Within three minutes of putting up the Kickstarter for the new Dark Souls board game, Steamforged Games received their requested $70,000 of funding. Within two hours, the Kickstarter was sitting on $200,000, and the number steadily grew from there. The final tally, when the campaign ended, sat at over five million dollars. It’s just another reminder that, despite its formidable challenge and eccentric design, From Software’s Dark Souls has become one of the most beloved series in games today. It also reflects the rise of the board game, which has grown from a fun family activity, to a niche hobby for hardcore enthusiasts, to a pastime as mainstream as videogames.
So, what made over 31000 fans donate over five million dollars for a board game version of something they already love playing? Why are people clamoring for Dark Souls: The Board Game? Read on for five reasons why fans are so excited.
1. The Design Elements
The Dark Souls franchise is known for stunning graphics and intriguing character designs, and Dark Souls: The Board Game promises to continue that legacy. Detailed miniatures bring player characters and bosses from the games to life, while a variety of card decks, board tiles and character boards capture the game’s familiar aesthetic. From the character pieces to the design of the board itself, Dark Souls: The Board Game is a delight for the eyes.
2. Replay Value
Dark Souls: The Board Game promises a lot of replay value, with a variety of different monsters and bosses to face, including memorable “mega-bosses” from the games. It also aims to mimic the same notorious difficulty level present in the games, with a similar core souls mechanic and enemies that replenish when you visit a bonfire, and this should keep players coming back for more as they’re defeated again and again. In addition, players can also choose from several different character classes for a different gaming experience each time.
3. Solo Mode and Co-op Mode
Great board games with solo modes are few and far between, so the fact that Dark Souls: The Board Game has a solo mode is very intriguing. But for those looking for a multiplayer Dark Souls experience, there’s also a co-op mode. You won’t have to worry about finding friends for a game, but you’ll also be able to play with friends whenever possible.
4. The Set-up
As mentioned before, the board game is expected to be very similar to the series, with similar character designs and a similar level of difficulty. The set-up for players will also be familiar to fans of the videogame—players will have to “equip” their characters much in the same way as the games, deciding what their character will hold in each of his or her hands, and they’ll also have to handle an inventory. In effect, it’s the closest you’ll get to a real-life Dark Souls experience.
5. Game Mechanics
Combat in the board game promises to be just as difficult as in the videogame, especially since it will mimic the bonfire mechanics of the videogame. Beyond the bonfire system, where you respawn at a bonfire when you die but without the items you’ve earned and with fallen enemies respawning, the board game will try to recreate the challenge of Dark Souls’s combat through various card decks. Cycling through encounter cards will present you with a new and unpredictable challenge in each room every time you play. When you face a boss, you’ll flip cards from the boss A.I. deck, which will create a discernible combat pattern for the boss on the fly. Bosses will even “heat up,” triggering deadlier and more aggressive boss patterns after you’ve worn them down to a specific point. Steamforged also touts its “dynamic positioning system,” in which the game shifts as players move across the board. Through these card-based mechanics Dark Souls: The Board Game promises to translate the beloved videogame into a complex board game full of the challenge and atmosphere it’s known for.
Ashley Burnett is a writer whose work has also appeared on The Billfold and The Toast. You can reach her via Twitter @AshleyDBurnett or through her website: www.ashleyburnett.net.