Dark Souls is a third-person action role-playing game. The core mechanic of the game is exploration. Players are encouraged by the game to proceed with caution, learn from past mistakes, or find alternate areas to explore. Dark Souls takes place in a large and continuous open world environment, connected through a central hub area (Firelink Shrine). Players are able to travel to and from areas and explore various paths at will, although certain prerequisites have to be met in order to unlock certain areas.
Central to Dark Souls are Bonfires. Bonfires are scattered throughout the world and serve as checkpoints for each level. When rested at, the player is healed to full, healing charges are restored, but all of the enemies (except for bosses, mini-bosses, and specific characters) respawn. While resting, players can level up and perform other key functions.