Playing a Dark Souls game is the equivalent to bashing your head over and over against a brick wall hoping it will break. The Souls games are very demanding yet at the same time incredibly rewarding to play. The game never holds your hand or provides you with any leeway, you can die to some of the easiest enemies in the game but you can absolutely destroy a boss fight everyone says is impossible. The difference between success and failure in these games purely depends on who is holding the controller (or keyboard). How many times are you willing to get your face battered into the ground and still get up and keep going, this is the challenge. In my opinion skill is irreverent when playing a souls game, it is all about staying in the fight and not giving up.
I have never felt so much self-doubt playing a video game but at the same time the feeling once you overcome a boss fight is unbelievable. Of course boss fights is what the Souls games are known for and the best fight gives of the feeling of competing in a boxing match or an intricate game of chess. Ever move you make has to be accurate or you will be punished, the game forces you to adapt to a bosses attack patterns which requires patience. The Souls game are complex to learn and you will experience every possible emotion from heartbreak and frustration to triumph and sheer relief. I can still remember jumping around like a madman after beating the Nameless King in Dark Souls 3.
My first experience with a Souls game was Bloodborne and I hated it. On my first play through I recall defeating the Cleric Beast and Father Gascoigne before getting completely stuck on the Blood Starved Beast. After getting my backside handed to me countless times I decided to quit. This is most likely what drives most players away from a Souls game because starting out can be tough. You have no idea what you are doing, where to go and your character is incredibly weak. Obviously you are inexperienced with the game also leading to a lot of frustrating deaths. Patience is a necessity, if you are patient you will overcome the initial difficulty spike and everything else will become so much easier to manage, I found this out when I returned to Bloodbourne.
I returned to Bloodborne with fresh eyes and an open mind, I fell in love. The slick fluid combat, satisfying sound design, huge variety of weapons and incredible level design. Everything clicked with me despite the fact I was still struggling. I finally defeated the Blood Starved Beast after many hours of failure and then began my new journey through one of best games of this console generation. When it comes to AAA games it is clear a lot of developers cut corners to save time and of course money. This can be with recycled areas, level designs and enemies. In Bloodborne whether it’s the grand scale of Oedon Chapel or the dark slimy depths of Forbidden Woods, every new area feels unique. This applies to the enemies you encounter also with Cathedral Ward having massive axe wielding giants or in Byrgenwerth you come across brain sucking monsters that are horrendous to fight. When you encounter something for the first time in Bloodborne it feels new and fresh. This is special.
I eventually beat the game and I felt a satisfied, not because I had reached the end credits but of the fact I didn’t give up. I understand Bloodborne has a story for you to follow but to be honest I had no idea what the hell was going on, I have since watched videos on Youtube explaining the plot but hell I still found the story to be to complicated for me. After completing Bloodborne I took a nice long break from the Souls series and I made my return with Dark Souls 2 a mixed bag of a game to say the least.
This definitely sounds hypocritical of me but I spent 120 hours playing Dark Souls 2 and I don’t even love the game. I found the endless wave of repeated boss fights to be a drag and the game has some awful locations for you to navigate. When I think of the Shrine of Amana a cold shiver goes down my spine. Dark Souls 2 literally reuses the first boss fight in the game Dragonrider and gives you 2 Dragonriders to fight in Drangleic Castle, It just feels so lazy. Did you struggle beating the Smelter Demon in Iron Keep? Well how about fighting another Smelter Demon in Iron Passage.
To put it into context Bloodborne has 17 boss fights and Dark Souls 2 has 32. The game feels to bloated and flabby. Dark Souls 2 needed to be trimmed down a tad and it would have been a much more consistent game. There are of course great things about Dark Souls 2 which remind me why I love the series. Entering Majula for the very first time was a majestic experience and the game does have some brilliant areas with the Lost Bastille and Drangleic Castle being highlights. Some of my favourite boss fights include Darklurker, the Fume Knight and Sir Alonne with all 3 either being optional or DLC bosses, which is also a problem. Overall I would say I like Dark Souls 2 but it is no doubt the runt of the litter and the weakest souls game I have played thus far.
To continue the messed up order I played the souls series in, I then moved onto Dark Souls 3 a game considered as a return to form by many for From Software and I agree. Dark Souls 3 feels like a sleeker and more focused version of Dark Souls 2. The boss fights are improved, the level design is better and the game doesn’t get bogged down in boring locations like in DS2. Hidetaka Miyazaki game director on Demon Souls, Dark Souls 1 and Bloodborne returned to Dark Souls 3, it shows. The gameplay feels lighter and more satisfying to play. The story revolves around gathering 4 ‘Great’ Souls to help the restore the game’s world which is in despair, obtaining the souls requires you to defeat the four Lords of Cinder. It is certainly not an impossible challenge but it will certainly test you during your first play through.
I have finished Dark Souls 3 twice and I am eager to begin my third play though. My favourite boss in the game would have to be The Nameless King an optional boss found in Archdragon Peak, I remember approaching the boss fight for first time and feeling terrified at the prospect. I had heard numerous stories about how brutal the boss was and how it was one of the most difficult in Souls history. But I defeated the bastard and it felt great. I think when a piece of art whether its film, television or video games can make you feel the emotions I felt after defeating the Nameless King, I think that art is special and Dark Souls 3 is certainly a special game.
After concluding my time with Dark Souls 3 I will move backwards to Dark Souls 1 and I have heard many great things about this game. Dark Souls 1 is apparently the hardest and most brutal game in the series, so I guess I will have to prepare to die.
I would like to thank the Dark Souls 2 and 3 Wikipedia as well as the Bloodborne wiki with providing useful and detailed information on the bosses, locations and story in these games. I have left links to all 3 pages below and I hope you check them out.