The dark tail-end of Dark Souls

Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

Seeing all the increased Dark Souls activity from all my friends I decided to get back in the game and complete my sacred vow of never leaving a game I paid full retail price unfinished. Having left the game hanging towards the very end, I was ready to once again dive deep into the world of Lordran. I had beaten Demons Souls on a brand new character just prior to the Dark Souls release just to get myself ready and was stoked when the game came out. In the beginning I was just as engrossed as with the original(Demons Souls), clumsily making my way through the Undead Burg and trying to find that mythical bell tower. Despite small technical hiccups, I was ready, willing and able to tackle another Souls game head on.

What struck me even back then was how much worse the game looked than Demons Souls and at first thought it might be due to me playing the XBOX 360 version. Soon enough I realized that both versions looked somewhat strange, but this didn't diminish the fun I was having with the brutal pinpoint precision needed to get through most areas. Performance hiccups and constant failed summonings were also a midly irritating issues but still I was not deterred. At the time of release another fun fact was that no one knew anything about this game. We all stumbled forward and discoveries by players such as the famed Drake Sword were huge events that happened on a weekly basis. There was a genuine feel of community driven exploration. At a certain point I hit a wall though, and not of skill mind you but rather of perseverance. Strangely enough I found myself losing steam, despite all this anticipation that had been brewing in me up until release. I had defeated Smough and Ornstein, the hardest boss fight yet, and wrapped up a few other lose ends with covenants. I had only a few boss fights remaining before facing down Gwyn, but no motivation to get to any of them. The areas simply screamed frustration rather than challenging fun.

He's about to be your cameras worst nightmare

At this point I had stopped playing, literally for a year. As I mentioned earlier the increased activity surrounding Dark Souls coerced me to jump back in and finish it so I can honestly compare it the previous game which I loved so much. At this point I can honestly say I enjoyed the Demons Souls experience a lot more. The entire tail end of the game was very frustrating. The Centipede Demon fight must have been one of the worst boss fights I can recall in recent times. Having to fight on a tiny bit of land, surrounded by lava, with a lock on point that was beyond the reach of my weapon and caused the already struggling camera to explode in clipping induced seizures was the worst Dark Souls experience thus far. It's not even the fact that the boss was hard, because at my current level and gear status it wasn't too challenging but from a technical standpoint it was a nightmare. Bed of Chaos was another poorly designed fight. Instant death if you don't know whats coming makes for a poor fight when you're forced to keep coming back to learn from your two second long mistakes. The designers themselves must have known this wasn't orchestrated too well as uncharacteristically for a Souls game you don't have to start the fight from scratch each time you enter. After these two fights I had to go to Tomb of the Giants next which was just as awful as imagined. The part where the dogs begin is probably the worst and even with the newly acquired Sun Maggot hat, navigating those depth was thoroughly unpleasant. Once again, the boss fight with Nito himself wasn't especially difficult, but getting to him was a nightmare of it's own. Out of all the possible bosses I had to get out of the way, Seath was the most painless to get to. The Dukes Archives were actually an interesting location although nowhere near as atmospheric as the Tower of Latria. The boss fight was easy and I died only due to my own stupidity.

Gwyn the Lord of Cinder

All my troubles finally led me to face off with Gwyn. The Last Kiln area was by far the best looking set piece of the entire game. The scorched earth with a crumbling mausoleum off in the distance was a sight to behold. I feel as if all the Black Knights along the way are actually there as practice for parrying, which I had not used once during the entire game. When I finally faced the Lord of Cinder I already knew that you just had to parry all his attacks and with 20 flasks this was going to be a breeze. For the most part it was, during my very first attempt I had gotten Gwyn down to a sliver of life left, effortlessly parrying most of his attacks. It's at this point that as he was getting up and I was ready to deliver the final blow, I clicked in the stick and the auto targeting completely spazzed out turning me away from Gwyn and getting slashed to pieces. I suppose this annoyed me so much that it completely threw me off balance and it was on my 6th or so attempt that I was finally able to beat him.

Dark Souls is a wonderfully unique game. I had a ton of fun initially playing it but I think in the grand scheme of things the latter sections of the game were simply not designed that well. The Undead Burg, Sens Forthress, those were still areas I was enjoying a lot. Even the fabled Blighttown was not as horrendous as most people made it out to be. Lost Izalith and the Tomb of Giants were horrible areas filled with annoying enemies and terrible boss fights which sucked most of the fun out of the challenge. I sincerely hope they make another Souls game, and will happily play it on next gen hardware, but I also wish they learn and build on the concept. For goodness sake From Software, update the targetting system! While Demons Souls to me was a great experience with areas ranging from amazing to maybe slightly less enjoyable - Dark Souls was a complete hit or miss and when it missed I feel it did so pretty hard. Despite that I am happy to have completed it and anxiously await Darker Souls in 2014 - and for those who might be curious and still actually reading, I decided to plunge the world into darkness.

#1 Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

Seeing all the increased Dark Souls activity from all my friends I decided to get back in the game and complete my sacred vow of never leaving a game I paid full retail price unfinished. Having left the game hanging towards the very end, I was ready to once again dive deep into the world of Lordran. I had beaten Demons Souls on a brand new character just prior to the Dark Souls release just to get myself ready and was stoked when the game came out. In the beginning I was just as engrossed as with the original(Demons Souls), clumsily making my way through the Undead Burg and trying to find that mythical bell tower. Despite small technical hiccups, I was ready, willing and able to tackle another Souls game head on.

What struck me even back then was how much worse the game looked than Demons Souls and at first thought it might be due to me playing the XBOX 360 version. Soon enough I realized that both versions looked somewhat strange, but this didn't diminish the fun I was having with the brutal pinpoint precision needed to get through most areas. Performance hiccups and constant failed summonings were also a midly irritating issues but still I was not deterred. At the time of release another fun fact was that no one knew anything about this game. We all stumbled forward and discoveries by players such as the famed Drake Sword were huge events that happened on a weekly basis. There was a genuine feel of community driven exploration. At a certain point I hit a wall though, and not of skill mind you but rather of perseverance. Strangely enough I found myself losing steam, despite all this anticipation that had been brewing in me up until release. I had defeated Smough and Ornstein, the hardest boss fight yet, and wrapped up a few other lose ends with covenants. I had only a few boss fights remaining before facing down Gwyn, but no motivation to get to any of them. The areas simply screamed frustration rather than challenging fun.

He's about to be your cameras worst nightmare

At this point I had stopped playing, literally for a year. As I mentioned earlier the increased activity surrounding Dark Souls coerced me to jump back in and finish it so I can honestly compare it the previous game which I loved so much. At this point I can honestly say I enjoyed the Demons Souls experience a lot more. The entire tail end of the game was very frustrating. The Centipede Demon fight must have been one of the worst boss fights I can recall in recent times. Having to fight on a tiny bit of land, surrounded by lava, with a lock on point that was beyond the reach of my weapon and caused the already struggling camera to explode in clipping induced seizures was the worst Dark Souls experience thus far. It's not even the fact that the boss was hard, because at my current level and gear status it wasn't too challenging but from a technical standpoint it was a nightmare. Bed of Chaos was another poorly designed fight. Instant death if you don't know whats coming makes for a poor fight when you're forced to keep coming back to learn from your two second long mistakes. The designers themselves must have known this wasn't orchestrated too well as uncharacteristically for a Souls game you don't have to start the fight from scratch each time you enter. After these two fights I had to go to Tomb of the Giants next which was just as awful as imagined. The part where the dogs begin is probably the worst and even with the newly acquired Sun Maggot hat, navigating those depth was thoroughly unpleasant. Once again, the boss fight with Nito himself wasn't especially difficult, but getting to him was a nightmare of it's own. Out of all the possible bosses I had to get out of the way, Seath was the most painless to get to. The Dukes Archives were actually an interesting location although nowhere near as atmospheric as the Tower of Latria. The boss fight was easy and I died only due to my own stupidity.

Gwyn the Lord of Cinder

All my troubles finally led me to face off with Gwyn. The Last Kiln area was by far the best looking set piece of the entire game. The scorched earth with a crumbling mausoleum off in the distance was a sight to behold. I feel as if all the Black Knights along the way are actually there as practice for parrying, which I had not used once during the entire game. When I finally faced the Lord of Cinder I already knew that you just had to parry all his attacks and with 20 flasks this was going to be a breeze. For the most part it was, during my very first attempt I had gotten Gwyn down to a sliver of life left, effortlessly parrying most of his attacks. It's at this point that as he was getting up and I was ready to deliver the final blow, I clicked in the stick and the auto targeting completely spazzed out turning me away from Gwyn and getting slashed to pieces. I suppose this annoyed me so much that it completely threw me off balance and it was on my 6th or so attempt that I was finally able to beat him.

Dark Souls is a wonderfully unique game. I had a ton of fun initially playing it but I think in the grand scheme of things the latter sections of the game were simply not designed that well. The Undead Burg, Sens Forthress, those were still areas I was enjoying a lot. Even the fabled Blighttown was not as horrendous as most people made it out to be. Lost Izalith and the Tomb of Giants were horrible areas filled with annoying enemies and terrible boss fights which sucked most of the fun out of the challenge. I sincerely hope they make another Souls game, and will happily play it on next gen hardware, but I also wish they learn and build on the concept. For goodness sake From Software, update the targetting system! While Demons Souls to me was a great experience with areas ranging from amazing to maybe slightly less enjoyable - Dark Souls was a complete hit or miss and when it missed I feel it did so pretty hard. Despite that I am happy to have completed it and anxiously await Darker Souls in 2014 - and for those who might be curious and still actually reading, I decided to plunge the world into darkness.

#2 Posted by DelroyLindo (387 posts) -

I disagree with a lot of points. I really liked Tomb of the Giants and Lost Izalith. They were a bit of a pain and horrible places to be in (especially tog) but that's part of the charm.

I agree that Bed of Chaos is a satchel of shit though. For the most part I found the latter half of the game just as engrossing as the first.

#3 Posted by Roland_D11 (193 posts) -

So you introduced the Age of Darkness, which is the age of humans, good work :-) .

About the boss fights:

Yes, the Bed of Chaos fight is by far the worst in the game, it is the only fight I do not feel bad after when I cheesed it (hit the right glowing thing, quit, back in before the boss fog, hit the left glowing thing with arrows etc.). But Centipede Demon was not so bad, especially because you can use the boss room to your advantage. There is a bigger patch of land to the right of the entrance, you need to jump over the lava twice to get there. And if you got Solaire with you to hold him off he is pretty easy. You could even skip him and most of Izalith by levelling up in the Chaos Covenant.

#4 Edited by Tennmuerti (8141 posts) -

I actually found Dark Souls much more fun and better game overall from Demons Souls.

Where Demon's felt like it was difficult by merely being cheap most of the time, Dark's difficulty curve always felt fair to me. Where Demon's felt very biased towards certain playstyles and gimped with others, Dark actually felt like it allowed me to play on a fairly even ground with all playstyles. Where Demon's had an upgrade item system so convoluted and punishing it went up it's own ass with a ribbed dildo, Dark's upgrade system felt quite achievable without jumping through a bunch of hoops even if it still took a lot of effort. Graphically "technically" both games looked like shit, while graphically artistically they both had great monster and environmental designs.

Playing games in a series one right after the other always carries the risk of wearing you down and souring on the next game. Especially when the games have not undergone any major changes and when they are either long or taxing.

#5 Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@Tennmuerti: I felt more cheap moments in Dark Souls than Demons but this is all just my personal opinion. Demons Souls didn't pit you against multiple foes in boss fights nearly as much as Dark Souls which in itself is cheap and annoying because the game doesn't play very well when you're not fighting something one on one due to the horrible targetting system.

@Roland_D11: Centipede was just annoying because of how much the camera kept spazzing out on me and how locking on to the enemy meant I wouldn't even hit him with my halberd. When I figured out you just run left and right with your shield up and hit his legs, tail it was easy but still not a "fun" fight in the slightest for me.

Originally this was going to be just a reply to a thread but it got so bloated that I turned it into a blog - so as a disclaimer there are all just my opinions and not irrefutable facts per se.

#6 Posted by TruthTellah (9323 posts) -

@Humanity: You should check out the PC version. The additional content is really nice and I think it deals with a number of your issues with the game.

Glad you had such a dark time with it though! :)

#7 Posted by nosferat2 (34 posts) -

Well written article here. I don't entirely agree with you, however. I didn't find the Centipede Demon too difficult. Bed Of Chaos is pretty damned weird, and probably the least-"Souls" boss in either game, and hell it was pretty damn annoying (espeically getting to the boss, getting killed in four seconds, then having to run ALL THE WAY BACK THROUGH most of the level, only to be swept into the black abyss after twenty more seconds, then repeat...), but even with all that, I didn't mind it. Not great, not terrible. I made the mistake of going into the catacombs early (which was horrible), and even when I was much stronger, fighting through that area sucked. But, it didn't suck NEARLY as bad as Tomb Of The Giants. One of the most brutal areas in either Souls game. That being said, I found it...not fun...not enjoyable...just, hard. It was cool because the darkness made it quite mysterious, and it was scary to navigate through. The ending was tough, but I enjoyed it. I will say, I HATED Duke's Archives so much

#8 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11918 posts) -

I do agree that the endgame of Dark Souls isn't nearly as good as the opening, though probably not as much as you. Tomb of the Giants is the single worst part of the game, bar none. Blighttown may poison you and drag the framerate down, but it isn't pitch black and hateful in the same way. Lost Izalith is pretty bad too (especially Bed of Chaos), but I dunno. I actually liked the Duke's Archives, though that boss fight would've been a lot more frustrating had I not had a summoned buddy to help me.

Online
#9 Posted by Maajin (1074 posts) -

I'm also on the camp that finds Dark Souls so much better in every single aspect than Demon's Souls.

#10 Posted by nosferat2 (34 posts) -

I think Dark Souls eeks out Demon's Souls by just a smidge. I enjoy Dark Souls as a whole: beginning, middle, and end. I really didn't like Duke's Archives, and I hated that invisible crystal cave you have to get through to get to Seath. Lost Izalith was all right, although those giant dinosaur things (can't remember their names) were such bastards. I kinda liked all the orange glow of the lava. I didn't mind Blighttown actually. I suppose my least favorite part was Duke's Archive. Actually, scratch that: New Londo Ruins was my least favorite. Duke's is second

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