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Learning to Praise the Sun

No one would argue that Dark Souls is an easy game, but difficulty is just scratching the surface. In other words, it's time to issue a formal apology to Dark Souls.

There are two people that require an apology. First, I want to apologize to myself. Patrick, you should have played Dark Souls sooner, and I'm sorry I didn't give you that opportunity. Second, I'd like to apologize to Dark Souls. More specifically, apologize for how I've been talking about Dark Souls.

Pretty happy that I never, ever have to fight this jerk again.

A few weeks ago, had someone asked me to describe Dark Souls in a single word, that word would have been "difficult." Having now linked the fire and watched the credits roll on Dark Souls, I'd say that description is both a truth...and a lie. Okay, disingenuous might be more apt. To merely say Dark Souls is "difficult" sells the game, and what it does to the player who decides to partake in its dance, terribly short.

There are countless reasons, reasons now much clearer, why the Souls games have connected with people. It's partially the both gorgeous and depressing art. It's partially the subtle but evocative narrative. It's partially the sense of community derived from solving a master-level puzzle. It's partially the sense of accomplishment. Beating Dark Souls feels like an achievement for a resume, one I can brag about because so many haven't done it.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the word "difficult," thanks to the arc of modern game design. Dark Souls is more "difficult" than your average game, but the average game also expects much less from you. The average game is more concerned with making sure you see everything the designers have been working on for the past few years. They've been working really, really hard on it! It cost lots of money, and it'd be a waste if it went unseen! In your average video game, a standard playthrough might result in missing a few collectibles. In Dark Souls, it could mean missing out on whole areas of the game, sections that might take hours to complete. It's even possible to miss the downloadable content you paid extra money for, as the game never makes accessing these other worlds clear. They basically require a FAQ.

You get what you give from Dark Souls. When you push, it pushes back. But if you push back with enough force, the right kind of force, the game moves out of the way. There is a reason people do "naked runs" in Dark Souls, trying to finish the game without any clothing and often without leveling up. It's possible. Everything in Dark Souls is avoidable, though much comes through trial-and-error. But once you know, it's all up to you. Patience is a valued virtue in Dark Souls, and a player's most powerful asset. And that's where the tug-of-war between player behavior and the game world begin to intertwine. At first, Dark Souls feels like an immoveable, impenetrable object. But as it turns out, you were trying to move it from the wrong side. At the right angle, it nudges. Soon, the nudge causes it to tilt. Then, it falls over.

But I can already feel myself falling into the word trap that originally turned me off to Dark Souls. Since playing Dark Souls was so tremendously rewarding, I've built up the story of my journey in my mind. The personal narrative of playing Dark Souls, in which one graduates from peasant to lord, makes the act of playing Dark Souls sound impossibly difficult. It's a hard game, but it is not impossible. It's overstated.

If you turned on the game right now, taking my word for it, you might come back and curse me for it. "Patrick, Dark Souls is super hard." And you'd be right, but you'd only be right because you've played an hour of the game. Maybe a few. Playing Dark Souls alongside Spelunky has reminded me a few things about how I play games these days. I mostly play them for the story, a casual observer to worlds that I'm making a brief stay in. The design of most games today both accepts and encourages this behavior. By the end of most games, you may have achieved basic competency of the game mechanics, but mastery is a long ways away. But the game doesn't ask you to achieve mastery, so why would you? Dark Souls and Spelunky begin with this design premise: watch and learn. If you don't watch, you're punished. If you don't learn, you're punished. But if you do both, you're rewarded with mastery, and Dark Souls bends to mastery. Not only does it bend, it buckles and breaks, respecting the player's ability to learn its rules.

Dark Souls hardly ever feels unfair. The one time it's truly trying to trick you, the trap-laden area known as Sen's Fortress, you know what you're getting into. It's meant to be a house of horrors. Just about anything else in the game can be avoided by being very cautious. (And that's true of Sen's Fortress, if you have my kind of ridiculous luck!) Reckless abandon will get you nowhere, though I did find the game benefited from a healthy dose of aggression, a tactic that allowed me to dance around animations.

Spelunky, like Dark Souls, respects and rewards players willing to listen what it's trying to say and learns from it.

Finishing Dark Souls feels like I've joined a club, albeit one that comes with some caveats. During my streams, I would roll my eyes at some folks who downplayed my victories with comments like "oh, god, he is just so OP [over powered]." This insinuates that because I was not playing with a weaker build, purposely making the game more difficult, I was not getting the true Dark Souls experience. These responses became conspiratorial in nature, too. "Oh, he must have watched a lot of streams before playing." (I watched one episode of Vinny playing, that's it.) "Oh, he must have looked up the optimal build to break the game." (I used a guide to figure out the upgrade system, but, hell, I stuck with the first axe the game gives you for my first 10 hours or so.) These comments never really got under my skin, especially after downing one of the game's most notorious boss duos, Ornstein and Smough, without summoning another player--and on my second try. With those jerks under my belt, I surmised that, hey, maybe I'm just pretty good.

But these people had a point.

Playing Dark Souls when it released would have been far different. Besides patches altering soul drops and DLC that inflates the player's stats ahead of the endgame, so much of Dark Souls is known. This is big. It's is a game that is constantly throwing curve balls. By playing in early 2014, I avoided some of that. This is both a blessing and a curse, and it depends on your perspective. The hardcore Dark Souls players who have been with the series from the beginning, the players frustrated that someone is coming to the series so late and finally seeing the light, have reason to be peeved the experience is not as genuine.

But I'd argue there's never been a better time to jump in and play Dark Souls, and learn what all the fuss is about. If you're stuck, look at a FAQ, ask for help on a message board, or watch some professionals playing on Twitch and YouTube. Your experience may be less "pure," but what's far worse is writing off a game--and a series--because it's too intimidating. The walls have been weakened around Dark Souls, but it's still a hell of a climb. I'm much happier to sit here and say "I've beaten Dark Souls" than not.

Try to think about the last game you finished. When the credits appeared, how'd you react? Did you pump your fist? Did it feel like a genuine accomplishment? Did you feel so excited about the moment, you simply had to share it with others? Not every game has to produce these feelings, but few do. The Souls games are not just very good games, they're interactive adventures that remind one they're alive.

And until Dark Souls II, we have these memories. So many memories.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
248 Comments
Posted by believer258

Try to think about the last game you finished. When the credits appeared, how'd you react? Did you pump your fist? Did it feel like a genuine accomplishment? Did you feel so excited about the moment, you simply had to share it with others?

Fire Emblem Awakening, on Hard, and yes. It felt pretty good. But I was also playing on Casual because I was tired of losing my characters and, as a result, I don't feel like I've mastered the mechanics, I've just learned a good deal about them. So I've started another playthrough.

Here's where I'm going to plug Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne again and hope that maybe somebody that hasn't played it yet, plays it. A lot of the qualities that people praise Dark Souls for - dark atmosphere, minimalist story, you need to pay attention, mechanics that are deeper than they appear, etc. - apply there, too.

Edited by pkmango7

@sravankb:

Well, we have come a long way from the Demon's Souls QL and 2011 podcast around Dark Souls' release. I never would have dreamed of Souls content at that time, much less anyone playing it to completion.

Monster Hunter plays very similarly but requires a much steeper time investment, something I don't think the GB crew is willing to (or can even) put forth. It's very frustrating picking and learning your first weapon. Also I feel like it's much more unforgiving in some ways. As an example I was already well versed in MH when I played Demon's Souls for the first time, and the dodge roll felt like a free Evasion +2.

While I love both of these series to death I don't expect GB to cater to my interests, I'm just happy the crew as of late is willing to get to the bottom of what the Souls games are about, a contrast of their previous attitude of "I don't understand how anyone can be into this so fuck you" and leaving it at that, although that was mostly Jeff and Ryan. And props to Patrick for getting into 3U, though I don't know if he made it to G-Rank.

Posted by walterbennet

Great write up, Patrick. I too think the game's difficulty is too often overstated. It's only difficult compared to the hand-holding trend in most modern games. It's on par with some of the 80s and 90s RPGs otherwise.

There is so much more that the game offers than a great challenge. I love the world and the lore, even though I was fucking baffled on my first playthrough because I ignored reading item descriptions. Now, five times through, I've pretty much got it all figured out. =)

I watched all of your streams, and your competency and ability to quickly learn new concepts was really impressive. I remember watching you take on the Gaping Dragon, and thinking to myself: "Yeah, he'll have no trouble with this game." I don't think you're an exceptional player, but you did get over the game's hurdles much faster than others I've seen, including myself.

Edited by GioVANNI

@sravankb said:

If only Giant Bomb had this attitude towards Monster Hunter.

And honestly, I would argue it's actually easier than both those titles. It's far, far less frustrating and easier to get into. The only hard part of that game is understanding a monster's AI and patterns.

Hell, it's far more satisfying as well. When you beat a monster it's because you have not just outsmarted it, but also out-maneuvered it. It has very little of the random traps and other bullshit you find in Dark Souls and Spelunky.

Other than the weighty combat mechanics, there's nothing really in common with these two games and I've never understood why people continue to compare them to each other. It is possible to love one and not the other.

Posted by Hew7

Great article Patrick. I am pretty much at the end of my first Dark Souls run, I need to finish it.

Edited by LikeaSsur

@patrickklepek: Yeah, I get it. Nobody on the Giant Bomb staff really cared about Dark Souls besides Vinny, and now they do, but Patrick, you're just one in a long line of people, both journalists and non-journalists alike, who have talked about Dark Souls to death about how the gameplay is so different, and how the story is so deep, and how the game is so punishing, yet so rewarding.

The problem is, nobody says anything different when they talk about it; it's just the same old "This game is cool because of these things that everyone has already talked about" and brings nothing new to the table. It's just...alright, Internet, we get it, Dark Souls is a good game. Let's move on.

Edited by EternalGamer2

This is a good write up, though I think you focus a bit too much on the intimidation and the challenge of the game and end up selling much of the game's accomplishments short. It's not just that it is challenging. It is also that it has a genuine since of exploratory adventure because it's secrets nor it's narrative framework are not obvious. And this includes everything from mysterious items and character narratives to secret passages and cryptic covenants. Sure, you might not figure it all out yourself, but you don't have to figure out everything to progress either. It's there for you to ponder and discover, alone or with friends.

I also just kind of disagree of how obtuse or hard it is often portrayed. All the game really asks of you in terms of exploration is that you read item descriptions and carefully look around environments to piece things together. Kay Plays Dark Souls is a blind run by an average gamer (actually she describes herself in the first video in much more modest terms) and she's pretty much uncovered all of it's secrets by herself just by smart observation and patient exploration. Again, she does this with no help from anyone. She doesn't even play online and get the soapstone hints. And she does just fine because she pays attention, reads the description of every item she comes across, talks to all NPC characters to mine their information, and explores carefully

I think the main thing I would say that separates Dark Souls is that it demands your full attention in terms of understanding and engaging it's combat, but also in terms of how you explore the world or uncover the narrative. We really do live in a multi-tasking world where most games are afraid to ask too much of us because we are doing fifty other things. Hell, the games themselves are not even confident enough in their ability to be worth our undivided attention so they constantly put big blinking markers showing us where to go because they are too afraid their narrative isn't interesting enough for us to care to listen to it. Or they throw up a bunch of achievements with random challenges because they think their combat systems aren't interesting enough on their own.

We are not used to a game that requires us to pay attention the thing we just picked up or one that does not allow us to get away with button mashing while we daydream about what we should fix for dinner. But Dark Souls forces you to be engaged and that leads to a level of immersion few games can offer. Immersion in a game world is ultimately not about graphics or requiring fast reflexes. It is about creating a world that demands you invest all your mental energy into and rewards that investment. Dark Souls doesn't require lightening fast reflexes or reading intricate FAQs to learn how to mid-max character builds. It just assumes that when you sit down to play a videogame, you actually want to fully invest in playing a motherfucking game, and not halfheartedly go through the motions while you do or think about a thousand other things.

Most games want to engage in small talk with the player while you both sit around and check your social media and drink beer. Dark Souls has the confidence to demand your undivided attention for a real conversation.

Posted by theodacourt

@turboman said:

Welcome to GiantSouls.com

Glad to be here! :D

Posted by Deathpooky

@likeassur said:

Alright, so now we can stop humping Dark Souls' leg, right?

It's a good game, but I think the praise of how great it is gets way overblown, especially on this website.

I want to warp back in time and have someone read this comment a year ago.

Rewatching the Spelunky and Dark/Demon Souls coverage from back at release is great. I think during the Spelunky quick look you guys basically said "a normal person could never beat the game without shortcuts." And now you refuse to give Tunnelman your damn shotgun.

Posted by psylah

Alright, so now we can stop humping Dark Souls' leg, right?

It's a good game, but I think the praise of how great it is gets way overblown, especially on this website.

I like how we went from "How come no one on the site gives Dark Souls props but Vinny?" in 2011 to people complaining about how much it gets brought up.

It's a damn fine game. When we think back to this generation, Demon's Souls and Dark Souls will definitely garner a mention.

Edited by GullumF

I started playing Dark Souls myself now, that only I can think about when I'm at work I do want to finish also. It might take me a while to see the credits roll.

Posted by Hassun

I finished my first playthrough at 300 hours so by that time my reaction was not all that ecstatic.

That's not to say I haven't put many hundreds of hours more into the game since.

And here I am, 2014, planning to buy Dark Soul 2 for both PS3 and PC, just like I did with Dark Souls 1 before it.

Edited by TheVGamer

@patrickklepek: Now it's time to convert Jeff to our "little" covenant...

Posted by Praise_the_sun

Those .gifs put a smile on my face.

Edited by crimsonlordofwar

@divergence: Ya, I made the mistake of going to the Cave of Giants before getting the ability to warp and stopped playing do to being trapped. Then Vinny did the 'load your last souls' series and I knew I had to beat it before he did and maned up and forced my way out......game became a cake walk do to spending so much time in the caves, but Dark Souls doesn't tell you where to go.

It was all made even more embarrassing to see pro's run through the catacombs 'naked' at level one.

Edited by Nyhus

I fucking love Dark Souls. What an interesting universe. Praise the sun!

Dark Souls and Spelunky begin with this design premise: watch and learn. If you don't watch, you're punished. If you don't learn, you're punished. But if you do both, you're rewarded with mastery, and Dark Souls bends to mastery. Not only does it bend, it buckles and breaks, respecting the player's ability to learn its rules.

Now this is a good description of Dark Souls!

And yes, when i finished that game for the first time last weed, it felt like i achieved something. Cause i did. I fucking beat Dark Souls.

Edited by EternalGamer2

Actually ANYBODY who thinks' it's not posible for an average gamer to figure out Dark Souls by themselves should check out Kay Plays Dark Souls. You can gradually see how a totally average player can figure out all those things you thought you had to look up to learn about just by talking to all the NPCs to get advice, reading all the item descriptions, and carefully looking around the levels. She does it all blind and cold, with no advice from anyone ever, not even online soapstones. And she makes good progress each stream.

Kay Plays Dark Souls - Blind Play Through

Dark Souls isn't imposible to uncover, videogame dudes. Unless you think Kay is just way way smarter and better than you at videogames. Then again, maybe she is...

Edited by Seeric

I have to say, as much as I love the combat parts of Dark Souls, I love it for its storytelling just about as much.

It's so rare to see a game which doesn't try to spell everything out for the player either through constant chatter between characters or (worse still) extensive cutscenes. Dark Souls constantly tosses bits and pieces of background on the setting and the characters at players via visual clues, small snippets of dialogue, and lore found on item descriptions; a lot of care was put into building a world and even more care was put into ensuring that players could discover it at their own pace and in their own ways - pieces of equipment which would simply be junk in just about any other game often are worth seeking simply because of the information they reveal.

On top of this, it's so very, very nice to see a game tell a story which isn't necessarily a happy one. Just about any character arc (let alone the main plot) has a bittersweet ending at best and a terribly tragic one at worst; Dark Souls doesn't try to be 'edgy', it's simply a depressing world which only gets worse the more you learn about it. The limitation to one save slot per character is an especially nice touch as every decision made gains a weighty air of finality and any accidents are irreversible.

In short, Dark Souls is a testament to the power of passive storytelling and I really wish we could see more of it since video games have proven to be a wonderfully powerful medium for this type of storytelling if only developers would learn to utilize it instead of bludgeoning players over the head with exposition-laden cutscenes.

Edited by NmareBfly

I just want to say that there's a really interesting blind playthrough going up on youtube by a woman named Kay (her channel.) She's playing totally offline so doesn't even have soapstone to help her, and she plays slowly, methodically, and very very patiently -- but starts with basically 0 experience. In the first few videos she doesn't even have character movement down yet, but the ease with which she later finds some of the more esoteric stuff in the game by playing with a level head is sort of amazing. No problem with the lower undead burg key (since she reads all the item descriptions.) Finds the way back to undead asylum with no issues and no spoilers, just by exploring. Sen's upper bonfire found in seconds by just looking over a ledge that everyone else just runs past. I dunno, it's just a really interesting play so far (she's up to Anor Londo) though in the earlier videos you have to be able to tolerate some meandering around menus and experimenting with controls. The only stuff she really misses on the regular are illusory walls. It's basically proof positive that Dark Souls might not be EASY but if you play it right it's not nearly as impossible as people make it out to be. She DOES get help in youtube comments for game mechanics like upgrade paths, but studiously avoids also level or event spoilers.

Fake edit: damnation, posted just a little too slow. Lol.

Edited by GERALTITUDE

oh my lord you duders you have to read this via gizoogle. Link!

There is two playas dat require a apology. First, I wanna apologize ta mah dirty ass. Patrick, you should have played Dark Souls sooner, n' I be sorry as a muthafucka I didn't hit you wit dat opportunity.

- Patrick

Posted by indure

Good read. I think that Dark Souls is often only praise based on its difficulty, but it actually has some very unique and well thought-out mechanics that are not only special, but implemented surprising well. I'm flabbergasted that some of these mechanics haven't made their way into other games.

In particular, the weapon system is really well done. It allows players freedom in picking their play-style as well as answering the incredibly hard question of how to balance low-tier common weapons with high-end special weapons. The weapon upgrade system is far from perfect, but by allowing the special weapons to initially start stronger, but even-out as use upgrade them, it makes boss loot feel meaningful, but doesn't restrict play-styles too much as you level.

My only real criticism about the game is that it is often referred to as extremely challenging, but 90% of the challenge seems to come from poor user interface design and almost non-existent information on many of the key game mechanics that defines player success I.E. player weight, stat progression, and weapon modification. The game is surpirising easy if you understand these mechanics, and although for most people the first play-through is tough, subsequent play-throughs are incredibly easy compared to other games.

Edited by fishmicmuffin

I'll share my favorite memory from my first time through Dark Souls.

I had just beaten the Capra Demon and was heading into Blighttown for the very first time. Standing on the bridge high above the poisonous water, I waded through the fire dogs and the marsh giants. I had 3 estus flask left when all was said and done, and I set the controller down for a moment to get up (I don't remember why) because I thought I had dealt with all of the threats in the area.

When I came back, sure enough, I had been hit by the toxic dart guys enough to have my health ticking down. I was at about a quarter life and I had no idea where anything was. After topping off my health, I started ignoring enemies and just making a mad dash for a bonfire I hoped to find. I saw a note on the ground which said a bonfire was near, so with about 4 enemies chasing me I ran around the bog floor, trying to find the supposed bonfire.When the bog poisoned me I gave up - I decided to take the elevator in the corner, hoping the bonfire was up there.

I had killed a couple of sets of the pesky bugs at that point, but I didn't know they would respawn continuously. As a melee character they were quite annoying to deal with, and now that the toxicity had taken me down to my final health bar with no estus left, they were going to be a major problem when combined with the poison. While my health was ticking down, I got a surprise from behind while I was riding the elevator to the top level. The bug knocked me off with its attack, fortunately for me just onto the level below and not all the way down. I quickly realized I couldn't deal with them on such narrow platforms with absolutely no spare health, so I dodged their attacks while on the tiny elevator platform.

Ignoring the other fire breathing bugs on the way up, I made it to the top level. At this point I was at about 60% hp with poison damage still ticking. I saw the long tunnel leading to the Valley of the Drakes, and decided to run for it. Running past the marsh giants, across the bridge, into the locked gate, up to the New Londo Ruins (an area I had never visited). I saw the guys hitting their heads on the wall and assumed they were hostile, sprinted past them as well, and finally found the elevator. I was at 20% hp at this point, no estus, carrying all of the souls I had gotten from the Capra Demon and many enemies in Blighttown. The poison had worn off, so I was just hoping the elevator would take me somewhere...anywhere friendly.

At the top of the elevator, after running up the stairs outside, I found myself in the Firelink Shrine. The sense of relief I felt at that moment is something that a video game had never done for me before and hasn't since. I was so invested in that moment that I let out an audible sigh of relief. I sat down at that bonfire, dumped all of my souls into strength (while I was using the drake sword as my main weapon... I was so naive), and continued on with my Dark Souls experience.

It's been about 2.5 years since I played that game, but I find myself thinking about it more often than any other. I'm so glad that many others have had similar experiences that will stick with them like this one will always stick with me, and I can't wait to have more with Dark Souls 2!

Edited by EternalGamer2

@nmarebfly: She deserves all the hits she gets. The progress she has made in a total natural way just shows how well designed the game really is for those who pay attention and how much it rewards that kind of careful play and observation. As nmarebfly mentioned, she is now up to Anor Londo boss (just about) but here are just a few of the things she found out all by herself w/ no help from anyone:

-read key description after Gargoyeles dropped it and found lower Undeadburg.

-Figured out how to use curse stones by reading the description

-Found her way back to Undead Asylum just by careful observation and exploration in Firelink.

-Found the bondfire at the top of Sen's Fortress the first time she made it to the top.

-Found Dusk (character you talk to to access DLC) and has learned about the legend of Aratorias through NPC and item descriptions.

-Found the entrance to and completed the Painted World.

Watching her play as actually taught me a lot of cool touches about the narrative I didn't even know about because she reads all the item descriptions and puts stuff together via thinking out loud about what she knows so far.

Posted by Aarny91

That Bed of Chaos gif is fantastic.

Posted by Cinnase7en

Play Demon's Souls at some point.

I'd say the biggest issue with Dark Souls isn't the game itself, it's what modern day game design has taught people to expect. Watching noobs stand there and take hits without blocking or dodging is fucking mesmerizing. Stop thinking this is God of War. Get out of the way. They want to brute force their way through. The moment you want some of these players to learn a rule set the moment it becomes "too hard" for them.

Edited by Tortoise

When DS2 comes out are we going to get 3 simultaneous competing streams of it, or what? Surely the race to finish it and wave the super-hardcore-gamer-champion flag of victory will be the most exciting feature of 2014

Edited by Billy_Ray_Valentine

Great write up, Patrick! Get some rest, soldier!

Posted by The_Vein

It's weird, people talk about Orn and Smaugh as hard, and the Four Kings as hard, but I beat both of those bosses my first try (granted I'd helped people beat O&S as a phantom to get sun medals) I thought the Bed of Bullshit was much more annoying, and Seathe and the the last boss.

Posted by Ltwood12

Watching you tackle Dark Souls encouraged me to dive back in. I had hit a wall at Sen's Fortress about a year ago. A couple of nights ago I got pretty far into it and I can't wait to get back to it. Thanks Patrick.

Edited by plaintomato

@shadowskill11 said:

Wow. I'd just like to know what happened at giantbomb. It seems like everyone has Dark Souls fever out of nowhere. I'm glad the guys now see the truth and love the Dark Souls gives you upon extended play but I'd like to know what the trigger for their combined love comes from.

The anticipation for Dark Souls 2 has the Souls community active again, warming up or passing the time. That fever is catching.

@sravankb said:

If only Giant Bomb had this attitude towards Monster Hunter.

And honestly, I would argue it's actually easier than both those titles. It's far, far less frustrating and easier to get into. The only hard part of that game is understanding a monster's AI and patterns.

Hell, it's far more satisfying as well. When you beat a monster it's because you have not just outsmarted it, but also out-maneuvered it. It has very little of the random traps and other bullshit you find in Dark Souls and Spelunky.

Maybe Monster Hunter should grow up and get itself released on a real platform like a big boy.

Anyway, that Sen's Fortress gif is insane, glad he posted it.

Posted by HeyGuys

Man I had such an experience with Dark Souls. I bought the game and played it the first month it came out and ended up beating last month a little after your stream was finished. I've never been so immersed by a game, partially because the game interrupts your adventure much less than most traditional games but also because at some point I realized that some of the RPG elements were a trick and saw that my ability to progress through the game wasn't tied as much to my character leveling up but instead it felt like as a player I was the one leveling up.

While not even realizing you're learning it the game teaches you how to play so well that the processes become unconscious.

Posted by PoopsOnLawn

Does anyone know which video has the part in the first gif where Patrick gets swatted onto a path by that tree/boss/thing? Really want to see that moment.

Edited by anzejk

Well, dear FitzPatrick, with you it usually goes like this:

You first talk shit about a game you've never ever even tried, then you try it and WOW, this game is fuckin' AMAZING!!!

THE END

Lesson learned (maybe): Don't talk shit about other games until you try and play them for at least a couple of hours. ;)

Posted by groin

Edited by Lukeweizer

That 2nd gif is incredible. Sooooooooo many close calls.

Posted by James_Hayward

excellent write up and analysis - as always I enjoyed hearing your take on things.

Posted by phantom_3d

im glad you changed your mind Patrick about dark souls it kind of annoyed me when you said that dark souls was easy on bombin the am.

understanding tricks of dark souls does give you an advantage but so much of the game difficulty comes from your skill, ability to adapt, good timing and luck. the bad UI and the weird and odd mechanics they just make it harder to get into game and effect players initial first 3 to 4 hours.

the dark souls series will get to point where hire someone make decent UI and to explain mechanics but game will still be difficult.

Edited by spraynardtatum

I'm still humping my way through this game after starting it when it first came out. I'm stuck at the Tomb of Giants. I killed Patches and I keep dying at by those insane skeleton beasts. The fact that that area is pitch black and I have to switch between the skull lantern back to my shield constantly is so nerve wrecking. I need to finish this game before 2 though.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Posted by Aetheldod

Good write up @patrickklepek ..... I saw your lucky amazing WTF awesome moment at bed of chaos. Makes my heart all warm and fuzzy :3

Just to add a bit to the conversation , vanilla Dark Souls did have some way OP stuff in there , example: the moonlight shield , I one shoted Nito with it and made the 4 kings a cake walk.

:( I miss that shield

Posted by Dragon_Puncher

Great write up Patrick.

Can't wait for the GB coverage of DS II.


Posted by Ashler

It really pains me to read this writeup having heard and read GiantBomb's possition since the game came out. Still remember how it was ignored during 2011's GOTY discusions and how it has been generally dismissed until very recently, with the word that DS2 was comming out,

I guess it's a case of better late than never...

Enjoyed the writeup Patrick, and you're right. You'd even love the game more if you'd played it when it came out (same for Demon's Souls). I guess you'll get a second chance with Dark Souls 2. :-)

Edited by MEANL3R

Awesome read.

I want to clarify something, I was one of those people who was saying "Dayumn, Patrick is OP." But that was not a knock against Patrick. In fact, quite the opposite. Patrick was OP because he was good at the game. The only reason he was able to have such great weapon upgrades, stats and levels, was because he played smart. He didn't lose many of his bloodstains (souls), and therefore had the ability to get levels and upgrade weapons and turn his character in to a walking nuke.

Edited by supermike6

@spraynardtatum: There are other ways to make light without the lantern. I think one is a magic spell/miracle and the other is a helmet you can find in Lost Izalith. Those are a lot easier to use than the lantern.

Posted by BradSF

I too just got into Dark Souls and I couldn't be happier that I did. Such a rewarding game that is, most importantly, fair. I never got into any sort of RPG primarily because of the fact that they typically take a grand amount of time to complete. Time I don't really have given the amount of games I try and play. However, after hearing so many stories and reading so many articles on the praise that this game gets, I found that I no longer had a choice and had to sit down and experience it for myself. While I still have to get through Lost Izalith and battle the final 3 bosses, this is easily one of my favorite games of all time. Can't wait to experience the sequel on day 1.

Edited by LikeaSsur

@psylah: If my post counts as complaining, then I'd stay away from most of these forum topics. You'd jump to apocryphal ramblings in moments with the amount and intensity you clearly jump to conclusions.

Posted by Mercer

I'm currently stuck in Blighttown, but I gotta get back in and slog through!

Posted by Draxyle

I'm still humping my way through this game after starting it when it first came out. I'm stuck at the Tomb of Giants. I killed Patches and I keep dying at by those insane skeleton beasts. The fact that that area is pitch black and I have to switch between the skull lantern back to my shield constantly is so nerve wrecking. I need to finish this game before 2 though.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Well, if you go to Lost Izalith first (the underground, lava place), you can find a hat that generates light if you search hard enough.

Other than that, if you've already reached patches, you're not terribly far from where you need to go in the Tomb. It just might take a bit of persistence and you'll eventually ingrain the route into your head; it's probably more worth it to just press on slowly and carefully with the lantern.

Edited by Lanceuppercut

Great article, I'm playing through Dark Souls right now purely because of your stream. I too am sorry I didn't play this game sooner, what an amazing experience can't wait to see the ending and get myself ready to do it all over again in a couple of weeks.

Posted by Conciliator

It's been so cool to watch the GB staff find their inner Souls these last few months. I always felt like they had never given the series the recognition it deserves but that's obviously no longer true.