Home Editorial Dark Souls: Keep dying and love every minute of it

On August 24th, the next installment in the D. Souls series of games comes out – Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition.

Dying is something you do plenty of in Dark Souls. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on, but death is always close. Maybe, not even for you – just ask Lautrec and your first Fire Keeper.

At any rate, Dark Souls players are well-seasoned when it comes to dying. A wrong turn off a ledge, a bad parry, any bad decision in general, and frustrated sloppiness all result in the same thing – death. You die a lot in Dark Souls.

Which is why the name might be apt after all. This edition of the game is unique in that it is for the PC, and not for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 like the original Dark Souls before it. There’s a whole new market of players that Dark Souls is now coming to, and some of them might not be familiar with what Dark Souls is really all about. This article is going to help some of the PC Players get brought up to speed on what they can expect from the next edition of Dark Souls.


Death… death everywhere

Allow me to reiterate – you die a lot in Dark Souls. No exceptions. The game is designed to test your mettle constantly. Seldom do you run into a challenge that you can scoff at after the deed is done, and instead you’re frowning – a bittersweet, fleeting victory attained. You’ve already died a dozen times getting through to the next bonfire, and you know that in the light of the flame, you have respite, but only there. The next stage of your journey features stronger enemies than the ones you had to fight to get to that point, and it never gets easier.

Bonfires are akin to restoration points, and in some ways, a “save”, although the game saves your progress automatically most places you go. But as you’re going through each area killing enemies and picking up loot, you gain “Dark Souls” that you use for absolutely everything. They act as both currency and experience points, so you are constantly choosing to spend your resources on better armor, upgrades, items, and arrows, or levels, which you gain by increasing different stats independently. Merchants are scattered throughout the seamless world to exchange your Souls for objects, while at bonfires you use your Souls to level up.

Bonfires are also the location where you regain your “Estus Flasks”, which are essentially potions that restore your health. You only get a few of them and you can only restore your Estus at a bonfire, so bonfires are highly valued. As I stated earlier each area gets progressively more difficult, and it’s required that you level up accordingly to match up with the challenges you are faced with, which usually include stronger enemies, bosses, and traps which might require you to invest in a stat you aren’t prepared or planning to. If you do this at the expense of upgrading your weapons and armor, though, you’ll find that raw stats alone aren’t enough to take on some later enemies.


A world of your influence

Your decisions having an impact on how the game plays out for you is not limited to the choices you have to make between using resources on items or levels, either. There are several NPCs you interact with throughout the game, and, if you’re so inclined, you can kill them where they stand. Make no mistake though – as soon as you begin to fight them, they will become hostile and no resetting or powering down of the game will change the fact that these guys are out to get you. Once friendly NPCs can turn into hated enemies if they take a blow to the head, and if you reload a game near a bonfire shared with a new enemy, he’ll follow through on the beef and do his best to kill you.

Merchants, knights, and even gods are capable of being killed, but they can also help you. Some NPCs, if you help them with their tasks and talk to them enough, will join you in battle against certain bosses and can provide you with good items and armor if you help finish their quest line. Of course, you can kill them and loot everything they’ve got – sometimes, they’ll be items you can’t get otherwise – but helping an NPC is sometimes its own reward. When you’re stuck in the Hell that is the world of Dark Souls, you’ll become attached to these characters by virtue of them being the only sane individuals strong enough to walk through the death-ridden undead cities and dungeons with you. I couldn’t bring myself to kill some NPCs, but for a few like Lautrec, who I mentioned earlier. He’s the bad sort.

The world you influence and the power you have over your gear and stats encourages you to play the game again after you’ve beaten it. My first playthrough was an assassin who saw a lot of people die because he wasn’t prepared to protect them, while my second character was a grunt with heavy armor who slew the bad guys where he stood and saw the game be completed to fruition, with most quest lines finished and the good ending attained. I don’t expect Prepare to Die Edition to be any different, so, new players, when you boot up your PC version of the game, just be aware that every decision has consequences. Not necessarily negative or positive ones all the time, but ones that you can only find out about by seeing them happen. Use the next playthrough to right those wrongs, if you’re so inclined, and the rewards will be yours – new items with new abilities, new dialogue, and maybe even some help for the next boss.


But I’ve already died so much…

There’s one more small detail I may have left out until now. When you die, your souls are left in a small haze that lingers in the area of your previous death, and you have to restart from the last bonfire you stayed at. If you die again on your way back to retrieve your souls, they’re gone forever. The World of Dark Souls isn’t the sort that permits frustration – stay calm, recollect yourself and get the souls back, or you’ll have to find a way to compensate for the lost stats and items you need souls to buy.

On the plus side, sometimes you die and your souls are stuck further in the dungeon, but you can get more souls than you had initially by retracing your steps successfully and collecting souls from fallen monsters and certain items on your way back.

Gameplay aside, the game has an amazing story that only ever gives you just enough to know what’s happening. You start the game knowing that a huge war took place between Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight and the Dragons, which the latter lost terribly, in part due to the betrayal by one of their own, Seath the Scaleless, and also due to a few additional forces which you become “acquainted” with later in the game.

But your purpose in this world of darkness and death is left for you to figure out. All you know is that certain people are branded with “The Cursed Darksign” and that they are designated to make pilgrimage to the land of the Undead. Is that where you start the game? Is that where you’re trying to go? Were you really branded with the Darksign? And what is the Land of the Undead? Who is Gwyn? There are a ton of questions that are never answered simply. It takes an in-depth reading of your surroundings and NPC dialogue, and a couple playthroughs to get an idea of what is really happening.

If you’re interested in learning more about Dark Souls lore though, check out this video series. The creator, EpicNameBro, does a great job explaining the World and also extrapolating on it.


So, What’s New?

For Dark Souls players who can’t wait for the new content to reach consoles, do you remember Artorias? This game is all about him and what he did to help shape the world of Dark Souls. How is it that he was able to traverse the Abyss? What about his Greatsword? The expansion should be able to provide you with subtle hints and cues, and maybe a little more direct knowledge for you to fully flesh-out your understanding of the World of Dark Souls.

Otherwise, the game will be replete with new everything – weapons, bosses, monsters, the whole works. And it sounds like it’s an additional 10 hours of content (Dark Souls takes about ~40 hours to beat). Whether the regular gameplay tethers directly to the expansion to provide a seamless transition for new gamers on the PC is unknown, but the fact is, it is there, and I am one of the players who is yearning desperately for some more Dark Souls to cut my teeth on.

The opportunity comes August 24th, so be prepared. Hope to see some of you online!

16 replies to this post
  1. hard, maybe… Not as hard as the original Donkey Kong on the arcade. Most players never get past the first level. Almost no one gets past the third. Try to find a copy and you will see.

  2. When you first start playing dark souls, it IS freaking hard you don’t know where to go that you won’t get killed instantly. Eventually you learn all about the environment and game mechanics, and it becomes MUCH easier. The emphasis on how ‘hard’ dark souls is i think is a little misleading. IMO not much harder than some other games, but still lots of fun!

    • Oh yeah. it’s a highly daunting game at first that gets better the more you play. My first character was a dex build who used daggers and I swear that’s like choosing to play the game on hard mode. I died constantly on O&S and the 4 kings. Recently I chose to do a different playthrough on a heavy armor / 2h sword build and destroyed everything with no trouble. You can make the game harder on yourself even if you’re good at it pretty easily. I just wish I hadn’t been so stubborn as to pick daggers for my first character, but my DS skills are probably the better for it.

  3. when i Played This game on the first time It Was Soooo Freaking hard, i just get killed, over and over, i was just stuck, then i stopped playing, its the hardest game that i played in my life, next im gonna use a trainer, to get throug the enemies, anyway, it’s a hard game:-)

  4. This game isn’t hard. It is artificially difficult.

    A real challenge would test intellect, reflexes, judgement, or reasoning skills.

    This game tests nothing except for your patience. Getting stun locked into walls, pushed off cliffs, and other such nonsense is NOT difficult. It’s just tedious.

    If you want difficult, play something like Ys, that’s actually difficult, without any of the cheap and cheesey tactics that the developers employed to drag out the play time because of idiot mechanics that cause 1 shot kill deaths.


    Game is crap

    • But it does. It tests your ability to adapt. To learn. New age easy games have made you soft. Dark souls Forces you to learn without holding your hand with a tutorial and guide around every corner. Nearly every 1 shot kill in dark souls is avoidable, or you are simply playing a squishy character with low defense. Then you need to DODGE things. You remember what that is? DODGING? By the final boss, i was so well learned that i Defeated him on my first attempt. In dark souls, not all things are recommended to be done. For example, most fights against dragons are avoidable, And a good thing, too. Fighting the Wyvern on the bridge is a TERRIBLE idea until you can come back later with a decent level under your belt. But if you’re careful, you can learn such things as cutting its tail off for a weapon.

      Dark souls Will test your patience, yes, but that is only because you are unprepared for what they have thrown at you. If you’re newer, play a tanky class, probably get a two-handed sword. Give the game another chance. It’s simply difficult in a “Grit-your-teeth-i’ll-get-it-this-time” way. When you finally master the game’s mechanics, you find a well-polished gem of a game with a well written story that has to be pieced together and interpreted by the player And a freedom not found in many other games. Also, the strangest sense of realism prevails throughout. Sure, you’re throwing fireballs at Skeletons and Stabbing dragons in the feet, but it feels like “Hey, it’ll probably be bad if this 30 foot dragon decides to breathe fire down my shirt about now..”

      Not to bash its immersion, but being able to simply Walk up to and start tanking a dragon’s frost breath with merely a shiver seems a little strange, don’t you think, SKYRIM? Not that i’m complaining about skyrim. love it, too. MAKING A COMPARISON, HERE.

  5. This Game is Overhyped, it’s far not that hard as Demon’s Souls, where the enemys got more life and dmg after each of ur deaths.

    Played both to platin, so i know what im talking about :)

  6. ^to the previous comment, you did get plat on the game but obviously you do not know what you’re talking about, there are only 3 reasons their damage and health would go up in demons souls
    1) pure black character tendency(killing people)
    2)pure black world tendency(dying in human form)
    3)ng+ and all subsequent playthroughs.

    Also, Dark souls is also available in PS3(meant to be exclusive) and Xbox, PC was last, Demons souls was available for PS3 only then PC, not sure of the Xbox though.

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