I dedicate this post to the two brave souls who helps me defeat the Bell Gargoyles for the very first time last night. You will never be forgotten, though I’ve already forgotten your Xbox user names.
Dark Souls has occupied an inordinate amount of my attention lately. It started last week when Vinny Caravella from Giant Bomb decided to stream his return to the game. (I would embed them, but the videos are subscriber only.) That got me looking for speed runs on YouTube. That video got me looking for Let’s Play videos.
And that led to me playing Dark Souls Sunday night. I looked at my achievements. It has been nearly two years since I last played the game. Even after watching the videos, I couldn’t remember how to control or play my character, so it was time to roll up someone new. Instead of playing it by ear, I followed the bog standard recommended build a rolled a pyromancer with the master key.
Wow, those Let’s Play people make this game look easy. I played through the Undead Asylum pretty quickly since it is straightforward once you know the layout. Even with all of the video training, the Asylum Demon killed me on my first attempt. But, practice make perfect, right?
On my first character, those two years ago, I ended up spending a lot of time farming the Undead Burg for souls. This time, since I was more confident in what I was doing, I moved through the zone with greater speed. After clearing the zone to the best of my abilities, charged right in to take on the Taurus Demon.
And he killed me. Over and over again. I swear, they make it look so easy in the videos! But down he went down eventually. One of the things they don’t tell you about Dark Souls is that death is actually liberating. Once you’ve been killed and you’ve lost your souls on hand (souls are currency and experience all rolled into one), you are free to just pile your enemies under your corpses until they no longer stand. As long as you can persevere, you can find a way to defeat your enemies.
I wasn’t about to end there. In my prior attempt, I never got very far into the Undead Parish. But I was confident that I could do better. I continued on. Past the rats, past hollows of all sorts, past the fang boar. Finally, I ascended the church and, with the two other players I mentioned earlier, I defeated the Gargoyles. Ringing the first Bell of Awakening was a huge achievement for me, something that seemed like a distant goal when I first started playing
When I turned off my Xbox for the night, I compared my save games. My new character was level 22 in under four hours. My old character was level 25 in over ten hours. I had accomplished more in one night than I ever did when I played back in 2011. No, I did not do it the right way. I watched all the videos and I followed the wikis. But I had fun doing it. Don’t let the perceived difficulty dissuade you. If I can get this far in Dark Souls, I suspect anyone can.