Saturday, February 10, 2018

Best of the Bunch

 Perhaps it's because of the competitive nature of video game, but I often see discussions about which game is better (particularly within a given series).  "What's the best Final Fantasy?" or "Which Legend of Zelda do you like the most?" are questions that have come up fairly regularly on video game message boards for many years now.  As far as I can tell people keep asking the same kind of questions; only the games they discuss change.  One that I've heard a lot recently is "Which Soulsborne game is the best in the series?"  I think the only correct response to that question is to ask "What do you mean by 'best'?"

Do you mean best level design?  If so, the original Dark Souls wins by that metric.  A large variety of environments interconnected in interesting ways is the biggest reason for recommending that entry over others in the series.  From the Asylum in the beginning to the Kiln at the end, pretty much every zone in the game is a feast for the senses.  My personal favorite is Ash Lake which, incidentally, is an entirely optional area that can be easily missed given the fact that the only entrance is secret hidden within a secret.

Do you mean best combat?  If so, Bloodborne is the most satisfying.  Unlike other other action-RPGs made by From Software, Bloodborne doesn't allow players to take cover behind a sturdy shield.  As such players must react dynamically and take the initiative.  The stat and upgrade systems are also less complex than those used in the Souls series meaning players need not spend large amounts of time fiddling with numbers, and instead can focus on doing battle.

Do you mean best story?  If so, then Demon's Souls is the most compelling in that department.  Bloodborne suffers from a clouding of dreams and reality, leaving the player to wonder if anything they do (or that happens) really matters within the fiction of that world.  Meanwhile, Dark Souls has time travel and some pretty convoluted lore to the point that really understanding what's going on requires a fair amount of online research.  On the other hand, Demon's Souls is a lot more straightforward.  Carefully reading item descriptions and listening to NPC dialogues are still necessary to get all the little details, but one not need become an amature detective to grasp the main storyline.

So which is the best overall then?  It depends on your priorities...or to put it more generally, they're all good from a technical standpoint so it comes down to (largely subjective) personal tastes.  Some folks swear Dark Souls II has the best PvP so if that's your thing then maybe that's the best one.  Personally, I never got into invading so I don't have much to say about that.  The same goes for Dark Souls 3, which up until recently was still a work in progress and, as such, makes it really hard to say where it stands in comparison to the rest.  Regardless of it all, Hidetaka Miyazaki has yet to make an objectively bad game, so I say let the good times roll...or block...or parry and repost...

No comments:

Post a Comment