I’ve owned Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for a long time before I’ve now decided to play it. After completing Demon Souls on PSN, I was in no rush to do it all again. In fact a lot of my friends at that time told me, “as soon as I finished with the first castle and saw there was something else, I just couldn’t put myself through continuing the game.” That’s how I feel about starting another one of these games.
The difficulty isn’t what gets you, its the monotonous, slow grind made famous by role-playing games, but put into a third person perspective with unintuitive controls and pit deaths. Sure any enemy can kill you, but its not tough so much as its an endurance match of waiting. An enemy will inevitably open up their guard when they attack, but as a basic rule of the game, always have your shield up, no matter what. Then watch as they telegraph their attack. As Demon Souls progresses, the window gets smaller. Every enemy is a process.
Dark Souls allows you to see other players and their deaths by either watching ghostly figures or touching blood splatters. Its hilarious how dumb some players in. I see their ghosts run straight into battle with their sword attack when it should always be shield first.
One of the other reasons both games have always been blown out of proportion in terms of difficulty is the simple fact this game is a grind. Sitting by a bonfire to replenish your health and potions will also respawn enemies. This makes it so easy to grind for hours. Killing the same set of enemies over and over, so you can become overpowered and press on. I can’t say its fun, so much as I can say its a relaxing time sink, performing the same monotonous task over and over again. If you dare break out of the mold and go running into battle, you’ll be killed. You need to pay attention and take it tortoise slow. Even if you didn’t take it that slow, Dark Souls moves at a crawl no matter what graphical settings or resolutions I have set.
Now that I’ve sat at the bonfire and started up Dark Souls, I decided to play as a sorcerer, because one game as a tank lead me to never want to be a tank ever again. Well the good news is that being a sorcerer puts the game in easy difficulty. I kill enemies long before they ever notice me let alone get to me. Enemies aren’t on patrol, they’re just standing there, waiting for you like dogs waiting at a window until you come in. Well I kill the undead fiends through the windows.
Everything is joyously easier if not dull. Its taking out the engagement, the intimacy of plunging a sword through an enemy. Four hours in and I’m still using the stave and spell that I started out with. Know what I’ve found in the past four hours? Armor, shields, swords, axes, helmets and so on. Everything but spells and staves when the game knows that I chose a sorcerer, but its okay, I still feel overpowered. To make things interesting, I still switch between a short sword and my stave.
Since switching back and forth between my sword I’ve noticed the laughable hit detection. Against the walls, a sword slash will clang just perfect. Plunging it into an enemy’s chest, but completely missing two enemies still causes them both to die simultaneously. Its happened quite often and I laugh out loud each time. There’s even an item that requires you to walk along a thin beam to get it. The only problem is no one bothered to animate anything special while walking across the beam. Its something that no one cared about a decade ago, but with this being the second game, some new animations should have been made.
While the current animations feel good and believable, their hardly fluid. They feel stiff and deliberate like the controls. The roll and dodge are near perfect, its the actual combat that has the bad animation. Another thing bothering me is not being able to roll between a giant enemy’s legs. There’s a wide opening and bosses don’t seem agile enough to squish me that quickly. It just looks awkward. I’m also able to throw firebombs straight through the bosses.
To make things easier, the scrawls are everywhere from other players warning me of traps and telling me secrets. What’s really odd is the first two hours these scrawls weren’t even in the game. I was all alone and I thought well its an old game and people have moved on, but alas they haven’t.
Using my magic and grinding a little has made even bosses ridiculously easy. Scrawls that inform me to attack a knight’s back or use fire. Their tips don’t matter. The bosses are dead before they even reach me. One boss was dead before it even noticed me. Somehow my pummeling it with magic didn’t anger the beast. Hey whatever. Its still amusing seeing scrawls with hints and watching ghosts charge in to their doom; without using a shield!
The only difficulty I’ve encountered is enemy placement. There are a lot of blind spots with the third person camera. Even having giant boss knights at the top of a small watchtower that would be impractical for them to be on top of. The giant black knight plays whack-a-mole with my head. To even the odds, I just let him chase me down the spiraling staircase and out in the open on my terms. He falls prey to my magic and I laugh at his corpse.