Why I Love Dark Souls?

darksouls

Dark Souls strikes me as a game that could be equated to Marmite. While there are many of us out there who seem to absolutely love the game there are also many that loathe it. To them we can seem a little masochistic with perhaps just a pinch of elitism. The truth is, when I first bought Demon’s Souls it was out of sheer curiosity to see just how difficult the game really was; I never expected to actually like it as much as I did. Dark Souls then took what was already an interesting idea and made it even better causing my obsession to sky rocket. I’m not normally into such difficult games and so for a long time I couldn’t understand why I just simply couldn’t put the game down. Even after completing all three games I’m still wanting more. I think however, I can finally compile some reasons for why I love it so much:

  1. Combat System: I really enjoy the combat in Dark Souls to the point that I very rarely grow bored of it. I think I like the simplicity of it and yet each fight continues to engage me (even on a strong character it is still possible to lose to lesser enemies if my concentration slips.) I have to think about the timings of my animations and the enemies attack pattern; when should I heal, attack or back off to regenerate stamina. In contrast other games often have much flashier looking combat, but I can grow tired of watching the same unskippable animations over and over again. A lot of games also pad out large areas with weak enemies that I can just wade my way through thoughtlessly (I think this frustrates me more than having to repeat a short section in Dark Souls.)

  2. Exploration: I’m not normally the explorer type and yet I love investigating each new area I come to in Dark Souls. Games that are too open can sometimes leave me feeling a little overwhelmed but in Dark Souls the scale of the world is just right. I think the difficulty and risk also makes exploration more exciting and the pay off more worth while. For example I may find some extra souls, an item or a short cut that can help me to complete the game. A few of the boss areas in Dark Souls 2 can also be made easier by completing certain activities in the areas outside. Some of the level design is also really good.

  3. Challenging: While I don’t like to discuss Dark Souls just in terms of its difficulty, the truth is it is a core component of the game. Without the challenge it probably would be a very short experience. I don’t find the game anywhere near as difficult as its legendary status makes it out to be, but it is still challenging enough to feel satisfying to complete. I think I enjoy the challenge offered by Dark Souls because it mostly feels fair and I never doubt my ability to complete it. In games where the A.I. cheats or it feels unfair I can’t learn and improve, but as it is usually my fault when I die in Dark Souls I can return with the knowledge of what not to do. When a challenge is done right I can become stubbornly addicted because I hate giving up and I love the feeling of accomplishment. I also read in a game design article a while ago (I don’t remember where) that failing can sometimes light up the pleasure centres of our brain more than success does because we enjoy trying to master things. I’ve also found that some of the most memorable parts of a game are often the times where I died in some stupid but humorous way (often leading to funny stories I can recite to my friends later on.)

  4. Community: While the journey may be difficult you are not alone in trying to conquer it. Around you other players are also stumbling across the same challenges. Scattered around the levels are messages left by other players offering advice or simply wishing you good luck. Blood stains show where others have fallen. Despite the fact that my Dark Souls venture is mostly a solo run I never feel alone and have a real sense of being a part of something. Outside the game there also seems to be a strong community of people that are happy to discuss the game or offer help.

  5. Lore: On the surface it seems like Dark Souls has little to offer in terms of story or at least doesn’t seem to want to give it away very easily. The world feels deep however; each item has a description and characters have their own back stories. The You Tube Channel VaatiVidya (https://www.youtube.com/user/VaatiVidya) does a very good job of explaining some of the lore and I personally found it really interesting. I also have a strong attachment to some of the characters.

  6. Art Style: I love the Dark Fantasy art style. I also like that a lot of the armour designs actually look feasible.

  7. Strong Identity: If I say bonfire, estus flask or ‘you died’ chances are a lot of people will instantly know I’m talking about Dark Souls. There are many fantasy RPGs out there but very few of them carry a strong enough identity to stand out from the crowd. Dark Souls feels special and unique. While I’m not suggesting that the other RPGs aren’t also good games in their own right, Dark Souls fills a gap in my gaming collection that was previously empty.

 

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About wallcat

I have a strong passion for computing. In particular programming for which I am able to use a variety of languages including C++, Visual C#, Blitz Basic, Actionscript 2.0, Python and Lua. I also enjoy web-design and have some knowledge of HTML/CSS, PHP/SQL and Javascript. As well as programming I have a strong background in art and enjoy drawing in my spare time. When I’m not sat at my computer I like to keep fit by going to the gym or using my exercise ball.

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