So there is this game that I have heard a lot of talk about for the past year or two and last year when I saw it on sale through one Steam sale or another, I thought I would pick it up. The idea of playing in a fantasy world with massive bosses that would be pretty difficult seemed appealing. There was also something about a dark atmosphere and/or setting that peaked my interest as well. Dark Souls is this game. Dark Souls II was also brought up in a recent episode of Extra Credits, which I think the real inspiration to give this game a go came from.
Sometime last week after Conklederp had finished playing Skyrim for the night, I thought I'd start up Dark Souls as my mouse was on the other side of the room and when I first booted up the game a few months back, I knew that it would be a game that I would have to play with a controller; just take a look at the keyboard configurations required:
I felt like I was looking at keyboard set up for a flight simulator (I'm looking at you DCS World). Just the fact that there were separate keyboard commands for the camera movement was one of the key factors for me playing the game with the controller. Because of Goldeneye 007, I knew that I could not personally move around a camera/field of vision with buttons, the controls had to either be a mouse or a joystick. I am simply not that coordinated.
Once I got to this stage, it was time to create a character. Jump to me now playing my fourth character (female knight for those who want to know), and I now feel like I did something wrong in the item picking stage. I chose the "Tiny Being's Ring" as the description said that it would increase HP slowly over time, which I read to be that your HP regenerates. As it turns out, "Tiny Being's Ring" only increases your existing HP by 5%. Maybe I should have chosen an item that better suited towards being a knight? The Internets are apparently telling me that the Master Key is the item to go with for almost every class (except the Thief, which it comes equipped with). Blarg.
Presently I am about three and-a-half hours into the game and I could not really tell you the storyline. There is an intro cinematic that went into the an origin story of some god-like figures and their war against the dragons (who are made of rock/stone) with the help of one scaleless dragon. The game starts with your character waking up/coming to after being tossed in a dungeon cell. And you are already dead. Apparently being dead is something that remains constant during the game and I do not just mean that you die a lot, which also does happen quite frequently. You do have the ability to make yourself whole or human (ie: not dead, I think), but the reason to do that is to be "taken over" by other people playing online, or so that you can team up with other people who are also playing online, I am not really sure on either point as nothing was mentioned in-game about this.
What this all boils down to, is that I do not get this game. Yes, it is a beautifully created game with some wonderful vistas and the architecture of the structures is massive and imposing. If it was not that I was dying/being killed every 20 minutes, I would probably be having more fun. Additionally, dying would not be that big of an issue if all the souls collected from killing hollows (aka: enemies) were not "lost" after you are killed, but that seems to be a core aspect of the game. Granted, those souls could be picked back up if you make it back to the spot where you died to retrieve them, but all the enemies have also respawned. The enemies always respawn any time you rest/heal at a bonfire (which also acts as a checkpoint).
|Screen cap during my third character who was a male warrior; not the female knight I keep referring to.|
At this point, I want to progress with the game, but I feel that I am just too weak to venture out far enough so that I am not killing the same 10 enemies over and over. Grinding required? Three hours with this one character, seven hours overall and again, I do not understand this game. I find it very frustrating venturing out into this demonized world only far enough to kill a handful of enemies before having to trudge all the way back to the closest bonfire, save and then deal with the exact same enemies all over again.
I also apparently do not understand ranged combat in this game. From what I have experienced, in order to fire your ranged weapon (knives, crossbow, long bow), you have to lock on to your target, but you are unable to lock onto enemies who the game considers to be too far away. Which defeats the purpose of having a bow, at least in my opinion. Enemies on the other hand will chuck firebombs (clay jars filled with oil that are set on fire) indefinitely at you because of course they do.
Hand-to-hand combat is also something that I have an issue with. Each character has a standard and powerful attack. Each class (at least between the warrior and the knight) has different animations for their attacks, but it is the same every time. I found this out while doing a strong attack with the knight. The knight's strong attack is a lunge forward while swinging the sword across the horizon from back to front. Every time. Whereas the warrior lunges with his sword in a lunging motion. I found this very worrisome considering that a fair portion of the combat takes place around cliffs, precipices and rooftops. And you can very easily fall off while being surrounded in a cloud of flame thrown from a pyromancer and being attacked by some measly grunt and all you are trying to do is kill said pyromancer and in the course of the game catching up with the last time you pressed the attack button, the young knight plummets off the rooftop to die some hundred feet below.
You can also fall/die in large pools of water where your bloodstain will not show up, because fucking Dark Souls. Also it makes sense that a bloodstain would not be floating on a body of water.
If you could not tell, I am not sure if I will continue with this game. I know there will be (are) people who will say that the game is not about story, that it is a hack-and-slash that is supposed to be difficult and that you have to play at least 10 hours before the game starts getting good. Maybe I am just getting old when feel that I do not have 10 hours to spend on a game to figure out if I like it or not.
P.S. And in the point between writing this article and its posting, I have created two additional characters, a male pyromancer and a female sorcerer to get a feel for the magick based characters and see if I enjoy the game even more. Týr knows why I keep giving this game a chance. Maybe it does have it hooks in me and I just don't know it yet.