Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: Dark Souls
You know…..there’s rarely a game that makes me physically want to harm myself. In the storied history of my gaming career, there comes to mind only 3 games that I have put in the effort to and was unable to complete. Those games are the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES, Mega Man Battle Network 4 on the GBA (which caused me to nearly break my fucking hand on a wooden chair in fury) and Dark Souls…..fucking Dark Souls. Every other game that I have put a solid amount of time and effort into I was able to conquer, even if it took forever. Usually with games, I get very frustrated if I don’t beat it in some fashion, so it breaks my heart to put something down in defeat. I had to do it to the 3 previously mentioned games, and while I know in my heart I will never beat TMNT without Game Genie and Mega Man BN4 is just something I haven’t had the desire to play again, Dark Souls was something else entirely.
My journey with Dark Souls is a strange one. I picked it up a couple years ago when the first initial wonder and awe of the game was running rampant because I wanted to see what everyone was getting all worked up about. I got it on a sale, as you all know Arthur has become a thrifty gamer in his adult life, and went home with all of the excitement and happiness someone would have when they get a new game. I made my cup of coffee, fired up the Xbox, and threw that badboy in there. Ladies and gentlemen, when I say there is no amount of lube to make this fucking of your entire life a bit easier to accept, I absolutely mean it. Within the first hour of the game, I had died close to 15 times…..and that’s essentially in the tutorial section of the game. I have never in my life been so in awe of the sheer amount of brutality that something can throw at you and the crazy amount of death you will receive, even from regular enemies, and don’t get me started on the bosses just yet. Those motherfuckers have a special place waiting for them in hell. Ugh, its making me grind my teeth at the mere thought of them.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you why this game will give you a heart attack. If you follow me on twitter, you may have read a recent tweet that I sent out concerning the fact that the World of Warcraft is essentially Schenectady in how everything wants to kill you, but Dark Souls is something far worse. If I could, and I am going to, Dark Souls can only be compared to the cave from the Decent….or even the ship from Event Horizon. There is nothing here for you besides death and the wails and groans of your grieving family. Fucking brutal right? Like I said earlier, within the actual tutorial, if I can even call an ass raping a tutorial, you are subjected to this strange and abnormal world where you are an undead lost soul looking for a way out. You aren’t the only one though, and through the trials and tribulations of Dark Souls’ world, you will meet and greet with many unfortunate souls. Some will help, others will break your neck. Nothing is ever truly safe, even going so far as to not even have a pause option. If you press start, it’ll bring up your inventory, but won’t stop the actual game. Ugh, no rest for the weary,huh? Trust me guys, I have played quite a few horror games, and nothing really makes me want to put my controller down due to fright, but Dark Souls has this knack of filling me with absolute dread and terror.
Now I say dread and terror, and I mean it, but not in a way that you think. It isn’t any specific horror aspect or anything along the lines of ghouls or zombies or skeletons, but more in kind with helplessness. Dark Souls is a cruel mother, but it can be forgiving….somewhat. One thing I will have to praise is its ability to not necessarily be cheap in terms of the how you die, but it will not hold your hand while you walk through this shadow valley of despair. Fuck no it won’t. It will kill you mercilessly, but reach out and pat your back while telling you that its okay and convince you to keep trying. It’s like that buddy you have that tells you to go after that girl, knowing that she hates your guts, mainly because he just wants to see you try and fail. That’s exactly how Dark Souls is. It loves to watch you fail, but you keep going because you are an idiot or very determined. It’s a goddamned trap. Every turn and every walkway seems to be a trap as well in Dark Souls. That sense of dread and terror isn’t due to any specific monster, it’s due to the fact that literally everything can kill you. Everything. Not to sound sort of ridiculous, but it kind of plays like real life almost. For example, if you were walking through an alleyway in downtown Albany, and by some chance you happened upon a skeleton with a sword and shield. That thing is going to kill you….fucking hard. That’s the way it works here as well. You may be a soldier with abilities that normal people do not have, but shit will still kill you. No limit breaks, basic magic for spell casters, and weapons working in almost real world ways, battles are going to be tough. I know it may sound like I am making a huge deal out of the difficulty of this game, but it is one of its main points, but it isn’t the only thing.
Let me go back to the skeletons for a minute, or as I like to call them, those fucking ball licking pieces of shit who should be burned and banished beyond the realms of existence.They are a goddamn pain in the ass. This is hands down the first game that I can recall where skeletons were a cause for concern. Unless it was a special enemy or a boss, skeletons are like the lowest grade of enemy you can encounter in games, but Dark Souls makes them something else entirely. No bleeding, they reassemble if you don’t kill the necromancer controlling them (but why would I kill my horrible brethren?) and they make you shit your pants in terror when you see them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been killed while battling an enemy and getting gutted from behind because I forgot to kick a skeleton off of a cliff. It’s fucking infuriating. It kind of goes to show that these developers took time and effort into their enemies, and making each one seem significant is a feat in its own right. How awesome is it when even a grunt enemy like a skeleton can be a force to be reckoned with? I hate it and love it at the same time.
Combat with enemies is a game of strategy and conservation. You cannot do endless attacks like most games as your stamina will give out leaving you open to attack and not be able to counterattack. Running out of stamina leaves you essentially helpless and in the middle of a battle with any enemy in this game and could spell your doom…..which if you rearrange the letters of doom you get s F-U-C-K-Y-O-U. Doing something stupid like running out of stamina or putting your back to an enemy is the fastest way to get roped up. A lot of the times when I died it was due to my own lack of either ingenuity in combat or carelessness in making sure I was strategically positioned. The game may be hard, but not unbeatable and if you play dumb, you’re going to die over and over.
The thing about this game is that although it may be difficult, it is one of those games that makes you feel like a fucking king when you actually beat something you have been trying to do for a long time. It’s a great feeling. Spending hours on a boss or just a section of the game and dying over and over is a pain in the ass, but once you get passed it, it’s like a feeling of absolute relief and accomplishment. I recently returned to the realm of Dark Souls after reacquiring the game, and still have yet to beat it. If I my say so myself however, I have gotten farther this time around and it is a fucking satisfying feeling. I got passed the boss that caused me to quit the game last time, but I’m still stuck in a fucking catacomb of fucking ball licking skeletons who refuse to let me go further. As of this writing, I am attempting to coerce a giant black knight who can kill me in one swing of his great axe into hopefully falling off of a cliff to his death, but so far its proven to be an exercise in futility. Here’s to you Dark Souls, you fucking pile of ruthless shit. I love you…and hate you. A sequel has been announced and should be coming out this year, but to be honest, if I beat the first Dark Souls before the second one comes out, I’ll consider it a fucking miracle…..although I am a glutton for punishment sometimes.
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