Dark Souls 3 The Ringed City DLC Review: For That Is Our Curse

Bandai Namco
Bandai Namco /

If this is the end of Dark Souls as we know it, Dark Souls 3 DLC, “The Ringed City,” is a fitting end to a bleak, depressing, awesome chapter of genre-defining gaming.

Developer: From Software

Publisher: Bandai Namco

Platforms: PC (Version Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One

Release Date: March 28, 2017

This review will play fairly light in terms of narrative, lore, and content descriptions for Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City DLC.

This is it. There are no more stories in this universe left to tell. Creator Hidetaka Miyazaki has proclaimed this to be the end of the Dark Souls series and has appropriately pulled out all the stops with Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City DLC. From a narrative, lore, gameplay, creative design and story suggestive standpoint, From Software ends this chapter with a “Good night, and good luck.”

After several grueling hours fighting bosses and making my way through the Ringed City, you’re certainly going to need all the luck you can get.

Dark Souls 3 The Ringed City DLC
Bandai Namco /

Dark Souls 3 has been nothing but a long, poignant, endearing love letter to its fans so far, and The Ringed City does little to state otherwise. Placing players at the end point of a long journey, there are few major characters left at this point to share the journey with. The shared worlds of the past crash together, quite brutishly, creating a weaving path of ramshackle structures that bear gone, but not forgotten, memories.

…(From Sofware) can evoke brilliance from the pleasant to the foul, alike.

In this sense, The Ringed City wishes to invoke the cruelest gameplay element that this series has produced; the element of surprise. Plenty of angelic and demonic forces await the player in this DLC, hiding away as you get drawn closer and closer into the decrepit beauty of the landscape. It’s hard not to stop and stare, but death awaits the unfocused.

It’s a shame, really, as there are so many subtle clues that tip the player off about the nature of the Dark Souls series hidden in the background, These motifs need to have closer attention paid to them to truly earn that narrative payoff. I’m quite enamored with the world-crafting abilities of the development team at From Software, as they can evoke brilliance from the pleasant to the foul, alike.

Dark Souls 3 The Ringed City DLC
Bandai Namco /

Throughout my four to five-hour journey of Dark Souls 3: The Ringed DLC, I began to count the references, nods, and allusions to past games as if it were a personal challenge. Yes, the prime complaint fans had with this game’s base story (albeit minor) is that it plays too much like a trip down memory lane. Instead of a “remember when…” scripted story event that shoves the lore of past games in your face, The Ringed City stays much more subtle while crafting its own narrative arc.

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It’s no small feat for a gameplay chunk that needs to both stand on its own and serve as a wrap-up to a series, yet The Ringed City toes that line brilliantly. There are plenty of new items, weapons, armor sets and spells to enjoy, bringing a stronger variety for player versus player combat. This will come handy, too, as this journey through the Ringed City affords plenty of opportunities to explore new and returning gameplay encounters.

I find myself at odds when discussing this content, as I so very much want to gush about the calculated story pacing in the level design, the tools of the trade required to trick seasoned players into letting their guard down, the fun new ways to approach combat, the awesome majesty of the operatic battle themes and the ways in which certain item descriptions serve a purpose to the overarching story.

Dark Souls 3 The Ringed City DLC
Bandai Namco /

Those urges will remain suppressed, as Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City deserves a fresh experience. I will say, however, that those wishing for a compartmentalized checklist of all story threads or narrative beats to be wrapped up in a neat bow will be sorely disappointed. Truly, the crescendo of the narrative climax was never From Software’s strong suit, and that remains true in this final chapter.

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Fear not, as the possibilities of what could have been are equaled, if not trumped, by the instances of entertaining suggestion, hidden within the exchanged dialogues, growths of characters you meet and player choices that prove fruitful and spoiled. Go into Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City with the mentality with a stiff upper lip, ready to move on from a shared universe that has left us with some of gaming’s greatest treasures over the past decade.

Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City. 9. Whereas most DLC works as a throw-in gameplay experience that complements the main game, Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City places itself in the role of an unforgettable farewell. Whether you enjoy the haunting vistas, the myriad of new combat encounters, the expansion of the weapon, armor and items catalog or the fond memories of the series at large culminating into a fitting conclusion, it’s hard not to argue that Miyazaki’s level of excellence has persisted throughout the series.<p>All the way to the bittersweet end.</p>. From Software.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.