Well, this has been a loooooooong time in the making. I first got Dark Souls via Lovefilm for Xbox 360 in 2011, and posted a thread asking for advice on how to approach it. A lot of good advice in the thread, but it’s fun to look back to it, 8 years later.
Ultimately, I ran into the Bell Gargoyles on the roof, tried it many times. Then a trip came up, and when I came back, I moved onto something else. Then the generation was over, and I didn’t try again. Having been able to play it on the go would probably have made all the difference:
So I have reached my first severe frustration point. Two gargoyles on the roof. Pretty easy to get the first lose half of its energy. Then when the other appears I am f'ed. Another one of them stays far spitting fire, while the other is close. Using potion is impossible because takes too long, as do other items - if I use them close they whack me, if far they torch me.
Have probably tried 15 times at least.
I'm flying tmrw from London to LA and just had a thought - if I just could continue this on my Vita over the Atlantic
It 's well doable, right?
With Switch proving an amazing console to get into deep, long games, I decided to take it on again this April. I finally powered through the Bell Gargoyles, and boy what a journey it was. My playthrough took around 100h. I defeated all bosses except Dark Sun Gwyndolin, because I chose wrong. I finished at L105, with a Halberd +15 and a full Havel kit.
Here’s what I learned of the journey, and how I came to appreciate Dark Souls.
Understanding the core gameplay loop
It wasn’t really until I took on Bloodborne and made it to Cainhurst Hastle that I truly understood the attraction of the core gameplay loop.
Make it to a bonfire -> proceed as far as you can -> die -> proceed further -> die again -> proceed even further -> reach bonfire / open shortcut
This loop is so damn satisfying, every time. A new area opens up unknown and hostile. You are on the edge constantly, threading carefully. It seems overwhelming at first. Then, after a few tries, you begin to get it. Suddenly the area has gone from scary and unknown to fun and familiar.
Thinking ‘this is going to be hard’ makes the game harder
This is the paradox of Dark Souls. Because people have told you it’s hard, you are inclined to think that whatever impossible thing you meet is just you needing to ‘gid gud’. Except for one or two bosses, that is hardly ever the case. You are more likely just too early there, underpowered or lack equipment.
The game gets easier after the beginning
I am not sure if this was because of me getting better in the game, my character becoming stronger, or because the levels and bosses were easier, but I didn’t have a lot of trouble after Ornstein & Smough. So after I got past that road bump, it was pretty much smooth sailing to the end.
Wikis are essential
Some of the stuff in the game is almost impossible to find by your own, some real Simon’s Quest shit, so I did resort to a wiki every once in a while to make sense of it all. For example, Painted World or Arteamis or the DLC would have been pretty impossible to find. Also, understanding things like weapon and flask upgrades is pretty hard on your own.
The game is much longer than I thought
I was really surprised by how massive the game felt. I was sure Sen’s Fortress would be the end. Then when I got to Anor Londo, I was thinking ‘cool, what an awesome final area’. Little did I realise that the game was only starting to open up from there. What a crazy amount of content.
- Undead Burg. The run from the bonfire across the bridge, fire bombers, skeletons, that’s where I finally learned to play this game. I learned that holding my shield up I will bait the enemy to hit me and create a safe opening to hit back.
- Sen’s Fortress. Many swear words were yelled as I got whacked by the swinging blades and/or hit by the projectiles.
- Anor Londo. Those damn archers on the run up, holy shit.
- Tomb of Giants. Did it mostly in the dark because I couldn’t seem to find the lantern. I had placed them into storage.
Surprisingly, only a few bosses gave me a lot of grief. But four bosses stand out to me.
- Bell Gargoyles - my original fail point in 2011. Still had a hard time with it.
- Iron Golem - this seemed downright impossible until I accidentally pushed it over the edge
- Ornstein & Smough - took some 30 tries. Insanely hard.
- Chaos Witch Quelaag - until I had my wife look out for the tell of the red blast.
- Four Kings - this took a while, coordinating against many bosses was hard again.
While I am travelling, there won’t be any From Software games unfortunately. It’s going to be Octopath Traveller this week, and then Fire Emblem.
Once I get back to home I am thinking of playing Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3 next (PS4 Pro right?). I know the second game is not that well regarded, but I think playing it right after the first one will make me appreciate the QoL improvements in it, and I won’t find the gameplay style as jarring as I did if I played other games now.
After that, I will try and finish my Bloodborne playthrough. I have got until Ludwig, and then I gave up as something else came up.
Finally, I will get through Sekiro. I am currently at Gyonoby Oniwa.
Thanks GAF for all the help on this 8 year long journey, I have truly enjoyed it!