MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus on Twitter · Facebook · Flickr · Newsletters · Instagram 
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 49.0° F  Fair
Collapse Photo Bar

Dark Souls

Wiis, PlayStations, iPads, blogging platforms, Facebook and anything else worthy of buzz in the digital world.

Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:41 pm

I've wanted to play this game for awhile but was always scared away by warnings about how incredibly hard and frustrating it is, but I saw it for $19.99 at Best Buy so I thought I'd give it a go. I really, really dislike games that have "save points" because it tends to mean that if you die you need to waste time going back through areas you've already explored and fight enemies that you've already killed. I'm a prolific saver and I think I'm experienced enough in gaming that I know when a save is a really, really good idea. I play games to have fun and if I have enough fun I increase the difficulty level and play it again, sometimes all the way until I've beat it's hardest setting. But I don't consider frustration and anger bordering on fury to be much fun. That's about all Dark Souls has to offer you.

Essentially, Dark Souls isn't all that different than an Elder Scrolls game, at least as far as basic game play is concerned. It's not very linear, you don't always know where you should go next and you have a lot of options for building a character that suits your gaming style. The biggest difference in Dark Souls, as I mentioned, is that you can't save your game where ever you want. You need to stop at a bonfire, but when you do you'll respawn all of the monsters that you've already killed (other than bosses) so you really don't want to save, but when you die you lose all of your progress as well as your "souls" which are the basic currency of the game both for leveling and purchasing items. So dying sucks, but saving sucks too. If you can get back to the spot that you died you can recover your lost "souls" but if you die on the way they'll be gone forever and you'll simply need to grind out new ones.

As an added bonus, Dark Souls combat is incredibly punishing. First off you need to shed any button mashing tendencies you've picked up over the years because walking into a room and swinging your axe at the nearest baddie is almost guaranteed to get you killed, even if you've leveled up quite a bit and the baddie is pretty basic. Keep your shield up, watch your enemies' movements, establish a pattern, exploit their weakness and hope no other baddies show up to kill you while you're trying to focus on the current baddie. Actually, it's kind of a refreshing take on an RPG, but seems more like you're playing on the hardest difficulty even though you just started the game 20 minutes ago. I died six times during the tutorial. Six. Really.

But perhaps the most frustrating thing about Dark Souls is that it simply doesn't need to be that way. Sometimes resting at a bonfire and regaining your health and spells isn't such a bad thing, even if it means that all of your enemies will respawn. Perhaps you want to farm their souls to level up for awhile. Perhaps you need the combat practice. But the fact that you can't save your game when you meet a new enemy that you know will take a few tries to kill means that learning a new enemy is an arduous process, because after you die you're going to need to fight through hordes of monsters just to get back to him and die again. I don't mind that it's hard, but the repetition is pointless. I actually kind of enjoy the frustration of figuring out a boss, but spending an hour getting back to it after it kills me isn't fun. And games, by definition, should be fun.

I'm not sure if I'll play this game to conclusion, but I suspect some people gave up before they even finished the tutorial, so I guess I've got a lot of company. I haven't given up, but I'm already sorry I started.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby Mad Howler » Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:44 am

I am going to say something that might irritate you.
If I was as into gaming as you are, I would really appreciate the effort you put into your reviews.
It irritates me that those "gods" at IGN do not seem to share your passion.
Mad Howler
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:36 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:38 pm

I take back all the bad things I said about Dark Souls. The game fucking rules. No, really, it fucking rules. Prepare to die. A lot. But dying is part of the process and forces you to learn how to fight smart, walk gingerly and experiment with items and upgrades to see what might work better for you. And if you're actually persistent enough to finish this beast of a game, it simply restarts as a harder version (you are an undead warrior, after all). Oddly though, the harder setting seems significantly easier because by the time you beat Dark Souls you'll have learned enough about combat that the things which gave you fits when you first started will seem like a cake walk.

So now the reviews all make more sense. Dark Souls is a gamer's game, not for casual consumption. But if you like a challenge and you think RPG's should be more than simply "hit it with your sword and if that doesn't work, hit it again," then perhaps Dark Souls will be refreshingly difficult. Get a shield and learn how to use it.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:26 pm

I finally stuck a knife in Dark Souls tonight. I finished the DLC and all of the achievements. I can't help but snicker when I look back at my original post... I guess I wasn't initially up to the challenge, but fortunately I'm genetically predisposed to stubbornness that would make a mule blush. Finishing all of the achievements requires at least three times through, but it took me five for reasons that are too complicated to explain. I took three different characters to the end boss, two of them went twice, and played around with character development significantly throughout the process.

My first run was 83 hours, pretty much on par with the advertised 80 hours of content, but my second playthrough only added 26 hours to my time. The game is really freakin' hard, but at some point it just clicks. You get it. It doesn't seem hard anymore because you understand the mechanics of how to fight and, more importantly, how to defend yourself. New challenges seem less daunting because you understand that cautious observation pays dividends and a monster that would have torn your head off 50 hours ago hardly stands a chance now.

Patience and a recognition that death is a learning experience are the keys to mastering this beast of a game. You watch, you listen, you react. Some weapons are fast and good against certain foes, some weapons are slow but good against others. There is no "ultimate" armor or weapon set and eventually you learn that dodging is a far better defense than any armor that you might come across. But you need to learn when to dodge right or left, backwards or forward, when to back away and when to stay close. Each enemy has different characteristics and weaknesses, and by dying over and over and over, you learn those idiosyncracies and master each encounter.

Much like Skyrim, my biggest regret with Dark Souls is that I can never play it again for the first time. Each playthrough increases the difficulty, but because the game is so viciously unforgiving, you never seem to forget where a monster is hiding, waiting for the opportune time to cut your throat.

Dark Souls is an adrenaline rush. You tip-toe, you peak around corners. It manipulates you by attacking your fear of heights, your fear of dying, your desire to succeed. The only "right" way to play Dark Souls is to try to stay alive as long as you can and make mental notes of everything you see, because you probably won't live to see your next bonfire. It will take a few tries, and that's OK because dying is part of the learning process.

A few words of advice for those who might be intrigued by the challenge. Give yourself combat options. Some foes are resistant to slash but weak to crush or fire. Don't be afraid to "farm in the gardens" to get your levels up, particularly on your first playthrough. Before you finish, go back and kindle all of your flames to maximum, as those flames will carry through to your next playthrough, which will be refreshingly easy (at least for awhile). Rather than following a walkthrough, check websites for weapon, armor and strategy guides. Having the right equipment is half of the battle. Don't beat your head against a wall for too long... if you feel stuck, check a guide, but don't live on the guide or you'll ruin the experience.

And prepare to die. Often.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby Mad Howler » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:38 am

Dark souls, indeed.
The ratchet of the "video game narrative" seems to play out day by day.
I hope you get what I am suggesting,
'Tis a fascinating loop with a purpose.
Something worth keeping an eye on.
Mad Howler
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:36 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:29 am

Well, I'm not quite as obsessed with "Dark Souls" as I was this summer, but I'd still rank it as one of the best games I've ever played. If you have to choose between a strength, dexterity or intelligence build, I'd recommend dexterity. Magic is probably easiest, but takes some of the challenge out of the game, at least once you get established and especially on NG+. If you choose to be a sorcerer, make sure you enchant a decent dexterity weapon to scale with your intelligence. Speed kills. Kill the undead merchant to get an uchigatana and then upgrade that to enchanted. If you choose the dexterity build, simply take the uchigatana to +15 after you get a titanite slab (it changes the dex parameter to A). There's one near Kalameet if you find the Undead Asylum boss too difficult, but you need to download the DLC to get to Kalameet.

Other than that, I have no fucking idea what you're talking about.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby Mad Howler » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:36 am

pjbogart wrote:...Other than that, I have no fucking idea what you're talking about.

No offense intended.
Just thought you might have seen a connection to the ratchet racket.
Good times.
Mad Howler
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:36 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby uwstudent » Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:17 am

Dark Souls 2 coming out.
uwstudent
Forum Addict
 
Posts: 357
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:41 pm
Location: cowtown, wi

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:11 pm

Yah. I plopped down $120 for the collector's edition. I won't get it until next week, but it's already the game of the year in my book.

Oh look, my favorite armor! Wanderer's gear.

Image

Sneak Peak Trailer
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby Mad Howler » Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:00 pm

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2 ... eview-game

Meh, I will be waiting for your review.
Mad Howler
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:36 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:06 am

Mad Howler wrote:Meh, I will be waiting for your review.


Meh, it's going to be awhile. 4 stars is the worst review I've seen yet. Most reviewers are at 9/10 or above. First impressions? Don't buy this game. As an experienced Dark Souls player who finished the game practically with my starting character on a "low-level run" I can tell you that as punishing and difficult as Dark Souls was, Dark Souls II is likely to test your sanity. I suspect that 90% of people who buy this game will give up, and most of them will give up very early. I guess that makes for cheap copies at Gamestop, but even if you get it cheap, you won't find it any more satisfying.

Why? Because you probably won't make it to the first boss (and there are dozens). Dark Souls II is the game I was complaining about in my original post. It's virtually impossible. I killed two bosses in the first day, but that's only because they're pretty much right next to each other. Just getting to the bosses tried my patience greatly, and that's coming from someone who understands the mechanics of the game and has literally hundreds of hours of playing time under my belt.

But Dark Souls II ridiculous difficulty isn't a bad thing, it's just not a game for casual gamers. The lure of the series (Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II) is the punishing and unforgiving gameplay, so the fans are going to love it. But Joe Six-Pack, who sees that the game got 10/10 stars but doesn't bother to read the review is in for a rude surprise. Joe Six-Pack won't beat the first boss. In fact, if Joe Six-Pack even SEES the first boss it's because he watched a video on Youtube.

If you read a few reviews online, you'll establish a common theme. Many, if not most of the reviewers admit that they will not be able to finish the game. They're awed by the game, but their glowing review is more like a 98 lb. weakling cowering and blubbering respect to a school bully. Dark Souls II is a bully. It laughs at you and hopes that you break your television or kick your poor cat in frustration. Dark Souls II hopes that you send it hate mail, and it won't respond to your hate mail because it knows that it's beaten you and the silence is more irritating than excuses or apologies. Dark Souls II will make grown men cry.

But I will beat Dark Souls II. It will bully me and call me names and even after I've conquered it I will expect no congratulations. Just when I'm starting to feel some confidence, some douchebag will post a video of him beating the game with no armor and a broken sword.

That's my early review. It's really, really, really fucking hard. If you didn't beat Dark Souls, don't even try to beat Dark Souls II.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby uwstudent » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:45 am

Every time I die the message comes up "You die like a bitch".

Is that on your copy too?
uwstudent
Forum Addict
 
Posts: 357
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:41 pm
Location: cowtown, wi

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:21 pm

Hey U-dubs, where you at? I got to "Sinner's Rise" tonight before calling it quits after I got killed by a crowd of exploding mummies. WTF? It seems like getting to the bosses is far harder than killing the bosses, with the exception of that horrific Pursuers knight. Seems like they overloaded the front end difficulty and a lot of people will give up before they ease into easier levels, or at least build up skills and weapons to tackle the levels.

Awesome game but I can't imagine slogging through the Forest of Giants with no previous experience playing Dark Souls. No direction, death around every corner. I played most of the level at half health because I figured it was a waste to turn human if I was going to die in the next 30 seconds anyway. It took me so many tries to kill the Pursuer that none of the monsters were respawning on the trip. Thank god for small favors, but what happens when I find something that drops something useful like effigies or titanite? No farming? Or at least not much?

Overall I'm having a rather frustrating blast, but I'm going to have to tell my nephew to hold off on buying it. I walked him through Dark Souls, but I don't think I could keep him alive in Dark Souls II. I can barely keep myself alive, how am I going to save his sorry ass?

Game of the Year (for masochists). Eventually we'll start hearing chatter about how Dark Souls III will never get made because they can't justify the production costs. No one but hard core gamers will buy the next installment. Dark Souls jumped the shark.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:22 pm

I finished Dark Souls 2 tonight and I'm looking back at it pretty fondly, but with a few complaints. I could have finished yesterday but I was being stubborn trying to kill an optional boss who kicked my ass over and over and over. Never managed to kill it (ancient dragon) so I gave up and killed the final boss instead which was easy, not just compared to the ancient dragon, but just plain easy.

The game was a phenomenal adventure and I'm sure there's a ton of stuff I missed so subsequent playthroughs will always have something new, but one gripe I have is that the game was really front and end loaded on the difficulty. The first few bosses were simply brutal, largely because you have limited access to decent gear and upgrades and the last few levels are pretty hard too, but in a fun way. Most of the game is simply a matter of clearing the level and killing the boss and generally the levels seem harder than the bosses. I probably killed close to half of the bosses on the first try, and I honestly can't say that I killed ANY of the bosses in Dark Souls on the first try, though I don't remember for sure.

In sum, awesome game. Definitely a front runner for game of the year. If you picked this one up and are frustrated by the difficulty I would just encourage you to gut it out awhile. I think after the Lost Sinner or Executioner's Chariot you'll find the game eases up on you quite a bit. It packs a wollop towards the end, but that's expected, no?
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Re: Dark Souls

Postby pjbogart » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:34 pm

Finished all achievements tonight at a whopping 187 hours of gameplay. Granted, a lot of that was farming or just walking away and letting my guy sit and whistle, but even so I'd say I literally buried myself in Dark Souls 2 over the past month.

Last achievement was to inherit Lucatiel's equipment, which I thought I'd have to start a new character to keep her alive in NG++, but they gave her a pretty serious buff and she fights like a pro now (or at least she has incredible defense and health). She died once at The Rotten, but I even managed to keep her alive on the first try in the Lost Sinner after the two pyros joined the fray. The buff was so big I'd say she needs a nerf now, but I'm not complaining because it saved me a lot of time and trouble.

If anyone is sitting on the sidelines waiting for the courage to tackle Dark Souls 2, I'd say dive right in. It starts out super hard but turns into a pretty smooth adventure after the first few levels. And you should probably get used to the sometimes irritating multiplayer aspects because some of the bosses really need a summon and if you want to summon you need to open yourself up to invasions. C'est la vie. Plus, if an invader comes at a really bad time, just start a party chat and you'll go offline and kick the griefer. Go back on when you get to the boss and you'll find plenty of summon signs.

Happy dying, mofo's.
pjbogart
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6155
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:57 pm

Next

Return to Technology & Video Games

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater


commentsViewedForum
  ISTHMUS FLICKR

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar