Category Archives: Game Analysis

Game 2: Dark Souls (Part 2)

The last blog post was focused on how the design element of game mechanics are used in the video game Dark Souls on the Xbox 360. This post will be based in the same game world of Dark Souls but will focus on how the game uses the design element of atmosphere.

Atmosphere – A world of evil…

In video games, atmosphere seems to be the one design element that can turn a good game into a masterpiece. Atmosphere in Dark Souls ties all the other design elements together to create the amazing yet evil world that exists in the game.

Throughout the course of the game, players will venture through numerous environments each having a different look and feel than the previous. At the beginning of the game the player is stuck in a dark and lifeless prison where they cannot wait to see the sun again. The art style and visual effects used to create environments like the prison, work so well together that they influence the player’s experience.

Sound in Dark Souls is done in a very unique way. At moments in the game, the only sounds the player hears are the breaths of the evil waiting for them around the corner. With no music, the smallest noises become loud to invoke feelings of fear and desolation within the player. Music in Dark Souls is used only at specific times such as when a player can momentarily rest or when a player encounters a true boss battle.

Dark Souls is one of the most unique video games on the market today. The game pushes the player to uncomfortable limits at times while offering an experience and a feeling of accomplishment that is unparalleled.


Game 2: Dark Souls (Part 1)

The second game analyzed was Dark Souls on the Xbox 360. Out of all the elements of game design, this blog post will focus solely on the game mechanics of Dark Souls.

Game Mechanics – “Prepare to Die”

In Dark Souls, the player is thrown into an enormous, evil, and open world. The best way to describe this game is with a simple statement that can be found on the back of the game’s box. The statement is, “Prepare to die”, which any new player will quickly find out. While constantly dying is a huge part of this game and can be extremely frustrating at times, it is what makes Dark Souls such a meaningful game.

The player is in constant fear knowing that even in the smallest of encounters there is a high possibility of death. This constant fear ensures that the player will never be bored because they must always be ready for the next battle. While the difficulty level of Dark Souls can lead to a player becoming frustrated with the game, this level can also allow the player to feel a sense of accomplishment that is without comparison.

The player is thrown into an open world where they can choose to journey in almost any direction. Although the player has the choice of where to journey, the difficulty of enemies in certain locations will act as navigational cues. These cues help guide, but not force, the player to the correct areas for their current character level. Most of the time these helpful cues mean imminent death. The player must learn from death in Dark Souls in order to understand how to progress through this treacherous world.

The next blog post will be in the same world of Dark Souls but will be focused on the game’s atmosphere. So stay tuned and game on!

Game 1: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Part 2)

The previous blog post focused on the atmosphere and the innovation found in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the Xbox 360. This post will focus on two different game design elements that are equally important to the previous two. These design elements are game mechanics and the flow of the game.

Game Mechanics – Is the game any fun to play?

The game is extremely entertaining, immersive, and meaningful. Although leveling Adam Jensen up takes the player a good amount of time, it is one of the reasons why gaining new abilities can be so rewarding to the player. It is a slow process but it allows the player to master the basics while not being overwhelmed by the number of abilities.

When the player learns a new ability, adding it on top of an already solid foundation of basic moves is easily done. The slow leveling process also helps in keeping the gameplay fresh for the player because they are given new abilities to work with throughout the entire game.

Since the character progression takes so long to complete and because the game encourages the player to creatively solve a problem however they want, the player is never confused or frustrated. While playing the game I did not come across any major technology issues or glitches.

Flow – Immersion and Pacing

The story of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is extremely immersive. The pacing of the game helps immerse the player in the game’s world without rushing the player through the story. The story takes time to unravel ensuring that by the middle of the game, the player will be completely immersed in the world and the story.

The pacing of the game is very similar to the pacing of the character leveling system. This pacing helps balance the more difficult game play as the story progresses with the player receiving better character abilities as they progess.

The quests are fairly linear with roughly each one consisting of a ‘good guy’ or ‘bad guy’ way to complete it. However, the way the player gets the quest done, whether it be by means of stealth or guns blazing to name a few, is completely up to them. This helps the game feel not as linear as one might expect from the quest lines. It allows the player to play through the game multiple times but in a new way each time.

The next blog post will focus on these same game design elements but in the world of a different video game, Dark Souls for the Xbox 360, so stay tuned.

Sources, Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review, by Arthur Gies, Accessed Oct. 21 2011

Game 1: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Part 1)

The first game analyzed was Deus Ex: Human Revolution on the Xbox 360. Out of all the elements of game design, this post will focus on the two elements that stuck out the most in this game, which were the game’s atmosphere and innovation.

Atmosphere – The Art and Sound

The atmosphere of the game is its strongest characteristic. The overall yellowish noir look to the game immerses the player into a grimy, mechanical, and yet beautiful world. The art style is what comletely ties this game together. It feels completely appropriate with every other aspect of the game.

The in game audio was done extremely well and the music fit perfectly within the world of Deus Ex. The soundtrack and art style work together in creating an immersive world for the player to get easily lost in. None of the atmosphere is distracting; it only continues to add onto an already well crafted environment.

The world of Deus Ex combines futuristic components, such as body modifications and buildings, with an art style similar to what was being created during the Renaissance. Everything seems to have a futuristic and science fiction feeling to it while at the same time containing historical characteristics.

Innovation – The Unique or Different

The second design mechanic that will be focused on is the game’s innovation. One thing that is really enjoyable and different about this game compared to others, is the fact that the player is always given a number of ways to complete a quest.

At the beginning of the game the player does not truly understand that the most obvious solution to a problem is not necessarily the best solution. As the player progresses through the game, they begin to see these solutions much quicker allowing the player to gain an edge on the enemy. This also helps increase the game’s lasting appeal by allowing the player to experience the game a number of times in new ways.

Another unique aspect of this game that is executed well, is the blending of the shooter genre type of game with the stealth genre type of game. If the player wants to complete the game killing everyone in their way, then they are allowed to do so. Blending these genres changes the focus of the game where it has more elements of the shooter genre type of game. If the player wants to go through the entire game without killing a single enemy, besides bosses, then the game takes on more elements of the stealth genre type of game.

The next blog post will focus on two different game design elements from this amazing game, so stay tuned.