My Summer with the Souls Series

Posted by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

During my summer gaming doldrums, I decided to work on my backlog. After enjoying The Last of Us, it was time to move onto the pile. I incorrectly decided to start with Dark Souls; a game I had purchased back at the beginning of 2012. Following up The Last of Us with Dark Souls had about the same effect as the night I watched Hostel followed by Requiem for a Dream. Suffice to say, I quickly replaced my Dark Souls disc with Saints Row: The Third. Having previously completed Saints Row: The Third, I knew it was just the palette cleanser I needed. However, I soon found myself wanting to return to Lordran.

This summer was not the first time I tried to conquer Dark Souls. I made an effort to get through it back in 2012, finally giving up at about the half-way point. I was really enjoying the game, but the unforgiving traps and lizard-men of Sen’s Fortress had me tapping-out. Several times after that, I literally put the disc into the tray and took it out upon getting to the title screen. Without fail my fiancée would always say, “I thought you were going to play Dark Souls?” I soon after stumbled onto Rorie streaming himself playing Dark Souls (side note: is he still doing this?). I enjoyed his sense of humor about the game and learned a few new strategies. I read up a little more on the game and decided to start a new character.

The most jarring aspect of starting the game over was how quickly I was moving through the parts of the game I had already played. I was still dying, but felt like I had learned a lot from my original attempt. I got held up for a bit on the Capra Demon, but was quickly moving on back towards Sen’s Fortress. While I didn’t use it at every opportunity, I love the summoning mechanic of the game. It’s great to have a little back-up for some tough fights. It’s unique in that you can’t communicate with your allies and you risk another player invading you. I was pushing forward and better learning the ins and outs of the upgrade system. I soon arrived back at Sen’s Fortress and what followed was my favorite experience.

I felt a little better prepared for the traps and enemies when I entered. I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it up to the roof; just ahead of where I gave up before. After being burned alive and falling to my death several times, I soon reached the Iron Golem. After a swift death, I made a run back to the entrance and summoned in another player. Having no previous experience, I was not aware I could kill the giant throwing explosives during the fight. I summoned the same player twice, getting frustrated that he wasn’t making an attempt to dodge the explosives on the centre platform. My fiancée kept asking “Isn’t there a way to take out that guy throwing the explosives,” to which I would reply, “No, it doesn’t seem like it”. Feeling dumb, I soon found out he could be killed and a few great chaos fireballs later I was back on track. After my fiancée’s obligatory “I told you so”, I headed back to the entrance. To my surprise, I was able to summon in the same player for a third time. To my delight and with no communication necessary, he rushed up to the tower and checked to see that the giant was indeed dead. We then quickly took down the Iron Golem and I was hooked into finishing the rest of the game.

The rest of the game was very enjoyable; finally understanding why others liked it so much. That is not to say the rest of the game was not tough. Standouts for me include the silver knight archers in Anor Lando, the Four Kings, Great Grey Wolf Sif and Lost Izalith. I actually was reminded of Zelda towards the back third of the game. Collecting the Lord Souls from bosses has you visit some unique “dungeons” that are very distinct from one another. My favorite among these areas was the Duke’s Archives/The Crystal Caves. I pushed through these areas and the rest of the game in a solid weekend. The final fight with Gywn can be described as a marathon, not a sprint. After carefully managing my stamina, I took my openings and beat the game. I was soon eyeing the free copy of Demon’s Souls I downloaded as part of Playstation Plus.

I was a little surprised to see how similar Demon’s Souls was to Dark Souls. This wasn’t a bad thing, but the term “spiritual successor” doesn’t typically make me think of such a direct translation. I was indeed ready for more of the same and started a new character. One of the big differences is the way the game progresses. Dark Souls is an open-world game, whereas Demon’s Souls uses levels and a hub-world. I prefer the open-world layout, but I enjoyed bouncing back and forth between levels. The most interesting aspect of the game for me was seeing how certain areas and enemies inspired Dark Souls. The Valley of Defilement irritated me just as much Blight Town and I promptly killed Yurt the Silent Chief because of the armor he was wearing.

I really didn't expect to be on the other side of both of these games. I figured I’d get stuck at some other point along the way. I felt like writing this because these two titles are unique experiences in gaming. They truly feel different from other games in the RPG genre. If they seem like they’re in your wheelhouse, but you've stayed away due to what you've heard about the difficulty, I recommend you at least give them a shot. I now eagerly await Dark Souls 2.

#1 Edited by golguin (3832 posts) -

Dark Souls is one of the best games of this generation. It's too bad many people never attempt to play it because of the things they heard and even more put it down after barely getting through the first area.

I think it was Jeff that said something like "Current games have made us soft" after complaining about getting lost in some of the larger areas in The Last of Us.

#2 Posted by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

I agree. During my first attempt at Dark Souls, I felt like I was playing through an old Nintendo game. For the first time in a while, there weren't any prompts or arrows pointing out where to go. It's kind of funny actually that the only guidance you get outright is, "There's a bell up there and a bell down there. If you ring them, something cool might happen." I think I ended up in Darkroot Basin a little too early on and struggled.

#3 Posted by falserelic (5270 posts) -

After playing Demon Souls. I knew what I was getting myself into when I played Dark Souls. Though the game was challenging, it always feels rewarding when you pass tough obstacles. It may take trial and error, but its worth it. I may get down sometimes, but I won't stay down

#4 Posted by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

@falserelic: Having played both, did you find one more difficult than the other or just different? I felt like area wise they were pretty close in difficulty, but the last boss of an area in Demon's had a gimmick to them (making them easier).

#5 Edited by falserelic (5270 posts) -

@falserelic: Having played both, did you find one more difficult than the other or just different? I felt like area wise they were pretty close in difficulty, but the last boss of an area in Demon's had a gimmick to them (making them easier).

For most part they're both challenging in their own way. Both games had some pretty unique epic boss battles, but the final fight for Demon Souls was alot easier compared to Dark Souls.

#6 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5160 posts) -

Demon's Souls is noticeably easier than Dark Souls even having played Demon's Souls originally; though the greatest opponent in both games is falling to your death; Flamelurker is the only particularly difficult boss in Demon's Souls that can't be cheesed with Warding, the present version of Dark Souls has about 7 bosses at or near that level (including all 4 DLC bosses). While False King can be difficult he still has a pretty easy pattern to negotiate and isn't close to as aggressive or fast as Gwyn is. Maneater isn't difficult its simply a badly designed gearcheck, as is Four Kings; either can be won easily given the correct build with no learning phase required.

#7 Posted by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: I haven't picked up the DLC for Dark Souls yet. How is that?

#8 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5160 posts) -

@briggs713: Best part of the whole series pretty much.

#9 Posted by lylebot (28 posts) -

I am also having a Souls Summer. I've put 120+ hours into Demon's Souls since May (I'm in NG++ now and have all but 3 trophies) and I still feel like I'm learning new things about it. I'm planning to start Dark Souls next.

I didn't use any magic for my first playthrough, so I had to beat all bosses without Warding/Second Chance/Firestorm/etc. Most satisfying to beat: Flamelurker and False King. Most annoying: Maneater, who I finally just had to cheese by killing the first one from the fog gate. Most regret after cheesing: Tower Knight. Easiest: Penetrator, who was preoccupied with Biorr and never even saw me as I shot him full of fire arrows.

#10 Posted by golguin (3832 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: I haven't picked up the DLC for Dark Souls yet. How is that?

You need to play the DLC at lv 45-65. You don't want to go in there overpowered and ruin the boss fights.

#11 Posted by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

@lylebot: Flamelurker was pretty satisfying to beat for me as well. I ended up using the spell Water Shield and then dodged while I casted soul light. I was most excited when I beat Maneater. I had the first one down to only 50% when the second gargoyle showed up. I thought I was toast, but was able to keep my distance enough and held out. Enjoy Dark Souls!

#12 Posted by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

@golguin: Thanks, I'll have to look into picking that up soon.

#13 Posted by announakis (114 posts) -

@briggs713: yep the Sanctuary Guardian is a nice refresher of a boss that will probably kill you a few times if you arrive there not overpowered. Great Boss fight IMO. Artorias Is really cool too even if not really difficult I found. The dragon is great too, very difficult at the start...the final boss is quite bad though...But overall this DLC is really nice.

The only problem with it is that they introduced the dark sorceries in it... Dark beads is close to be game breaking for PvP...

#14 Posted by golguin (3832 posts) -

@briggs713: yep the Sanctuary Guardian is a nice refresher of a boss that will probably kill you a few times if you arrive there not overpowered. Great Boss fight IMO. Artorias Is really cool too even if not really difficult I found. The dragon is great too, very difficult at the start...the final boss is quite bad though...But overall this DLC is really nice.

The only problem with it is that they introduced the dark sorceries in it... Dark beads is close to be game breaking for PvP...

Manus is the best boss in Dark Souls. I fought him at lv 48 with only a few additional points in vitality and most of his physical attacks were near one hit killers. Getting caught in his combo attack meant certain death. His Dark Sorcery attacks would kill me every time.

He made me feel like I was playing Dark Souls for the first time because I actually needed to be summoned into the world of other players in order to learn how to dodge (didn't have the power to block his attacks) all of his attacks. I think I ended up killing him 8 times as a phantom before I went into my own world and killed him by myself (Sif didn't really do much). It was a super intense fight and I didn't use the pendent.

#15 Posted by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

@golguin: Is the DLC accessed via Darkroot Basin? Also, after beating the game I was loaded into NG+. Do I just have to be able to access Darkroot Basin in order to start the DLC or do I need to advance to a certain point through the game again (or level up to a certain point to even consider it)?

#16 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5160 posts) -

@briggs713: After having the DLC there will be a crystal golem at the start of the Duke's Archives which drops a pendant; once you have that you can access the portal at the rear of Darkroot basin which appears after you beat the hydra, reload, beat the crystal golem and then say yes to Dusk who pops out of that, then reload once more and there'll be a black blob of wonderment.

Manus is a good boss, though it would be nice if his Dark Bead had maybe a half second longer windup.

#17 Posted by charlie_victor_bravo (920 posts) -

I beat the Demon's Souls just so I can say I did it. I really did not enjoy it that much. It felt more inconvenient than hard - like if it was NES game, it would be Castlevania 2. It is good that these games exist but I got my share of inconvenience and "hardness" back in the 8-bit days.

#18 Edited by Briggs713 (212 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: Thanks for letting me know. Seems like a lot of positive response with the DLC so I'll be looking to download it soon.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.