Review: Dark Souls 3 – Ashes of Ariandel (PC, DLC)

The harsh landscapes you have already tread have been solid for the most part, swamps aside. The abrupt atmosphere change as soon as you walk out of the cave where you are warped to start this new journey is a shock. The wind bellows, snow is falling, the cold ground under your feet crunches as you light the first bonfire set out before you. It doesn’t take long, though, before you come face to face with exactly what this new world has planned for you. Sticking with the series theme of whatever way you hadn’t thought of that it could get worse, Dark Souls had, and it is already hunting you.

You learn quickly to not trust anything around you. Going one way drops the literal ground out from below you, putting you face to face with humanoids twice your size. Another way puts you in the hunting ground of a pack of wolves who are all too happy to alert their comrades that dinner has stumbled in. Every reprieve is short lived as the hostile weather gives way to a vast tundra that is as deep as it is wide.

Venturing down ancient tree roots reveals new and dangerous challenges. You aren’t alone, as a distant bow letting loose a massive arrow reminds you. You can dodge the shot, but the danger isn’t averted as the bolt explodes seconds later. The blast isn’t massive, just enough to catch you off guard, or perhaps throw you off your perch to your certain demise below. You either learn to fear or you perish at the hands of your own hubris.

Enemies are vary from giant armor clad vikings, to wretched man sized half bird monstrosities, to huge hunched assassins that want nothing more than to make you bleed. Literally bleed. They are fast, ruthless, and above all else, determined to kill you. Manage to survive and the horror continues as you happen upon a hive of man sized flies. If you aren’t careful they will swarm and consume you without a hint of mercy.

Assuming you yet survived, the two bosses inhabiting this painted world of horror will offer you the chance to prove you deserved to. One resides deep at the bottom of a treacherous valley that happens to also be inhabited by giant, frozen, but very much alive, crabs. The other is high above in the chapel. When you first meet her she warns you to leave. That your fire is not welcome here. If you refuse to heed her warning, she will eventually become tired of your very existence and resolve to snuff your flame. The fight that unfolds is grueling and epic. Few times has felling a boss been so rewarding across the entire series.

Would I recommend this DLC? Absolutely. While it isn’t massive, I feel like it didn’t have to be. The world is interesting, if a little bleak. The two bosses are a blast to fight and will test just how good you really are. They need to be respected, and they need to be defeated. If you want more Dark Souls 3 look no further.

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