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Hands-on with Bandai Namco’s ‘Dark Souls III’ and ‘Attractio’

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On Wednesday August 12 I got a hands-on look at some upcoming Bandai Namco titles at an event in New York City. Nearly a dozen titles were available for play at the event and of the ones that I saw—and with time limited I did not get to see everything—two stuck out as truly intriguing (that isn’t to say that the others were slouches in any way).

First, Dark Souls III. It doesn’t yet have a release date, but Dark Souls III is coming, and if the final form looks as good as the hands-on, it is going to be insanely beautiful. Scholar of the First Sin may look head-and-shoulders better than vanilla Dark Souls II, but what I saw of DSIII today blew SotFS out of the water.

The world we are promised in the new game is far larger than in previous franchise titles, and the tiny corner I saw involved a number of types of enemies and a very large fire-breathing dragon laying waste to anyone and everyone in his path – friend or foe (I’m not sure it was the same dragon we have seen in the trailer, I opted to
LungeArt_samplenot get close enough to find out). Happily, I seemed to collect souls when enemies were burnt to a crisp.

While excellent, that wasn’t the most impressive aspect of DSIII. No, it was the fluidity of it all. I wouldn’t call the previous games stilted in any way, but Dark Souls III felt far more smooth, much faster, and far more free in the way my character ran around the screen and attacked enemies. This fluidity did make it harder to hit some of the hollows who were kneeling and paying no attention to me, but it was a notable improvement over SotFS even if one didn’t realize that SotFS needed one.

Improvements aside, this was instantly recognizable as a Dark Souls title from controller layout to the presence of an Estus Flask, to my dying three times in under five minutes. I would argue that one of those deaths wasn’t my fault, that I swear that I had the stamina for one last swing, but I swear that sort of thing all the time with Dark Souls.

Enough stamina or not, the swings that I did make looked great and I could have been imagining it, but the glow seemed to drain from the Estus Flask as I took swigs from it. Whether this last is true or not, the game was Dark Souls on what they promise to be an even more grand scale with the ability to better differentiate characters more (the example used was that if you want to be an archer you could actually get through the game as one) and if that isn’t exciting for fans of the franchise, I can’t imagine what is.

Sitting next to Dark Souls III at the event was a game described to me as “Portal meets Running Man.” Called Attractio, it is heading to PS4, Vita, and Steam later this year.

What I got to experience certainly fit the aforementioned description as like Portal. I didn’t get enough of the story to speak to the whole Running Man aspect, but there was certainly a future game-show sort of thing going on.

Essentially, I played through a couple of first-person perspective puzzle rooms of increasing difficulty. In the first level I played, I could initially only pick up some blocks and move them around as long as I was in close proximity to them (I was told it was my character’s gloves that allowed this). Later in this room, I obtained a gravity altering gun which could be used to push blocks a great distance away.

Rooms are composed of platforms and lasers and locked doors and panels and areas I could pass through but which blocks couldn’t (they were not disintegrated by lasers though, and I most certainly was) and all manner of things that might kill you. These include yourself if you opt to press a button and flip the way your gravity Blue_Chamberboots work, thereby sending you crashing into the ceiling.

The game autosaved at certain points and also sported manual save spots. The latter proved quite useful after I opted to play with running, jumping, and flipping the gravity on my boots all at the same time in order to try and hit a platform above me.

The first level I played was easy, but only one level later the challenge was significantly more difficult and more involved. One wonders just how much harder the whole thing could possibly get, because continually ratcheting it up to that extent might make it impossible very quickly.

I left my time with Attractio wondering exactly what the game was going to do to differentiate itself from Portal, because it felt quite similar. Perhaps it lies in the story, perhaps it lies in later levels. Perhaps both. But, even if it ends up being Portal-like, it was something I wanted to spend a lot more time with than I did.

In the end, we will all just have to see exactly what the final iterations of both these games end up being. As they currently stand, however, they both hold exceptional promise and are titles I can’t wait to get my hands on again in the near future.

 

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.