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Dark Souls—two words that every gamer knows and associates with rage and pride. But why do we play them? Why are they held so high and yet “Souls like” games are looked down on?
Dara O Briain said that games are the only media that denies you access to them unless you are good enough.
And nothing is more true than with Dark Souls.
So first of, I have to say; I hated these games. I played Demon Souls and… well I hated it. So I skipped Dark Souls. I had no idea the second had come out and by the time the third had come out I had simply allowed that head ache to pass.
But then videos started to pop up. Videos of such in depth stories and how the world of Dark Souls worked.
I am a sucker for a good story and the in depth and rich world of Dark Souls got my attention more the any other game—Outside of the Legacy of Kain series.
So I bought the third game.
And I suffered.
And I loved it.
It’s not because the game is challenging, it’s because it’s rewarding. When you beat a boss in a game like, Devil May Cry or something like that, there is no real sense of accomplishment. Yet in a game where literally anything and everything can kill you with easy. You are thrown into a world of giants and dragons, magic and curses, blades and bows and yet, un-dead zombie-like creatures with a broken knife can and will kill you.
It’s a game that makes you work for victories.
There is no hand-holding with this game. And while the bare-bones of the story laid out for you, the finer details, the stories of the characters are all hidden out of plain sight. So if you want to learn about the characters you’re meeting, you have to do some digging. If you want to know your own history, you have to do some digging.
It’s one of the few games in the world that give you as much as you put in. If you want a challenging game to play, you can have that. But if you want something in-depth, a story with an expansive history; it’s all there waiting to be discovered.
The armor you wear is a victory cry of what you have achieved. Wearing the dragon slayers armor doesn’t just mean you reached a certain level, in the first game it means you fought (possible the trickiest) battle in a trickier way that you needed to. Also means you went out your way and found the right merchant to buy from.
In the third game it means you found the secret area that most people would have never found without help from the Internet, and fought one of the most difficult bosses in the game that you really don’t need to fight.
Dark souls is a game that rewards you for playing. It’s a game that acknowledges how difficult it is and rewards your efforts.
Although sometimes it simply rewards you with giving you access to more parts of the game. There is a reason for every bit of art work. Every painting, every statue has a reason and a story. Every enemy type has a reason for being where it is and why it is the way it is. Nothing is coincidently in these games and stories can take years to uncover.
Why do we put up with it?
Well, balance. You see, Dark Souls balances out everything to a degree that the copy-cat games don’t do.
The games aren’t hard for the sake of being hard. They are well balanced and within the world of Dark Souls, they are fair.
At the same time you can take down a giant, you have to remember that something smaller than you can take you down the same way.
All too many times I’ve walked around with arrogance after defeating a boss, only to be killed by one of the weaker enemies of the game.
Every action taken has to be thought of. Pausing the game doesn’t mean you can get up and make a drink. You paused the game sure—but the game doesn’t stop. And that’s before we get into other players around the world wanting to invade your game and ruin your day.
The difficulty means that every victory is just that, a victory.
So we keep playing these games—not because they are hard, but because they are rewarding. The more you invest in those games, the more they give you.
I love Dark Souls a lot more than I hate it.