I write the title of this post with something of a heavy heart.
Recently, a number of posts have hit the internet comparing the visuals in Dark Souls with those of the next-gen Deep Down. Apparently since both games feature monsters and Medieval digs, Deep Down is being considered a “spiritual successor” or “clone” of From Software’s Dark Souls.
Unfortunately, beyond the armor and swords and some of the monsters, Deep Down looks nothing like Dark Souls. Nor does it appear to have anything in common with Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma.
For one thing, combat doesn’t appear to be as challenging or as satisfying as the Souls games, or as fast-paced and action-packed as Dragon’s Dogma. Even just the movement of the character on screen seems more clunky, with a camera that’s pulled much closer to your avatar. I may be nit-picking here, but the presentation, even if the graphics look nice, leaves much to be desired when it comes to third-person action games.
Then there’s the game’s premise: You’re delving into memories, in randomly-generated levels with randomly-generated monsters. This could be incredibly fun, but it’s nothing even remotely similar to Dark Souls and its interlaced and very carefully structured world. Nor is it anything like Dragon’s Dogma and its sprawling dukedom.
The similarity begins and ends with style, and it’s hardly a style that Dark Souls invented. The Souls games are heavily influenced by Western fantasy and roleplaying games, which are in turn heavily influenced by Medieval history and aesthetics. Deep Down taps into that same vein, but appears to do nothing at all to tap into what makes Dark Souls such a tremendous outing as a video game.
Which is why I say it all with a heavy heart. If anything, I’d like to see some other developers take pages from the Dark/Demon’s Souls design playbook. Deep Down has a “casual mode” for instance, while one of the great aspects of Dark Souls was not just its difficulty but its opacity, its refusal to tell us what to do or where to go. Randomly generated dungeons can never compare to carefully thought-out level design.
In terms of which game looks better? Well, there’s no doubt that Deep Down has the prettier textures. But if you want mood and atmosphere, I think Dark Souls takes the proverbial cake.