Dark Souls, the action-RPG series that has become a smash hit among masochistic gamers around the world thanks to its spirit-crushing difficulty, has finally come to smartphones — although not quite in the form you're used to. With Dark Souls 3 about to launch in April, Bandai Namco has released Slashy Souls, a free promotional game available on both iOS and Android. But instead of a deep progression system and RPG elements, Slashy Souls is an endless runner-style game. Oh, but there's still punishingly hard bosses to fight.
Slashy Souls casts players as a knight that — like all endless runners — must constantly run towards the right, otherwise the fog approaching from the left will bring instant death. Something Dark Souls players are already used to. But along with running, players can jump, roll, block, and slash to attack enemies in their way.
But now for the bad news. The game appears to be terrible — but not because it's difficult, instead because it's very poorly designed, even for a free app. Reviews on both the App Store and Google Play are mediocre at best, with many users noting how bad the game controls and how glitchy it feels.
As Eurogamer put it, the game is "a brutally unfair, poorly designed gauntlet of cheap, unearned deaths." The controls are repeatedly described as unresponsive or performing the wrong action, so things like timing jumps or slashes become exercises in futility.
There's no doubt Slashy Souls is little more than an advertisement for the upcoming Dark Souls 3, but what's really unfortunate is how poor it does that. Fans of Dark Souls will hardly enjoy it, and those who do download it out of curiosity, hoping to get a taste of the full game, will be turned away, thinking that's all the series has to offer. Then again, at least it will teach them to get used to dying a lot.