My first impression of Dark Souls was not a good one. I woke up early, at the crack of noon, and walked to my living room to find a good friend of mine sitting on my couch playing said game. The sight of him sitting on the couch did not bother me. I see that every day, but I noticed the game he was playing was one I had never seen before. He said, “Hey, brother! Have you seen this yet? It’s called Dark Souls. It just came out yesterday, and it is fugging awesome sauce!” (Actual quote). Intrigued, I sat in my gaming chair on the other side of the room and began watching. For twenty minutes I watched him slowly walk and roll around while getting utterly destroyed by the low level hollows in the Undead Burg. After the thirteenth time he died I turned to him and said, “This is the worst game I have ever seen. I will never play this.” I then started my day, I got ready for work and left while he sat there playing away.
After a terrible day at work, I came home to him still playing, but now he had made his decent to the Blight Town. By this time, he was complaining about a boss, and pretty much everything else, in this section of the game, and he was ready to quit. I asked him if he would go back to the boss so that I could watch him get ruled because I needed a pick me up. He agreed to the request and went off to meet his doom. Almost immediately upon entering the spider’s den, he encountered a swift death. After his fiery demise, he decided it was time for him to go home, but he left the game, just in case I decided I wanted to play. I assured him there was no chance, but he insisted on leaving it. I set it next to the television and played Portal 2 with my wife, Nicole, until we passed out.
The next day was my day off, and I knew that the game was there. However, from what I had seen I had no desire to try it, so I played Halo Reach until I was bored (which happened rather quickly by the time Dark Souls came out). The game was calling my name; it said “Andy, I’m new and fresh. Play me. Plaaaaay meeeeee. Plaaaaaaaaaaaay meeeeeeeee!” I finally broke down and put it into the Xbox tray. I sat down in my gaming chair, and pressed start. I did not find the character creation screen to be all that impressive; I ended up making a purple haired girl, of Astora Royalty, with a ponytail and the name Randy (this has since become my template for any game that has a character creation option). Her gift was the Master Key, and I decided to go naked with the deprived class. I then proceeded to watch the opening cinematic. It was impressive, but, of course, you should never judge a game by such a thing.
As anyone who has played this game would know, I started my adventure locked in a cell in the Undead Asylum, where a knight was kind enough to drop me a companion, a dead fella who was conveniently holding the key to my cell. I made my way out and headed down the hallway, past the sulking hollows who were too busy making out with the wall and bathing to pay me any mind. As I made my way up a ladder on the other side of the little flooded room, I saw something strange. “LIGHT BONFIRE,” it said. Intrigued I lit it and sat down to discover that my only option was to leave, so I gathered my broken sword hilt and carried on through the large doors at the end of the yard. Once inside, all hell broke loose, as a giant demon landed directly in front of me and began having its way with me. Moments later, I lay dead on the ground, the words “YOU DIED” come across the screen, almost as if to taunt me. After I awoke at the bonfire, I swore that I would not die by that thing’s hand again! I ran in ready to fight only to notice a door open in the corner of the room just as I was defeated again. Respawning at the bonfire again, I swore that THIS was the time I would not die, and ran in again. This time I sprinted directly to the open door. “SUCCESS!!!” I screamed, as if I had just discovered the cure to disease (that’s right not just a disease, ALL of them!). I plopped down at the next bonfire and sat for a while to see if another option would pop up that wasn’t “Leave.” Realizing this was a fool’s errand; I hopped up and continued my quest. As I neared a turn, I noticed an orange scribble on the ground. I approached it with due caution, assuming it was meant to be a trap. To my delight, it was a message to read; “Pick up your shield,” it said. So, I looked around the corner to see an item on a body and one of those hollows standing at the end of the hall, except this one wasn’t just hanging out. Instead, he thought it appropriate to fire arrows at me, as I ran to pick up my crap plank shield and my equally crap club. He ran around a corner but was not fast enough to escape my badassery. I slew him before he could make it up the stairs. As I ascended the steps, I saw a cloud of some kind blocking the way. I, once again, put on the cautious hat and approached slowly. “Traverse the white light” seemed safe enough to me, so I did it. Surprisingly, I was not attacked. Instead, I was given a view of the knight, who so graciously helped me from my cell, but he appeared to be injured and out of reach. After a few tries to break through the door, I decided to go up the stairs. Suddenly, a ball came crashing down on me and busted a hole into the wall. I ran up the stairs and killed the douche who pushed the ball, and rushed back to speak with the dying knight. He told me a prophecy about the “chosen undead.” Then, he gave me estus flasks and the key to the door at the top of the stairs. As a final request, he asked me to leave so he could die in peace.
I ran up the stairs, through the door, and around the corner to an ass beating. When I rose from the bonfire, I was bummed to learn all my souls were gone. However, on the way back, I discovered a door to a shortcut that would make thing easier later. On this go around, I was prepared as I ran around the corner. Without taking any damage to myself, I took down the archer and two hollows with swords. Proud of myself, I picked up my souls, went through the next doorway, and fought a more difficult enemy. Once more, I came away with my life. Realizing the door was locked in that room, I turned around knowing my only option was to go through the white light I had passed, where the archer and the swordsmen were. I walked through to a balcony; confused, I stood there and died, when a giant club from below bashed into me. On the next try, I mopped up the baddies then read the message about falling power attacks. This time, I went in ready, and, after ten minutes of running away from the demon, I discovered it was vulnerable from behind. So, I rolled behind and beat it in the butt to death. Once that demon was dead, I was hooked.
With the Big Pilgrim´s Key, I unlocked the door and ran outside. I followed the path to the edge of the cliff where a giant raven picks you up and carries you to Lordran. This is the moment I fell in love. I was stuck; there was no escape from the inevitable. I played from then on through the night and the rest of my next day off. I did not sleep, and eating was hardly an option considering the only time I got up was to go to the bathroom. By the time I passed out that night, I went from the Firelink Shrine all the way to the Tomb of the Giants. That includes me killing the gargoyle boss, Quelaag, Smough and Ornstein, taking a break to stare at Gwynevere’s boobies for a bit, continuing the killing spree with Seath the Scaleless, Sif the Great Grey Wolf (the saddest part of the entire game), the Four Kings, and playing pitfall (also known as the Bed of Chaos). I was too tired to contend with the tomb, so I peeled myself off of my leather gaming chair, took a shower, and went to sleep.
The next day, I went to work set on playing when I got home. I wasn’t sure if I could because, when I left the house, Nicole was playing The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I knew it might be difficult to peel her away from it as a result of the fact that, when she started playing a game, she would stick to it the same way I had. Just as I thought, she was still playing when I got home. So, I took a shower and let her play on. It was only fair, since I had taken it up for two days straight. Even though I was okay with her playing, Dark Souls was the only thing on my mind, and I was counting down the seconds until I could get back on and keep playing. Things didn’t quite work in my favor though because I had to work several overtime days that week, and I could not find the time to play until the next day I had off. Still, it worked out in the long run as it added to the excitement of the experience, when I had that controller in my hands again.
When I started, I was a little sluggish because I had to remember some of the buttons again, but that didn’t last too long. Tomb of the Giants here I come! If there is one place more irritating than Blight Town, it’s the Tomb of the Giants. Not for the same reason though. The frame rate is fine through the tomb, unlike the muddy realm of Blight Town. It’s the damn enemies in the tomb. What is up with those damn wheel skeletons??? Or the giant dog things? Also, the lantern can only be used when you hold it in you shield hand, WTF! So, after basically sprinting through the tomb, I came upon Nito. With what it took to get to him, I figured he would be one tough sucker, but he was fairly easy. I threw fireballs at him until he died. That was it, but hey! I have another lord soul! To the Firelink Shrine!
Once inside the Kiln, I made swift work of the knights and walked in to fight Gwyn himself. He almost had me a few times, but I managed to keep him at bay by standing on the other side of a rock and throwing fireballs at him. Imagine my surprise when I found out fire hurts the fire god! After I was out of fire, all he needed were a few good hits and he was dead! Gwyn, your soul is mine! I, of course, linked the fire and gave the world a new era of light!
That was surely not the end of the story though. I bought the game myself and continued to play 120 hours’ worth of new game + on the Xbox. I decided I was finally done with it and took it in for trade. That was a huge mistake because I regretted it instantly. Luckily, I was able to get it again (this time on my preferred console, the PS3). I immediately recreated Randy. Since that time, I have played at least once a week. I have logged another 200+ hours with Randy, as well as 30 hours on a new character, using a different class and gift (a knight named Tony with the pendant). If it wasn’t for the nostalgia involved with Battletoads, Dark Souls would hands down be my favorite game. If someone asks me for a recommendation, I automatically fire out Dark Souls. This usually results in people getting mad at me because it’s too hard for them. I don’t judge them for it because not everyone enjoys the difficulty. When they complain, I just shrug and congratulate them for at least trying. Not everyone is like me, I love this game, and, if the disc hole was bigger, I would make love to this game! I will be playing this as an old man on my television, while my grandkids sit around me and call me old school because I don’t have a game port built into my brain. My last words on my death bed will be “Praise the Sun”. I will be buried with this game. My tombstone will read, “Here lays Andy. He really loved Dark Souls. He also had a wife; she was cool too.” Why? Because, Dark Souls that’s why! DARK SOULS FOREVER!!!