Preparing to Die: A Dark Souls Diary

Has anyone seen my bonfire?

I’m not a huge fan of dying in videogames. I like the side of gaming that makes you feel powerful, invincible and unbeatable. I like being able to blast my way through games, experience the story and lay waste to the enemy hordes without worrying that I’m seconds away from an inglorious demise.

And now I’ve got to play Dark Souls. This multiplatform sequel to the PS3 exclusive Demon’s Souls makes a mockery of gamers like me. They’ve taken the now-famous difficulty level of Demon’s Souls and turned it up to eleven. Every time Namco Bandai mention Dark Souls, it’s with a smug reference to how often the game is going to make you its bitch. The game’s tagline is even “Prepare to Die”. This is going to be hard work for a big soft wuss of a gamer like me.

[drop]With all of that in mind, and the purported length of the game to take into account too, I thought that a traditional review would be moot. It would take me weeks to work through enough of the game to offer an opinion and so much would be based on how I cope with the multiple ways I’m murdered. So this is not a review. This is an account of my experience with the game. There will be more like this as I make my way further into the game and hopefully you will be able to determine, from my accounts of my own experiences, whether this is a game for you. If not, at least you get to laugh at how frequently I die.

So let’s begin.

I watched the immersive cinematic intro and caught up on the back story. It’s reasonably typical fantasy stuff, with dragons and The Undead making appearances. The intro looks beautiful. Kudos to the artists and animators on that. After I’m caught up with events, I’m put into the character create mode. I called my Wanderer Bob (there are loads of classes and skills to select). I almost chose a Knight but I thought that all that shiny armour might attract too much attention.

The character create mode, ironically, is one of the most intuitively simple that I’ve used. Rather than thrusting page after page of menus and slider bars at you, it has a series of fields and a number of options to fill out before you’re done. It’s all very painless and serves to get your past this necessary distraction swiftly and on to the meat of the game.

You wake up in a prison cell at an asylum. It’s dark. Every little noise warns of imminent death. Luckily, the first twenty minutes or so of the game serve as a kind of tutorial and there isn’t really anything too deadly. Unless you count the huge Asylum Demon that you encounter after a couple of throwaway enemies get you used to swinging your sword. Luckily, your only task is to evade this club-wielding monster and make it out to safety.

[drop2]You’re lead through a castle courtyard and around some tumbledown steps while learning that lighting and resting at bonfires replenishes your health and picking up more useful weapons and a shield.

After a few more tutorial tips, which seem to be scrawled on the floor in blood, you find yourself back in the room with the Asylum Demon. This is where my first death happened. And my second. By the third time I approached it, I was smart enough to backtrack to the last bonfire and replenish my health. Unfortunately, bonfires also revive enemies so I had to fight through the skeletal enemies again on my way to the Asylum Demon. That’s when I experienced my third death. At least I managed to get the Demon’s health down to around a third before I died this time.

At the time of writing, I’m heading back to the Asylum Demon with a full compliment or nourishing Estus Flasks and a full health bar. There are a couple of minor enemies to dispatch on the way so I’m hoping to get past them with a minimum of fuss and then I intend trying to get behind the beast to hit it while staying out of reach of his massive club.

Wish me luck.

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16 Comments

  1. Sounds just as cruel as demons souls was, good luck! You’ll need it.

  2. Haha sounds great. I remember the start of Demons Souls, it was kind of like a difficult tutorial but right at the end you came up against a huge demon (which is later found in 4-1) which kills you instantly with open hit. You have to die to progress! Really can’t wait for this and it sounds difficult which I love. Oh if you don’t fancy reviewing the game like normal I’ll do it for you ;) just send me the game and I’ll be happy to help lol ;)

    • i remember this and so when i died to this Asylum demon, i thought it part of the story…..until i realised that i had to beat it to progress…..that was after my 5th death!!!

  3. It’s harder then Demon Souls!? A lot of gamers will end up either rage quiting,breaking their controllers or getting drunk. I have yet to even dare to get Demon Souls. Dark Souls would beat the living shit out of me, before i even open the case and insert the game.

    • Getting drunk?! An odd form of retaliation?

  4. My word this sounds awesome. And looks awesome. My masochistic side is yearning for Dark Souls. I better start padding my walls…

  5. For a hardcore RPG fan like yourself I’m disappointed Steven. It’s really easy…once you know the game ;) You need to know how to kill each enemey, every position of the enemies, every turn and every spec of the level design in order to complete and then platinum. It’s just I find you need to learn the game first.

    • I’ll probably end up rage quiting at the title screen. :p

      I may give it a shot at some point in the future as it does sound like a game that i’ll enjoy(and possible cause me to destroy several cities in anger). :) At least i know how to change the diffculty on F:NV. ;)(Last time i’ll bring it up, i promise)

      I always thought that if you timed every attack correctly, you would have a chance of winning a fight. :D

      • that was meant to be a reply to your comment above :P there is no difficulty setting with this so I’m saved! Yeah timing and blocking are essential. many people went straight into hack ‘n’ slashing, never going to work in a million years.

      • NG+++++ is a real bitch… First couple of runthroughs are really easy once you know what you’re doing though.

      • I was up to NG++++ I think…but your crazy!

      • I think i would tell N+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ to go and feck itself. I plan on getting it when i get some income. :D although the servers will be off by the time i do get it. :-/ Oh well, i plan on going very slowly and timing my attacks as well as blocking them.

  6. I have this on pre-order. I am excited and dreading it at the same time lol.

  7. I found the harshest part was losing your money when you died, and the nervy trek to reclaim it without dying. Again.

  8. looking forward to the rest CB.

  9. Cool idea, looking forward to getting this. As well as reading your diaries of despair.

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