Everything is “Dark Souls”. This is a sentiment that has been passed down from player to player over the past couple years as games of notable difficulty are being compared to the franchise. The games in the “Dark Souls” franchise are known primarily for their difficulty although they are by no means impossible and it has become a running joke over time that games journalists who face even the slightest challenge when playing a game will end up comparing the game to an entry in the “Dark Souls” franchise no matter how different the two games are. To illustrate this point this editorial will reveal three games that have been compared to games in the “Dark Souls” franchise in one way or another and hopefully everyone (author included) will still have a will to live once it is over.
First and foremost is the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy released for the PlayStation 4 just a few months ago which includes HD remasters of the first three entries in the “Crash Bandicoot” franchise. When the compilation was first released many players commented on the fact that the game “felt” harder than memory served. Although many dismissed this thought initially it was then revealed that because of Crash’s slightly quicker jump arc and less generous collision boxes the three remasters were in fact harder than the originals. Does this make any of the games impossible to beat? Not at all, but it does admittedly make them harder than they “should” be depending on one’s opinion of the compilation as a whole. This added challenge mixed with frustrating design decisions (especially when it comes to reaching 100% completion) has in turn led to some less than favorable reviews. One of the more infamous reviews of the compilation was written by Louise Blain of GamesRadar.com who wrote that “there’s no avoiding that the controls just mean that Crash Bandicoot has become Dark Souls.” What the reviewer meant by this is that because the player dies quite frequently, “Crash Bandicoot” has somehow become synonymous with “Dark Souls.” While it is entirely within reason to criticize a game for imprecise controls or unbalanced difficulty it is not surprising that a review would be made fun of online to such a high degree when it compares two extremely difficult franchises. While Crash Bandicoot jumps on crates and spins around the protagonists in the “Dark Souls” games wield large weapons and fight even larger foes. Sure, the two are both difficult video game franchises but comparing platformers to action-RPGs is almost exactly like comparing apples to oranges.
Next on the chopping block is the even more recently released Cuphead, a run n’ gun co-op platformer with a hand-drawn 1930s cartoon aesthetic. For years and years Cuphead was eagerly anticipated by fans of the art style and now that it has finally been released many are realizing that it is a much harder game than first anticipated. This is not a negative in the same way it can be for the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy though, Cuphead is collision and controls have not been complained about by any large group of players nor has the game’s design. Instead, Cuphead‘s difficulty comes from growing difficulty levels of attack patterns, the amount of projectiles on the screen, and the upgrades the player can or can not afford. This is a much more natural sense of difficulty and it is well-fitted to the game and its style, however by no means does this magically make it comparable to games in the “Dark Souls” franchise. Though this fact did not stop anyone from comparing the two by any means as there have been numerous examples each more headache-inducing than the last. Dean Takahasi from VentureBeat whose struggles to complete a very small part of the game’s tutorial commented that the game “is somewhere between Mario and Dark Souls.” Not just this but Lucy O’Brien from IGN stated that, “like the Souls games (and more importantly, every game from my youth), Cuphead’s platforming levels are all about learning enemy patterns and behaviours.” Is Dark Souls famous for learning enemy patterns and behaviours? Not really. Is it even close to being one of the first games that forces players to learn enemy patterns and behaviours? Not even close. So why even both comparing the two? It is almost as if these journalists have become a parody of themselves, comparing a 2D 1930s platformer where sentient mugs with bodies fight giant vegetables with a series of games in which knights battle large beasts in a 3D world world rife with exploration, an item system, and no sentient mugs (to the author’s knowledge).
Last up is a game that has been released so recently it actually only came out less than seven days ago. Yes, Super Mario Odyssey has already been compared to the “Dark Souls” franchise but thankfully in a much more comical way for the most part. Although some small blog wrote about the fact that when Mario dies he drops ten coins which can be picked up later if they are still accessible similar to the leveling up system found in the franchise the large majority did not equate the two except for one larger-than-life boss fight. For reasons unclear to many, while Mario is flying around the world in pursuit of Peach, Bowser shows up on top of a gigantic dragon that can shoot lightning. No, that is not a joke or an exaggeration. The Koopa King himself enlists the help of a gigantic dragon that is wildly outside of the game’s normal art style and Mario is forced to face this foe on top of what looks to be a crumbling castle. Once Mario gets enough ground pounds in though the dragon is defeated leaving Mario back to his regularly scheduled adventure. So, somehow Super Mario Odyssey is actually easier to compare to the “Dark Souls” franchise than any other game mentioned in this editorial. Maybe that is just the future of games from now, to become “Dark Souls” while staying true to themselves.
So there it is, one of the most rage-filled editorials Adeki has ever been forced to write due to his hatred of comparing games to the “Dark Souls” franchise. Are there any games you have seen compared to Dark Souls solely due to its difficulty? Or maybe you have an opinion you’d like to toss into the ring. Whatever the case may be, make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!