on April 19, 2017 by Mitch Jay
Dark Souls III and its first DLC, Ashes of Ariandel, were among the best of the best when it came to 2016’s showing. Sadly, while it’s not bad DLC per se, The Ringed City fails to grip in quite the same way with uninspired bosses, an uninteresting set of areas, and most of all doesn’t play to Dark Souls‘ strengths as as series.
Even in The Ringed City, half the fun can be in uncovering its depths for yourself, so we’ll limit specifics to the first area and first boss (of 2 and 4, respectively). Its atmosphere might capture the feel of the bleak series but usually much of the fun is found in the brutal bosses and tense, sweaty combat. The Demon Prince doesn’t deliver this at all and though it only took a couple of tries, it wasn’t very fun.
Two enemies with a limited skill set make for a long battle, but one with little difficulty, with the final form being yet another beast that spends most of its time in the air, leaving you waiting for it to come down if you don’t have ranged skills — it’s a dull, unengaging battle which favours size over substance. The more human-like enemies have always been the most thrilling enemies in the series, and Demon Prince is anything but. The later bosses are definitely better, but it’s a slog to get there.
Forgets why the series is so revered in the first place.
The Ringed City is great from a lore point of view, and fans will find plenty to look into and learn about the history of Dark Souls here (moreso than Ashes of Ariandel, if that’s your thing), but it’s simply not as enjoyable as the main game or preceding DLC. Ariandel was short, but it did far more with its bosses and standard enemies.
The biggest issue with The Ringed City is the emphasis on searching for enemies — it leans far too heavily on having you find a summoner to stop the flow of enemies (once found they die almost instantly). A lot of time is spent running and waiting for stamina to regenerate rather than engaging in battles of skill, and being stealthy is hardly the strength of Dark Souls. The enemies have creative designs but are implemented poorly. It’s sad that potentially the last piece of Dark Souls forgets why the series is so revered in the first place mechanically.
You can respect how well it fits in with the series’ overall lore.
Dark Souls’ notably bleak and oppressive atmosphere remains, with a world drained of colour and fallen angel-like enemies bringing judgement upon you. You can respect how well it fits in with the series’ overall lore, and appreciate what From Software have gone for, but ultimately The Ringed City ends up bland and devoid of flavour. On top of this, The Ringed City suffers from some pretty severe framerate issues, which didn’t seem to be a problem with the main game or Ariendel. These might not tarnish the experience for you, but they were bad enough to warrant mentioning. The voice-acting and soundtrack further aid Dark Souls’ intense atmosphere, with the voice-acting in particular being a joy to listen to.
Dark Souls III: The Ringed City isn’t a poor effort, and it’s far from a bad one. If anything that’s just testament to how great Dark Souls 3 is itself. But it’s nowhere near the highs of what the series has delivered in the past and provides more frustrating, tedious moments rather than exciting ones. You get bang for your buck and, if you’re a fan who is eager for more lore and detail, then The Ringed City will satisfy your needs. Sadly, it’s a lowpoint in one of the best games of 2016, and if this is the last Dark Souls chapter we ever get then it hasn’t gone out on the note that it undeniably deserved.