Words every Dark Souls player has experienced at least 100 times. The risk of not turning back toward the bonfire with 100,000 souls, the dodge roll that isn't timed right, the boss weapon that nails you, the falling through the floor into a pit of lava, and the endless stream of enemies that don't want you to push forward. All of these lead to an obnoxiously difficult game that seems too easy. With all this being said, can a game actually ruin all other games for you? Can one single game destroy gaming for an individual and make every other game boring and dull? Let's find out.
My Journey Started In April Of This Year
"Intrigued" is the perfect descriptive of how I felt about this incredible series. I had already played other games that were as difficult, if not more so, than Dark Souls. Games that I quit in a fit of rage many, many times, such as Ninja Gaiden, and Ninja Gaiden II, both of which I never finished. Up until this point, the hardest game I had finished was Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, a game I enjoyed for many reasons, not least because I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan and big into Assassin's Creed. What could go wrong when they were blended? The structure of Dark Souls and the open world that it presented is what kept me interested, and the upgrade system helped keep that fire burning during my first playthrough.
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What Didn't However, Was The Repetitive Combat
The combat of Shadow of Mordor was lackluster, the enemies repetitive, and the gameplay became boring and lacking depth toward the end. After I had exhausted all of my perks and gained all the upgrades, the game was easy and, for lack of a better term, just bad. The once-interesting mechanics became uninteresting and overused. The story was the best part of the second half, but the core gameplay didn't help to keep me dedicated to finishing the game. I felt like I was plugging away because I had "already come this far," in a sense. I pushed through and after I finished, I was almost disappointed that I had, yet I was glad to put the game behind me. This is not the feeling one should experience after finishing a game.
But Dark Souls Was Different
Dark Souls seemingly did everything right. The gameplay was smooth and perfect, the enemies were brilliantly balanced, and the level design was second to none. The way the developers threw you into the game without holding your hand and expected you to figure it out yourself, this can be a good and a bad thing. A lot of games tell you how it is played so you will play it the way the developers want, in a bid for you to get the best experience out of it, one could say. But playing something the way the developers want you to play it isn't always the best way to get the best experience with it.
Every Experience Isn't The Same
The beauty of gaming is that everybody has their own opinion on how the game is supposed to be played. Games are a form of media that is interpreted by the player, a very rare form of media where the person taking it makes the choice on how to progress through it. Even playing through other games multiple times, you can have different experiences every time. I played through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare four times to get 100 percent achievements, and it was different every time, or I found a different item from the last playthrough. Dark Souls is much the same. Every character is different, even if you're the same character but have moved on to New Game Plus. I've played through the game three times so far, and every completion is different in so many ways.
All Games Are The Same, Right?
For someone who doesn't understand the appeal of different types of games, one could see how all the games could blend together. I remember growing up and my dad calling my original Xbox an X-Cube, to which 10-year-old me promptly put him in his place and said, "Dad! It's an Xbox!"
I didn't actually start playing a lot of games until I got out of high school. The game I played the most was COD 4, but the game series I played the most was Madden. I was brought up in a very conservative household, so playing games like Halo, or even anything other than sports games, wasn't exactly encouraged. To me, all games felt the same when I played them, until I started playing others. After my experience with my favorite COD, I started playing Halo 3 and couldn't put it down. Thankfully, about 10 years later The Master Chief Collection came out and I was finally able to experience all of them.
Then First Person Shooters Were Revolutionized
Titanfall released in March of 2014, and that became the first game I couldn't stop playing. The movement felt perfect, the guns felt different, and the way the maps were set up? I wouldn't change a thing. TF pushed gaming forward and showed me what games could be like outside of the box. My Xbox One was finally a gaming console instead of a Netflix machine and a Blu-ray player. Titanfall instantly became my favorite, and I didn't think any game could top the feeling I had while playing it. It changed the way FPS games were developed and how movement throughout the game was utilized. Playing this game almost felt like something brand new. Even when the Destiny beta was announced, within the first five minutes of playing it, I knew that it wasn't for me.
The Same Was Said When I Played The First Dark Souls
I turned DS1 on and within five minutes I switched it off. I didn't run past the opening boss, and I died a few times while fighting it. The game felt unfair, almost to an extent like the developers didn't want you to play it.
I Didn't Get Angry At The Game — I Just Didn't Understand It Yet
It took a few more weeks and picking up a copy of Dark Souls III before I understood how the game worked. I took a leap of faith and fell in love with it. I had the choice between DS3 and Quantum Break, a game which reviewed decently but didn't really meet the player expectations of Dark Souls III. Unanimously, my friends all said DS3. I know my experience with the first one was rocky, but I wanted to try it because everyone I knew loved it, and I wanted a challenge.
And Boy Did I Get One
I can't compare this game to any other game, because there isn't one, with its expert level design and incredible enemies that seem like they all have a mind of their own. The more I have played this game, the more I have come to respect it, including the intuitive decisions you must make in order to battle your way through the game.
Every Death Is A Learning Experience
Dark Souls doesn't punish you for dying; it equips you for the future. The game doesn't hold your hand and tell you how to play it; it expects you to understand the mechanics and how the game works. The hardest part is not getting frustrated and giving up. Adding to the suspense is the loss of your soul every time you die. It took me a while to realize that I can run past the enemies and not have to fight everyone, every time.
Learning Takes Time
If there's one piece of advice I will give to those entering the Dark Souls series, it's to be patient. You won't learn the mechanics overnight, you won't learn how to defeat all the enemies overnight, and you won't beat it overnight. Dark Souls has ruined all other games for me because of how brilliant the game makes you feel. I will aways remember defeating my first boss and the feeling that came with it after that same boss had defeated me 10, 20 or 30 times. That feeling never goes away throughout the game, and it stays with you forever.
Keep your head up and praise the sun!
Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel expansion is available now. Check out the trailer below, and tell me what you think of the game in the comments below.