I’d arisen, made it onto campus and was headed towards the snack machine to purchase my usual breakfast Chomp.
The machine whirred as the metal coil turned. One dropped. Then another.
I stood there, panic-stricken in my unexpected dilemma. Raised a catholic, guilt was on standby and my skin flushed as I tried to resolve the situation.
Reaching under the flap, I took one bar – the one I had paid for – nodded at the security camera and bumbled off to continue my placid existence, leaving the second Chomp lying in the collection tray.
Moving a couple *cough cough* maybe several *cough* years down the line, I found myself in Game holding a pre-owned copy of Dark Souls III.
Many of you reading this will already be aware of the Dark Souls series but for those of you who aren’t: Imagine a staircase filled with utter c***s. Your mission is to climb to the top while being shot at relentlessly by archers. There is a story but it’s been hidden in your mate Dave’s grandma’s fork drawer, oh and you’ll need to roll – a lot.
When you finally reach the top, you’ll meet this guy called Patches who’ll coincidentally push you off and then laugh in your face as you start again.
Collect items, light bonfires, kill stuff then kill it again (and again) stand around in swamps and be wary of obvious routes/statues/bridges/open spaces/messages telling you to jump/chests/darkness/trees/fog and anyone who tries to be your friend. You’ll also find yourself taking an axe to every single wall in the game to see if it’s fake or not.
A game where casuals are strictly rebuffed, the phrase, ‘go hard or go home’ has never been truer. It’s rewarding, heartbreaking and punishing, all at the same time, and even though I’d always admired those who dared to light their first bonfire and venture into the unknown, I’d never imagined myself – the girl who couldn’t accept a free Chomp and coincidentally, the girl who regularly walks into door frames and the girl who’s a bit scared of the pink bear in Toy Story 3 – to be donning a wooden shield, a selection of torn garments and a battle axe.
But I did.
Having watched others play Dark Souls for many years, I had a slight advantage in knowing the technique of wildly rolling about, seizing a moment to slash at the boss from behind before rolling away again – but that’s all theory and actually doing it still takes practice.
After spending a good seven hours adjusting the shadowing on my character’s face, Dark Spirit Susie was ready to fight her way through endless mobs, collect souls and let’s face it, die. A lot.
The first few areas took a lot of going over. I wasn’t used to the timing and I needed to learn to be much more defensive. This game takes patience – which I don’t have a lot of. However, because of this, I thought I would never make it to the end; that the repetition would get too frustrating and dull. To my surprise, I was only spurred on. Every time I died, I wanted to go back and do it again and I was sure every time I re spawned by the fire, I was going to succeed. And every time I didn’t, I swore loudly, attempted to cool my hot head and then, even more determined, went back to do it again.
Hours were drained from my day, running over the same paths just to get from fire to fire and I was all the more excited every time.
There’s very little in way of dialogue and cut scenes but that’s not to say there isn’t a story – quite the opposite. Each character you meet has their own destination and what you do affects where they end up.
Doused in pathos, the game’s narrative is dark, intricate and stages elements of loneliness and existence interchangeably.
Playing as a knight, I enjoyed the melee experience and tried to get as much combat in as possible. Playing as a noob, I went for a strength build accompanied with lots of health and stamina.
Invasions were plentiful but also hilarious. There are many hardcore players out there who want to invade your game and reap you of your souls. There are also many players who have specific builds and very specific weaknesses. It seemed that working out their downfalls as quickly as possible was the key to success and it turns out you can also join covenants to get others to help you as soon as you’re invaded.
You can also use certain items to turn yourself into parts of the scenery and many an invasion has been made all the more fun, posing as a statue, watching an invader wander around aimlessly before you surprise back-stab them and then jump for joy in triumph over their fading dead body as you carry on with your day.
Dark Souls punishes your every mistake making it all the more rewarding when you make it through to the next stage. Yes it’s hard but there’s always a way. There’s something you haven’t discovered or a weakness you need to prey on. Watch your back, take it slow and be frugal with your items. Learn to balance your attack and stamina and think carefully about your gear.
There’s enough weird sh*t to freak you out but it’s not so horrifying that you just close your eyes in panic (*has flashbacks of Soma*).
The boss fights will always have shortcuts to them giving you every chance to practice and succeed and in fact, Dark Souls III has been particularly generous with its bonfire distribution (including two right next to each other) making it even more suitable for noobs like me.
Noob vs Dark Souls 3 – can it be done?
Surprisingly yes. And if you get stuck, you can usually summon help so all is not lost – whether that’s a random player offering to lend a hand, an epic NPC guy or perhaps you know a Dark Souls veteran who can make the impossible seem possible (thank you Gary).
Don’t worry if you need to look things up, that’s the nature of Dark Souls. And as a bonus to the game, there are two DLCs for DS III, the second of which – The Ringed City – is available from March 28 2017. So grab your weapon, a couple of estus and get ready to die.
PRAISE THE SUN!