A new Dark Souls is right around the corner, and to some people that’s a scary thought. But I have always wanted to just say that it shouldn’t be.
As far as I have seen, there is a stigma around the Souls series (including Bloodborne). That stigma being that these games are “brutally difficult” and aren’t for the feint of heart. You shouldn’t want to try these games out, they’re only for masochists. I cannot help but disagree with this thought as I once thought they might be too hard a challenge for me as well. Turns out, they were not.
One warm afternoon, I found myself over at a friends house to spend the night and play some video games. We played a bit of BlazBlue, some Street Fighter IV, and then decided to take a break for a bit. My friend decided to browse the internet for a little bit while I browsed the rest of his games. One stood out to me that I had not heard of before – Dark Souls. The evangelical-looking knight on the cover intrigued me, so I flipped the box over. Plastered on the back of the game case, there was the unforgettable tagline, “Prepare to die.” So, sure, why not, I’ll give this game a shot. I slap the disc into the Xbox 360 and the game starts. Getting into character creation, my friend gives me some priceless tips on how to create a grotesque monster of an avatar. Then I ended up spending an hour or so going through the same area again and again, getting a little further ahead each time as I try to grasp how to really play. Me and my friend spend some time falling off ledges and getting slain by other equally-ugly men in armour. But it was enough for me. I was hooked and didn’t even know it. I ended up buying the game myself a couple months later, remembering that I had such fun playing it at my friends house previously.
Playing these games, you will die. It is written on the box. Anyone you talk to who knows about the game will tell you that. I am telling you that right now. Almost every single person who plays these games will die multiple times, and that’s OK. The people making the game know and expect you will die while playing. I’m just hoping that doesn’t make anyone want to give up. The Souls games aren’t that hard in my opinion, they mostly ask for a bit patience. You have to do your best to remain calm and collected during the journey. You may see and be slain by strange and disgusting monsters on your quest, but you can overcome it. Just like the many players before and after you. With each death, you hopefully learn a little bit more about the game. These games aren’t about punishing you and pushing you into the ground with constant defeat. They are about showing you that you still have more to learn. That with the release of every Souls game, all of us, even veteran players, have more to learn.
These games create a (mostly) great sense of community as well, with many forums you can browse to find help along your way. There is almost a school-yarn mentality built into the game design. You will find some wild weapon or spell along your way, tell your friend(s) and they will ask you where and how you found it. Even in the game itself, there are messages left by players saying things like, “Try jumping”, that will leave you at the bottom of a cavern where no estus can save you. You will learn that some of these devious little messages aren’t there to help you at all, but to trick you. So the next time you you come across one you will be a little more skeptical, just like that weird kid who told you that you can catch a Mew behind some random truck in Pokemon Red.
The closing note being, go ahead. Try some of them there Souls games. Die a while with us, it’s not so bad.