(CBS) - For those who played the spiritual precursor to "Dark Souls" on Playstation 3, "Demon's Souls," you have an idea of what you're about to get into in this game. For those who will be playing "Dark Souls" for the first time without reference (primarily Xbox 360 users who did not have "Demon's Souls" as an option), know that the tag line could not be more accurate: Prepare to die!
"Dark Souls" by From Software is an action RPG that gives no breaks from the intensity of play, which includes the ability to save or even pause. Knock at the door or desperate need to use the restroom? You better hope you're in a safe spot because if not, your player will almost surely be dead by the time you get back.
Make no mistake, "Dark Souls" is a very difficult and often frustrating, infuriating and upsetting game. It is not recommended for those who are easily prone to extreme anger or stress or expect to win in battle almost every time they play. You won't. But for those who like to play all of their games on the hardest difficulty setting - FYI, this game has only one setting: Hard (and after beating it, Harder on your second play-through) - "Dark Souls" will likely end up being one of the most amazing games you've ever played.
With a superb enhancement to graphics, and a similar mechanics and level of challenge that made "Demon Souls" a hit amongst gamers, along with solid storyline (albeit secondary to the rest), "Dark Souls" is a worthy and truly amazing spiritual successor to "Demon's Souls." The bosses are bigger, the game is larger, the location choosing has been replaced with an open world, and yes, the challenge is even more difficult.
While you can play the game solo without intervention or assistance from others, much like its spiritual precursor, online play is a very unique and truly amazing concept within the game. You play the game alone in your own world much like any single player game, but are given passive and active options that allow you to interact with other players' environments.
On the passive side, you can occasionally see ghostlike forms of other players if they happen to be near you. And, if someone dies in a location that you come across, a bloodstain appears that shows the last few seconds of that player's life, allowing you to possibly gain knowledge of what lies ahead. On the active, you can leave and read messages on the ground for other players, have the ability to offer or be given assistance by others in battle until a boss is defeated or, more sinister, to invade a player's world as a "dark phantom" and engage them in mortal combat. There is almost nothing more nerve-wracking than a message flashing across your screen to inform you someone has invaded your world. Upon invasion, they could be anywhere within the immense territories, leading to a high-stress, and often high-stakes, game of "Hide and Seek."
Some will be turned off by this game's level of difficulty alone, but for many, this will end up being among one of the best games you've ever played.
"Dark Souls" is available now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is rated M for Mature by the ESRB.