Let's Revisit Dark Souls


#21

i feel the same way about soulsbourne diaries. as much as i love playing these games, i might love reading about other players experiences even more. there’s something benignly voyeuristic about it, or maybe it just provides a glimpse into other people’s headspaces, fostering a kind of narrow experiential empathy? or maybe i’m just straight up addicted to this series? dunno, but either way, once i finish reading about ds, i’m gonna go chop away at the second half of the remaster.


#22

Its really annoying but you technically can still skip it without the master key if you go to darkroot garden > secret bonfire at darkroot basin > elavator to valley of the drakes > back end of blight town > blight town lower bonfire
but its a huge pain and probably harder than fighting capra demon, also you would never get the large ember if you did this.
As for capra if you run up the latter and roll onto the ledge to your right the dogs will focus you and capra will struggle to reach you for a bit so you can use this to heal, and to kill the dogs before going after the demon.


#23

My first soulsbourne actually was dark souls 2, I got it for the ps3 and played through the first several missions with my gamer bro friend on co op in highschool, but kinda avoided it because I didnt really enjoy it or my friend. Later on in college I played dark souls 1 while staying at a partners house for a week and I fell in love with it and its still my favorite souls game just barely above bloodborne (which was the 4th of them Ive played).


#24

Oh right! Even though I recently went through it like that I forget that path is open from the other side.
I wouldn’t say it’s a huge pain, you just have to dodge and weave a couple of drakes, plus some club dudes at the start of the cave, then the first thing you find is a key to the shortcut door right outside the cave.

Also yes that Capra strategy is the method most people use, whether to isolate the dogs or to just get a brief respite to heal, it tends to work but the dogs sometimes get into some weird patterns.


#25

I didnt know you could get the key to that shortcut in blight town, I thought you had to buy the master key from domhnall after opening the gates to sens . That would have saved me a ton of time early farming slugs on my old witches ring paladin run right now hahahahahahaha


#26

This is helpful advice, but I’m honestly probably just gonna wait until I can play side-by-side with someone else, though I’ll keep this in mind. I’m not very good at the internal mapping aspect of Dark Souls either, and getting lost in that game can be pretty punishing if you happen to drop a lot of souls and then have no idea how to get back to where you’d been. I don’t really have any interest in playing through the Souls series alone when I can experience it with friends.

Also, every single map I have ever seen of areas in Dark Souls is utterly incomprehensible to me on the fly, and since the game lacks a true pause feature and I don’t have a dual-screen computer set-up, playing it on Switch and being able to look at a map is actually my best shot at finishing it if i choose to go at it alone.


#27

Thats super real. Ive somehow worked a mental map of pretty much the first 75% of the game in my head, and Im doing a cleric character to hopefully help people when i can since the servers are populated again :3


#28
My late response to the Asylum Demon bit hidden for thread-reading clarity

Although I’m late to the Asylum Demon party, I would say that the situation with that door ought to be teaching the player to explore their surroundings rather than always focusing on the immediate confrontation. People absolutely get sucked in by the marketing of this game as ‘hard’ and take this whole fight at face value and quit on that account and fair dues to them. It’s probably one of many times in analysing Dark Souls where I’ll say something like “Here’s the cool thing that I reckon this is supposed to do but here’s the reason it fails for many people” and it’s a shame that this is a situation that could have been rectified by just having some bright colours to draw the player’s eye that way.

Souls games seem to have a few pseudo-traditions that get preserved through the series. (Some would call this a design continuity and they would be right but I wanna imbue a kind of #Gamer mysticism to it.) This is actually a really cool reinterpretation of the near-unwinnable boss fight that opens Demon’s Souls insofar as it immediately demonstrates both philosophical differences and continuity between the two games. Also, the Asylum Demon itself is a literal copy-paste of that unwinnable Demon’s Souls boss fight just in case you thought this was me trying to be clever and imagine subtleties.

Continuing from that but relevant to this thread as a whole, it is kind of worth remembering that this game was being developed with a specific niche in mind. It was a niche they’d found and helped develop with Demon’s Souls. Dark Souls was expected to achieve reasonable success on the back of that, but the place it holds in game-canon is the kind of surprising success story that ends up being taken for granted when we play these games retrospectively. For a recent and arguably more dramatic example, it might be said the success of Dark Souls is similar to how only a small but dedicated niche of the gaming public was aware of PUBG until suddenly it seemed like that game was everywhere. In that vein, it is worth trying to look at the game from the position of someone totally unfamiliar as well as from the position of the zealous member of Demon’s Souls cult-following to whom this is the only game that has served their particular interests since the release of the OG DS.

Yikes that’s getting a bit long-winded. Point is - there’s a lot of different positions from which to offer insight, but the ways in which that insight is useful might be different.

Both when I first played DS and now when I’m replaying it through the remaster that Black Knight in Undead Burg has dropped their Sword for me, and damn, that is a sword (a great sword, distinct from the BK greatsword). There’s a lot to that one knight in armour tho.

For one, there’s a ring in a chest IIRC that you can access if you defeat them. The ring is one of the many rings in Dark Souls that read like they have a useful effect but in actuality are fairly negligible. I feel like all of these early encounters are very specifically important insofar as they’re trying to teach the player how to think in the way that makes the game ‘click’.

It doesn’t feel like a stretch to say that by having a negligible ring as the boon for overcoming the challenge they’re teaching you that some of the optional challenges in the game are more for the satisfaction of overcoming them than anything else. I guess this is true, but I don’t quite like it. It works for the experienced player, but not for the new player. For one thing, you don’t have any way of actually knowing how much more useful the rings you’ll find later in the game are. Definitely, I found it enjoyable to deal with that miniboss (on my first playthrough by loading up on firebombs and staying just out of sword’s reach, on second play by having online play companions give me a hand), although I suspect that most people don’t bother trying to kill it after it wrecks them on their first couple of attempts. It is just as valid to say that the negligible reward is a way of teaching players to move on from arbitrary fights they might not yet have the gear/technique/stats to win. I think it’s important that both approaches are useful ways to approach Dark Souls, but unskippable boss fights like the Taurus Demon immediately after definitely make the game less enjoyable for someone still finding their feet. So too does the fact that the game does not effectively communicate what content is skippable. I suspect this point will come up several times in this thread. It kind of already has just in people helping each other out above.

The ring itself (Defence bonus when health is low) maybe teaches the player something about which stats to effectively ignore? Levelling up Resistance a bunch is the kind of mistake I can see myself making if Dark Souls had been my first rodeo (it wasn’t). I think at very least most players will eventually realise that this defence bonus doesn’t actually achieve anything when given that your health is that low the defence bonus is unlikely to be enough to prevent death when the next blow lands. Frankly, I feel like this is the kind of thing that gets this game a reputation for cruelty, and also demonstrates how this game “isn’t really as hard as everyone says” once you’re thinking the way you’re “supposed” to.

I’d love to see someone make a post about the Taurus Demon boss fight.


#29

A couple of years ago on another forum, a user challenged themselves to draw a map from memory of Dark Souls 1, focusing on the Undead Burg. While I love the way the Burg implies a lived-in world (houses with tables, shelves, pots and pans), the level design is what really sticks out to me. Kicking down the ladder after the Taurus Demon is an incredible experience because it makes clear that you’re moving through a contiguous space. It’s around that time that I started to really pay attention to horizons, structures and areas that initially looked like just background noise. A lot of games do the “see that mountain? you can go to it” promise, but it’s less that Dark Souls feels expansive and more that it feels like moving through a piece of clockwork machinery that makes the space really compelling to me.

Here’s the link to that forum user’s drawing of the Burg from memory, if you’re interested.


#30

That’s quite a well done from memory map, it’s pretty much spot on besides some discrepancy on the aqueduct tunnel stairs to undead burg and missing the lower part leading up the path on top of the aqueduct.
Needless to say I think it only proves that Dark Souls gives you an innate understanding of the areas you traverse, whereas if you were to give me that task with any area in most ubi/bethesda style open world games I’d be drawing a blank, it’d just a bunch if icons on a flat map.


#31

hopefully this’ll be my longest entry cuz its lookin a little rambly. sorry.

i’ve not really been reading this thread beyond my initial griping about the PC remaster not working, and i’ve already had a fair amount of it spoiled. like, not too much, but spoiled in the way that you let yourself spoil games you dont plan on ever playing yourself. but! i got a used 360 copy, so i’m in!

reading about the Undead Burg, seems to be that its where the game takes its gloves off, making you learn the game on its own terms. but that didn’t happen for me. everything before the Taurus Demon came down to luck, going verryyyyy slowly to draw enemies out one at a time. for the Demon itself, i used that tower jump trick from a guide. i regret that now, but not bc of a Real Gamer’s Don’t Use Guides ego thing. instead, i regret it for how totally unprepared i was for the Undead Parish.

i got over the bridge okay. the little trick with the latter gave me goosebumps, such clever level design. it wasn’t until that terrible, terrible alleyway with the terrible armored hog, followed by the basement with oh god so many hollows, followed by the narrow walkway with the big scary armor skeleton, that i really started to, slowly, over several days, rethink how i was playing.

in hindsight, playing a Wanderer for my 1st time seems to have been a mistake. my thinking was that i know nothing about this place, so it would make sense for my character that she wouldn’t know anything, not being from Lordran (is it a country? fife? continent?). so, Wanderer. i dunno.

but i’m learning that their fragility and speed requires knowing yourself, and watching/ predicting enemies, in a way i wasn’t prepared for. i think Undead Parish has so far taught similar lessons to what y’all have described, though. just a bit… late.

me being broken, in 3 parts

The Bull Corridor
i already knew about the Asylum Demon. it took the Armored Tusk wrecking me several times to really get that sometimes you really just can’t take on an enemy at the time. by the time i got through the Bull Corridor, i was mostly relying on parrying and turtling. tip toe around the archers, wait for the shield & lance Hollows to show an opening, take advantage of parrying invincibility to close distances.

The Hollows
i had to rethink that after the like, 5? Hollows that rushed me in that cramped room. but, i got smarter about knowing my own attacks and movements. in the hallway, the shortsword fast attacks hit the wall, made inert. in the clearing, its so easy to get overwhelmed and caught in a combo.

The Moderately Big Boy
honestly, the takeaway here was mostly just “try not to panic.” i kept trying to parry that Balder Knight, convinced i couldn’t win a normal fight. once i missed the parry enough, i noticed its armor weighed it down, and i could take advantage of my speed. after many, many hours, i broke through, and made it to the next Bonfire.