Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dark Souls or Why I'm Sweating.

No models today, although I do have a unit of Orks, a finished Choir of Menoth, and a bunch of wizards to post I've not gotten around to photographing them. Today is about Dark Souls and why you should play this game if you haven't.


I'm not one of those guys who throws out games and says you got to go play them because I think they're good. Everyone has different tastes and even on top of that I feel there is a certain amount of elan that goes into enjoying a game. A connection that you can't easily explain. There are some very good games out there such as Skyrim for example that I have played some, recognize their quality, and even enjoyed but they didn't drive me back to them. Dark Souls though, man, it is demanding of your attention.
Of course I will admit I am making some assumptions about my audience. These are;

  1. That you have some interest in fantasy gaming.
  2. That you are familiar with rpgs of their original form.
  3. That you don't mind a little challenge.
I don't feel these are inappropriate assumptions as this is a blog about fantasy (and scifi/historical) miniature war games and video games. That in mind I think a few things need to be said to really get what i'm talking about. Rather than rambling I think I can sum up why you should play this game in just a couple solid points although there are more, these in my humble opinion are the keys to this game.

Point One: The World is Alive Around You
This is a map of part of the game world and it is just teeming with a life of its own, a digital fauna if you will. As I have played the game so far I have slain dozens of undead of many variants. Valiantly defeated black knights of many forms. Slain a pair of gargoyles. Killed giant monsters. Shot huge mosquitoes out of the sky. And done a dozen other things from bashing in invisible walls to being carried by a gigantic raven (or crow) through the sky. This game is just so alive in ways other games are not. Part of this is the bonfires that serve as sort of check points/save spots for the game. Your character sits down at a bonfire and is slumped over, clearly exhausted, and outwardly over whelmed and you can kind feel for the poor bastard. You've been putting him through it, he's died numerous times, and he knows you're going to make him get up again and go out there and kill all the monsters he just killed which respawned when you had him sit down. I haven't played many games that make me feel empathy for my digital avatar, this is impressive in my book.

Point Two: The Feeling of Achievement.
This game is not necessarily "hard" per say. It is unforgiving though so if you err or make a dumb mistake it is going to exploit it violently, much to your chagrin. As soon as you make a mistake or a dumb choice you know it even before the ax (sometimes literally an ax  comes down. But wow, the small endorphin rush that you get when you accomplish a challenging task. Not just any challenging task either but generally one YOU decided to under take. An example is needed here...
...there are several black knights in the game and they are a very intimidating foe. Standing much taller than your character aggression and skill makes them something you go to tangle with early in the game and you regret very quickly when you do. They are part of the mini-boss system and when you kill one they don't come back (well...mostly). The first one I slew was in the Undead Burg and I actually jumped out of my chair and yelled at the T.V. "Yeah sucker eat it!"...this is not something I usually do with a video game. I mean I yell a lot sure, but I don't feel there is a personal challenge between me and that digital enemy. But Dark Souls man, oh baby, it is personal and you can feel it coming out of the screen. When you face down your first big enemy you can feel that "they" are planning on teaching you a lesson and nine times out of ten they do. Then it gets personal and you come back with a different mind set, one of getting even. So after all of that takes place and you win this feeling of accomplishment comes over you and you think to yourself, "I'm getting a grip on this game."

Usually that leads to about five to ten minutes of over confidence before something sticks something into your spleen and you are hack-hiking your way back to get your souls and humanity. 

I'm currently a level 41 cleric and i'm toting around a +5 divine mace, the very mace I started the game with even, and tooling around in chain mail with a funky steel helm. I can bring the hurt I tell you and I'm pretty far along in my combat skills and I don't mean that in a digital sense I mean my ability to read the game and know when to do what. I feel I've gotten quite deep into the game but I think i'm only like 35% or so in. So much left to do and explore. Still, all that advantage and the game regularly teaches me I'm not in a scaling challenge environment. You see something off in the distance you think looks dangerous? Well it is, and you're going to need to go up there and die before you know how to fight it.

So many ways to die...

So, anyway, go play it. You can get it cheap now and it is a great game. I haven't touched on all kinds of aspects  of it and if you don't mind a good fight and don't mind retracing your steps you're going to have a wonderful time.

But seriously...

...You are going to die so many times.


  1. I have finally started playing this game, and I am indeed dying a lot. That first Black Knight was super-intimidating for a long time, until I worked out just how effectively you can shield-block things (whilst poking him occasionally with a spear, like baiting an angry bear).

    Nearly broke my spirit when I lost 5000+ souls because some skeleton ambushed me with an enraged flurry and knocked me off a cliff when I was on my way back to my previous blood splotch. It was disappointing.

    I am not sure how much patience I will have with this game. Having beaten one main boss means I feel like I have progressed, but I can see it being a very long slog.

    1. It is, no doubt, but it is rewarding. You'll have spells where you'll want to strangle Hidetaka Miyazaki, but ultimately you will get some great feelings of accomplishment from it. My cleric is 51 now and I'm trying to defeat three different bosses. but black knights are my punks. :)