I like to think of the Dark Souls approach as a hardcore, intensive, character action game. Basically, an action RPG. The first part of the demo you play a pretty basic male warrior. Through the terrible tutorials, I was led to the items menu, which isn’t very intuitive. You have your healing items, lantern, basic RPG fair, but it seems very unorganized.
The gameplay is where I was impressed. Looking past the weird controls (such as left trigger being mapped to “sheath/unsheath weapon”, which is pretty much useless), there was some very interesting combat mechanics. You have your light and heavy attacks, a grab which allows you to latch onto enemies, and a jump, but you can change these buttons by holding down the left and right bumpers, which drastically changes your stances.
For example, the soldier class you start off with has a sword and a shield. By holding down the left bumper, my shield became dominant, and my attacks changed to different types of bashes with my shield. From here, I could knock back enemies, stunning them, so I could switch stances and use my sword for a finishing strike. By holding down the right bumper, I swapped up into a strong and fast stance, where I could jump back and forth and deliver devastating attacks, as well as attack flying enemies that I might face.
The game also features a party system composed of “pawns”. All your pawns you create yourself, as well as your own character. The AI was actually pretty impressive, holding down enemies so I could attack them, and healing me when I requested it. Apparently you’ll be able to create pawns and put them online for others to download.
The game definitely shows some promise, but going off the demo is no way to judge it. I liked what I saw, and I am excited to see more. It’s available now on Xbox Live and PSN, so go check it out yourself. Expect more on Dragon’s Dogma come its release mid-May.