Part 11: - Cathedral of the Deep Part 1
Let's Compare Souls games to Castlevania
So, I mentioned that the Cathedral of the Deep reminds me a bit of the level progression in classic Castlevania games, where you start outside the castle and work your way inside (over the course of several levels), so let's take this as an excuse to compare Dark Souls to Castlevania. There are people who would actually describe Dark Souls as a 3D Castlevania, though, I'm not sure if they mean the classic or the Metroidvania games, both of which are enjoyable in their own right, though in entirely different reasons. I'm going to focus the similaities of Souls games to classic Castlevanias here. Mainly the first one.
Castlevania is a rather slow paced action game. The challenge is less based on reflexes but mastering your movement, which has a very deliberate restriction that many people hate: The Jump physics. Once you jump you are commited to that jump, there's no adjusting in mid air. And while Castlevania is not the only game to feature this by a long shot it's one of the better known examples, mainly because it does the whole thing very right. The levels are built with that element in mind. There's no weird precision jumping you need to do Additionally, there's a brief delay before your attack, you also need ot keep that in mind when maneuvering through a level because even enemies that would be cannon fodder in other games can be threatening if you blink at the wrong moment. This isn't so evident early on, as the game eases you into how it works but you'll take more damage from enemies with every level. It is tough, yet fair and has a satisfying difficulty curve, which some would say is one aspect of what makes a well designed game.
You might now say "But IGgy, sure, these elements are somewhat similar, but that applies to many games!" And You'd be right. The Metroidvania comparisons holds up even less so in my opinion because those games are mainly exploration with there not really getting much of a challenge in combat. So let me throw you a curveball and tell you of another game that reminds me of Dark Souls.
The game is a fantasy game set in a bleak world. At the start you are given some vague direction and a weapon, though, you could just skip that if you like. Your job now is to find specific objects and if you find all of them something happens. Brilliant, right? Along your path there's plenty of secrets to discover. So many that you can not be expected to find them all on your own. A few of them are required for progression too, so it's especially cruel. There's no friendly player messages that tell you that this is an illusory wall right there, or that you need to try jumping (if you want to die). No, this game is older. You went to school and found some nerd with the same game and he'd tell you that he's heard from his cousin who heard from his friend whose uncle works at nintendo that if you set that tree on fire a secret passage appears. I'm talking about Zelda. The Original one. While I would agree that describing talking to some dude at school hardly constitutes a gameplay mechanic this aspect of Zelda is something that Dark Souls reminded me of in that regard. There's many a thing to discover and a lot of them will not be found on your own. But we have the internet now, so secrets are dead. But if you choose to ignroe the internet here, aside from the online functionality of Souls games, you can get a bit of that sense of wonder back trying to decipher some message's meaning and whether it was supposed to help or hurt you.
Yeah yeah, I know, not a very good comparison. Castlevania and Zelda have nothing to do with Souls games. Oh wait, both of those games are hard! Difficulty, such a Souls thing! Haha.