Take a high-level character to the Cathedral of the Deep, and head for the bonfire. Youíll end up meeting a new NPC, who is, in essence the gatekeeper for the start of this downloadable expansion: the Painted World of Ariandel. Take a few steps into the icy maelstrom, and you wonít be surprised to learn exactly how harsh this place is. Bear in mind, this is the Souls
series. Itís a mournful, bleak world at its happiest; every visible silver lining is most likely a death trap.
Another continued trend in Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel is deliberately obtuse storytelling. Itís forgivable in that the narrative has always been buried under the surface, in the developerís worldbuilding. The stories are there, for those who know where to look. However, if youíre looking for anything resembling a coherent context for all the exploration, dying, hunting, dying, looting, and dying, youíre looking in the wrong place.
Depending on your skill level, Ashes of Ariandel runs between short and very short. Granted, your skill level has to be relatively high to get to the Painted World, much less to make anything resembling progress. But when itís on, it is on. Enemy encounters and often sadistic level design work in tandem to really saturate the entire experience with a pervasive sense of dread. Without spoiling anything, one memorable sequence had me feeling a bit like the game warden from Jurassic Park. The film version, not the bookÖ