In Part 1 and Part 2 of our Dark Souls Playthrough Journal we’ve taken you through a few initial elements in Dark Souls. This is a game that has taken what has worked so well in Demon’s Souls and made a few improvements on it. While we can’t stop playing we can’t ask all of you to contend with our updates about the required grinding. Dark Souls doesn’t stop when the console is turned off. It lives on. It invades our dreams and clouds our thoughts. Each waking moment is a time to reflect on what went wrong and how to correct it. It’s a game unlike most we have played and for that we are in love.
Similar to our absence from one another, the world of Dark Souls has continued on. While my character only progresses through my own actions the world continues to see new signs of life. Blue shadows of those who succeed and newly formed bloodstains of those that don’t appear and disappear like the ethereal apparitions that they are. However since last we found ourselves at the Firelink Shrine we have not laid dormant.
In Dark Souls the controls are difficult to master but once you do you find them to be almost perfect. Save for a few niceties like a proper jumping mechanic they are absolutely wonderful. People don’t die in Dark Souls because they controls are imperfect. They die in Dark Souls because they themselves are imperfect. However taking any break from Dark Souls means that we will lose the precision and understanding that we have worked so hard to cultivate. So we press on. We become the spirits and stains that dot the landscape and hope that others begin to learn from us. We leave messages in the world to aide those that will follow so they may not be caught off guard.
As we fight the demons and the evils of the world we know that we will not be successful on our first attempt. But we press on because we know that the rewards are worth the price. As we fight these demons we’re struck with the sheer magnitude of evil stands before us each and every time. With each new demon we have a whole new challenge. Dark Souls isn’t there to help you win. Dark Souls knows how to defeat the demons. It’s your job to figure it out for yourself. However there is something that Dark Souls doesn’t know that is ultimately your greatest strength.
Dark Souls has no idea how to stop you. Granted it will throw almost everything imaginable at you in an attempt to stop you. In fact if you move too carelessly it will throw far more at you than you can handle and it will be successful in learning how to stop you. But then once you start over you then take this as a lesson of what not to do.
As we move through the world we care careful note of how many enemies there are and what they do. Not every enemy can be killed in the same way. While you could spend the entire game blocking this will just wear you and your equipment down. Sometimes it’s best the just charge in and other times it’s best to wait and snipe. You won’t know what the best course of action is, however, until you try. Sometimes a kind soul before you will have left a message to help you on your way.
Progression in Dark Souls is done slowly and this is the way they intended it to be. Not every enemy is one you can kill. Sometimes it’s best to run. Sometimes it’s best to just steer clear. Sometimes you run in swinging. You will only ever learn which is correct by trying. Once you know you keep doing it until you have it down to a science. You learn the strengths and weaknesses and exploit them. This is not your game. You don’t get to play it your way. The only way to survive is to play it their way.
As we work our way up from the Firelink Shrine and past the aqueduct we’re quickly finding that being overwhelmed is something that Dark Souls will throw at us time and time again. From enemies hanging off the side of a railing to metal covered bulls to a dragon that decimates everything in it’s path the onset of Dark Souls will not pull any punches. However the ways to beat Dark Souls are not always contained within the game. Sometime you must look elsewhere to find the solutions. Dark Souls lives outside of the console. It permeates the world around you and ceases to be an RPG and starts to become a part of your life. It’s like that pet that you tried to hide from you parents or that naughty magazine you also tried to hide from your parents. You don’t want to admit that you’re looking for help but it’s the only way to survive.
It is for this challenge and totally different gameplay that we give Dark Souls a 5 out of 5