Dark Souls III: The Ringed City

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Dark Souls III: The Ringed City Game Poster Image
Fitting end to brutal action RPG is bloody, extremely tough.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Common fantasy themes of good, evil. Combat -- though clearly designed to thrill with its gore, danger -- encourages strategic thinking, tenacity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Ashen One -- customizable hero of Dark Souls III -- is largely a mystery in terms of personality, motives, save that he/she quests to end plague of undead.

Ease of Play

Tight, satisfying controls but extremely challenging enemies. No option to lower difficulty. Success requires dogged determination, resilience to keep trying, retrying.

Violence

Vicious, gory third-person combat against fantasy creatures; player's character uses medieval-style weapons, including swords, scythes, bows and arrows, fiery magic attacks. Most enemies moan, gush dark red blood when struck. Bodies of dead warriors occasionally found in environment.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dark Souls III: The Ringed City is a downloadable expansion pack to the extremely dark and violent action role-playing game (RPG) Dark Souls III. The focus is set squarely on extremely violent and visceral combat against these creatures, with players using swords, scythes, and bows and arrows. Successful hits frequently result in gushes of dark red blood. Like its predecessors, it rewards thoughtful, strategic play, but it's also extraordinarily challenging and requires a good deal of tenacity. There's no option to lower the difficulty.

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What's it about?

DARK SOULS III: THE RINGED CITY is the second and final expansion DLC released for From Software's acclaimed action RPG. It puts players back into the armor of the Ashen One, a lone hero out to save a world in its twilight, overwhelmed with the risen dead and other dreadful creatures. Picking up where the original game left off, players enter the realm of the Ringed City, a collection of ruins heaped upon ruins, some of which may prove familiar to longtime Dark Souls players. And these ruins are not empty. Players will encounter plenty of new enemies, including terrifying angels that strike from a distance and knights with terrifyingly long reach, as well as several tough new bosses. Combatting these foes demands a mix of caution and strategy, as well as a lot of practice and patience. Helping players along are dozens of new weapons, spells, rings, and pieces of armor designed for high-level characters. And a high-level character is all but mandatory for this DLC, which only becomes available once you've completed the original game and is recommended for warriors level 100 or above.

Is it any good?

It's only fitting that this final expansion, perhaps the final piece of content in this game universe, would push visual and difficulty boundaries. These are perhaps two standards that Dark Souls games are best known for. Right out of the gate, Dark Souls III: The Ringed City drops players into a bleakly beautiful world filled with layers of crumbling ruins, making for a cleverly constructed descent down frightening precipices and rooms tumbled askew. These memorable locations, bathed in a blood-red sun, can capture your gaze for long moments as you drink them in, imagining their provenance and long history.

But you'd best not get caught looking at them too long, because they harbor some of the toughest creatures yet encountered in a Dark Souls game. You'll need to formulate fresh tactics for each -- such as the vicious angels, who deal devastating blows from afar, and the bloated Harald Legion Knights, whose powerful scimitar strikes must be quickly dodged while you slowly whittle down their huge health bars. It's the new bosses, though, that represent the greatest threat -- and the promise of greatest satisfaction once defeated. The story -- presented largely via enigmatic bits of nonplayer character babble -- is still as convoluted as ever and likely only to be comprehended by the series' most devoted followers. It's not always clear where you need to go, what you should do next, or even what it all means. But even this shortcoming won't stop RPG fans who appreciate a good challenge from having a blast with this concluding chapter to Dark Souls III.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in the media. Some games employ violence solely as a means of thrilling players, while others use it to make a statement about characters, conflicts, and ideologies. Which sort of game is this?

  • Talk about times in your life when you had to persevere through a challenging situation. Why did you do it? For yourself or for someone you cared about? How did you feel once you came through to the other side? Would you do it again?

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