Never in my life have I turned on a console, placed a disc into it’s place and then instantly started to hyperventilate. Well, not until now anyway. Dark Souls is really, really, really fucking hard. If you’re gonna crack open a case of the Lordren ale, be sure you’ve lubed up well and good for the impending butt thump. Oh boy does it thump your butt… lets review Dark Souls.
Dark Souls is an old game, it came out back in 2011 (2011 was an amazing year for fantasy games) but holds up incredibly well. The reason this review’s coming out now is because, well, I’ve never actually played it until now. Shock, horror, criminality! I know I know. But to be fair, it has a reputation, a really “you’re gonna hate this one fella” reputation which has always pushed me away. Who wants to play a game where the only reaction is “I HATE THIS GAME”. A friend at work recently talked me into starting up and Rodger me sideways I’m so glad he did.
Progress wise, I’m writing this having just come out of Anor Londo (GREAT CHEST AHEAD), and I can tell you the reputation for this being a brutal game is legitimately well earned. Here’s my water cooler close-to-rage-quitting-fuck-this-fucking-game moment of the playthrough so far… spoiler territory for a 6 year old game ahead!
I made the mistake of following a Reddit user’s advice to go back to the Undead Asylum for some adventuring. There’s some cool items he says, his face now resembling a troll in my memories. I beat the knights there and obtained the strange doll item in the cell the game starts in. Veterans will know where this is heading right away. I fell into the Painted World in Anor Londo totally by accident because I had this doll on me. You can’t actually leave the Painted World without beating it, but if you know about it beforehand it’s entirely optional. I cleared it up as best as I could, beat the Undead Dragon semi-boss for his hype-as-balls Blood Shield and then, finally, came face to face with the end of the stage. Unfortunately for me, hellbitch Crossbread LETMETHEFUCKOUTTAHERE Priscilla was also there. Priscilla says “you can go, or you can stay and fight me.”
I’m not one for backing down from a challenge. I think to myself, “Just a few attempts and I’ll just lame it out if and run if she’s too strong. may as well beat the boss in the area before I go, means this place is just cleanup later on!”. Big ass pounding no lubricant mistake there, Spork! What was I thinking?! The first thing she does is turn literally invisible. You can’t even see her health bar to tell how much damage you’re causing her. Oh yeh, and you can no longer leave the area without beating her. I forgot I was playing Dark Souls until I remembered I was playing Dark Souls. This area can be a total game breaker. I had no pyromancy spells or daggers, no ranged weapons available and if you never hit her hard enough to stagger the bitch she never turns visible again. Great. 4 hours you cost me hellbitch, 4 hours.
So, the game is hard… are you getting that? At the same time though, the game is unquestionably fun to play. It seems to pride itself on being surprising for just being really goddamned clever. That feeling you have when an area suddenly connects with another area you’ve already been to is just incredible. Every time it happens theres an “OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH” moment and you feel like you’ve made massive progress just by doing it. The map area also link together in your brain in a way I’ve never enjoyed before. I appreciate your sass there DS. The bonfires, essentially rest points, are few and far between in this game. However, that makes getting to them just pure orgasmic relief when it happens. That one in Blight Town, you know the one players… awwww yesssssss. Watch any youtube series of guys playing the game and you’ll hear this half-silent “ohhhhh yeeeaah” whenever they sit at a new bonfire. Re the boss story above as well, finally beating her was complete elation for the rest of the day.
For all its difficulty, bullshit moments, troll moments, satisfying views and sun praising, nothing comes close to how stupid awesome the lore for this game is. The game doesn’t tell you a story at all, that’s not how it narrates to you. It doesn’t throw tedious cutscenes at you or give you lots of exposition in lines of text. The game just says “HERES DARK SOULS WELCOME TO DA GAME SON” and off you go. The story of the game is in the stuff you find and people you meet. It’s such a long game that tiny pieces of information slowly start to stitch together in your brain. It actually works a lot like how the location stitching works, now that I think about it.
For instance, one guy introduces himself as ‘Solaire of Astora’ (praising continues). He doesn’t tell you what Astora is or prattle on about how he got to where he was, he just says ‘JOLLY COOPERATION WITH ME, YOUR BOY SOLAIRE!’ and that’s pretty much it. Later on you find Another guy from Astora, a roided out blacksmith and your brain thinks “Oh I remember Astora, it must be pretty big to have two guys from there in this totally screwed up place”. Then you find items which talk about things you saw along the way that you’d forgotten about. Swords with unique descriptions of the people who wielded them etc. You sit there and see Solaire already in Anor Londo and think “Is the implication here that this dude just fucking beat me to Anor Londo?!” The story builds itself in the obscurity and that’s what makes it crazy powerful. You feel like you’re making the story yourself, when you totally aren’t.
If you haven’t played Dark Souls yet, or are too chicken to give it a try… trust me, I used to be one of you… now I’m one of them. Dark Souls II, I’m coming for you soon baby! I can’t wait.
Dark Souls gets a meaty 9.5/10 from me, where have you been all my life. \'[ T ] /