Blogs of Rage #5 - How is This Not a Thing?
So I just beat the original Dark Souls last night and I plan on doing a more in-depth critique of the game in an upcoming article, so stay tuned. While playing the game though, I couldn't escape a concept that, at least to me, would be an amazing spinoff. So amazing in-fact, that I felt the need to post an article regarding this suggestion.
Imagine this - take the Dark Souls engine, artwork/assets, fighting mechanics, etc. and re-skin it all to be a re-imagining of the Arcade classic, Gauntlet, except this iteration would be in 3D vs. overhead. Seriously, how is this not a thing?
Imagine taking the co-op of Dark Souls, where 2-4 friends can go dungeon crawl together against undead hordes, beasts, ghosts, gigantic bosses, etc., without any of that obnoxious invasion crap, cracked orbs, summoning signs, etc. If you've ever managed to play co-op with a friend during Dark Souls, you'll likely understand how fun it is compared to the default solo experience of you vs. the world. By contrast, during those brief instances where you are playing with a friend, I'd dare say the game is almost joyous given the hellish landscape and difficulty the series is synonymous with. Moreover, the entire mood and feel of the game flips from foreboding and anxiety, into a raucous, power fantasy where you and your summoned partners are in control vs. the game. Easily, my fondest experience with the series to-date was an all too brief co-op session where fellow host Eric and I teamed up to kick the living shit out of everyone in the Undead Settlement and Farron Keep. An experience as enjoyable as that should exist, and could easily be marketable to fans of either franchise.
Work-wise, I honestly couldn't imagine all that much effort would be required to 'Gauntlet-ize' Dark Souls, as the game already has a medieval/fantasy-themed class system. You could easily modify the Warrior or Knight or Barbarian models to fill the hulking Warrior class from Gauntlet. The Valkyrie could also easily just be the female version of this class, or even a dexterity-based class while the Warrior/Knight could be strength-based. Wizard/Cleric/Pyromancer could easily be akin to the same class in Gauntlet, and the Archer could be either the Hunter or Mercenary class. You could even make up additional classes as well, like Thief, or Lizard/Dragonman if you wanted. The point is, there's a lot of overlap between these universes. Add in some basic customization options, like leveling, different gear, weapon upgrades, skill trees, etc., and again, you're taking the existing (and loved) mechanics of Dark Souls and making it new again. The replayablity alone to a class-based system like this would be staggering, all of which could be repurposed with a moderate amount of effort given that most of the assets already exist. Performance-wise, we all know the engine can already handle multiple NPCs and players at once, so again, it seems feasible this kind of spinoff could be accomplished.
Add in a drop-in/drop-out co-op mechanic, a la 'Gears of War', and you have the beginnings of an interesting game. Keep the game difficult to make up for the addition of multiple protagonists, and keep the bosses huge. Just think about all of the different strategies and formations you and your squad could implement to take on the game's challenges, like 2 tanks in front supported by a wizard and an archer from the rear, or 4 tanks going beast mode on a gigantic dragon. Does this sound awesome or what?
Will something like this ever get made? Honestly, I doubt it, but as the title of the article implies, something like this should exist. If getting the rights to Gauntlet from Midway is not possible, you could just as easily call the spinoff something to the effect of, 'Knights of Carim', or 'Abyss Watchers', or even 'Dark Souls Journey'. The point is, I strongly believe there is a market for this kind of game. These 2 franchises need to collide as I can't be alone in thinking Dark Souls needs a true co-op spinoff series. It would be an instant sale for me, likely others as well.
Can someone at From Software make this happen already? Shut up and take my money.