My Weekend in games is a more casual feature by me where I talk about the ups and downs of what I'm playing. As you can probably tell from the title, last weekend was a whole bunch of Dark souls.
After finishing Saints Row: The Third (more on that soon) last week, I found myself torn between starting Dark Souls or picking up Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
I leaned towards Amalur because it seemed like a safer choice–seriously, the back of the Dark Souls box says, "prepare to die" on it–but the English localization of Amalur is not available in Japan, so I couldn't pick it up without paying a hefty import premium.
So. On to Dark Souls.
On Saturday morning I made a Pyromancer and ventured out with a trusty companion: the Dark Souls wiki.
The wiki guided me through a suicide run deep into higher-level territory (there was a dragon involved) so that I could have a sweet shield for the early parts of the game. Items stick around in your inventory even after death, making the practice of kamikaze looting surprisingly viable compared to other hardcore RPGs.
The combat is where this game really shines. Every movement has a calculated weight to it. I feel closer to the fight in Dark Souls than I do to cover-based firefights in other games. There were some encounters where I felt my heart start to race as I avoided strikes and parried them with my own.
Here's a story from 3 hours (and 2 beers) into the game on Saturday night:
I round a stairwell, descending three floors or so before I see a hulking black silhouette. I cautiously back up the stairs until he turns to face me.
He runs toward me, showcasing extraordinary agility for a 7-foot being carrying a 6-foot club while wearing shiny black armor. I raise my shield and keep at a distance, hoping to crack his weakness by watching him attack a few times.
The dragon shield I fought so hard to get proves useful as the black knight pokes at me with his shield and club, trying to trip me up.
He lets out a moan and takes a knee. This is my chance.
Then, as I am running up to strike him, the black knight swings his club up over his head and down on top of me in one fluid motion. I can't even see my character's body under the lumpy mass of the club. The "you died" message hardly surprises me at this point.
I start laughing and respawn, content to explore in a different direction this time.
Ultimately the reason I will keep playing Dark Souls, despite constantly leaving my nervous system in tatters, is that every experience in the world is totally emergent and unexpected.
That's what adventuring is really about in the first place, right?