Published on February 26th, 2013 | by Fraser Brown14
Dark Souls: Single Malt Deaths
Like a three-legged dog in a formula one race, I’m lagging a bit behind and have only just recently picked up the punishing dungeon romp, Dark Souls. I never did get around to finishing Demon’s Souls, as I feared that I would drown in a sea of my own tears — so great was my shame at how god-awful I was at not dying every blasted second.
Give me a weapon and some action and I’ll throw caution to the wind and, more often than not, my body onto the eager swords of my foes. So it was with great trepidation that I installed Dark Souls on my faithful (but tutting) PC. My first trials started before the game proper even began, and I faced the multi-headed horror of GFWL and the assorted shoddy port issues. A downloadable fix sorted the latter, but the former still has me gripped by my manhood.
Dark Souls is about being dead and making other things extra dead. It’s about exploring dangerous places. I think there’s some epic quest or whatever. But more than any of those things, Dark Souls is a game that delights in mocking me over and over again for being rubbish. It’s a game about dying a lot. This is the story of my deaths.
It’s nigh impossible not to make some hideously disfigured monstrosity in Dark Souls, which is perfectly reasonable. Besides, when you spend most of your time as a walking corpse, what you looked like before life kicked you to the curb doesn’t seem particularly important. Naming characters is a thing that people do, it’s a thing that Dark Souls demands, but I was kind of in a rush. The empty name bar was a constant reminder that I had one simple task, and I was already failing miserably.
I scoured my room for inspiration. Walker’s cheese and onion crisps? No, it was too long. Rizla filter tips? Still too long. I could shorten it to Rizla, but that’s hardly going to strike fear into the hole where the hearts of my enemies once resided. I got up and paced around the room. I may have started talking to myself, as I heard my flatmate clomping down the corridor and stopping just outside my door as if he wanted to tell me to shut the hell up. It was 3AM and I was listing all the items in my room. Then, serendipity. My room is small, leaving little room for my manic pacing. My foot collided with a half-empty bottle of whisky. It fell over, rolled a little, and my eyes locked with the label.
Yeah, I have good taste for a chap who is only ever one step away from homelessness.
He’s a pyromaniac. Also a pyromancer, but that sounds a bit silly. He comes from a marsh, which immediately makes him cooler than everyone else. He’s dead and junk, which sounds a bit unfortunate, and he’s also in prison. Cat can’t catch a break. He escapes though, which is nice, I suppose, but he’s still dead and so is everyone else and it’s all horrible and miserable. Damn this is one gloomy game.
The oppressive setting was getting to me, so I decided to fuck up a monster’s day. This guy, specifically:
It didn’t go well. He’s not just a big fellow, he’s also mean. I ducked and dived like a real champ, whacking away at him with my pathetic broken sword. He made a right fool of me, he did. That’s when I saw the screen that I’d see more than any other in this godforsaken bastard of a game.
So matter of fact. So like it expected me to see it a lot. You died. It’s no big deal, it’s going to keep happening, and there’s not much you can do about it because you really are a bit shit at this, aren’t you? I read between the lines and got slapped in the face with a horrible dose of cold-hearted reality.
I got my revenge though. Oh yes, sweet revenge. I had to wait for it, making my way through the crumbling prison — dying at least one more time to a pathetic, scrawny undead chap — until I reached a balcony where I could leap down, all empowered, and kick the living daylights out of that bulbous son of a bitch. It didn’t happen the first time I tried it.
Or the second.
But on that third attempt, I put that bastard in the ground.
The taste of victory in my mouth (it tastes like cinnamon!), I strutted through a big door, swagger in my step, to the edge of a cliff. Outside, at last. Hey, I thought, I may have died a bunch of times, but at least I’m free. Free to live out my dreams! I could find a nice undead lassie and settle down, perhaps have a couple of rotting infants. It would be lovely. Freedom has never felt so, well, free, I guess.
Then a giant raven snatched me and took off. End of tutorial. Oh bugger, I’m going to bed.