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Game of the Year 2016 #8 (Tie): Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls 3 isn't just the end of the Dark Souls trilogy. It's The End.

No more Souls, no more Bloodborne—if FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki can be believed, that is.

As final chapters go, Dark Souls 3 hits almost all the right notes. Each area teems with the interconnected paths and shortcuts that made the original Dark Souls (and its predecessor, Demon's Souls) such a joy to explore, even if world itself is the most linear in the series, and far too many areas feel recycled or included out of a universally held definition of what a Dark Souls game must be. Yes, there's a swamp. Dank, gray caves? You betcha. Red-eyed knights prowling palace corridors? Of course!

Fortunately, those issues pale in the face of how fantastic Dark Souls 3 looks, sounds, and plays. Thanks to Bloodborne's impressive tech pinging away under its hood, combat feels better than ever, and its visual and aural designs are arguably the most immersive since Demon's Souls.

Still, I keep coming back to how familiar Dark Souls 3 felt, and not always in the awe-inspiring and enthralling ways that endeared the series to fans. I've poured 145 hours and counting into this game, and as much as I love it, it could be titled "Dark Souls 1: Greatest Hits" for better and for worse. It's more iterative than innovative; more about refinement than taking big leaps.

Ultimately, I'm okay with that. More of the Same, within the context of Dark Souls, is better than Most Everything Else Out There. Dark Souls 3 is the SoulsBorne franchise's coda, bringing to a close one of the most engrossing, ambitious, challenging, and memorable adventures in the history of our industry. Even if a Dark Souls 4 or Bloodborne 2 never materializes, we'll always have these games to play.

-David Craddock, Hollow and Lord of Cinders

2016 Game of the Year Countdown: 

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