Let me start by saying that the biggest problem with Netflix’s newest series based on the popular Konami video games is simply that it’s too short. Four episodes, each running just over twenty minutes is more like an appetizer than a full meal–especially for the binge-watching viewership that Netflix helped to create. It’s essentially a single feature film that ends just when the story is about to get started (likely because there are another eight episodes yet to be released). But perhaps that’s a strong point of the show as well, because like a vampire whose finally feasting on blood after a hundred years (sorry, I had to), it leaves you wanting so much more. Read more… ›
Back in February, a number of websites began publishing information about a new Netflix series based on the Castlevania franchise. Then, just yesterday, the first trailer was released. It’s no secret that the Castlevania series has been a major influence on my work. It’s the first video game series that I felt was “mine”, in that I discovered it for myself; I started with the very first Castlevania in 1986–though it probably wasn’t until 1987 or 88 that I played it (games had a longer shelf-life back then)–and it featured all of the things I loved best: horror elements, a massive castle, spooky music (I love that word) and Dracula! So with all of that, you’d think I’d be excited to know a screen adaptation of the games is finally happening. Read more… ›
It was my brother, Brian, who first introduced me to the Souls series. As I recall, I was going through a difficult time and Brian was looking for difficult games. We had been gamers our entire lives and he decided that he only wanted to play games that offered him the utmost challenge, so experienced did he consider himself. So, like a samurai choosing to fight armies with a wood sword, every game he played was on the highest difficulty, and he hated having to play a game once on Hard just to get the even harder difficulty. And then he found it, a game so hard the only difficulty setting was constant death. And when he found it, my dear brother wanted me to revel in his new-found outlet for his masochism. Read more… ›
It’s a bitter sweet moment. On one hand I feel that all stories must have an ending, even when I wish they would never end–I’m not much for on-going series. On the other, the Soulsborne games (that is Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series) have been a singular source of entertainment and inspiration for me for the past eight years. With the recent release of the final Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City, From Software has brought an end to the Dark Souls story and possibly an end to an era in gaming. Read more… ›
Yesterday the final DLC for Dark Souls III, The Ringed City became available; however, as I haven’t had the chance to delve into it heavily, instead of a review I offer the final part in the trilogy of writing pieces on what the experience of playing these games offers to everyone but especially creators.
I understand that game play and design is a sort of broad topic to tackle with any game. Though in this particular context I mean as it pertains to the experience Dark Souls and the related titles of the Soulsborne series create. In truth, and with any well designed game, the way you play the game, the way you explore it is as essential to the player experience as the graphics and the story. In the best designed games, game play and design are the story. Because, after all, experience becomes story in the end, does it not? Read more… ›
J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote in a letter to a fan, “Part of the attraction of The L. R. [Lord of the Rings] is, I think, due to the glimpses of a large history in the background: an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist. To go there is to destroy the magic, unless new unattainable vistas are again revealed” (The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien; letter #247, bottom pg 333).
It’s for this same reason, I believe, George R. R. Martin insists on not presenting a factual history of his Song of Ice and Fire series (The World of Ice and Fire being told from the perspective of a character in that world; vulture.com/2014/11/George-rr-martin-new-book.html). It’s partly why, in my opinion, the second trilogy of Star Wars films was so unsuccessful (aside from the obvious storytelling faults). The rumours I heard about the Clone Wars had built up a story in my imagination greater than anything George Lucas could have presented to me.
Sometimes that little bit of unknown information can be infinitely more enticing than the fully revealed truth. It’s what makes history so intriguing. We can never know all of the answers for a certainty. It’s this precise device which draws players into the stories of the Dark Souls games and their related titles (collectively called the Soulsborne series), and it’s the way the stories are presented which creates such an immersive experience for the player. Read more… ›
What I think has drawn people to the Soulsborne series (affectionately named by its fans for the Dark Souls series, Demon’s Souls, and Bloodborne, collectively) and evolves to obsession for many of us, is the experience the games provide. Not the story. Not the gameplay. But the totality of all of the games’ collective parts.
For anyone who is not a gamer (or game designer, for that matter), I’ve heard it said that the highest point in the art of game design, the greatest achievement a game can make, is to seamlessly integrate all of its parts into a complete experience for the player. Like reading a book or watching a film, you never once want the game to feel disjointed, a part of it forced or out of place; the suspension of disbelief should never be broken. And having been a gamer all of my life, and speaking as someone with a bit of amateur experience and classes in game design, I can honestly say I have never played a game or series which has achieved this so (near) perfectly. Read more… ›
In twenty one days, the world of Dark Souls players will be able to explore The Ringed City, the final DLC in the series by From Software and perhaps at last we Undead will see the ultimate fading of the Flame. It’s a sad day and a hopeful one, I’m sure, for many of us who have been inexplicably drawn to the series since the first Dark Souls in 2011 (and even its predecessor, Demon’s Souls in 2009). But even for those who have slowly been brought into the fold over the years, the ending of Age of Fire spells the ending of an age in video games, one which hopefully will usher in a new age of great potential and creative freedom. Though for me, I wonder if this will spell the end my on-going love for video games, for, as many have said in the before me, Dark Souls ruined video games for me. Read more… ›
It’s hard to believe that two months have passed since I stated I wanted to take some time in this blog to focus on writing about the Souls series from developer From Software. Of course, for those keeping up with my work and this site, the publisher for my comic Chadhiyana, Rosarium Publishing, ran a successful IndieGoGo campaign. That, coupled with some time for recovery (promoting it was the most aggressive I’ve ever been about promoting anything), threw off my schedule a bit. But now that things are stabalising, and since I’ve completed my first play through Dark Souls III (with my own creative work, I can’t put as much time as I’d like into gaming), I thought I’d begin this week by writing about my reactions thereof. Read more… ›
Though this past weekend Japanese gamers saw the release of Dark Souls III, we in the United States will not be getting it until April 12th. However, with this recent overseas release, an intriguing Dark Souls related article that was recently brought to my attention, and the fact that I finally finished my second play through Bloodborne (just one trophy away from my Platinum–yes, I play slowly, as I don’t have as much time to game as I’d like), I thought it would be a perfect time to write again about my anticipation for the next installment in the only game series in recent years (relatively) which has had a profound impact on me as a creator and storyteller. Read more… ›