Even if you haven’t played one, all gamers will have heard of FromSoftware’s brutally hard game series in some capacity. The games have a reputation for being some of the toughest out there and they fly the flag for the idea of a true challenge. A search of the internet will reveal all sorts of stories from developing a love of the game to how the game helped with mental illness and depression. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with these games as I’ve never beaten one but I do find them very fun when I’m in the right mood and incredibly frustrating when I’m not.
It all started long ago with the first Dark Souls being free with Xbox’s Games With Gold at one point. I was always looking for something to play with friends and after reading up on it, Dark Souls sounded great. A brutal tutorial was a massive surprise but logic kicked in and both me and my friend got through, we were after the multiplayer and fought all the way to the Taurus Demon just to find out that this second boss wouldn’t allow multiplayer. It sucked, we couldn’t play together on what mechanically would have been fun for two players and after a bit of reading I found out that we may never have played together, even after unlocking the multiplayer because of the way it was set up. A few years later I decided to give the game another go, this time getting as far as Blighttown with a new character (possibly Pyromancer), obviously the area is dark, difficult and sometimes breaks how well the game will function so I ended up uninstalling again.
One day I decided to get back into the games and was aware of Blighttown so went for a fresh experience, Dark Souls 2 SotFS edition. Having experience from the first game I breezed through some of the early stuff but was stopped dead in my tracks when facing the Pursuer. Luckily for me there was a second route and I could farm enemies for souls, or so I thought. Farming worked for a bit but after a while the enemies stopped respawning, I tried going the other route and took on the Dragonrider guy, that really dark area and eventually came across a tough castle bit. There was fast travel in this game, so full of confidence I went after my old nemesis, the Pursuer. After many attempts in a long and gruelling series of battles I took old big sword down. Happy with myself I pressed on to find the castle bit that I was in before, starting merrily on my way I fought some tough enemies and then it happened… another Pursuer appeared. I was not prepared for that. I had my issues with the game to that point, who hadn’t, but this was the fastest I’ve ever made the decision to quit a game and uninstall. My victory meant nothing, I’d have understood if he showed up at some late point in the game as a challenging enemy but no, right after the first one. I could have probably beaten it but mentally I wasn’t prepared for facing that foe again. I never returned to Dark Souls 2 again after that.
Dark Souls 3 was a gift for what was either a birthday or Christmas. Dark Souls 3 was the one where I started as the deprived guy and went in swinging with my wooden club, two handed and just battered anything that stood in my way. Fast, mobile and powerful, even when those three Watcher bosses turned up I murdered the group and their flamey friend with relative ease. I won’t claim that I did everything first go, but I did feel powerful in this game. The enemies I had trouble with were magic users, if I couldn’t close distance fast enough I was dead because with my aggressive playstyle I wasn’t good at avoiding attacks. I beat everything I could find, only twice did I need to use a summon (once for the magic boss that rained stuff down and once for the Nameless King) but it was the Soul of Cinder that caused my surrender. He shifts fighting style and swaps weapons, I had him down to maybe one or two hits left on his life bar. I’d won! I’d won! Then he switched to his magic form which I wasn’t prepared for and blasted me with something. I was dead. Going back to his arena, he wasn’t in the same form as before, fighting him out of order felt unfair. I decided that I had won (although I really hadn’t), I uninstalled and have been back once or twice to try other weapons on the first boss who I fondly remember the fight with.
My PS4 was bought for me to play the exclusives on. It came with Red Dead Redemption 2 but the first game I actually bought for it was Bloodborne. I played it a bit, beat the first few bosses but it never really connected with me. Whether too dark, the different style, the weapons or the healing items that didn’t restock themselves, there was just nothing making me want to play the game. I watched a YouTube let’s play but I wasn’t convinced and still couldn’t find interest.
At some point I tried Dark Souls again and gave up purely because I’d got lost. The invincible boss Seath killed me and reset me to his prison thing and no matter what that was the only version of him I could find. I’m not a fan of some of the map design.
Over time I’ve played similar titles like Lords Of The Fallen, The Surge and Pharaonic but nothing has ever got me like the proper Dark Souls games did. I’m aware of Demon’s Souls which when I get a PS5 will be on my shopping list. I’ve seen gameplay of Sekiro but I want other games more. There’s the big one though, soon to come out, Elden Ring which I could end up splitting the cost with someone I know who wants it, but the idea of an open world will make enemy placement and the idea of tough but fair even more important. We’ll see what comes next.
I’ve written other things on this site about Soulsborne games, below are some links:
If I have any more thoughts on Soulsborne games then I could expand on this in future.
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