Comment of the Week: Sold on Souls


To say that I’m a Dark Souls fanatic is a bit of an understatement — my review of the game ran close to 10,000 words. When I appeared on Game Front’s “Demon’s Souls w/ James” show on the YouTube channel the commenters complained that I talked too much. Despite my infatuation with the game, though, I thought my colleague Phil Hornshaw made some really good points in this piece: I Think Dark Souls is Great, I Just Don’t Want to Play It.

Even though it’s an old article, people still show up in the comments occasionally to offer their opinion, either agreeing or disagreeing with Phil. It’s a nice, reasonable dialogue — the kind that’s hard to find on the internet. This week, commenter Logan posted a really affecting, articulate — long — explanation of why he likes the game. How typically Dark Souls that he did it on no sleep, after an all-night dungeon binge, with school approaching. Preach, Logan:

Hey, so I realize this article is 2 years old but I was amazed at the comments and thoughts that other people gave along with how intelligent they were, so I figured I would make a post.

First off, I totally get why people dont like Dark Souls and why they would stop playing it. I picked it up when the game was still 60 bucks, played it for a little bit, although more like 15 hours than 7, and put it down in frustration after a week. I had no clue what I was doing. The game felt slow and clunky, when I rolled my character looked like a friggin baffoon and it felt like I was taking a wooden stick to people with giant swords and spears when for my entire life playing a roleplaying game meant stepping into a world and being able to immediately blow people up like in skyrim. The stats for leveling confused me, and I had zero clue on how humanity was supposed to work. The fact that a lot of areas were open from the get go frustrated me because I would walk into places like the catacombs and get 1 shotted. I didnt understand where I was supposed to go, what I was supposed to be doing or why. I chalked it up to being impossible and thought to myself, “Wow did I really just waste sixty bucks on this crap shoot?”. So I understand why people wouldnt want to put time into it, I sure didnt want to. Why play a game thats going to take countless hours to beat while feeling like bashing my head against a wall until I get to another checkpoint?

But a couple years later, or 6 days ago, I looked at it just collecting dust on my shelf and thought what the hell might as well pop it in again and see what its about. And wow did my opinion on this game take a 180. This time I read up a bit on the basics of the game and took things slow at first, and little by little I was just overtaken by this game. The weapon crafting is robust, the combat is really quite fluid and beautiful if you take the time to understand it, and the leveling system they implimented with the souls is spectacular. I think the greatest thing about DS for me was having to actually think before doing things, actually have a strategy when going into a fight. In skyrim I rush into a room with my badass armor that I crafted in the span of 2 hours and some sword that one shots everything in sight and just spam one button. right trigger right trigger right trigger, and oh, right trigger… In DS you have to think about positioning, how to best use your stamina bar, what weapons to use, and even what types of attacks to use, each of which being different for every enemy encountered. And when I won a fight or beat a boss in DS I knew that it was an actual feat of intelligence and skill instead of just mashing a single button. Yes, of course there were times where I was incredibly frustrated and felt like I was just wasting time but when I got past a difficult section the feeling I got was insane. Nothing felt better than facing a boss 5 or 6 times and then figuring out a valid strategy killing him/her, feeling like a complete badass. As far as gratification goes, DS has been the single most satisfying game ive played.

As far as narrative and story goes, yes I completely agree that the game lacks in that category. However its one of the more emotional games ive ever played. When playing a character it feels hopeless and lonely in this dark universe that is Dark Souls but when you meet a lone NPC in the wilderness or you summon someone from online there is a huge sense of comradery. When someone helps me I feel extremely thankful, and a little less lonely in the game. When I hear an NPC talk its almost haunting, when someone invades my world I feel scared. When I see that lone bonfire and I have zero Estus flasks I feel relieved and relaxed. One second I will feel like a god and the next encounter I have I feel more like a mouse. Ive experienced so many emotions in the 30 hours ive been playing this past week. The fact that there isnt much narrative adds to that experience in my opinion. I feel like at times you are supposed to feel weak and alone because when you accomplish something it makes it feel that much better.

I never thought I would touch the game again but I am so incredibly glad I did. Yes, it takes a lot of effort and brain power. Yes, its a lot of trial and error as well as countless frustrating hours of gameplay. But its the moments in which you finally defeat those areas or enemies or when you find a sweet looking weapon after busting your ass to defeat someone that make this game incredible and really makes it shine. Theres no better rush in gaming than that sense of accomplishing something great. I see why people wouldnt play it though and I understand that, ESPECIALLY since you cant just play it for an hour here or an hour there, you have to dedicate yourself to it. And I get that people have lives and responsibilities but dont we all? I work 4 nights a week as a nursing assistant, am a full time student, and have a relationship but I can still find time. Granted its mostly binges, I have school in an hour and havent slept lol. I stayed up all night playing because its so addicting. Some of us wont be able to play it due to real life responsiblities but if you are one of those people that put it down in frustration years ago, I just wish you would try it one more time! You might come to really enjoy it like I did.

Anyways those are my thoughts, sorry it was such a long post but I wanted to get my full point across. Dont just give up on this game! Thanks for the amazing comments I got to read also.


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2 Comments on Comment of the Week: Sold on Souls


On March 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I’ve been meaning to play Dark Souls for awhile now, that and the Witcher 2, Crusader Kings II, the original X Com again (nothing against the new one, but it doesn’t have the same palpable sense of dread) and a bunch of other games that intimidate me with the sheer cliff that is their learning curve.

And the fact is I shouldn’t be. I managed to play through some of the most difficult, frustrating games imaginable back in the 90s (granted I was a kid and had a lot more free time), hell I managed to solo the entire Baldur’s Gate Saga with a freaking Mage Killer (a fighter kit that forbids the use of magic items), and I started playing those games with absolutely no idea how anything in them worked, especially not the AD&D rules (to this day I still have no idea what THACO is).

So, come one Gasmask, you can do this, just start up Dark Souls and…

*ten minutes later Gasmaskangel is curled in the fetal position, clutching a bottle of Sailor Jerry and crying like baby*


On March 10, 2013 at 5:34 am

Mike Matei (from Cinemassacre, the same site that runs the popular AVGN series) did a review of this game about halfway through and admitted that he was expecting it to be harder, that it just takes a good amount of patience and restraint and that once you become acclimatised to the combat and accept that you’ll have to do quite a bit of backtracking to previous save-spot bonfires it really isn’t too difficult, especially if you can get invested in the environment.

Matei’s not really a hardcore difficulty gamer so if he says it’s worth persevering, I trust his judgement.