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

Dark Souls 3 crowns one of the most engrossing, innovative, challenging, and memorable franchises in the history of our industry.


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: 

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

From The Chatty
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    December 26, 2016 2:00 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Game of the Year 2016 #8 (Tie): Dark Souls 3

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      December 26, 2016 2:56 PM

      The two GOTY #8s have different 'group' tags.
      Dark Souls 3 is # features and # goty 2016 while Forza Horizons 3 is # game of the year 2016, so I couldn't find one from the other.
      (DS3 also has its own # and one for the series; Forza just its own)

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        December 26, 2016 3:07 PM

        Yeah, I noticed that as well while I was looking through these, and it should all be corrected now. Thanks!

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          December 26, 2016 3:16 PM

          I couldn't decide where to put it, so I put it on the one with no responses yet. Spread

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      December 26, 2016 2:59 PM

      All games tied for 8th place. No games were better or worse than 8th this year.

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      December 26, 2016 3:01 PM

      Kinda surprised to see it end up at the bottom. It isn't necessarily a bad place to be, given this is for GOTY, but I found the game to be exceptionally well-done, despite me largely agreeing with your assessment of its design pitfalls.

      It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the list shapes up.

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      December 26, 2016 3:07 PM

      Just a quick note that I dropped elsewhere too. Our #8 this year is an unprecedented three-way tie! That's why you're seeing three #8 articles. It's a little wonky, but hey, they all deserved their spot.

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      December 26, 2016 3:13 PM

      8th? That makes baby Jesus cry

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        December 26, 2016 3:19 PM

        Oh! Well, I roll up into the effect radius and get healed.

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        December 26, 2016 3:25 PM

        Also I have a feeling Craddock was killing himself over posting this, being the Souls fan he is

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          December 26, 2016 3:50 PM

          Nah. I agree with DS3's placement on the list. As I said in my assessment, it felt like a greatest hits album: good, often great, but nothing new or earth-shaking.

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            December 26, 2016 3:59 PM

            YOU DIED

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            December 26, 2016 10:49 PM

            "It's more iterative than innovative" - I fully agree with that. I love DS3 and it was my #2 after Overwatch, but it's just a slightly more polished version of the previous games. However, the artistic visuals and the music are top-tier as always.

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          December 26, 2016 4:06 PM

          Eh, he thinks 2 is the best one. ;)

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        December 27, 2016 6:09 AM

        Same rank as Forza Broizon 3 is definitely undeserved. DS3 is so much more special than FH3. FH3 is just a typical arcade racer with cars designed by real-world car manufacturers and a soundtrack published by 3rd parties, whereas DS3 is full of exquisite artwork, gameplay, and music.

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      December 27, 2016 12:21 AM


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      December 27, 2016 5:28 AM

      Horizon 3 was cool but I felt like I hit the 10,000,000 fans (and roll credits) too quickly

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        December 27, 2016 5:29 AM

        And the shack guild became inactive pretty quick, if that's indicative of longevity

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