– Spoilers ahead! I’ll try my best, but I can’t Guarantee anything. –
Dark Souls II could not have come at a worse time. My daughter was going to be 5 months old at release, and a game that does not pause is especially difficult to play with a 5 month old. I did get a chance to play a few hours over the weekend, and got a good feel of how brutal the game is.
let me just put this out there: I’m not good at video games, I’m not clever, or dexterous, and not really that good at seeing the paths. I am, incredibly durable and extremely patient, which is how I beat many of my games. I believe I beat Call of Duty: Finest Hour by eating all the bullets in the game, letting each ambush kill me so I knew what to expect the next time around.
Learning Dark Souls II was an exercise in those exact skills, as I leap, fell, and got my poor character beat to death. Over and over again in the course of the few hours I played.
I made it through the intro, dropped unceremoniously into the land of the undead, and start making my way forward. I have no weapons and no gear. I wander into the grasses, and creatures scuttle away. I can’t see them well, but I decide I want to try and beat a few to death, which is harder than it seems, since your characters punching animation is some form of terrible slow motion lurch. After a few minutes of punching second late into the unconcerned air as the little beats flit out of harms way taunting me with their smug faces, I decide to move on. there are two paths ahead of me, one is green and lush, the other, muddy and nasty, hidden in a crack between rocks.
know now that I’m the Anti-Electricity – I take the most difficult path possible to a given destination. Up the muddy path! which seems to have some giant footprints in it. I should not be concerned, I tell myself. I continue to run up the path glibly talking about dinosaur prints, and I turn the corner into a giant… freaking… dinosaur thing.
Discretion being the better part of valor, I turn tail and book it back down to the start area before the thing sees me and take the lush path into the first hut, starting the game proper. After this, there is a bonfire and a path that is some sort of Rainbow Road equivalent, suspended in the middle of the air, no barriers, just… the edge of forever. . To the left and right are paths leading to Fog Gates which could leadto other unexplored area. Or to more awful things. I have been raised by the RPG genre to explore everything you can find first before going anywhere new, so I plunge forward.
I follow the path, treacherous though it is, down into a cave, and out into a beautiful sunlight area that greets me with a gorgeous ocean. I run down the path, and then make a left turn into a grotto, lured there by soul-flickers of an Item. Therein is a cave I follow down into another grove, Where a man with an enormous Cloud Strife-like blade rests and tells me about a statue. Whatever. I go into the building he is in front of and find a door I can open on the right. inside I find a creature hiding behind the door. I proceed, with weapons gained from the hut, to hack him to death. I leave what I can now clearly see is a cell, and make for the other one across the hall. I run in and find another dude! Excellent!
Except this time, he has a big ol’ hammer and he proceeds to get in a few good hits. Its ok though, because I kill him! But, and there always is a “but” in Dark Souls, the creatures hammer has poison, has infected me, and kills me. Two fights in I bite the dust because I can’t pay attention to my life total. Ah well. Keep going!
I make it back, get my souls and beat both of them without getting killed this time. I wander around and the statue, lo and behold, is right there, blocking my way forward. Nothing more to do here.
I turn around and start heading back down the path and into town where I talk to everyone I can, as is customary in games like this. The characters here are good enough, with a merchant and blacksmith, and a talking cat. Behind one of the houses is a trio of very aggressive piglets with an unorthodox amount of HP for piglets. I get all three, but not before they almost kill me. Once the center of town is scouted out, I head down the pathway to the left of town. Down into a dungeon-like sewer, with a treasure chest. Oh, and across the water from the treasure chest is a body. I can totally make it if I jump just right.
But I’m a terrible jumper, and I miss. Twice. Whatever, at this point its not worth that much to me. You will note, astute observer, that the only bonfire I’ve triggered here is the one outside the starting hut. It is not close. After my second time falling to my death, I explore more of the town, including joining the Covenant of Champions! Right past the Covenant, on the far right of town is another path! Its back into a sewer with a few little tricks, and then out into a ruined, very pretty area.
I do see, at the end of the path, an enormous warrior bearing a great green shield and a behemoth of a sword. He is covered head to toe in ancient armor. I should probably not be here. I run down to confront the terrible being of mobile armor.
Who makes short work of me, smashing my face in without me so much as getting his phone number. I decide to stick a bit closer to town for now, and manage to find a few more people to talk to south of the town. I also, humiliatingly, find the bonfire right next to the entrance to the sewers on the left. I head back to get my souls and try my luck again against the Jolly Green Giant. This time, I fair better, taking him down swiftly. Behind him I see another treasure corpse and go running up the stairs to loot it. I zip all the way over, and grab whatever it had. Then, to my eternal surprise, get a giant helping of maul to the noggin. It turns out, someone is mighty possessive of that body, and he’s the same size, shape and type of massive armored enemy, just this time with a two handed hammer-mace-deathclub.
It takes him some 10 seconds to destroy me.
Not wanting to loose my souls, I run back from town, down the sewers, and back to the first knight, who has returned. I take him out and go duel Clobberin’ Time. It takes me another try or two, but I get him out of the way. around this time I note a bonfire near the first knight. Man, that would have made things easier. Through the door that the knight was guarding is a Soul Caliber fighting platform guarded by another giant sword and shield guy. I’ve learned by now – and run past him down the walkway and further into the land of walking armor.
Even here, there is no respite! A trio of sentient armors is stymieing m y progress! This fight I try twice before stating that this is right out of my league. Killing Soul Caliber is easy at this point, and Clobberin’ Time was a one time enemy that thankfully never respawns, but its just not working. There has to be somewhere else for me to go.
I explore everywhere a few more times, trying to find the right area for what I am supposed to be doing. Kill the piglets, visit the statue. Then I realize there has to be more to that treasure-island area I so quickly abandoned after jumping to my death.
And there is, and it is much more beginning of the game friendly. enemies that are fair to fight and don’t kill you in a pair of hits! This is the good life! I raze my way through the Forest of Fallen Giants. There is no stopping me!
Except that I never look at my life, and in Dark Souls, that’ll get you deader than dirt. More than once. I make my way back to my souls, bypassing by the White Knight, and entering some sort of Undead-town-place. This place is full of legit enemies! I manage to find the bonfire easy this time, and make assault after assault into the little fortress. However, assault after assault means that I do die.
I died once to a room full of balista. I came right around the corner and stood their for a second, pondering what it was that I saw. I ended up full of balista bolts for that one. The second time was no better, with the three soldiers manning the balista bolts coming after me and smashing my face in. The third time was a charm though, with me going full aggro into their base and eliminating them. I even made it past the Mild Mannered Pate’s area by pretending I was a Spartan: Few can hold of many, when many are forced to come through a doorway, one at a time.
Eventually though, I run out of steam. I’d been crushed by a boulder, shot in the head repeatedly by archers, cleaved, cut and left a shattered shell. I’d even, somewhere in the mix, made it back to the rainbow road of pain, and been summarily gobbled up by dinosaurs. Literally, they pick you up and chew on your face! They also like to roll on top of you and do the E.Honda ass-plant. It was time to call it for the night, but I was stoked.
Between Warmachine, Writing these articles, taking care of my daughter and heading out to Lock and Load, I don’t know when I’ll get around to playing more, but I am sure looking forward to it.