The operating rule in the Dark Souls series has always been that you will die again and again, often in foolish and unexpected ways. Run into an area without scoping the territory? Dragonslayer arrow in the back. Rush a mob of enemies you’ve fought a dozen times? Get mauled and left in bloody pieces. Dare to fight someone in a precarious position? Get ready to tumble to your death.
Even with all of that in mind, though, players will likely be shocked at the sheer amount of death in store for them in what is purported to be the final part of the Dark Souls legacy: The Ringed City. From giant angels blasting luminous rays of scathing light at you from their sky bound sentries to a legion of unkillable archers guarding what looks to be a harmless bridge, The Ringed City does not lack for ways to surprise and dispatch the player with relentless, inventive glee.
Fortunately, unlike the somewhat drab Ashes of Ariandel, there’s plenty more to seen here in between the inevitable “YOU DIED” screens. The titular Ringed City is marvelously designed, bringing back memories of other great Dark Souls cities like Anor Londo and Irithyll of the Boreal Valley. If you’re anything like this writer, there will be times when you’ll simply stop for a much needed breather, scanning the horizon and just taking this world in, one last time, in all of its fallen beauty.
But hey, you may be wondering just what the hell you’re doing in The Ringed City. Well, typical to the series, the lore is very dense for this final chapter but even players who paid a passing bit of attention to the previous DLC and the core game should take away at least a sense of what has transpired, if not the whole of it. To boot, The Ringed City ends with an absolute blast of a final battle, one that will likely live on in the annals of the series’ best encounters, both mechanically and from a lore perspective.
As usual, From Software’s prowess for boss battle design is probably the strongest suit for this DLC. There are 4 total in The Ringed City, and each offers something a bit different, though it is only the first and last of the four that will truly leave you awestruck.
So what about that price tag, you might be wondering? Well, if you’re reading this then chances are you’ve already purchased the main game, in which case The Ringed City is an absolute must, assuming of course you enjoyed Dark Souls III as much as this reviewer did. For those poor souls who have yet to take on the mantle of the unkindled, however, there is a game of the year edition on the very near horizon that will let them experience the best game of 2016 for themselves, with both Ashes of Ariandel and The Ringed City included right from the get-go.
Alas, any series fan would be hard-pressed to accept that this is truly the end for a glorious timesink like the Dark Souls trilogy but if this is to be the end, then it certainly ends in a fashion befitting all that has come before it. Dark, cryptic, intense, and brutal, this is the Dark Souls you fell in love with all the way back in 2011, and it’s a great way to say goodbye.