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    Dark Souls

    Game » consists of 14 releases. Released Sep 22, 2011

    A quasi-sequel to From Software's action-RPG Demon's Souls, set in a new universe while retaining most of the basic gameplay and the high level of challenge. It features a less-linear world, a new checkpoint system in the form of bonfires, and the unique Humanity system.

    Ass Do Lurk: Adventures in a Jumbled Lordran

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    Mento

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    Edited By Mento  Moderator
    No Caption Provided

    Lo there, scaleless dukes and furtive pygmies alike. If there's anything I like to write about way too often, besides just "everything", it's randomizer hacks. For as much as I tend to steer clear of roguelike games and those that prominently feature procedural generation due to how creatively stifling it can be to rely too much on algorithms, there's something about randomizer hacks in particular that I find so appealing. I think because they offer a chance to revisit games I've previously enjoyed in full once or twice before and getting to experience a whole new side to them; in some cases it's just the novelty of wandering around and seeing all the new enemy and item placements, but occasionally the way I approach the game has to necessarily change to account for some unexpected new hurdle or roadblock. I've tried out a few in the past based on older (usually between 16-bit and 64-bit) games like A Link to the Past and Super Mario 64, but the one I've really been wanting to try out was the original Dark Souls. Now that I finally have a half-decent system that can take the punishment of a modern(ish) game running multiple ridiculous mods at once, the timing seemed auspicious.

    Dark Souls is, of course, the second Souls game and my personal favorite (Bloodborne aside, which can't be played on PC, still, for reasons as unfathomable as the Great Old Ones themselves). It left such an impression on me the first time I played that I'm near-certain I wouldn't get lost even if all the key items got jumbled up and dropped in unfamiliar new locations. Likewise, the skills I sharpened while dying to that game's bosses over and over has given me an (if not entirely warranted) self-confidence to weather the worst Lordran has to throw my way. There's limitations to the process of simply remixing all the items and enemies, and deep down I know it's going to be essentially the same experience, but poking around some randomizers seems like a perfect excuse to jump back into that world and possibly try a new character build in the process.

    I've presented here a few scattered screengrabs of my time in the newly-revised Dark Souls, passing through the Undead Asylum on the way to Undead Burg and Undead Parish and eventually locations that don't have "undead" in their titles and yet are even less pleasant. First though, I'll get into what randomizers I've been using and the settings I've opted for.

    The Randomizer(s)

    So I've been using HotPocketRemix's Item Randomizer and rycheNhavalys's Enemy Randomizer with the following settings:

    No Caption Provided

    For Items, I've shuffled all the key items including the Lordvessel (which lets you warp, so I was tempted to leave it be; instead, I'm now hoping I get it early) and the four Lord Souls. I liked the idea of NPCs wearing random mismatched armor sets—why should they be any more fashionable than I?—and I've replaced all the "low-level" soul-gaining items (which so far has been all of them besides boss souls) because I was curious what the randomizer would produce instead. This, of course, does not mean I can avoid collecting all those white glowy items from the corpses lying around inopportune places because any one of them might be holding onto a vital key item. Ditto for previously inessential locations like Painted World or Ash Lake. It's going to be quite the journey to the four ends of this accursed land to recover everything I need, though there's always a chance that every essential item just miraculously drops into my lap while on the critical path.

    No Caption Provided

    With the Enemy Randomizer there's potential to really screw yourself over and I'll admit to being too much of a wuss to mix bosses in with regular enemy placements or opt for a fully unbiased enemy swap. I've instead opted for the "difficulty curve" with the "a bit loose" modifier, which will likely provide but not guarantee enemies that I can actually deal with in those early areas. Of course, a true Souls player knows to run past everything if they can help it and ignore the souls if they don't need them in that moment in time, but on the whole Undead Burg can be a pretty rough start with all those narrow paths and more so if there's something real nasty sitting on them. As we'll see, the promise of a tough but not insurmountable trial proved to be an attainable dream, if perhaps one that still highlights my cowardice. I misread the "not replacing NPCs" setting: I thought they meant hostile NPCs, such as Havel or the invaders, which I still wanted to meet. It does in fact mean all of them, including friendly ones who can still be talked to even though they're a basilisk or a skeleton or something now. I kinda wanted to keep them all human for the stupid armor thing though, I'll admit it.

    The Enemy Randomizer also had a few more options (you can see the Other Options tabs in the screenshot) and those include not randomizing the mimics (I randomized them), some conditions relating to boss adds (the second gargoyle or the Pinwheel clones, for example, which have also been randomized), and a way to nerf the chances of Gwyn showing up as a normal enemy replacement since having to fight the final boss while jogging around Blighttown is probably too much to ask. I also left T-posing on for certain enemy spawns because who doesn't love T-posing? Pop those Christ Airs, my undead brahs.

    Anyway, these are two pretty robust randomizers that I'm thankful still accounted for dirty casuls like myself wanting to check out some dumb randomizer fun out of pure curiosity rather than the hardest of the hardcore "run around naked and solo Malenia" types looking for new wrinkles and speedrun opportunities in a game they've already mastered and then some. To you two fine mod-development persons, I doff whatever ridiculous hat the randomizer will spawn me with.

    The Playthrough

    For this annotated screenshot LP I've decided to mostly stick to the ways the randomizer has caused me to deviate from my usual behavior, either in terms of figuring out where to go or how to overcome the obstacles in front of me. That is, as opposed to taking a screenshot everytime an item/enemy is different and going "wow, the item/enemy is different, how strange is that?" like I've only just now realized what a randomizer does (though I might be tempted to make a few of those regardless).

    Due to the way the enemy randomizer is set, I don't have full freedom from the start to go anywhere I wish without suffering an ignominious fate: the new enemies are still approximately matched to the difficulty of the foes that used to occupy their spots so if I were to, for example, head into the graveyard from Firelink I can expect some heavy resistance that won't get any easier to cope with should I go as deep as the Tomb of the Giants. That said, if I can get some lucky item drops it might alleviate the difficulty added by the new monster locations. How much easier or harder the game may become is one of the more entertaining surprises that comes with a randomizer, after all.

    Well, here we are and... what the hell am I wearing?
    Well, here we are and... what the hell am I wearing?

    Side-Note: "The Sacrifice" i.e. the protagonist. Since all the spells are jumbled up with the rest of the items and since I've never ran one before, I've decided to go for a mage-type build. Since that might take a while to craft—I'll need a decent Intelligence stat first, and that's going to come after I've boosted Endurance and Vitality to survival levels as well as my Strength (and Dex) for a decent weapon—I went with the Pyromancer starting class so I could get some practice fighting with witchcraft in the meanwhile. Pyro also starts at level 1 and has a decent array of all-rounder stats, so it's generally the best choice regardless of your intended build.

    My starting gear included a Pyromancy Flame +2, the extremely bulky Golem Armor from the Iron Golem boss fight, the Helm of the Wise that Domhnall (the weird dude in the sewers) sells, and the blood-stained skirt from the Dead Firekeeper set. No gloves or other gear. For some reason, I start with the "Undead Rapport" pyromancy spell which I've never been able to get to work.

    Making progress in Undead Asylum. Here we have our first fashion victim (as well as regular victim, since he's dying) NPC. I think that might be Artorias's hat and a black cleric robe? Dude should've worn armor or something if he was going to embark on a dangerous mission like this.
    Making progress in Undead Asylum. Here we have our first fashion victim (as well as regular victim, since he's dying) NPC. I think that might be Artorias's hat and a black cleric robe? Dude should've worn armor or something if he was going to embark on a dangerous mission like this.
    The enemies are pretty atypical but not too challenging. Even if the little mushroom guys are a bit sturdy for the weaponry I've found so far, which is just this big blacksmith hammer I need two hands to wield properly, they are at least slow enough to dodge.
    The enemies are pretty atypical but not too challenging. Even if the little mushroom guys are a bit sturdy for the weaponry I've found so far, which is just this big blacksmith hammer I need two hands to wield properly, they are at least slow enough to dodge.
    The Asylum Demon boss is looking great, kudos for all that weight loss. This is the first case of the game switching out a boss for a regular enemy, though he's at least one of those Undead Parish knight ghouls that require a bit of juking. I'm not going to argue he wasn't a lot easier.
    The Asylum Demon boss is looking great, kudos for all that weight loss. This is the first case of the game switching out a boss for a regular enemy, though he's at least one of those Undead Parish knight ghouls that require a bit of juking. I'm not going to argue he wasn't a lot easier.
    Wandering around Firelink, got myself some brand new drip. The chainmail shirt is much lighter than the golem armor at least, if still far from fast-roll territory, and Gwyndolin's mask has an innate magic-boosting effect. Of course, I still need to find some decent spells first.
    Wandering around Firelink, got myself some brand new drip. The chainmail shirt is much lighter than the golem armor at least, if still far from fast-roll territory, and Gwyndolin's mask has an innate magic-boosting effect. Of course, I still need to find some decent spells first.
    Thankfully, Firelink has provided those too. Great Soul Arrow is an excellent starting spell once I've pumped my Intelligence up to 14 and I could see the utility in Repair if I just use it at bonfires to fix my gear for free. Of course, this is all moot until I find a catalyst somewhere: can't cast sorceries without one.
    Thankfully, Firelink has provided those too. Great Soul Arrow is an excellent starting spell once I've pumped my Intelligence up to 14 and I could see the utility in Repair if I just use it at bonfires to fix my gear for free. Of course, this is all moot until I find a catalyst somewhere: can't cast sorceries without one.
    The graveyard is... intense right now. There's one of those Humanity Souls from the DLC, an armored boar, some homing fireball crabs I don't think I've seen before, and some even rougher customers further afield. I just ran in to grab all the items and then peaced out for now.
    The graveyard is... intense right now. There's one of those Humanity Souls from the DLC, an armored boar, some homing fireball crabs I don't think I've seen before, and some even rougher customers further afield. I just ran in to grab all the items and then peaced out for now.
    Heading now to Undead Burg and- what the hell is that??
    Heading now to Undead Burg and- what the hell is that??
    Oh great, someone let these guys out of the Tower of Terrors. Their HP is much higher than anything else around, but there's plenty of room to get around them for backstabs at least. I don't have to worry about pendulum axes or anything.
    Oh great, someone let these guys out of the Tower of Terrors. Their HP is much higher than anything else around, but there's plenty of room to get around them for backstabs at least. I don't have to worry about pendulum axes or anything.
    Anyway, this was all so I could reach the first vendor in the game: the Undead Merchant. How strong is this poison that you have to charge this much? (You better believe I stocked up on Homeward Bones for that price.)
    Anyway, this was all so I could reach the first vendor in the game: the Undead Merchant. How strong is this poison that you have to charge this much? (You better believe I stocked up on Homeward Bones for that price.)
    Uhhh yes please? Of course, given the rules of the randomizer, I bet get slabs every five minutes and have to work my ass off for a single titanite shard.
    Uhhh yes please? Of course, given the rules of the randomizer, I bet get slabs every five minutes and have to work my ass off for a single titanite shard.
    Find of the friggin' century. The Drake Sword is a godsend for the early-game, almost worth peppering arrows at that bridge dragon's tail for half an hour. High damage in exchange for zero stat-scaling is perfect if your stats are terrible in the first place. It will mean boosting my strength and dexterity until I can use it though (dex first; I can always two-hand it until my strength is high enough).
    Find of the friggin' century. The Drake Sword is a godsend for the early-game, almost worth peppering arrows at that bridge dragon's tail for half an hour. High damage in exchange for zero stat-scaling is perfect if your stats are terrible in the first place. It will mean boosting my strength and dexterity until I can use it though (dex first; I can always two-hand it until my strength is high enough).
    Well, those are two guys I didn't want to meet on this narrow path. The bone pillar, a Tomb of the Giants enemy, is real sturdy and can insta-kill me with any of its attacks, but it's also slow as hell. The priest is weak but those blue soul arrows sure aren't.
    Well, those are two guys I didn't want to meet on this narrow path. The bone pillar, a Tomb of the Giants enemy, is real sturdy and can insta-kill me with any of its attacks, but it's also slow as hell. The priest is weak but those blue soul arrows sure aren't.
    For whatever reason, the bone pillar drops a golden item (I think that means it's guaranteed). It's always two demon titanite shards, so if I plan on upgrading any items that need those I'm all set.
    For whatever reason, the bone pillar drops a golden item (I think that means it's guaranteed). It's always two demon titanite shards, so if I plan on upgrading any items that need those I'm all set.
    No black knight guarding a ring down here, but these were some nice items to find. I don't truck with miracles but I can see myself burning through ten of those sacrifice rings real quickly.
    No black knight guarding a ring down here, but these were some nice items to find. I don't truck with miracles but I can see myself burning through ten of those sacrifice rings real quickly.
    Well, it's Havel, but it's also sorta not? He still has his trademark gnarled club and pointy tower shield, but his armor's a lot less impenetrable.
    Well, it's Havel, but it's also sorta not? He still has his trademark gnarled club and pointy tower shield, but his armor's a lot less impenetrable.
    That's definitely a demon. More Capra than Taurus though. This was the sort of boss exchange I was expecting: some bosses a little earlier than the intended route, some perhaps a little later. No guarantees that the big bull guy will show up at all (or maybe he'll be everywhere, since he becomes a regular monster when you hit Izalith).
    That's definitely a demon. More Capra than Taurus though. This was the sort of boss exchange I was expecting: some bosses a little earlier than the intended route, some perhaps a little later. No guarantees that the big bull guy will show up at all (or maybe he'll be everywhere, since he becomes a regular monster when you hit Izalith).
    The Capra was tough but not nearly as tough as when you fight him in that tight space with the dogs. I just threw fireballs at him a lot. My big reward (besides the souls) was some purple moss, so that's just peachy.
    The Capra was tough but not nearly as tough as when you fight him in that tight space with the dogs. I just threw fireballs at him a lot. My big reward (besides the souls) was some purple moss, so that's just peachy.
    Solaire, still looking fairly gilded. Sad I didn't get to see his face but happy he's still the same old dork.
    Solaire, still looking fairly gilded. Sad I didn't get to see his face but happy he's still the same old dork.
    The black knight up here got switched out too. I was curious about those: the enemy randomizer switches foes with those of equivalent difficulty, but the black knights were special in that they're far tougher than the nearby enemies and a lesson in maybe not immediately taking on everything you meet. Still, this was just one of those weak thieves from Lower Undead Burg, kinda underwhelming.
    The black knight up here got switched out too. I was curious about those: the enemy randomizer switches foes with those of equivalent difficulty, but the black knights were special in that they're far tougher than the nearby enemies and a lesson in maybe not immediately taking on everything you meet. Still, this was just one of those weak thieves from Lower Undead Burg, kinda underwhelming.
    Thankfully, the game makes up for that with a real nasty group here. Two basilisks and another snake dude, plus another of those fire spiders way in the back there.
    Thankfully, the game makes up for that with a real nasty group here. Two basilisks and another snake dude, plus another of those fire spiders way in the back there.
    I don't much care for these precarious items, but I gotta get them. They might be the Lordvessel. Probably won't (and it wasn't) but there's always the possibility. Until I find everything I need and want, I gotta reach for every piece of junk going.
    I don't much care for these precarious items, but I gotta get them. They might be the Lordvessel. Probably won't (and it wasn't) but there's always the possibility. Until I find everything I need and want, I gotta reach for every piece of junk going.
    A genuinely troublesome foe, this is one of the ogres from Blighttown and has replaced the one-and-done priest from the Undead Parish church. Like the bone pillar, it hits like a freight train at this level.
    A genuinely troublesome foe, this is one of the ogres from Blighttown and has replaced the one-and-done priest from the Undead Parish church. Like the bone pillar, it hits like a freight train at this level.
    Sen's Fortress still needs both bells to open, so there's no getting around that. Did you know the Onion Knight had a mustache? It fits, right?
    Sen's Fortress still needs both bells to open, so there's no getting around that. Did you know the Onion Knight had a mustache? It fits, right?
    Andre never wore a shirt in the first place, so no funky armor changes for him.
    Andre never wore a shirt in the first place, so no funky armor changes for him.
    Andre's a vendor too, so that's another opportunity for some cheap high-powered items. I won't need the Silver Pendant for a while, but I might as well grab it.
    Andre's a vendor too, so that's another opportunity for some cheap high-powered items. I won't need the Silver Pendant for a while, but I might as well grab it.
    Well, large shards won't be an issue, but a grand each for the little ones? I guess I should be thankful I have an endless source of them.
    Well, large shards won't be an issue, but a grand each for the little ones? I guess I should be thankful I have an endless source of them.
    I believe I'll pass on this one. I guess this is what replaced the Crest of Artorias? I remember that costing an arm and a leg too.
    I believe I'll pass on this one. I guess this is what replaced the Crest of Artorias? I remember that costing an arm and a leg too.
    Speaking of Darkroot, I'm not sure who this is but I am sure I don't want to wander around the scary forest just yet. I guess we'll see what the rest of Undead Burg is like first.
    Speaking of Darkroot, I'm not sure who this is but I am sure I don't want to wander around the scary forest just yet. I guess we'll see what the rest of Undead Burg is like first.
    Lots of nice items if you take the secret elevator exit at Firelink. Sadly, nothing too notable.
    Lots of nice items if you take the secret elevator exit at Firelink. Sadly, nothing too notable.
    I totally forgot the tubby misogynist in Firelink sells stuff to you if you join his stupid covenant, so here we go. This seems worth it? (He didn't have much else; weird, since he's supposed to be selling miracles.)
    I totally forgot the tubby misogynist in Firelink sells stuff to you if you join his stupid covenant, so here we go. This seems worth it? (He didn't have much else; weird, since he's supposed to be selling miracles.)
    This was a nice find, somewhere upstairs in the Undead Parish church. This is a DLC ember so Andre won't be able to do anything with it (I'll have to track down Gough) but it will mean upgrading any Intelligence-scaling weapons to new peaks, so I've got that to look forward to.
    This was a nice find, somewhere upstairs in the Undead Parish church. This is a DLC ember so Andre won't be able to do anything with it (I'll have to track down Gough) but it will mean upgrading any Intelligence-scaling weapons to new peaks, so I've got that to look forward to.
    At least the Bell Gargoyle fight seems normal enough. Wait, what's that behind it...?
    At least the Bell Gargoyle fight seems normal enough. Wait, what's that behind it...?
    Yep, it's Queelag. I am absolutely not prepared for this. At least she immediately kills the first gargoyle. You know what's a real fun boss on a perilous rooftop? One that drops endless area-of-denial attacks on you.
    Yep, it's Queelag. I am absolutely not prepared for this. At least she immediately kills the first gargoyle. You know what's a real fun boss on a perilous rooftop? One that drops endless area-of-denial attacks on you.
    This had the stink of inevitability all over it. Inevitability, and burning human flesh.
    This had the stink of inevitability all over it. Inevitability, and burning human flesh.
    Darkroot it is. This guy turned out to be one of those forest guardian statues, so no more tough than the Titanite Demon that used to be here.
    Darkroot it is. This guy turned out to be one of those forest guardian statues, so no more tough than the Titanite Demon that used to be here.
    Another Blighttown ogre. That's a real fetching shade of fuchsia on your big rock there, sir.
    Another Blighttown ogre. That's a real fetching shade of fuchsia on your big rock there, sir.
    Niiiiice find. This was on the cliffs heading down to Darkroot Basin. One down, three to go.
    Niiiiice find. This was on the cliffs heading down to Darkroot Basin. One down, three to go.
    Instead of the Hydra it's the powered-up version of Ornstein from that nightmare dual boss fight in Anor Londo. I died almost immediately; this dude is fast enough when normal-sized. Maybe I'll just avoid the lake for the time being.
    Instead of the Hydra it's the powered-up version of Ornstein from that nightmare dual boss fight in Anor Londo. I died almost immediately; this dude is fast enough when normal-sized. Maybe I'll just avoid the lake for the time being.
    Naturally, wherever Smalls goes Biggie is never too far behind. Smough's out in the Valley of Drakes planting his considerable posterior directly on this narrow cliffside path. Another roadblock for now.
    Naturally, wherever Smalls goes Biggie is never too far behind. Smough's out in the Valley of Drakes planting his considerable posterior directly on this narrow cliffside path. Another roadblock for now.
    Basin's out, Valley's out, so where else can I go down here? Well, not through this door: I'm lacking the Crest needed to open it.
    Basin's out, Valley's out, so where else can I go down here? Well, not through this door: I'm lacking the Crest needed to open it.
    The last area is the small forest just adjacent to the Crest door, the one that leads to the Moonlight Butterfly boss. It's guarded by Darkwraiths which isn't ideal, but these guys are surprisingly easy to backstab for as vicious as they are with the PvP strats.
    The last area is the small forest just adjacent to the Crest door, the one that leads to the Moonlight Butterfly boss. It's guarded by Darkwraiths which isn't ideal, but these guys are surprisingly easy to backstab for as vicious as they are with the PvP strats.
    I want absolutely nothing to do with this room of assholes. That Painted World birdperson in particular is a real tough foe right now.
    I want absolutely nothing to do with this room of assholes. That Painted World birdperson in particular is a real tough foe right now.
    Moonlight Butterfly was replaced by a Bell Gargoyle (so that's where the other one went). Not an issue, even with no room to move around in. A lot of that was thanks to the Crest Shield I found: 100% physical resistance, 80% magic. Good shit.
    Moonlight Butterfly was replaced by a Bell Gargoyle (so that's where the other one went). Not an issue, even with no room to move around in. A lot of that was thanks to the Crest Shield I found: 100% physical resistance, 80% magic. Good shit.
    Talking of good shit, I'm sure I can use this soul for something. Still lacking some necessary key items though.
    Talking of good shit, I'm sure I can use this soul for something. Still lacking some necessary key items though.

    With that, let's review our options:

    • The Bell (Hell?) Gargoyle fight is a nightmare at present. Skipping until I get better gear or some non-fire spells. Ideally I'd like to focus on ranged attacks so I won't have to swim in endless lava barf.
    • Lower Undead Burg needs a key to open, as far as I recall. Haven't chanced upon it yet.
    • The remainder of Darkroot Forest needs the Crest of Artorias to get past that door. Haven't chanced upon that either.
    • The one area of Darkroot Basin I haven't explored yet has a roided-up electricity knight guarding it. No thanks.
    • The Valley of Drakes has Smough patrolling around, but I think I can run past him if push comes to shove (and I'd love to shove him off the cliff). That means dealing with Blighttown right after, though. I'd laugh long into the night if all the monsters there were replaced with those with no poison resistance.
    • There's the Firelink graveyard and what lies beneath, but those monsters might still be too hardcore. Maybe after I've hit the bells.
    • Sen's Fortress is currently closed for business. Then again, all those snakepeople managed to get out somehow...
    • That leaves New Londo, which I can access from Firelink. There's another vendor down there I should talk to as well (the imprisoned magic blacksmith guy). Kind of a mid-game area, but I have little recourse right now—since all the ghosts spawn over the lake, I wonder if their replacements will just sink like rocks? Might be amusing to find out.

    At any rate, we're done here for today. I intend to keep popping back in and working my way through the transformed game whenever I have a gap in my backlog-clearage, using what options I have available to make life easier (I'm definitely going to have to keep visiting vendors: as well as the low-price treasures there's no way of knowing if they're carrying something important... which I guess also means I might have to kill them at some point too) and working towards a viable mage build, building stats like Intelligence and Attunement that I'd always previously ignored. If I could get fewer DLC spawns going forward as well, that'd be great. I'll pen another one of these updates once I'm done with the game or close to it, highlighting any unexpected hardships that may have arisen.

    Final observation: This game still kicks ass even twelve years later, perhaps unsurprisingly. (And here's Part Two!) (And Part Three!)

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    Broshmosh

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    I haven't read a Let's Play for a very long time. Formatting these always seem like they take so much time. Nice work, on that and on the game. It'll be interesting to see how New Londo goes at your current state.

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    wollywoo

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    I just want to say, the thread title is pretty clever and appropriate. Nicely done.

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    Manburger

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    #3  Edited By Manburger

    Having proven your Mario-mettle & Zelda-zest, you now delve deep into the Dark tea-time of the Soul. I dig it, a great read! :D Dark Souls is still my favourite as well: a singularly gripping and absorbing experience, it really hit home with me at the right time & place.

    The crab you spotted is a evil Vagrant, don't think I ever saw one in my playthrough either. The conditions behind the spawning thereof is perhaps overly complicated and specific, it seems.

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    Mento

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    #4 Mento  Moderator

    @wollywoo: Probably better than my back-up title, "La Sus Dork".

    @broshmosh: Only biggie is remembering to hit the screenshot button when something interesting happens. Maybe I'll snap one of the strange visual glitches that occur in pre-boss fight cutscenes.

    @manburger: I kinda feel bad for seeing so many of those red crabs now that I know how rare they are in regular playthroughs. Those missile barrages really do hurt though. (They don't drop any Twin Humanities either, but the rats often do.)

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