Anyone familiar with From Software's remarkably difficult, almost masochistic game Dark Souls know just what kind of frustration can set in when embarking on this journey. The game is not for rage quitters. You will rage, and that is a promise. But besides all the frustration and anxiety that I gain by plugging away at this title, I am starting to appreciate it in a way that few other games in 2011 could. It is the toughest game I can remember playing from this generation, and quite possibly the generation prior. I spent over 50 hours getting basically nowhere with this game back in October on my PS3. I am back, forging ahead with the confidence that only the great strategy guide for Dark Souls can help muster! And I am learning that even with limitless resources at my fingertips called the world wide web, as well as the bible on this title, that struggle is just the norm and I am getting used to it.
Dark Souls is creeping up my list of all-time favorite games, and I say this knowing that I probably haven't seen 50% of what the game has to offer. Hell, I don't think I have been through even 30% of the trials put forth. I don't care, since this type of experience doesn't happen everyday. This is a game that unless I become extremely lucky and am granted the talents of an elite gamer, I could find myself a year from now still working on my first playthrough. At this point I don't mind. Why? Play the game for yourself, and experience your first accomplishment, your first boss fight that you emerge victorious, and you may see what keeps me glued to this game. This is a game that rewards it's players for progression, something that is an excellent feeling when you pair it with such despair.
There is no map, no objective markers, no helping hands to lend you the path to the righteous land. Nothing of the sort. Dark Souls is unapologetic in it's for and makes the player use their minds to figure out which path is the best to follow, giving one the feeling of success for merely arriving at the gate to the next area. Never mind the boss battles that seemingly are unbeatable! Straight away you are plunged into a dark world with no idea how or why you are there, and shortly thereafter, you meet up with a demon that stands easily five times as high as the players character, and uses devastating pummel attacks that will kill you in only a strike or two. That's within the first ten minutes of play. And it only gets harder.
On my PS3 I recall playing for around ten hours straight, and in that ten hours I made absolutely zero progress. At least I was able to grind some levels in the process, but each time I went to fight that area boss I was thrown back to the start of the level, losing all of the souls (exp) gained on my journey there. Now, if I can just make it all the way back to my bloodstain, the marker on the ground that designates where I died last, I can gain the souls back! How awesome! So, it's not always a total loss. But, factor in this. If I die again on the way to my bloodstain and do not make it there, all those souls are gone forever, and only the ones currently collected will remain at the new bloodstain! This makes every move, every fight against any enemy a battle that must be calculated before hand so that one can emerge unscathed.
Dark Souls is also an online multiplayer game but not in the team deathmatch sense. This game allows for players of near equal level to join in your world and hunt you down. You can also invade other player's worlds and hunt them down. There is coop as well. If you continue to struggle on a particular area, you can summon the help of other players to help you move forward. I have been invaded several times since playing the 360 version, resulting in death each time! I was invaded once on the PS3, and won that fight almost without a hitch!
I gotta get going. I am sitting at the bonfire in the Undead Burg, heading into battle the Capra Demon, again. Wish me luck, I will need it! If you have a copy of Dark Souls on the 360, come help a brother out!