Dark Souls 2 is upon us. Which means we will all be discussing death and dying for some time until we come to the same brilliant conclusion that being alive is a much preferable state to be in. The Souls series is notorious for its unforgiving nature. Make a mistake and you pay with your life. Kind of. It would be more accurate to say that you actually pay with your time. Players have an infinite amount of lives available to them in-game but, if you are like me and have other commitments in your finite life, you have a limited playing time. And with so many games to play the titles you dedicate time to have to be meticulously selected.
People who played Dark Souls can usually be put in one of two categories. On one hand we find those who never manage to make any meaningful progress and eventually give up on the game. These people usually go online to whine about how hard the game is. On the other hand there are those who manage to get to grips with the inner working of the game and make adequate progress or even complete the game (sometimes multiple times). Very often these people also go online to gloat about their accomplishment and to make people in the other group feel bad about their inadequacies as true gamers.
Having briefly attempted to get into Dark Souls I can conclude that I fall firmly within the former group however I will refrain from whining in this here post*. In all honesty I am not sure if I can say that the game’s difficulty is what put me off of it though. I have enjoyed playing a few difficult games in my lifetime. I found worth in them and enjoyed the experience. However I did not enjoy the Dark Souls experience. While I was playing it I was constantly filled with dread and anxiety which was definitely not helped by the dark and gloomy tone of the surroundings. I usually play video games to be entertained and relax a bit from a hard day at work. I am the kind of gamer who feels that the game needs to have patience with me and not the other way round. Dying because of some diabolically placed trap and risk losing all the progress I made in the past half an hour does nothing for my mood (not to mention my blood pressure). It also lacks on a story early on (not sure if that changes eventually) and I found little to spur me on.
Many fans will describe the game as ‘challenging yet rewarding’. This is true to them but not necessarily true to others. A challenge can mean different things to different people and not everyone will want to engage in the same kind of challenge. Getting ‘World Renowned’ in Lord of the Rings Online, completing every stage of Super Meat Boy and finishing Discworld 2 without referencing a walkthrough are all very distinct experiences which challenge different facets of the player. Likewise not everyone finds reward in the same thing. Seeing how the story unfolds in Assassin’s Creed 4 might be my reward, however someone else might keep playing until they attain 100% completion on all side quests, activities and treasures while not giving a toss about characters and lore. So yeah, it is challenging and rewarding for you – but it just feels daunting and frustrating to me – and that’s ok.
*Maybe just a quick ‘get it off the chest’ whine – would it have been so hard to give the players an option to adjust the difficulty like most modern games do?