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Friday, August 31, 2012

I Am Legitimately Afraid To Play Dark Souls

Normally I consider myself a pretty calm and easy-going sort of guy. However, if there’s one thing that frustrates me to no end, it’s constantly failing at a task and having to repeat it over and over and over. As you can imagine, this frustration tends to rear its ugly head most often when I’m playing video games. I’m not afraid to admit I’ve broken my fair share of controllers, rage-quit from more than a couple online competitive games, and had my parents come into my room on more than one occasion and say “Nate, calm down it’s just a game.”

While I’ve gotten pretty good at mastering and controlling my frustrations over the years (deep breaths and long walks tend to help), I still try to consciously avoid games that I know will frustrate me because of their learning curve and/or difficulty (unsurprisingly, I’m not a big competitive multiplayer fan). This “self-policing” I enforce on myself doesn’t come without costs however as I sometimes feel I am missing out on some pretty great games; the most prominent and recent example being From Software’s Dark Souls.  

When the Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition first showed up on Valve’s Steam service last week, I remember being seriously tempted to purchase it after reading the extensive list of cool and unique features it brought to the RPG table (RPG’s are one of my favorite gaming genres). But I also remembered that, like its predecessor Demon’s Souls, From Software’s latest RPG hit had built much of its commercial success on its reputation for being brutally difficult. 

Not only does Dark Souls pit you against some of the most unrelenting and physically imposing foes to ever grace a t.v. screen or computer monitor, but it also provides literally no help in what to do/where to go and even allows other players to invade your game and kill you on a whim. Based off my earlier admission of being an easily frustrated kind of gamer, Dark Souls naturally sounded like my worst nightmare in game form.

But then, after reading a couple reviews for Dark Souls, I started to notice a few trends amongst players who had already ventured through the unforgiving landscapes of Lordran. According to them, while the game is indeed challenging beyond measure, there is still a certain appeal to be had in facing down a particularly nasty foe dozens of times and finally managing to triumph. Dark Souls’ popularity doesn’t lie solely in its ability to challenge gamers but also in allowing them to feel that rush of pride and relief after every battle they win, every puzzle they solve, and every dungeon they conquer.

As someone who has slammed his head against a metaphorical wall many times before, working through my frustration and my anger to defeat a tough boss or solve a particularly mind-bending puzzle, only to finally emerge victorious, I know exactly what that feeling is like. I also know that working towards that same feeling again in a game that has already proven itself to numerous critics could be just the sort of rewarding experience my gaming life needs right now. 

However I also can’t help being afraid that in the end, my frustration will win out and I’ll have wasted forty bucks on a game I played once or twice and then gave up on. Should I bite the bullet and delve perilously into the dark and unforgiving world of Dark Souls? Or should I play it safe and maybe wait for a demo to come out or for the game to go on sale? Maybe I should give Demon’s Souls a try instead and see if I can even begin cutting my teeth on a series that is notorious for its frustration-inducing difficulty.

Whatever my fears, hopes, and aspirations regarding my life as a gamer may be at the moment, one thing I cannot deny is that Dark Souls has me intrigued for the very reason I usually shy away from games like it. Much like when I sit down to watch a horror movie, my fear and anticipation have sort of fused into one emotion. Now I just need to decide whether or not the emotional ride is worth the forty dollar entrance fee.

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  1. I'm sure the comparrison has been made for you before, but Dark Souls is challenging in the way that old 8 and 16 bit console games were. Like the side scrolling platformers of yore, you must learn the patterns of the levels and bosses. I hate ridiculously challenging games, but love Demons Souls and Dark Souls, because they reward you for patience and planning.

    This graphic represents how some people feel about the game:

    Dark Souls Vs. Other Games

  2. Got in on the xbox when it came out.Loved it for a week and then got totally sick of it. Its not as tough as its made out but certain bosses drove me nuts, as after getting killed by them you had to track back to them for feckin ages only to die again and spend another 5 minutes running through the same terrain. If you're easily frustrated I'd avoid it.Get a Witcher game instead.

  3. I should also mention that I put in hundreds of hours on the PS3 version, beat it once on the 360, because I bought a copy for a buddy and wanted to see if it was the same, and now have put in around 50 hours on the PC version.