How Long have I been doing this? As long as I can remember, almost. Dying, reviving and dying again, battling my way through hordes of undead and their legions of lords, overseers and taskmasters, each locked in place. Now, however, I feel it. Its almost time. I am almost there.
OH. RIGHT. SPOILER DISCLAIMER. I’M TALKING ABOUT MY DARK SOULS II BOSS FIGHTS.
Playing both dark souls games back to back has proven to me that I do not like games to continue forever. New and interesting things must come along to challenge and change what I do. I had thought, due to my years playing WoW that I enjoyed sameness. It turns out that is not so. This last leg of Dark souls has been incredibly challenging and great fun, but damn it if I don’t want this game to be done.
I don’t think, compared to the character I played last game, that I picked something different enough to help differentiate me from my past choices. Maces and spears are different, though the combat style seems the same, and I am wearing the armor with the most numbers with a shield, though the shield is a bit less great this time.
Where was I last? Oh, the Twin Dragonriders in Dranglic Castle.
Shortly after the Twin Dragonriders, you end up in a hallway of very chess-like Knights. Make it past them and you get into a fight with one of the most hyped fights in all of Dark Souls II: The Looking Glass Knight. Supposedly, he can summon other players to help fight you on his side, but I never encountered on in the half a dozen or more times I fought him. The boss is smaller than most, but that’s not saying much as most are just completely, almost egregiously large. It brings back memories of tanking in WoW. The Knight is fairly simple, with slow attacks that are extremely easy to dodge and a few big-windup lightning attacks as well. His big thing is, however, that he will summon spirits to attack on his behalf. I fought two different ones: one with a halberd and shield and one with a greatsword and shield. I’d encountered them both before as invaders, so I wasn’t particularly surprised by their strategies.
My first pile of tries I was skirting around the edges of his melee range, darting in when I sensed a weak moment or two and heavy-striking him with my spear until he knelt down to summon a little friend. At that point, I’d run up to him and start a free-for-all stabfest until he completed his summons. Out of stamina, I would run away and around for a bit to regain my stamina. At that point, I’d engage the add and try to whittle him down while dodging the attacks of the Knight. It was not always easy, and it surely wasn’t quick. I figured this was the best strategy for some time, and every attempt I made it further, but I didn’t feel like I was progressing. Each add was a very likely chance of getting pincered and slain. Then, after stabbing the Knight, punishing him for the audacity to summon a friend, I noticed that both he and the add were slow to react once the summon was finished. Could this be my chance. The next time he did the summon I waited instead of taking advantage of his vulnerability. Once the summons was complete I went completely to town on him, stabbing him in the back while he sits, stunned, in the fetal position. I am sure I wasn’t helping. While I did take out the add, I also managed to take a brutal, heavy attack from the Knight at the same time straight to the face. I had enough HP, though, and shrugged it off, ran away and healed. I made a mistake and he removed my head from my body, but I had a strategy. Next time I went in to fight him, I took that time when they were both stunned to unload all the damage I could on the add, and it worked. Each time I did open-chest a hit from the Knights, but I survived each one with a bit more than 10-15% of my hp and that enabled me to flee, heal and survive. It wasn’t the prettiest win I had, but I made it through the first time I tried that strategy.
Next up, after trudging through a swamp filled with magic-bolt shooting horrors and hammer wielding fanatics, I came to what I thought was easily one of the coolest bosses so far. The Demon of Song. I have a soft spot for all things swampish, and this awesome boss is not an exception. He is, though, rather simple. His arms are insanely dangerous, as he will grab at you and smash you into the earth enough times to kill you, and he will also bodyslam you into oblivion if he gets the feeling. However, after a half dozen tries, the easiest way to kill him is to stay just beyond arms reach. He will swing his arms, trying to get you, only to have you dart in and stab him in the face when he takes a break. Seriously, the only place this thing is vulnerable is its face. Every once in a while he will stand up tall and flop down onto the ground, so make sure you start backing up and continue backing up throughout the animation. Once on the ground, though, go for the face and you’ll be ready to continue on in no time!
Moving forward from the Demon of Song, we end up in the undead crypt, a strange and absurd land of terrible creatures and labyrinthine puzzles. Fortunately, you can get to the boss relatively easy once the shortcuts are unlocked. Unfortunately, Velstadt is a monster from hell. He is a towering yet thin presence that moves with surprising speed and agility, swinging a giant bell-club-mace thing with which to kill you. He has some relatively predictable pauses, though, which can easily be taken advantage of in order to deal some significant damage. This fight all came down to timing and learning to manage my stamina meter. His attacks deal so much damage that they have to be blocked or you end up splattered, but blocks eat a ton of stamina as well. I learned here that it was better to retreat, let my stamina recover, and then go back in to try and get a stab or two in then it was to take a bell chime to the chin. Half way through, maybe a little more, he switches phases and gets a large boost of Dark damage and a better armor value. He gains a single long range attack, but its extremely telegraphed, so you can run next to him and stab him a time or two if your so inclined. Thats what he gets for trying to shoot you. There is a large timing element to this fight, so I died more than a few times before I took him down. Moving on and grabbing the Symbol of the King was all worth it, though, as it allowed me to enter the next fight.
Down deep in the Throne of Want are a pair of bosses, the Throne Watcher and Throne Defender. You fight them on a platform in the center of a pool of black deadly water. They are a very cool analogy to Smaug and Orenstien with a very different riff on it. When one or the other is killed, it is not removed from the fight. Instead, in mere moments the remaining Throne Guardian will go over and raise the other from the dead. Simply put, you have to kill them very close to each other or you get to fight them over again. This fight didn’t take long once I figured out what I needed to do. I started with the Watcher, who jumps and lunges, locking on and luring him out to get a stab in here or there. I had to be aware of the Defender, as well, because his hits hurt big time and I didn’t want to get hit without my guard up. To add insult to injury, when each boss gets down to half HP or less, they apply Golden Pine Resin to their swords and start adding lightning damage on top of their normal damage. In the end, I managed to bring the Watcher down to just above half, switch over to the defender and bring him to half, switch to the Watcher again to drop him to within a single hit of dying, kill the Defender and then take the Watcher out. It wasn’t easy, but it was a fun learning process. Figuring out these boss puzzles is really what I enjoy. With the Guardians of the Throne dead, I looked around, shrugged at the seeming pointlessness of it all, and made my way to the next Kings Gate, and took on Aldias’ Keep.
This level was a pain in the ass, but fortunately this boss was a pushover. I did pull that lever, too, even though that one sign told me not to. If only I knew what the consequences of my actions were. I’ll take that trade most days. The Guardian Dragon was very straightforward, with a simple move set of two types of fireballs and three types of physical attacks. Each fireball attack had its own position and animation so it was pretty easy to predict. Locked on, I could attack one of its two feet so that was where I took the fight to. I’d run in, stab it once or twice and it would lift off into the air. If it clung to the wall, it was going to toss a standard fireball and I would have to be under him in order to be safe. If he jumped into the air and hovered, he was going to do a line of fire directly at me, and I needed to keep moving to be safe. Once he dropped down to the ground it was back to stabbing his feet. It only took two tries to bring the big fella down.
That leaves me with the final boss fight I’ve managed to beat of the game, and this one is so sad. Wile wandering through the memories of Vammar, I came across a small alcove with a message from another world. “Sniper spot” It said ” Try ranged battle.” I took a few shots, agro’d the boss and took him down pretty far, completely immune to anything he could do while I stood there and fired poison arrows at him. I felt bad about cheesing the game this bad and ran over to try and finish him off. Sadly, he lopped my face of with a single swing. It took a few more attempts and me learning his melee ways before I realized it wasn’t a complex, cool fight I was missing, simply one of those big nasty timing fights that if you take one step wrong you perish a terrifying death. Needless to say, after that, I shot the poor dude up with poison arrows and watched him slowly die. Now I make my way into the final fight, I assume. We shall see what the story hold for me down in the throne, where the Giant Lords soul has informed me I must return.