Dark Souls’ grand heresy against prevailing games industry wisdom is the idea that, if you want to be rewarded in this game, you are going to have to do something worthy of reward. 2011 has been the year in which many developers have found riches in creating game experiences that challenge us not to excel but rather to mindlessly persevere. Increase the abilities of your avatar by simply playing the game every day and you will eventually prevail, they say.
Dark Souls, by contrast, is a game in which you must improve yourself before progress can be won. In that sense it is as orthodox as the earliest arcade games and yet, in sticking fast to this fundamental, feels like the freshest game of the year. It’s a game that asks you to look before you leap, to learn enemy attack patterns before launching your own offensives, to observe.