.
  26. Oct 3, 2011
    91
    If you want a challenging, briefly terrifying, often maddening game with plenty to explore, experiment with, and beat your head against, this is your game.
  27. Nov 15, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls' world is dense with something new around every corner. [Issue#78, p.76]
  28. Nov 15, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls makes no bones about being unrelenting in its difficulty though, although it's by no means insurmountable. It's a rare game that's unlike anything else, refusing to pander or compromise in any way, shape or form. In this day and age, Dark Souls is hugely refreshing then, and well worth the time and effort.
  29. Nov 15, 2011
    90
    Just as any masochist will tell you, with great pain comes great rewards. Dark Souls is the gaming equivalent, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  30. Oct 24, 2011
    90
    To sum it up, Dark Souls and its predecessor may be the most definitive example of what makes a videogame "Hardcore." There will be many deaths and many flaring tempers that may require a day or two of meditation to attempt jumping back in, but like an abusive lover, Dark Souls wins you back every time just before it delivers another bitch-slap to your face…and you just may learn to love it.
  31. Oct 21, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls is a twisted, depraved, unforgiving bundle of death, hopelessness, and despair, and I mean that in the best way possible because if you can overcome the many, many obstacles it will throw at you over the 20+ hours it takes to complete, you will come away with a sense of accomplishment that few other games can match.
  32. Oct 20, 2011
    90
    It's insanely difficult, incredibly unfair and frustrating at times, but we still love it. It takes you on a journey of death, valor and persistence, but it rewards you handsomely in the process.
  33. Oct 19, 2011
    90
    It is not a game for everyone, it is not even a game for most, but for those who want a challenging, deep, role playing game that doesn't pander to a mainstream audience and pushes you as far as you can go then you'll be in for a treat, but be prepared to die!
  34. Oct 17, 2011
    90
    I expect Dark Souls will sell more copies than its predecessor, but I'm sure many won't know what to make of this curious title. It harkens back to the days when our parents bought us a game and we played it all summer.
  35. Oct 16, 2011
    90
    I have to say that I highly enjoyed Dark Souls. I'm a huge RPG fan and this is one of the truly exceptional pieces of hardcore gaming available for the console. This is not a game for everyone as it can be quite brutal and demands a lot of time to fully enjoy it.
  36. Oct 13, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls is severely uncompromising. You will die again and again, hundreds of times - but It doesn't matter. In this dark and beautiful fantasy masterpiece you will still come back for more.
  37. Oct 9, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls is one of the most difficult games of the year and adds a lot of crazy enemies and surroundings. The co-op could have been done better but that shouldn't stop you from engaging in this sixty hour long adventure.
  38. Oct 7, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls is hard, but it succeeds - once again - at never feeling overwhelmingly cheap, or plain stupid.
  39. 90
    Dark Souls won't be for everyone - that is guaranteed - but if it hooks you it won't let go. When you do stop playing - for work, school or to get some plasterboard and caulk for the brand new holes in your wall - you know it will only be a matter of time before you go back.
  40. Oct 4, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls is an Action RPG following the unique gameplay legacy of Demon's Soul. The original online system comes back with a deeper world and more effective mechanics... in one of the most difficult games in this generation. You will love dying. Once again.
  41. Oct 3, 2011
    90
    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.
  42. Oct 3, 2011
    90
    A gem of sublime darkness. In the same way that an infamous ring did poison the soul of the one wearing it, this game becomes both the burden and the treasure of the one playing it. Cruel, even more so than its predecessor from which it keeps almost everything, Dark Souls offers a singular atmosphere, one where the player is prey, gambles its life with each step he dares to take, and its sanity every time he makes progress towards more evil that can kill him in a single strike. If you feel crazy enough to dive in, though, Dark Souls will possess you like very few can: it's a drug, and it's in the poison it exudes that lies its virtue.
  43. Oct 3, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls is the perfect evolution of the hardcore concept behind Demon's Souls. If you're looking for a truly hardcore experience, this is the only game you should buy with no regrets.
  44. Oct 3, 2011
    90
    Dark Souls is a epic adventure-RPG for hardcore gamers. This game is hard, sometimes a little bit frustrating. But, when you do make it and kill a boss it gives you such satisfaction that no other game can give you. With some fantastic online options, atmospheric worlds, haunting game concepts and mechanics and an unconventional control scheme, Dark Souls is a little jewel.
  45. 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.
  46. Sep 30, 2011
    90
    If you just play games for fun, this isn't for you, and no amount of insistence on my part is going to change that. But if you're interested in the limits of the videogame form – to see just how focused, how pure and how uncompromising in its vision a game can be – Dark Souls is unmissable.
  47. Oct 4, 2011
    89
    Dark Soul's weakest aspect lies in failing to draw the player into something deeper, other than just leveling up and managing to stay in one piece after crossing swords with a Black Knight.
  48. Oct 4, 2011
    88
    A highly frustrating, but also motivating Action-RPG in the best sense of the word: Keep yourself motivated and you will earn fame in this hardest game of 2011. A must-have for all RPG enthusiasts.
  49. Oct 3, 2011
    88
    If you're more experienced and have an idea of what you might be getting into here, it's worth the pain and suffering – in a twisted way. The presentation is top-notch material; the gameplay, though punishing, does pick up over the course of the game; and the multiplayer is surprising, mainly because you don't know whether to expect a friend or foe.
  50. Oct 3, 2011
    88
    Despite my complaints, I can't help but feel a rush of adrenaline just thinking about Dark Souls. I spent around 60 hours playing it over the last month and died nearly 100 times while doing so. I screamed, I cursed, and I threw down my controller in defeat more times than I'm proud of. I can't wait to get back in and do it all over again. Dark Souls probably won't be the biggest or best game released this year, but I'm already sure it's the one I'm going to spend the most time playing.
  51. Oct 3, 2011
    87
    Dark Souls is brilliant as its predecessor, but this time, thrown in an vast open world without hints, the player will be a little more frustrated than before. Sometimes the difficulty can be frustrating, instead of stimulating, challenging and rewarding. Dark Souls remains one of the greatest examples of dark fantasy in this generation.
  52. Nov 29, 2011
    85
    All in all, Dark Souls is a more difficult, but less enjoyable (and less accessible) Demon's Souls.
  53. 85
    Few games have the intestinal fortitude to defy genre conventions and player expectations at the expense of enjoyment, but that's what hooked us. We obsessed over exploring every hidden area, slept less to slay dragons, and probably sustained a bit of psychological damage in the process. But it was worth it.
  54. 84
    Grinding, leveling, and, of course, dying over and over again will keep the most dedicated players immersed in this world for a very long time.
  55. 80
    Extreme difficulty, online interaction and totally absorbing atmosphere – you will hate and love Dark Souls to death but you will not be able to quit...for a very long time. [Nov 2011]
  56. Oct 24, 2011
    80
    Hell can adopt many forms, but it's clear that if it were a videogame it would be called Dark Souls. It's not for everyone, but those brave enough will enjoy it a lot.
  57. Oct 18, 2011
    80
    Dark Souls is one of the best action-RPGs this generation, as it pulls of the combination of both elements perfectly. It may only be suited for hardcore gamers, but they are given heaven.
  58. Oct 17, 2011
    80
    Dark Souls will easily dominate your gaming skill making you submissive to its will. It's a ritual in frustration, yet one that is worth the journey, if you are OK with a little pain.
  59. Oct 7, 2011
    80
    Quotation forthcoming.
  60. Oct 7, 2011
    80
    Dark Souls is intentionally stubborn and mysterious throughout, and seemingly resists your efforts to improve, but that's all part of what makes it so enjoyable.
  61. Oct 5, 2011
    80
    Dark Souls isn't a game you play for fun. It's something you do to say you've done; like running a marathon or climbing Everest. You won't enjoy it like you will other games, but you won't forget it either, and you'll be damn proud of yourself for seeing it through to the end.
  62. 80
    This game preys on your feelings, and is very skilled at manipulating them. Make no mistake, it takes a certain kind of person (never mind gamer) to stick with and possibly enjoy this game - we believe they are sometimes called Masochists - but Dark Souls does what it does extremely well, and it's to be applauded for that at least.
  63. Oct 2, 2011
    80
    Fancy yourself as a hairy-chested gamer, hardest of the hardcore, with extensive knowledge of the arcane conventions of RPGs? If not, look away now, as trying to play Dark Souls may well turn out to be the most frustrating experience of your life.
  64. Oct 19, 2011
    78
    If you are glutton for punishment and are looking for a hardcore gaming experience that will test your patience and mental toughness, then Dark Souls for the Xbox 360 is for you. Dark Souls does not have any bells or whistles and is a stripped down game meant to kick the crap out of you. While the gameplay, visuals, and sound are far from perfect; Dark Souls does offer up a unique experience for many, but it is certainly not for everyone.
  65. Oct 10, 2011
    70
    It's a brilliant game, but I also found it maddening to sit down with, and despite the many hardcore players that are very satisfied with the game and insist that it's worth it, Dark Souls is simply not for me
  66. 70
    Hard is hard. Though greatly satisfying at times, Dark Souls consists of many hours of pure frustration.
User Score
8.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 856 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 36 out of 309
  1. Oct 4, 2011
    10
    Back in 2009, I spent 120+ hours of my life on Demon's Souls, and since then, I have not found its equal. As dark, challenging, and repressive as the game was, Demon's Souls still managed to feel like a breath of fresh air in the staling game market, throwing back to classic mechanics that were left in the 80s and early 90s with 8-bit, 16-bit, and arcade games. I find it interesting that Demon's Souls was far better received in North America than in its native Japan (790,000 copies in NA to Japan's 300,000, many of which were sold after the game's subsequest success overseas), as the game reflects more western RPG conventions and D&D-esque styling than the increasingly common anime-styled games that get labeled as "JRPGs." Dark Souls is a spiritual successor in the purest sense of the over-used phrase. Its controls are identical to Demon's Souls, yet they are even more precise than before. The artistic style, starting classes, soundtrack, and multiplayer options are all quite similar as well, but again, they have been tweaked to be a bit superior to that of Demon's Souls. The graphics are more detailed and crisp than ever. But the biggest change here is the open-world structure. Unlike Demon's Souls, which had the Nexus serve as a hub between several more fragmented worlds, Dark Souls has interconnected areas that form one gigantic, seemless world. It's also at least three times the size of all of Demon's Souls' areas combined, and the zones are still diverse and well-conceived. The linking of various zones works kind of like classic Metroid or Castlevania maps, where shortcuts to previous areas can be unlocked, making exploration valuable and rewarding to the overall mission. Instead of the Nexus hub zone, players can rest at bonfires, where they can also upgrade weapons and armor, among other things. Combat is also enjoyable and very deep, and enemy mobs are more varied than in Demon's Souls. In short, Dark Souls improves on every aspect of its predecessor, and with the new open-world structure, Dark Souls can easily stand up to the industry's western-developed heavy hitters (like Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls). In fact, I can honestly say that Dark Souls could steal some serious thunder from Skyrim by offering a more fresh yet hardcore approach to the genre. I also think that it's astounding that developer From Software could make lightning strike twice - it would have been far too easy for some developers to misinterpret Demon's Souls overwhelming success in North America and try too hard to tweak the subsequent formula to cater to American tastes. Instead, From Software stayed true to its original form, even deciding to increase the challenge for Dark Souls. And as one final point, let me also say this: Anyone who has not tried Demon's Souls or Dark Souls should not let the now-legendary difficulty of the series discourage them. The challenge that these games offers is not the same kind of hard-for-the-sake-of-hard frustration that some games fall victim to. Even if you are normally frustrated by difficult games, it's usually because of cheap mechanics and the feeling of having to fight the controls or poor design, and none of that is an issue with the Souls games. They just demand a little more observation, a bit of strategy and thought. From Software trusts that its gamers are intelligent, diligent, and skilled enough to handle that challenge, and that's what makes every victory in Dark Souls feel like a real achievement. The game may not be for everyone, but I would at least encourage every PS3 or XBox360 owner to try it. Full Review »
  2. Jan 11, 2012
    10
    Do not be fooled by angry rage quitters, 10 year olds and bad players! This game is hard, it wont hold you by your hand, it will not make your opponent easier so you can beat it, you will not be able to Hack and Slash everything with one sword swing or fight 10 enemies at a time.

    [How hard?] We have been spoiled! We are used to vanilla games that say you are playing in "normal difficulty" when in reality a 6 year old can play that difficulty and eventually win. We are used to bad, unrealistic and god-like-forgiving games where the AI usually allows you to punish them and continuously do damage to it. This game is hard for anyone that is used to going into a room guns blazing dying and that death meaning nothing. If you are used to walking with a big sword and doing tons of damage and your opponent be helpless then this game will be super hard. You could be level 100 and if you don't parry/block and wait you will die to a mouse.

    [Story and Gameplay] I won't spoil the game, there is a storyâ
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 26, 2011
    10
    Dying has never been more FUN. This game is like no other. Atmosphere, the feel of this fantasy world is outstanding, the fact that you can never truly relax will have you on the edge of your seat. Seems to me that the biggest gripe people have with this title is its difficulty. Well, I loved it although it came as a surprise at first. You need to study, take few calculated deaths even, and then act upon what you've learned! You can't just run around without paying attention as it's ever too easy to fall off the cliff or get jumped by few of the low mop-up mobs who will wipe the floor with YOU if you aren't careful. There's no way to gauge mobs level, so any new enemy you encounter may be your last... in that particular life cycle at least! Dark Souls is extremely hard at places but most of times, with adjusted tactics (ie approach to any given problem, different spell, change of weapon to another one with a certain element) it rewards you by being fair. I have only killed one boss the first time i fought it, it's more of a DIE AND LEARN approach but it works great. I was literally standing up at few points trying to get to this bonfire few ledges over... If you pick this up, prepare mentally, because tonight you will not only dine in Hell, it's more like 24/7 Hell buffet over there! Full Review »