– Andrew Charlton
I admit, I’ve been very excited for the release of this DLC. A snowy adventure into a land of bird monsters, Vikings and screaming trees? Sounds just what I’d hope for from Dark Souls. Now that it’s here, I can say that it’s satisfying. It’s not great, but it certainly wasn’t bad.
Ashes is a very intentional call-back to the painted world from the first Dark Souls: the player reaches it by being sucked into a scrap of a painting. The world is rotting, and you can certainly see it both in the inhabitants and the environment. You’ve been called there to burn it away, to help things start fresh for the new painted world.
It has an interesting setup, one with a surprising amount of direct story for a Dark Souls game. It follows through as well: beneath the beautiful snow, and the howling winds you can very much see the rot. In amidst wolves and Vikings, you’ll fight flymen and decrepit, dying bird creatures.
The new array of enemies are a lot of fun to fight, even if some of them — such as the Corvian knights — can be incredibly frustrating. They mesh with the area well and unlike some enemies in other areas, they really feel like they belong there.
Their weapons are some of my favorite parts of the DLC. There’s Corvian blade and a rapier. The set of throwing daggers you wield like wolverine claws are my new weapon of choice.
The new PVP mode included with the DLC is a lot of fun, but it feels like something Dark Souls should have had a long time ago. That aside, it’s definitely a welcome addition to the game now.
The areas are sprawling, multi layered and incredibly difficult, with branching and looping paths, which unlock shortcuts and lead to secrets. The level design is Dark Souls at its best, but of course, the most important question for a Dark Souls review is, how are the bosses?
They are good. The main boss is a monster; a three stage fight with one being two bosses at once. With heavy tracking, invisibility, crazy speed and huge damage, I can’t imagine defeating this boss alone. I did it with the aid of one other person; together it was manageable. That said, this boss was awesome, the other not so much.
A second two-person boss, the optional fight of the DLC, felt more than a little lackluster. A huge wolf and a normal man. The wolf was fun to fight, if a bit overtly fast and hard to keep track of. The man was just so easy, he barely felt worthy of calling a boss. Beating him leads me to my last point.
For all the fun I had with this DLC it felt lacking, because it had no real ending. You beat the bosses but nothing really happens from there. There’s no satisfying conclusion, or way of rounding out the DLC. It just leaves you saying “Oh so I’m done?” and as fun as it is, that’s not a good feeling to have.
Photo credits: comingsoon, Slash Gear