By MikeLemmer 19 Comments
Jeff Green started playing Dark Souls as a joke, an old man playing the hardest game of the generation. He didn't expect to enjoy it. He didn't expect to continue it. He certainly didn't expect to get better at it. But after a dozen streams of the game, the "Mr. Magoo of Dark Souls" is making progress and improving his gameplay. Alongside the backseat driving and rants about him doing something wrong, a good chunk of the audience is cheering him on. "You know I used to chortle into my neckbeard thinking what would happen if he got to Smough and Ornstein, but he's getting better so quickly." "That was better than my first try at the Gaping Dragon. Jeff will be forged into a videogame warrior of steel by the time this is done."
Why are they so understanding? Because they've all been there.
Dark Souls veterans admit it isn't as hard as people think, it's just different. It tests your patience & caution instead of your reflexes. It's easier for novices to learn than the twitch reflexes needed for Call of Duty or Street Fighter, but gamers have gotten so used to throwing caution to the wind it utterly trips them up. Dark Souls is an antithesis to the era of quick saving, zerging, and Leeroy Jenkins. Novice and experts gamers alike are unprepared for the challenges Dark Souls offers, but the experts have the arrogance to think they can handle it. "I've played and beaten plenty of games. This'll be a walk in a park."
Dark Souls promptly humbles them. Rush into a fight? Death. Get too impatient? Death. Get a bit sloppy fighting next to a cliff? Death. The moment you act like you've got everything in the bag, Dark Souls brutally corrects you. The veteran gamers, not used to such punishment, declared Dark Souls "the hardest game ever", and the legend was born. And it is, in a sense.
It's hard to toss out years of gaming experience and start back from square one, to admit you're clueless about how to play, to unlearn and then relearn how to play a game. Dark Souls makes novices of us all. Its challenge shows no favorites, it's equally difficult for everyone. The comparisons to Legend of Zelda are apt; that game was the first action-adventure game for many of us, and Dark Souls replicates that feeling of playing something new & unknown.
It also provides a shared experience: the game makes fools of us all. We've all fallen off a cliff, or gotten backstabbed by an enemy we didn't see, or died to some trap we should've expected. No one got through their first run of Dark Souls easily; everyone took their bumps. When we see people like Jeff & Vinny stumble their way through the game, proclaiming they're "not that good", we emphasize because we all "weren't that good". We watch and encourage them because we also know what happens next: you take your scrapes, you learn your lessons, you improve, and then you beat a game you thought was impossible.
Dark Souls breaks you down & humbles you to build you back up. There is no gap between experts & novices in a game that makes novices of us all. Everyone can relate to that one stupid death, that one surprise, that one boss you finally beat after hours of attempts. That's why we want others to struggle through the game and beat it; if we can work our way up from scratch to defeat it, everyone can.