My god it feels like forever since I wrote something, mostly because of this thick slurry of videogames we call October to January, one such game being Dark Souls, a game I have no doubt led to at least one divorce or child beating out of the frustration it can stir in an individual. But it also led me to a revelation about the feeling of true achievement in a game.
There are few feelings greater than destroying everything in your path in a game, like a child going to town on a line of ants with a magnifying glass, sometimes you just want to be a god
. But sometimes that can wear thin, sometimes you want a challenge, sometimes you need to feel like youíve accomplished something, something more tangible than pressing square to wipe out an army, something you feel is within the scope of what the human body can do. And that is where videogames bring forth a sense of true accomplishment for me.
this is the easiest boss in the game......think about that.
Take a game like Shadow of the Colossus for example, at the start of the game you have a sword, a bow, a horse, and your own two hands, and with these four things you are tasked with bringing down sixteen towering creatures. Youíll shoot, stab, climb and ride around these creatures, and with these simple tools youíll conquer each beast, eventually a sense of unease will settle in with killing each colossi but Iím sure youíve already read better blogs about that part. But if we think about the actual physical actions Wander performs throughout the game, horse riding, jumping, hanging on for dear life and archery, these are all things an actual person
could do, that is why taking down a colossus makes you feel like a literal giant slayer, and maybe why it starts to feel like murder later in the game but, again, better blogs.
Metal Gear is another great example of a game that gives you a thoroughly human protagonist, albeit one at the peak of physical perfection, and pitís him against otherworldly enemies. Snake, for the most part, uses real world weapons, and real world tactics to overcome the challenges he faces. He doesnít kick in a door and shoot every motherfucker in the room before deciding to move on and widow the spouse of everyone who getís in his way, he sneaks, uses misdirection, and avoids confrontation when he can.
When you come up against bosses, they all come with some sort of supernatural power or gimmick you have to work around, be it psychic powers or robot ninjas or a giant man with a gatling gun and a jet engine on his back who shoots ghost ravens out of his forehead so he can freeze you and tell you about how he entered an ear pulling competition in the Eskimo Olympics, I did not make that last part up
. But all these opponents must be overcome with little more than ingenuity and a SOCOM, and that is why it feels like an achievement to beat them, you are not
in a position of power when you meet these people, a few even have to be ran away from till you have the means to fight them later. And this ďHumanisation through gameplayĒ* has carried throughout the series, with additions like camouflage and eating to keep up stamina constantly reminding you that Snake is still just a man.
* (Iím putting that in quotes because it sounds wanky)
Then we come to Dark Souls, what makes Dark Souls so rewarding is that it treats everything as it would be in that world. If a gigantic suit of armour hit you with an axe bigger than you are, damn right youíd be dead in one hit, and with only the strength of a human you would have to hack away at its legs and hit it about fifty times till it died, and in Dark Souls that is the case. It treats everything with a sense of ďrealismĒ, most weapons are believable and behave so, the stronger your attacks the more stamina it takes from you, most enemies can kill you in about three hits, itís incredibly deep and to explore every aspect would take forever, but it all feels within the realm of what the human body could do. Even magic, when you take it for it is, is a projectile attack that can leave you very vulnerable, it makes it all seems very....reasonable.
What makes Dark Souls special is that as well as treating the player with realism, it treats every abominable monstrosity with that same sense of realism too. Giant sword wielding wolves slash with the strength of...a giant sword wielding wolf, possessed statues are as hard as stone, dragons are near impossible to approach without the right the equipment, to overcome these challenges with a mere human body doing only what the human body can, that bring a satisfaction like no other in gaming. And that is why more games could do with having protagonists that are only human.
Well, thatís that. Bit serious.... I should probably try to go out on a lighter note.....oh, did you ever notice how Cloudís hair kind of looks like a chocoboís arsehole?
YOU CANNOT UNSEE!