Jurassic Dark Souls

Please note that this article has nothing at all to do with dinosaurs. It’s just that I haven’t used any pictures of velociraptors yet this year, and that simply won’t do.

It won't do at all.
It won’t do at all.

With that out of the way, Dark Souls then.

It was early last year when I first started playing From Software’s fantastical medieval simulation of what it would be like to have someone joylessly stab you in the genitals every 30 seconds. I sank just shy of 40 hours into the game on my laptop, reaching Sen’s Fortress but advancing no further; genitals bloodied and demoralised. In terms of progression through the game as a whole, I reckon that point must be 20-30% in at most. In 40 hours. Why was my progress so slow? Well, my time with Dark Souls in 2013 was a confused mixture of carefully peeking at level walkthroughs when lost, whilst trying to figure out most other things (weapon upgrades, levelling, magic usage) on my own. Ultimately I lost interest. It wasn’t fun – I broadly knew where I had to go but my character’s stats, weaponry and capabilities were woefully inept. Just like real life.

"Oh balls I forgot to level-up my Umbrella of Dryness."
“Oh balls I forgot to level-up my Umbrella of Dryness.”

For example, most guides advise you to pick up the Drake Sword as soon as you can at the start of the game. It deals more damage than any other weapon you can get your hands on for the first few hours, and all you have to do to get it is hide under a bridge while shooting some poor dragon in the arse until his tail falls off. The trouble is, I was still using the Drake Sword 40 hours in. It doesn’t scale with any of your abilities as you level up, and can’t be upgraded in any meaningful way – you’re supposed to switch away from it once you have the resources to start upgrading other weapons. Concerns like that just flew over my head, and that’s why I was inching my way though the world of Lordran at a ponderous pace that even a snail whose one foot had melted off in salt would find irritating.

Also, the half-melted snail would probably have been in less pain than me.
Also, the half-melted snail would probably have been in less pain than me.

The key to finally falling in love with Dark Souls was reversing the approach I used last year. Before, I used walkthroughs as a loose guide but assumed I’d eventually get to grips with the underlying systems. This time though, I swotted up on the stuff under the hood before I even picked up the controller. I had a character build in mind from the outset (a magic man with a large spear – imagine a walking Harry Potter-themed pornstar joke) and didn’t bother with any walkthroughs, aside from a few key item locations.

Disclaimer: Please do not imagine a Harry Potter-themed porno.
Disclaimer: Please do not imagine a Harry Potter-themed porno.

I’ve been enjoying the game immensely for the last couple of weeks. It’s at its best when you’re ever so slightly over-levelled for the area you’re currently stomping around in. Then, you can appreciate the nuances of the combat system and beauty of the game world without the constant worry of getting your nipples cleaved off by enemy greatswords.

I’ve still hit some rough spots here and there, most notably the boss Seath the Scaleless – a giant turquoise magic-wielding dragon whose attacks are so cheap that even Aldi would think he was going a bit far and might politely ask him to at least be reasonable.

He’s dead now though, as is Sif the massive sword-fighting wolf (not a sexual innuendo), Gaping Dragon the enormous walking gash (I’ll let you decide), Quelaag the half-naked/naked spider woman, Iron Golem the iron golem, Taurus Demon the Taurus demon, Capra Demon the idiot goat thing that can’t climb stairs properly, Ornstein and Smough the threesome from Hell, and Stray Demon who was probably only lost and afraid but still had to die because he was there and all his friends are now dead anyway.

The Gaping Dragon: seriously, you decide.
The Gaping Dragon: seriously, you decide.

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3 responses to “Jurassic Dark Souls”

  1. James Plant avatar

    I’ve been going back to Dark Souls again recently. Though my progress appears to be much like your initial attempt. I seem to be able to move ahead in the game in spurts, then I hit a wall and constantly die. The most recent of which is the Ceaseless Discharge… that’s the name of the boss. I don’t think I need to beat it, I just really want to.
    I love Dark Souls, my progress is just very very slow.

  2. Simon avatar
    Simon

    I’ve now completed it – I kind of fell out of love with it in the end, but for a while there, I was head over heels.
    Ceaseless Discharge? He’s a bit of a scumbag. I’m about 90% sure you need to beat him to complete the game; I think his death opens up a path.
    Probably the best boss name ever, that.

  3. Hambino avatar
    Hambino

    Great article. Keep meaning to pick this up and you’ve tempted me once again. That said, my genitals are already demoralised enough. I’m not sure they can take any more.

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