By MarkWahlberg 25 Comments
Breaking News: Dark Souls is a weird game.
I'd been hearing things about this game ever since it came out, but I never got a chance to play it until this past week (if you're wondering, I've rung the first bell, and am now dicking around in the Darkroot). I went in expecting it to be a cruel mistress best faced with patience etc, etc, but what I hadn't really expected was how deeply invested in its own atmosphere it would be. There isn't technically a whole lot to the game, just in terms of what you're really doing. The game is difficult, sure, but once get your jolly co-operation on, or figure out how to game the bosses, the basic simplicity of what's involved becomes quite apparent. Being an under-leveled dude facing normal enemies is actually when the game is at its most complicated, but that gets resolved just by grinding. Which isn't to say it's not fun, but the difficulty acts as a bit of a mask over the gameplay's weaknesses.
But the way they set everything up, the game takes on this weird sort of literary/abstract/philosophical vibe that's like a cross between The Magic Flute, Excalibur and a Gustave Dore illustration. For an 'open-world' game, it's actually quite small, with all of the places relatively close together, but each area is so self-defined that it becomes a sort of isolated image-concept - I'm really not even sure what the proper vocabulary is here. Maybe it's the way they name everything, I dunno. I'm really digging it, though.
I've also been trying to avoid getting too much information from the interwebs, just because not having any idea of what's going on is kind of fun. However, there was an... incident.
This might be something you guys know all about and won't be surprised by at all, but anyway. I was making my way through the second area of Darkroot Garden, and I bump into this Cheshire Cat type thing, who's all 'yo wassup join my crew, we wreck shit up' and i was like 'sounds tight daddy-o'. I chat with this one friendly dude with a ginormous sword around the corner, then I put on the ring and they warp me into another world and say 'so-and-so is your target'. Except there's two different dudes, one normal looking and one glowing like I am, neither of whom have a name tag so I have no idea who to attack. We stand there in a Mexican Stand-off for like 10 seconds, then the one dude who looks normal kills me in one hit with his magic whatever. So, fuck. I go back to my place and go mess around with the Asshole Ents for a while, but when I go back to hang out with the Cat, she's all 'YOU BETRAYED US, MISERABLE PIECE OF SHIT BURN IN HELL AEEARAHGAHSDHSAGH' and disappears. Then the one dude with the huge sword who had been all friendly before was like 'THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU SICK FUCK' and starts swinging. He kills me, I come back, he's still angry so I end up killing him and he's all 'why, you asshole, why'. And I'm just standing there like, 'the fuck is wrong with these people?.'
After I calmed down, I realized that I had become the Dark Souls version of Jason Bourne. Some secret assassination group hires me, I botch my first mission, they somehow decide that my failure is too costly and that it would be more expedient to get rid of me. I don't even know what their Covenant is even called, but from now on I'm referring to them as the Treadstone guys, and Cheshire Cat is now Brian Cox. As much as that sucked, it's also the most interesting thing that's happened so far. I'm sure there's some explanation for what happened, either a mistake on my part or just a glitch, but I'm just going to pretend I was the unwitting victim of some conspiracy. More fun that way. Especially if I ever see Brian Cox again...