My evening with Dark Souls.

After playing Resident Evil 6 to completion the night before, uninstalling it from my PS3, and trying hard not to reminisce on my experience with it, I was very depressed. Not because Resident Evil 6 is a bad game (well it is, but that's not why I was depressed) it was because I feel dependent on others more than I should. I'm not going to tell a very depressing story here, but needless to say I felt worthless. I have high functioning autism as well as having other mental illnesses. All my life I've been called vulnerable, weak, gentle, you name it. It takes me more effort than the average Joe to do many tasks that many people take for granted and do naturally. It takes me a lot of effort to get my thoughts into writing, let alone making it flow together. But I'm going to try and piece this tale together anyway because I feel it's worth telling.

I've had Dark Souls on my "to play someday" list for many months now. I bought the game a month or two after launch and never touched it. I played Demon's Souls when that first came out and remembered enjoying it a lot, but never could get past that Tower Knight boss so I tossed it aside and ended up trading it in. After finishing Resident Evil 6's 4 campaigns, I felt like I needed a break from the whole "popcorn movie" type game and play a game that was supposedly methodical instead of balls to the wall action packed. Simply put, I wanted a game that I could suck myself in, boost my self esteem, and make me feel like a badass while making me feel like I accomplished something. I thought Dark Souls would fill the niche quite easily....And I wasn't disappointed.

I've spent 10 hours on the game according to the save file and I feel like I've completed less than 1% of what the game had to offer me. I started out with the tutorial (of course) that explained the basics of the controls as well as have a taste of the game's on the edge of your seat combat with the Asylum Demon. And indeed, the game is very much a game where every action you take has to be done with care because one hit from a boss can easily take more than half of your life away and have you knocked back. I died a couple of times fighting the tutorial boss, but it wasn't so hard to fight my way back to him, so my frustration levels were kept to a minimum.

It wasn't until later, when I started to get out in the open world, that the game raised my blood pressure. The game gave me no sense of direction and there were multiple passages to which I could take. My objective was to ring two bells, that was all I knew. I didn't really know where to find the bells or how I should go about doing it. In fact pretty much all of the game's systems, with the exception of the controls, are hidden from the player and not explained. Usually a game will walk you through its systems one at a time with long bubbles of text to read through, but not this game. And I'll admit, I initially thought that was kinda too harsh. But it grew on me because most of what I learned in life, I learned by discovery, not by being told what they were. Pretty much every skill I have, I learned by practice. The game taught me how to play it, but it didn't teach me how to uncover it, if that makes any sense.

I ventured off into The Catacombs first, and was swarmed by skeletons that wouldn't die. I found a bonfire, but it was guarded by a man who can take 3/4 away of my health with his fireballs; combine that with the hordes of skeletons, and it wasn't a pretty sight. After awhile I stopped doing that and tried going on another path that was much easier for me to handle.

Everything was all fine and dandy for me until I reached the third floor of a tower and went through the white fog. There I met the Taurus Demon. We didn't get along well...

Where to begin with this guy? First off the battle is fought on a very narrow bridge that can barely support the damn monstrosity. The only way to dodge his attacks is to somehow to roll in between his legs. And there are arrows coming out of nowhere hitting me.

This was my attitude with the game for almost three hours. Not only was the boss virtually impossible, but getting to him was starting to lose its charm. Every time I lost a bit of health from the undead knights on my way to the Taurus Demon, I uttered "FUCK YOU!" and "GODDAMN IT"...Maybe utter is underestimating it a bit...Normally I don't get this angry at a video game, but in a game where I spent hours trying to beat this guy, I lost it a bit. That feeling of dependency suddenly took over me and I felt more than a little depressed and frustrated.

Then something amazing happened; you see those arrows that came out of nowhere actually were from snipers on top of the tower. After giving myself a mental facepalm, I took them out before going to face the demon, but I still proceeded to die from it. One time before facing the snipers, however, I decided to go after my souls first. This accidentally triggered the demon. I proceeded to quickly run to the tower and take out the snipers, the demon following behind. Luckily, the demon stayed at the edge of the tower while I slayed the snipers. I thought to myself, "huh, I guess I should try that plunge attack that I used for the Asylum Demon." I proceeded to do so and took a good chunk of his health off. I muttered "Gotcha bastard!" and did that same plunge attack 4 more times and killed him.

Suddenly all of the trials and hardships of my past were rewarded with joy. And most of all, it gave me a great sense of accomplishment and the notion that I can achieve anything with a little practice. Every battle up to that point was a practice of my patience and willingness to be careful and examine my options. Every battle felt tense and strategic, testing my might. Perseverance is an important tool, and this game reinforces that notion well. It's a testament to how video games /can/ teach people life skills. If I examine my options and learn from experience, surely that makes me independent. It may take more effort on my part, but giving in to my depression would've meant giving up, but I didn't. I saw the battle all the way through.

I'm currently further on in the game in the Undead Parish area with the blacksmith. And ever since the Taurus Demon, not a single curse was uttered. Hopefully I can keep it that way, and hopefully you all can see the importance of not giving up.

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