Writin’ something that says “this both mildly disappointed & supremely elated me” is one of the tougher things. 😦 Did the best I could!
It’s not likely I’ll ever hit the same burnout with Souls games that I have with Etrian Odyssey, where I feel like I need a longer breather than their cycle of release is giving me. At the same time, I felt the specter of that while playing through Dark Souls 3, the inclination that I was hovering close to diminishing returns, and that this game, for all its quality, wasn’t bringing me to the same peaks that other games in the series have.
In many ways, what worried me was the idea that Dark Souls 3 felt kind of like a blueprint or rough sketch: that this was the base layout of a game, the geography and style and setting and bosses and attacks and themes, that needed more time to muddle and brew. For everything I liked about Dark Souls 3 (check out that Yoel questline; some of the optional dialogue with the Firekeeper towards the end; the lore text on Karla’s outfit), I wanted the spark from them another year of development could’ve built.
I cut those thoughts from my review because, honestly, it’s something I can’t know. I don’t know how game development works, so it’d be presumptuous for me to dictate those terms.
But I do understand the basic creative process; it’s something I think about a lot. I’ve become so proficient at pushing out first drafts, and the satisfaction of actually having something “finished” and “out there” is remarkably potent. The novel I thought was “done” three years ago was really just a schematic. It was crushing, to send it out to an editor and discover it was Very Much Not Done At All. Absurd as it sounds, I felt like a failure for not knocking it out of the park my first time at bat.
Now, I better understand that giving things time to sit and stew is part of the process. In giving myself the time, I was able to tease out the themes the text of my book hinted at (or that I unconsciously imbued it with), and make them into something concrete. While I really can’t know the story of Dark Souls 3’s development, that’s the vibe I get from it as a Human With Opinions (which are sometimes ill-informed). Dark Souls 3 is no doubt wonderful, and I recommend it. I love the nitty gritty of its mechanics, and I feel its mood–what’s missing is the overall texture that time can give.