I have never been a fan of ultra-punishing games. I’ve always felt there were enough challenges in my non-digital life, that I wasn’t driven to further frustrate myself with games that repeatedly killed me.
My preconceived notion of the Souls games were that they were dark fantasy worlds where video game masochists went to overcome some of the hardest enemies out there.
A long while back, my good friend Grunts offered to guide me through Bloodborne. I was grateful and we booted up share play via PSN. I did okay, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I was disappointed, as I was terribly keen on seeing more of the world within in the game.
I was around five hours in when I finally conceded I wasn’t having fun. I was frustrated at dodging and attacking, rinsing and repeating, but most of all, at farming for the items that allow you to heal. When you die, you don’t get them replenished. You have to keep farming for more.
It was after I’d killed my twentieth werewolf trying to get more health items that I knew I was done. I put the game down and never picked it back up. I wanted to like it, but I didn’t.
Knowing that, I pre-ordered Dark Souls III anyway. Who knows why.
I don’t know why.
It had been sitting on the shelf, untouched, for over a year. It was only recently, when talking to my friend Brad, that the subject of finally playing it came up. He has intense knowledge of the Souls games and offered to join me in…
We made plans to dive in last weekend.
I was super nervous about playing together for several reasons. One: we’d never played anything co-op before. Two: I knew the game was going to be hard. Three: I didn’t want to embarrass myself by sucking terribly. The Souls series are known for hilarious deaths, and I was worried I’d be falling off ledges all over the place. Four: I knew I’d have to beat the first boss by myself before the game would allow us to play together.
Dark Souls bosses are crazy.
During that first segment (where I had to play solo), I used share play so he could see what I was doing and offer me tips.
And did he ever offer me tips.
I had to learn an entirely new way of approaching a game. He threw a lot of information at me, and I tried to absorb it as fast as I could.
I ran in to try to kill the first boss.
I really wanted to kill him on my first try. I wanted to prove I was a badass.
It didn’t happen.
I managed to kill him on my fourth try, ironically during a brief period when the share play crapped out on us. He didn’t get to see my victorious moment, but he congratulated me on the achievement and I proceeded to Firelink Shrine.
I felt like I was going to have a heart attack after beating the boss.
I had plenty of time to calm down while studying the game’s interface and trying to get used to the overwhelming barf of stats on my screen.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the game. I was glad to be playing together, but I felt like I was about as far out of my element as I could be.
We pushed on and I learned about where things were and how to proceed and when. He is an excellent tour guide. I knew he was carrying me through the first part, so I told him I’d like to push myself to participate more during our next co-op session.
And I think I made good on that.
I mean, I know I’m a long way off from being remotely decent at the game, but I’m trying and enjoying it.
Between our first and second co-op session, I was increasingly thinking about the game. I was looking forward to playing it.
I was looking forward to more Dark Souls.
What in tarnation?
Even though my game was invaded half a dozen times during those few hours on day two, I still had a blast. I found myself enjoying the experience more and more. That surprises me.
What also surprises me is that I’ve been thinking about it every day since then. My co-op partner and I can only connect on weekends, and I’m already looking forward to the next time we can play. I mean, I think Freud would have a field day with Hidetaka Miyazaki (not the Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli), as some of his creations are absurdly bizarre and sexual (and can often be described as unsettling). One of the last bosses we fought was a giant tree with blisters on his crotch which required me to run up to his massive form, get between his legs, and attack said blisters.
It was a place I’d rather not have been.
Even so, I found myself watching videos yesterday about Dark Souls III strategies and items to find. I’m already hooked. I enjoyed my time on day two even more than day one. That bodes well for day three and beyond.
I’m glad I decided to give the game a fair shot, and I’m entirely grateful for my guide and co-op partner. He has been insightful, generous, and helpful through and through. The experience has been a pleasure rather than a slog. And my health items regenerate each time I rest at a bonfire.
I hope to become ever-more useful as the game progresses, and I’m excited to dive back in as soon as we can.
It probably goes without saying that I hope to play more Dark Souls III this weekend. I also hope to finally (I know, I know) start Wolfenstein. I also think there is a possibility I might be starting in on Ghost Recon: Wildlands as well! Whew!
With that I ask: what will you be playing this weekend? Have you ever had a game you started out cool on, but eventually warmed up to? If so, which one/s? What changed for you?
As a parting note, I wanted to say I found a bunch of adorable Souls-related images, and I thought I’d share them here. There are some awfully silly and wonderful things out there. Cheers, friends!
There are apparently Dark Souls III costumes in Little Big Planet 3!