Demented Over Dark Souls
Rarely, if ever, does a game challenge me. Particularly within the last decade, when games are – in my humble opinion – getting marginally easier. Then along came Dark Souls.
The difficulty was forewarned to me extensively by fellow Manatank Editor Eric Pederson (a man who has spent the past couple of months throwing his controller around his room in annoyance) but I never truly believed just how difficult Dark Souls could possibly be. ‘Surely he’s lying’ I thought to myself, ‘I could do it – I know I could.’
I was wrong. Very wrong indeed. Dark Souls has tore me limb from limb, annoyed me into almost extreme levels of frustration but has also sent a ridiculous amount of determination circulating around my veins. See, despite it grinding into my psyche and making my call it possibly the most difficult game I’ve ever played, something about Dark Souls pulls me in, keeps me playing, and forces my hands to stay grasped around the controller and persevere.
It really is impossible to put into words how the game makes you feel, but it, for me, feels like a game that punishes you so relentlessly, even the smallest victory feels like a cause for dancing around the room in your underpants, shouting jubilant gibberish into the air as you listen to ‘We Are The Champions’ about four times. What other game have I ever played where merely getting to the bottom of a pit is considered the hardest thing I’ve probably done in years? None that immediately spring to mind.
It really has made me think just how spoiled we are in modern gaming. Dark Souls basically takes everything about modern gaming, throws it away, and starts again from the very beginning of gaming, offering a relentlessly unforgiving, difficult experience that is short on checkpoints and very high on shoving ridiculously powerful demons to fight every two steps.
See, despite how much this style has annoyed me, in many ways I’m also enjoying the challenge Dark Souls is giving me as a gamer. I’ve not felt a challenge like this for a very, very long time and I’m absolutely loving it, while at the same time wanting to dash my head against a wall after I’ve died for the fortieth time fighting a boss (which isn’t an exaggeration, and actually happened). It’s a game where people actually leave messages for other players online on the ground, forewarning them of challenges and advising them on the best tactics. None of your puerile online arguments here – Dark Souls forces us gamers to band together, and any help you give is greatly appreciated by whoever reads it.
Dark Souls is a game where difficult means something more than throwing waves of spawning enemies at you; instead difficult lies in every turn in this game, making this a tactically based action RPG that will make you suffer and force you into constantly making new strategies. For a modern gamer, Dark Souls will absolutely rip you to shreds if you aren’t prepared for it. Seriously, if you’ve being playing COD for years and had everyone holding your hand all the time, Dark Souls will really make you get some perspective and challenge you to persevere in the name of beating a game, and feeling satisfaction after you’ve done it.
Take me for example. I’m a pretty varied gamer. I’ve been playing since I had a Sega Megadrive (that’s the Genesis for my American chums) and in that time, I’ve played a diverse range of genres that I’ve enjoyed, but as we’ve entered the modern era, I, like practically everyone else, have became accustomed to a game generally holding our hands and easing us along at a nice leisurely pace, even on the harder difficulties. That is why I’m becoming Demented over Dark Souls – it is a game that fundementally I should despise, and at times, I do. Why is it, therefore, after cooling down for a couple of hours, I dive back into once again to try and beat that goddamn annoying boss I failed to defeat for around three hours earlier? It’s simple my friends: challenge.
Dark Souls brings back the challenge in gaming. In fact, it brings back so much challenge that it’s liable to drive you right over the edge and squarely into insanity town. At the same time, however, Dark Souls has made me realise that I’ve been missing a bit of challenge from my games, and I’m absolutely loving, despite hating it equally, delving into ridiculously difficult dungeons, smashing around ludicrously difficult bosses and looting weapons that generally aren’t much help as the monsters get stronger anyway.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off, once again, to try and beat that spider boss thing. Attempt number forty-one, here we go.