“This isn’t about death. This is about what you’ve learned from death.”

A lot of people have been asking where I’ve been of late, and I can only tell you two words; Dark Souls.

It’s taken over my life. This game is addicting. It’s so addicting that I’ve found myself spending countless hours in the world of Drangleic fighting seemingly endless hordes of undead, monsters, and the occasional invader from other worlds. It’s hard not to get absorbed into the game once you understand the dynamic of it, which, I will admit, I didn’t understand at first and took for granted.

Prepare to die…

Those words were stamped all over the case for the original Dark Souls, and for good reason. Case in point: you die, a lot. The concept itself was simple. It was a was a dungeon crawler designed for the new gaming age, taking the classic Dungeons and Dragons style and putting in a unique exp dynamic that keeps players engrossed in the game.

I was first introduced to the world of Dark Souls by a close friend who had been similarly addicted to the original game. The sheer idea of it made me excited to play it. Here was my chance to just, well, kill things. I took for granted when he mentioned the difficulty of the game. I got it, the idea behind it was hard, but I didn’t quite grasp the level of death that I would face.

By the time he’d told me the basics I was excited to pick up the game. I had played for a couple hours already using my friend’s account, dying occasionally, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

Not long after buying the game I made it past the area I’d already become familiar with and I faced a boss that I just could not defeat. So I decided to level myself up, get tougher to fight the boss; it made sense right? I was about to head to a bonfire to level when suddenly I was killed by a no-name grunt group of hollows. I was frustrated, but I wasn’t about to give up. This was Dark Souls, I told myself, this was bound to happen sometime. So I ran to retrieve my eighty thousand souls, only to have a nice big notification appear on my screen informing me that another player had invaded my world. I had heard of invasions, but this was the first time I’d ever actually been invaded. The invader quickly killed me before I could reach my lost souls. I was frustrated to say the least. That was nearly three hours of work and careful gaming for nothing! I turned off my console and the disc promptly went out the window.

I am not joking. I literally threw my disc out of a three story window.

So, safe to say it came as a bit of a shock when I announced that I’d actually gone out of my way to purchase Dark Souls II when it was released.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t hate my first Dark Souls experience. In fact, I love the concept of the game. The lore was brilliant, to the point that even though I didn’t have the will to continue playing (or the disc) I still watched the endings and Let’s Plays. It was a great game, but wasn’t for me. But Dark Souls II… the concept art was so amazing, and the trailers so well done…

I had to give it a try.

So obviously I went into Dark Souls II with a better perspective of what exactly I was getting myself into. Now that I understood more of the game thanks to my research to better understand the world, I found myself actually enjoying it; deaths included.

And those invaders? I now squash them like the bugs they are. In fact, the PvP has come to be my favorite part of the game. I love helping out other players complete their game, and the sort of cult culture that has grown; especially sans voice communication. Gesture only communication seems to engross you into the game. Instead of hearing some stranger on a mic call you an idiot, their character can mock you, and you can thank them for it by pushing their character off a cliff… I mean uh… by Praising the Sun.. yeah…

Praise the Sun.

Loving the PvP actually makes the game that much harder, as humanity, the item needed to use the PvP most effectively, is actually an item and no longer earnable through souls. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Not only that, but you need to save humanity in order to keep your health bar at max, otherwise you’ll go hollow.

Borrowed from the nice people at IGNSo, the exact thing I couldn’t deal with in the first game, its unforgiving nature, has actually endeared me to its sequel. Not only that, but the sequel is twice as hard.

Go figure.

What I think makes this game so addicting is that it’s a game of perseverance. Sure, you died, but next time you’ll make it to the next room, where whatever is in there will probably kill you too. That feeling when you finally defeat that opponent that’s killed you fifty-six times… it’s pure elation. It’s a rush of adrenaline, pure addiction. Because after that? You’ll want more, and when you finish the game, you know you’ll keep playing.

There are endless hours of gameplay. Every door has a potential enemy behind it that get kill you in one hit. There are traps and ambushes around every corner. I think I have nightmares that have ended with “YOU DIED”.

But I kept going after every defeat (honestly maybe after a break or ten), and I never gave up. I finally was enjoying myself because I finally understood.

It’s not the deaths that make the game. It’s emerging from the ashes of your failures and rising above adversity. It’s about not giving up. It’s about keeping the bonfires of hope lit. It’s about patience and learning from your mistakes. It’s about thinking outside the box. It’s about knowing your limits and knowing when to back off.

Dark Souls puts the heart back into gaming itself. Sure, I love a good story or plot in a game, but with Dark Souls it’s the game itself that has heart. This is why Dark Souls will never get old. Software has a gold mine here. Dark Souls is a drug, and players will keep massing to it for every new game released. I’m sure of it.

Hell, I’ll be one of them.

Praise the sun guys, just keep praising the sun.



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