Dark Souls board game review: A Killer Adventure

These caves stink of death. The memories of all the lives that have been lost to these catacombs and the curse that lurks within are still running through the air. Screaming, crying in eternal agonizing pain. Poor souls who were once self-made heroes. Honorable Knights, professional Assassins, ruthless Warriors and cunning Heralds have attempted to take home the glory and triumph that lies beyond the horrifying lands of Lordran. The only prize they found was the eternal suffering of their now-lost souls.

Lordran was not always this dark and dangerous. The lands were once prosperous and full of life. It was a glorious kingdom of the gods and in their light of wisdom and power, their nation thrived. Lordran was the perfect place to live when the skies were still bright. When the flame of the sun lord’s blessing still burnt and shed its golden rays upon us. Before the dark ambushed our home, we lived in the age of fire. The times when our ways were clear and our enemies were in hiding. When the dead were happy and at peace underground where they belong. However, peace has a bad reputation of being temporary.

Mankind could no longer tolerate being in the shadow of the gods and they casted their own shade upon the kingdom. Men believed themselves able of balancing the light of day and night. They disobeyed the gods. Humiliated them. Became their enemies and sworn to take back the rulership of the land. Little did the humans know how weak and unable they are. They did not know the consequences of enraging them when they pledged eternal war against them. The once magnificent kingdom of heavens was brought down to its knees as a result of the death and destruction that always ride side by side with war.

The gods given up on the human population of Lordran and the humans proved unworthy of wielding their powers. Lordran was cast under a curse. Perhaps the worst of them all. The curse stole light away from the skies and covered the land in an endless, merciless, depressing fog of darkness. The skies however, were not the only thing blackened by this illness. Our hearts and minds were affected by it as well. Joy became a long-lost memory that none could recall. As we soon were to realize, even the dead were trembling beneath the dark. They could not rest in peace anymore. Peace was long gone.

So, when I first got out of my grave, I instantly knew that something had gone tragically wrong. Light was not the only element that seemed to be missing from the place I used to know and love as home. This land used to be the gods’ paradise and I found what was left of it battling out for their very last chances of survival. This was no way to live. Not even the proper way of being and staying dead. We needed a champion to travel through the countless threats of the dark and restore the fire. Someone to bring back balance to the world. While everyone had their gaze upwards, desperately looking for echoes of the sun, the long-awaited heroes arose from the ground, not remotely prepared yet, willing to try and do the impossible. Afterall, they have already died once.

About Dark Souls


Fantasy? Check. Beautifully creepy design and art style? Check. Freedom of actions and choices? Check. Game difficulty? I had no clue. When the original Dark Souls came out, a younger version of me saw the poster online and looked up the title. I was immediately hooked. The hype behind this game was maddening and as I was about to discover, for good reason. Due to its very difficult gameplay that I had not seen before up until then, my first experience playing Dark Souls became a pleasantly memorable one. I had no idea how hard games could be and from the very first second it was obvious that this adventure is not going to be an easy one. In fact, it’s easily one of the most challenging game titles I have ever played, seconded only by its descendants.

After I managed to finish the game with the help of a few walk-through videos, to my own surprise, I realized that I was ready for more. I found the experience incredibly refreshing and the extreme challenges only made my victories feel more real.

Everything about this game was begging for continuation and it got more than one. The Dark Souls board game was a brutally challenging tabletop twist on the familiar setting of the video games that was published by Steam Forged Games in 2017, which I just had to get my hands on since the moment I saw a picture of its miniatures.

One thing that was really missing from the digital experience was side by side cooperation that could give the atmospheric title more room to test out its horrors. I remember feeling like the game would be a lot less exhausting and a lot more strategic if I had company I could turn to for help and that’s why the franchise is at home on tabletop. With up to 3 partners accompanying you on this horrific journey, you can be sure that at least you won’t be dying alone.

The Dark Souls board game stays uniquely true to the origins of the Dark Souls franchise and is just as cruel to the players as any of the other entries. It manages to capture the eeriness of the game in an impressive way that leaves most of the RPG elements untouched. You’re once again free to customize your character to your liking and make the choices that will shape the upcoming challenges along your dreadful path towards rekindling the flame and restoring the light. A path which is filled with unfriendly creatures that are hunting your party down, friendly NPCs who seek to aid you in your journey and of course, the signature mini-boss and boss fights.

Prepare to Die


All I see around me is dangerous shadows and ash. Mortals and immortals engaged in a never-ending feud that is more than capable of destroying everything we have ever known. A threat that needs to be taken care of. If the necessary sacrifices are not presented, hell will be unleashed on us and when that happens, not even the gods can repair the broken core of our homeland. Seeing none that is left and leaving no survivors behind, we set out to save the regenerative power of the lord of the sun. It will be a long and dangerous path to walk. So, we need to prepare ourselves for the worst.

1. Choose Your Nemesis

There are a number of ruthless tyrants that you may choose to defeat. Ornstein the Dragon Slayer, for example, can probably be found somewhere in Anor Londo, the city of the fallen gods. Smough the Executioner is another one of those who stand between you and the eternal flame. You are free to face each and every one of these powerful overlords in your own time. They are all nearly unbeatable and yet undefeated. Decide which one you intend to fight first. The encounters you will have along the way will follow up this very decision.

2. Remember Who You Were

The dead arise with no memory, not recalling who they once were. However, properties of their past lives are still somewhere deep inside. The undead group of saviors seems like a group of last resorts and they just might be exactly that but at their once-beating hearts, they are the same noble Knight, the same valor Warrior, the same murderous Assassin and the same far-sighted herald that they once were. They just need to remember their lost identities and brush the rust off their blades.

3. Light a Bonfire

There is not much peace in store for the undead in the dark ruins of Lordran but even they need a place where they can rewind and resupply. After ages of battling monsters and other ungodly creatures under not even the smallest beam of clarifying light, your crew will need a semi-safe place to rest. This camp and more importantly the Bonfire in its center is your only safe space. As an effect of the curse, the bonfire will not warm nor cheer you up but that will not pose a problem since you don’t classify as living beings. Still, the very least is that shutting your eyes by the fire will help you regain some spirit.

4. Place and Distribute Your Items

Items of weaponry, golden treasures, mystical objects and all the such go to their designated spots. As more and more of the dark is explored, more and more items and treasures will be discovered. Whatever you stumble upon out there, do not forget that it is merely a tool which may assist you in achieving your final victory. Seeking power and wealth is not a luxury the undead can afford.
When you are done sorting the items, scout ahead for nearby enemies in the way. You will never be ready for everything you’ll face but you can minimize the damage by figuring out where your enemies are located before they catch you off-guard.

5. Good Luck

You are now ready to enter the ever-changing world of dangers lurking in the dark that was once called Lordran. Stay close to your companions and don’t lose hope, even if sorrow and despair are all that you see.

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide


Your journey is split into a series of unforeseen encounters, each of which carries out a specific issue that needs a specific resolution. Each encounter has a different objective, which might involve defeating a gigantic monster, exploring a certain area of the land, or finding a particular magical item.

When faced with threats that require you to draw your swords, you take turns attacking the opponent and your success in combat relies heavily on careful positioning and strategic decision-making. You can use a variety of attacks and abilities to defeat monsters, but must also keep in mind to manage your stamina, as each movement and each attack requires a certain amount of stamina. If any of your companions is unlucky enough to run out of stamina, their death might come silently and suddenly.

As the champions progress through the darkness and defeat the evils that come in their way, they earn souls, which can be used to get equipment and remember more of their characteristics. However, if you die, you lose possession of all your souls and must start over from the very beginning of the ongoing encounter.

Death Is Not the End

Lordran is much bigger in horizons than it might appear in the first impression. The land stretches far into wicked valleys and cursed forests and lucky for your group of enthusiastic problem-solving adventurers, it is filled with challenges and quests that make this game incredible in replayability. The original game keeps you wanting to come back for more and it never gets dull. However, the main game is merely the tip of the exhilarating ice berg that is Dark Souls.

Supported by twelve unique expansions pack until now, the game is not only full of content on its own, but also provides fans with tons of options regarding how they want to experience its thrill. Each expansion may add a unique set of brand-new enemies, objectives and characters as well as entire new campaigns to play. The possibilities with this game and all its great expansion packs are quite literally endless.

Randomizing mechanics such as card decks and map tiles along with an impressive number of expansion packs that are all worth checking out in their own way, have made this game the king of my top shelf. The game does a good job at attracting new players and an even better job at keeping them as active playerbase.

Lordran is full of fatal surprises and therefore, we’ve picked out a few of the best ways you can refresh your Dark Souls campaigns.

1. Phantoms


When all seems lost, flames seem to have all turned into ash, blood seems like it will never cease to run beneath your feet, it may be the right time to cry out for help. Legends have it that sometimes, if your cries are honest and noble enough, righteous spirits will hear them and they will answer your call.

The phantoms are assisting warriors from the other side who can come to your rescue as a last resort during the more challenging encounters.

2. The Four Kings


The great city of New Londo was once an aspiring realm under the rule of four honorable Knights. They ruled with justice and harmony and the people were faithful to them. Until the fall happened.

After the fall, the great rulers were brought down to their knees by their own servants and were replaced by The Four Kings. They are relentless brutal agents of darkness whose dark influence has perished the once great city of New Londo. The people who were not fond of their new kings flooded the city in an attempt to isolate the four kings from the rest of the world. It was not enough.
Can you and your companions bring the four kings’ reign of darkness to an end?

3. The Last Giant


Long before the age of darkness, The Last Giant was a fearless noble warlord whose name struck the hearts of his foes like arrows raining from above. He was feared, but also respected. The tales of his bravery spread to a point where it picked a cruel king’s interest.

The kingdom of Drangleic captured the great giant and before their realm fell, they caged the giant in the castle. Trying to harness his power for their own, they experimented on him, tortured him until all he knew was overfilling rage and madness. He now roams the ruins of Drangleic, rampaging in blind fury and is hostile towards anyone who dares enter his domain. Can you grant him peace?

4. Guardian Dragon


The Guardian Dragon was the watchful eye above Drangleic in the age of flame. He protected the city walls and the people within trusted the magnificence of his protection.

When the realm fell and darkness took over, the guardian dragon was turned into a hateful beast. The forces of the abyss clouded his vision and judgment until the noble guardian was gone and all that remained was a fierce vicious monster that annihilates all that wanders approximate to its lair. If you intend to walk this path, you will have to deal with him first.

5. Executioner’s Chariot


The Chariot Master once served in the court of the kingdom. Before Drangleic turned into a city of ruins flooded in despair, his job was to tend to the death sentences. His chariot was granted to him by the four great leaders of the realm and it served as a means of transporting and burying executed corpses.

However, just like all the other court members, his sanity was lost with the brightness of the sun. His spiked chariot is now a deadly obstacle in the way of any wanderers who are unfortunate enough to meet him among the remnants of Drangleic and his minions seek only to hurt those who are brave enough to stand against him.
The Executioner and his chariot will prove undeniably strong foes to overcome. You will need all the help you can gather.

Final Thoughts

The world of Dark Souls is so rich in lore and content that it has not only conquered multiple mediums but has also inspired a large number of other games and stories. It’s a refreshing experience that may be a lot harder than what you’re used to but will definitely be worth the time and effort.

It’s unlikely that fans of fantasy RPGs ever stop playing this game once they find their way in. The game is packed with surprises all over and is sure to satisfy your inner challenge-seeker in a way no other title can.

Share your Souls experiences with us down in the comments!

Join Instinct list!

Get all latest news, exclusive deals and academy updates.