[Early Thoughts] Dark Souls

This weekend I’ll try to get a real review out for it, but I’ll just shortly say that I had a fairly good time playing Bloodborne. The pacing in it is such that I’m sweating like a murder suspect on trial while I play. So naturally once I finished it I heard from countless people that I should play Dark Souls. “It’s the greatest thing to ever happen in gaming.” I’m told. So naturally I figure I’ll give it a go, I’ve got the game on steam anyways.

The game starts out innocently enough. The first handful of monsters you fight are relaxing and fun, they get you into the game slowly. Moments later, naturally, it has you fighting a gigantic demon. This too is actually pretty chill compared to anything you’ll be experiencing in Bloodborne. Already I could tell the game was going to be “relaxed”. I start moving through the first area and sure, I’m dying a bit, I’m winning a bit, and progression is smooth. It’s slow, and different, but not necessarily bad.

It isn’t until about the next moment that I realize things are going to be problematic.


The game is about to crank it to 11.

The game is about to crank it to 11.

While prior to this moment you fight nothing that even comes close to challenging you, the game figures that it is time to go absolutely balls to the walls insane. At first you are up against a Gargoyle with insane reach and high damage output. That’s not ultimately too bad, compared to either the first or second boss of Bloodborne that is still manageable. But then about the time you get the boss to half life a second one drops from the tower.

And did I mention the mofo breaths fire? And that that fire reaches like 15-20 yards? And that if it hits you it staggers you? Oh sorry, I misspoke. It’s not that the one that jumped down breaths fire. It’s that they both do now. It took me a fair bit of time to defeat these things. It wasn’t until I knocked off the tail of an exceptionally pissy red dragon that I finally had the damage output needed to kill one of these before the second one was close enough to ruin my day.

This has been my biggest problem with the game. The damage spikes are sudden and absolutely out of control. Everything that leads up to the Capra Demon do not prepare you for the bullshit that is its tight hallway and dual dog partners. This pattern seems to repeat constantly through the game. An hour or two of relatively chill combat, so slow that you might be forgiven for thinking the game is running in slow motion, capped off with an insane damage spike. And this spike isn’t always even bosses, sometimes it is sub bosses, and sometimes it’s just the staggeringly easy way you can walk into areas way too early.

I’ve made it through the mythical “blight town” and I’ll say that it wasn’t necessarily hard. It was just slow. So-god-awful-slow. I’m not entirely sure I’ll finish this game, I do find myself getting the urge to routinely restart and try the beginning again (as I’m better each time). In many ways this game is just kinda a pain in the ass. In the many ways that Bloodborne felt exceptionally well thought out (minus the Chalice Dungeons) I find this game to be very chaotic. It feels like a few teams worked on different parts without speaking and then at the end they sewed up the entire thing together.

I’m happy that others liked it, but I’m struggling right now. At least I can take solace in knowing that it isn’t just the game that is a pain in my ass.

I'm a pain in their ass too.

I’m a pain in their ass too.

[That said, Dark Souls 3 looks slick as shit and I’m very likely to buy it and probably will enjoy it.]

3 Comments on [Early Thoughts] Dark Souls

  1. Blake

    If you’re not having fun with your current playstyle, try a different build. The Drake Sword makes the first half of the game easy, unfortunately, but later you’ll need to pick up a different weapon. From the screenshots it looks like you’re using a one hander and shield, which is the slowest playstyle. My personal favorite build was what I called the Paladin: Lots of Faith so I could hurl lightning bolts and my weapon was a big two-hander. A lightly armored Dex build for fast rolling is very popular, and Magic is always OP in these games.

    I agree the game has flaws, and while I don’t really see a problem with the gargoyles (full disclosure: I spent hours on the harder version of the fight in Demon’s Souls), one of those flaws is the Capra Demon fight. It stymied me for ages on my first playthrough, and eventually I had to summon help. But most veteran Dark Souls players say he’s too simple, including me. This kind of imbalance, where newbies find it impossible and vets think it’s trivial, is a hallmark of bad design to me.

    If you’ve rung both bells, you’re not far now from Ornstein & Smough, the most iconic battle of Dark Souls. Good luck!

    • I may restart, but getting back to where I am now wouldn’t take very long now that I know where to go.

      I >am< interested in the knights. I've heard a lot of souls players talk about them. I might read up on different build options and see if I can get a good list of weapons. Because it does feel like a lot of stuff is hidden in the nooks and crannies of this world. Which is >cool< but it also means I have a tough time finding gear I like and by the time I DO find something I might have a bad build to use it.

      • Blake

        It’s probably not too late to switch to most builds. There’s no level cap, so if you find something cool you can always switch to it once you gain some levels.

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