Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dark Souls: Rekindling the Flame

As gamers sometimes we go through a period where nothing we play enthralls us like it used to. I've been through it several times myself over the years. In fact I'm in one of those periods now, I have been for a few months. In my excitement about Resident Evil 6, I put all of my hopes into that game, believing in its ability to finally be the RE game this generation deserved. It failed me. And afterwards I got into a funk, nothing seemed to interest me much anymore, it all felt like idle time being wasted. But something recent happened...something that finally got me thinking about a game, and interested in it.

I rekindled a bonfire in Dark Souls.

It had been a long time since I had last played Dark Souls. I had stopped because I got stuck 7 hours in trying to defeat a boss, and sadly my fortitude in games has lessened. Most likely due to the current generations habit of hand holding gamers through their worlds. It's not only sad to think that not only does a great game like Bioshock come with an arrow telling you where to go, it respawns you with little to no penalty. But that's how games seemed these days, and Dark Souls was telling me I had gotten soft and lazy.

I just wasn't paying close enough attention to understand that.

This is what murder looks like
As I reloaded my save over a year later I gave the accursed Bell Gargoyle a fight (actually, it was about....oh...6 or 7 fights), and was slaughtered. I decided to fight some lower level enemies to get back into the flow, and found a path I never knew went somewhere. So I swallowed my heart and ventured into uncharted territory. And considering this is a game where even the often traveled path can kill you, the unexplored nether regions of murder land is most likely to lead to a humiliating death. But what I found was one of the many safe spots peppered about the land. So I sat and rested, but this pounding sound beckoned me from my safe, warm cozy fire. Now remember, this is a game that kills you for even trying to pause the game (hint: you can't pause...I got invaded and murdered while I was in the bathroom once). I again swallowed the dread and pushed on, to find a blacksmith. This new path was going pretty smooth. So after reading a scrawled note on the floor of treasure ahead, and another saying easy fight, I delved deeper. This is when a demon made of metal killed me in, oh, about 2 hits.

This is also what murder looks like

Now I felt I was ready, but as I was playing I came to the realization this is what I've been looking for in a game. Everything I wanted Resident Evil 6 to be was in this game. The horror and dread of entering any section of the game. The enemies, who if given a chance, can easily kill you. And just the sense of true discovery and adventure. No overt story is told, but rather the old weathered and dying world tells a subtle story. It's truly what got me into gaming as a child, and seeing it now in a world where most games are very literal and forward was a breath of fresh air.

I played on, and had thrilling experiences I've never had in a game. Teaming up with a spirit to fight not only the level boss, but to repel an invader who sought to turn me into giblets. In fact I teamed up many times with total strangers, many of which (read: all of them) saved my ass many times. I also felt the terror of knowing someone was hunting me down to kill me, and the rush to be ready for them, and still losing due to over reaching with my abilities. It's been ages since I've felt an adrenalin rush playing a game, and every major fight, every unknown turn made me feel it in my gut.

This is a dragon...or The Thing...I'm still not sure

Dark Souls has helped rekindle my feeling towards games, and in fact it has spurted me to go into my back catalog of old games to play through others that have long sat dormant (Beyond Good and Evil, Crysis, Fez). To look back and play old classics (or new in some cases), rediscover what made me delve into these worlds. And all it took was starting a little flame.

Humor Tumor is currently learning the art of subliminal messaging to become a world leader.

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