Have You Played… Dark Souls?

Poor Artorias. Defending his grave seemed the right thing for my character to do.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Dark Souls, you may have heard, is pretty good. You don’t need me to tell you that. However, us calling Dark Souls an RPG let alone declaring it the best RPG proved unexpectedly controversial so I’d like to talk a little about why it’s so very much a game about roleplaying. Rather than carefully pick a role following the suggestions and nudges of quests, rewards, and dialogue options, Dark Souls has you actually play a role without prompting.

First, to briefly recap: Dark Souls is a hard-as-nails fantasy game where you’re trying the save a doomed world – for a bit longer, at least – and will die many times. It’s a gorgeous and surprising world with an intricate layout and great worldbuilding and careful combat and you’ve heard all that. But an RPG?

Dark Souls offers a lot of choices, but doesn’t present you with them. You can find and help a few people in the world, if you want. Well, you can try to – sometimes they’d be better off without your intervention. You can pledge allegiance to factions and do their bidding, which might be to murder other players, punish the guilty, nurse a sickly demon, or worship ancient dragons; I joined the Forest Hunter covenant and defended a fallen hero’s grave by hunting other players. You can defile tombs, kill demigods, spread decay, kill everyone who irritates you, and maybe even save a few lives.

You play a role by playing it, not by answering multiple choice questions.

The thing is, Dark Souls is happy to let you play a rube. It looks like it wants you to charge through, doing what you’re told and following the obvious path. That’s the foundation of its story: you’re one in a long line of rubes. But Dark Souls is a game about learning, and opening up to patience and curiosity. That most obviously comes in its combat, where mistakes are punished harshly, but soon you learn to examine and distrust its world, and hopefully will realise you should apply that same scrutiny to everything and everyone around you. Given how broken the world is, you have a lot of freedom to play the role you want.

Play the rube and you’ll not only miss arguably the ‘good’ ending, but you might not even notice it’s an RPG.


  1. klo3 says:

    Yes, yes I have.

    It is the best game I’ve ever played… *tears of joy and nostalgia*

    If you are serious about games then this is the one to play next if you haven’t yet. (And if you have, might I suggest another playthrough)

    • ButteringSundays says:

      “If you are serious about games”

      Play-time is serious business.

    • Blake Casimir says:

      Demon’s Souls is even better, if technically inferior in some insignificant ways.

      Let’s pretend Dark Souls 2 never happened.

      • Jokerme says:

        Let’s not pretend DS2 is a bad game. It might not be on par with other two overall, but it is technically way ahead of them and is fun to play. Definitely one of the best games released that year.

        Acting like it is a bad game just because it doesn’t top two of the best games in gaming history is ignorant.

      • sansenoy says:

        But it’s got a damn hubworld with teleports… Personally, that’s the main reason Dark Souls is a step ahead in any comparison. Lordran > Boletaria

      • quasimojo says:

        Dark Souls may be the superior game in many ways, but the pvp implementation in DS2 had me staying on for much much longer than DS1. I’m really hoping that is brought into 3.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      I’m very serious about games, and despite repeated attempts I simply cannot understand how anyone can cope with the absolutely god awful controls, UI, and muddy, ugly graphics in this game. As far as I can tell, the legendary difficulty has more to do with extremely poor and confusing design than with actual challenging gameplay.

      • sansenoy says:

        The graphics and controls are some of favorite elements of Dark Souls, what the hell??? The art, the colour palette and the lighting are second to NONE, if you set up DSfix with the newest 60fps hack, that is. This game running at 1440p with properly adjusted modern effects still blows my mind whenever I run it.
        And the controls??? I don’t know what to say to that, I really don’t. I can only assume you don’t like having much control if this game isn’t up to your standards…
        The UI is old-school, I’ll give you that, but far from bad

        • Alien says:

          May I ask some questions:

          – Is version DSFix 2.4 the newest version?
          – What do you mean with “properly adjusted modern effects”? AA, AO and DoF? I have enabled everything and DS still looks “muddy” and the level design is extemly low poly with washed out textures…
          – Some things don`t seem to work with 60fps enabled: collision (in some cases) and jumping?

          • Case says:

            There’s actually very little issues with running DS at 60 fps. I’ve played through the game several times at 60 fps without really noticing them.

            Basically, if you slide down ladders instead of climb them, you might actually fall through the world at the bottom of the ladder. But it only happens on two or three specific ladders in the entire game (pretty sure you could find out on the internet which ones are affected), and, like I said, it only happens if you’re sliding down the ladder instead of climbing them.

            And then there’s the issue with jumping – your jumps are a bit shorter at 60 fps than at 30 fps. For the most part, it’s a non-issue – it basically just makes a few optional jumps in the game harder (not impossible). The only people really affected by this are speedrunners, because for them, the shorter jump distance means certain skips are impossible to do. But the solution is pretty simple – DSFix allows you to switch between 30 and 60 fps on the fly. So should you need the normal jumping distance, you can just switch to 30 fps, make the jump and switch back to 60 fps.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          If you think the UI in this game is “far from bad” then I suggest we have so little common ground that communication may be impossible. And I still enjoy playing Civ I with the keyboard alone.

          • Bury The Hammer says:

            The UI for DS1 is not great. There comes a time a few hours in when you get quite a bit better at combat that it all becomes second nature. It is utterly worth it, in the same way that The Wire is worth getting past the first few dense episodes. It breaks the mould in the best ways, like deciding which weight of armour is a GENUINE tactical choice rather than a random restriction based on the class you decided at the beginning of the game. Weapons have their own unique move sets!

            If the UI is a major turnoff you may prefer Dark Souls 2 (as this does improve that aspect), but if you’re willing to miss out on one of the greatest games of the past 10 years due to something you WILL get used to, then I suggest you’re probably missing the point!

          • Cinek says:

            Both games got really bad UIs. Perhaps not as bad as Skyrim, but around that level of bad.

      • Robyrt says:

        The Dark Souls 1 UI and controls are optimized for two purposes: speed of access with a console controller, and full-screen access to lore about each item. They are quite good at the job, allowing you to swap items in the middle of PvP combat without dying or pausing (which is something almost no other RPG can claim). Unfortunate side effects include ugliness, cryptic reliance on your controller’s face buttons, and being basically impossible to use with a mouse and keyboard.

  2. Harlander says:

    Yes, I have, and it was just too damn difficult for me.

    • UndrState says:

      There’s a horde of Sunbros just waiting to help you out. Give it another try. The forums, 3 Wikis – people want to help.

      • Harlander says:

        No. It was about as fun as cheese-grating my own fingertips, and I have no wish to return to it.

        • caff says:

          I think this sums up my own thoughts. Stupidly hard and repetitive, and when you get lost or have to repeat a section after continual death, the trash mobs start respawning. The whole experience made me want to scrape my face off with a rusty cement grinder.

          • D0t1q says:

            Hmm, get good?

          • Harlander says:

            Ohh, the scales have fallen from my eyes! All I had to do to enjoy the game was get good! How could I have missed something so obvious!

            Seriously, the level of competence the game needed was like 80% of the maximum I could achieve under the best conditions.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Or he could play something he enjoys?

        Telling people to sift through three wikis is hardly a compelling argument as to why a game is fun.

    • Case says:

      The thing with Dark Souls and its famed difficulty is – it’s really not that difficult, maybe apart from a few difficulty spikes here and there. I’ve made it to NG++ and I’ve also completed a SL1 run. And my skills as a gamer are pretty mediocre, really.

      But the game does zero handholding. It pretty much leaves the player to figure out everything by himself. Which can be difficult and/or frustrating sometimes.

      So if you’re finding Dark Souls difficult, it’s more than likely due to the fact that you’re simply doing something wrong without realizing it. Plenty of DS players are willing to help you with that if you can in some way explain/show them what it is that you find difficult. It just might be you’re missing some pretty small thing to put all of the pieces together (so to speak).

      But yes, without knowing what exactly gives you trouble, the general advice often tends to be “git gud” in the DS community. It’s still not as useless advice as it might seem – not if you don’t take it as “you suck, loser”, but more in the spirit of “think more about what you’re doing in the game, you’re most likely doing something wrong”.

  3. teppic says:

    I’ve had it for ages but never played it. I’m put off by the fact it’s such a bad port on the PC – I’m not sure how many mods are needed to make it work.

    • amateurviking says:

      It honestly works fine. It’s not bad in that it doesn’t work, it’s bad in that it doesn’t work much better than the Xbox 360 version (small frame buffer, and occasional engine slowdown etc).

      Perfunctory would be a better word I suspect. DSFix will sort out the frame buffer. I suspect that’s all it needs.

      • teppic says:

        I remember downloading dsfix but I didn’t get any further than that. Since it’s got such a good reputation as a game I do want to give it a go sometime.

        • Swordfishtrombone says:

          IIRC it’s extremely easy to install, even for a relative modding n00b such as myself.

    • DarkFenix says:

      It’s a perfectly functional port, just very barebones. How many mods to make it work? None. How many mods to make it work well? One, which was released literally hours after launch.

    • Andrew says:

      One mod and gamepad.

      • Anguy says:

        And the gamepad isn’t even that mandatory. I played it with a controller but a friend of mine managed to beat Dark Souls and it’s sequel just fine (multiple times even) with keyboard an mouse. The controls on kbm are definitely awkward but you can get used to them and play on the same level as the gamepad players. As far as I know it’s even possible to remap everything.

        • Andrew says:


          Ok, KB&Ms and gamepads is like apples and oranges, I agree. But if you want juice (in home environment), you better go with an orange. Just sayin!

        • bouchacha says:

          I gave gamepads a good faith try because of the universal recommendation to play with one. I lasted about 15 hours and got seriously annoyed with the riposte timing UNTIL I switched to M+KB and it felt like butter. I did install the

      • Urthman says:

        I’m convinced the game is easier with a mouse because better camera control makes it much easier to deal with surprise attacks from unexpected directions.

        • carewolf says:

          There are no surprise attacks in Dark Souls. It is a beat’em up where all the enemies respawn where they were last time everytime you save or heal.

          • Merlin the tuna says:

            There are plenty of instances where monsters pop out of their closets after you’ve walked past them (the lower Undead Burg area near Capra Demon comes to mind most prominently), and there’s likewise no small number of monsters that aggro on you from around blind corners. Saying there are no surprise attacks because monsters are in the same place on repeat visits doesn’t change the fact that they love to get a cheap shot in on the first one.

          • Bugamn says:

            The argument that there are no surprise attacks because enemies respawn is really bad, but Dark Souls is a game that has to be played cautiously. The example you use is a place that didn’t surprise me, because as soon as I got there I noticed something was off and kept my guard high. Usually if a monster surprises it was because I was careless and I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. Similarly I had no problems with the traps in Sen’s Fortress but I was hit by the traps in Undead Burg because I wasn’t playing attention.

    • Horg says:

      I’m using two (technically 3) mods, the DSFix, the DSMouseFix and the DSMouseFixFix (yes it’s a thing, the mouse fix creator stopped supporting his mod before it was broken by a patch). Install in that order from Nexus Mods, they are all straight forward to install and configure. Do check the readme for MouseFix if you use it because you will need to point DSFix to use its DLL file. The MouseFix gives you proper lateral control over the camera and lets you rebind the mouse buttons. DSFix greatly improves the graphical quality and improves performance in most areas. I recommend going into the DSFix .ini file and setting the frame rate to unlimited with a frame rate cap of 30 (you can set this higher but it might break some physics interactions such as sliding down ladders). The game can stutter when there are a lot of particles on screen, e.g. dragon breath, but with the frame rate unlimited and capped it helps enormously. This isn’t enabled by default.

      • Shadow says:

        Sounds like a good port.

        Personally, I refuse to play games which impose gamepad use because the developers couldn’t be arsed to adapt to PC something they meant to release on PC.

        Unfortunate, given how there seems to be a good game somewhere beneath the multiple technical clusterfucks.

        • Horg says:

          I paid less than the price of a beer for Dark Souls so I think that offsets the extra work required to make it run well. It is a superb game if you give it a chance.

        • Matt_W says:

          But, the developers didn’t intend to release on PC, and only did so at the urging of PC users. The team didn’t have any experience in PC development, and deliberately made the port bare bones but functional.

          I think that disdaining gamepad games in 2015 is a little silly, since PC gamepads are now standard, cheap, and painless to configure. You’re denying yourself a significant fraction of available games for an essentially arbitrary reason. I mean I sympathize if your backlog is too huge and you need an arbitrary reason to weed potential games out, but “KBM 4evah” is a decidedly PCMR stance.

          • Shadow says:

            Actually, the fraction of PC games which don’t properly support PC-borne controls is very small. The fraction of good ones, naturally even smaller.

            I don’t mind harmless gamepad support, but it’s extremely seldom actually necessary on PC games. I get that some people prefer gamepads even on PC, but it isn’t and particularly shouldn’t be a requirement.

          • Andrew says:

            @Shadow Why it shouldn’t be a requirement? Just because you don’t like it?

            Devs can request anything they want. Mics, webcams, VR, smartphones-as-controllers, flightsticks, racing wheels, gamepads, dancepads, etc. That’s like the strongest feature of PCs — you can plug anything.

          • Distec says:

            Devs can mandate whatever they want for their game. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to shirk the primary input method for the platform, and a wealth of accessories for the PC don’t really soften that up. I shouldn’t have to (or feel like I have to) purchase an extra controller or joystick to make a PC game experience work right. It should be a comfort option.

            If a game on PC basically requires a controller for a competent control scheme, then it’s not a purchase for me. In no way is that “PCMR” or entitled.

          • Distec says:

            I recognize that not all games that started life on console can be perfectly adapted to the KB/M setup. There’s no one-to-one replacement for an analogue stick. So be it.

            Console controllers have gone through dozens of revisions and iterations, but the PC’s input devices have gone mostly unchanged, unless you count comfortable wrist rests (which aren’t even standard across all). I feel like it’s the KB/M setup itself that could maybe use a few gaming innovations here and there. But I don’t engineer that shit and any idea I can think of has the risk of just turning into some Razer-esque, overpriced gimmick.

        • fish99 says:

          They didn’t have the time to adapt it. They had one rather small petition and Namco were unsure how well it would sell, so it was done as quickly/cheaply as possible by a studio with no PC expertise.

          And thanks to Namco taking that risk we now have 2 awesome games on PC (and more to come) that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, and they are the best versions of those games around.

          I don’t get the aversion to using a pad though, PC has had gamepads forever.

        • Abndn says:

          Your loss. At the end of the day the PC version of Dark Souls is the best available version in every sense (with the possible exception of its online community), and very much worth playing.

          I do agree to an extent that at least a reasonable level of KB/M support should be expected since it’s the default way to play on the PC and nearly universal. At the same time I don’t want developers to feel limited to that one control scheme. Just like KB/M is vastly superior to pads for FPS games, pads and even fightsticks are generally better for 2D platformers, fighting games and third person action games like Dark Souls.

        • Alice O'Connor says:

          Analogue movement is pretty dang handy in Dark Souls; keyboard movement isn’t – and cannot be – nearly as good.

          I like my keyboard and mouse an awful lot but gamepads are better for many games.

          • Shadow says:

            Strictly keyboard movement is obviously quite limited, but combined with mouse look I can’t see how it could be a worse alternative in any third person game. Especially if we’re talking about games in which you have to aim. Not sure Dark Souls fits the bill in that last regard, though.

            The only things I can concede is that variable walking speed feels more natural on a thumbstick, and that they offer a more precise range of motion when the mouse simply cannot be used (i.e. football games and the like).

          • colw00t says:

            Considering that gamepads in many ways predate KB/M as PC gaming inputs, this anti-gamepad stance is patently ridiculous. Two analogue sticks are ideal for many purposes.

          • Shadow says:

            The usual analog sticks scheme is one for movement, which is more precise but largely irrelevant outside of two-dimensional environments (vs. M+KB), and one for looking, which is an inferior alternative to properly supported mouse look (and the reason M+KB remains king in FPS).

            So some sports games, racing games and perhaps flight sims (though I would sooner use a flight stick for that) benefit from the scheme. The genres which would intrinsically benefit from it more than they would from M+KB seem to be the minority.

            Aside from the minor bonus that’s natural variable walking speed, I’ve yet to see how the scheme would be better than a properly implemented M+KB alternative in a game like Dark Souls.

          • Alice O'Connor says:

            Analogue movement is huge for third-person stab-o-punch games, where precise placement will dodge attacks and reach enemy weak points. Reaching those spots is quicker and easier with an analogue stick.

            At times in Dark Souls I was really grateful for the ability to walk slowly and sneak up on enemies.

            Moving at precise angles and precise speeds is also very useful on parts where you can fall – especially if you’re fighting on them.

            Like, yeah, you can complete Dark Souls (and similar games) with a keyboard and mouse but it’s clumsier – and Dark Souls punishes clumsiness.

          • Horg says:

            You are severely overestimating how ”clumsy” the modded K+M controls are in DS. It’s a non issue, ironic considering how much argument it always generates.

          • Alice O'Connor says:

            It’s not the end of the world, but it is worse.

          • Boozebeard says:

            I really don’t understand why nobody has made one of those belkin/razer nostromo pads but with a proper analogue stick in place of the crappy d pad. Analogue sticks for movement and mouse for camera control is clearly the best of both worlds.

          • bouchacha says:

            I tried it with an XBOX gamepad for about 15 hours before I got frustrated (particularly with riposte timing for whatever reason) and went back to M+KB. I don’t think this is as objective as you’re making out to be.

          • Andrew says:

            @Boozebeard Try Logitech G13. Granted, you need to change its nub for something more comfortable. Very good for MMOs, there you need a lot of buttons and movement at the same time: biggest waste of KB is three fingers for movement.

    • Synesthesia says:

      DSFix makes it perfectly playable, and it’s a game designed to be played with a gamepad. You should do it! I promise you, you won’t regret it.

    • Sin Vega says:

      I’m often skeptical when people bang on about bad PC ports, because it often just means they’re upset there aren’t a bajillion borderline meaningless video options. But Dark Souls is a fucking embarassment on PC. I had to alt F4 and google for several minutes just to find out how to EXIT THE GAME. Hell, even navigating the new game menu was confusing and awkward.

      I got it in that Bandai Namco bundle a while back, and all the other games had irritating, lazy, player-hostile habits as well, it’s pretty clear they just don’t give a damn, to the extent that it’ll take a lot to convince me to give them any money again. I’ve not even bothered giving Dark Souls a third chance, because the sheer work it would require just to get basic functionality out of it fills me with resentment. Why should I waste my time just because they can’t be bothered?

      • Awesomeclaw says:

        Dark Souls 2 (which is arguably a worse game, but that’s a conversation for another time) on PC is by far the best version of that game (other than the insane way in which it was priced and released). I think Bamco kind of wised up to how much demand there was for decent PC releases and upped their game.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      You should really give it a go now, fix or not, just bring an x-box-360-controller. I stopped first time as I didn’t like the muddy graphics and ui at first but the game really gains later – melancholic athmosphere, hints of an epic story, huge bosses, great vistas, believable places.
      I couldn’t remember the last time I stopped doubtful in front of a boss lair, actually felt threatened when entering a dungeon until DS. You look down some hell-hole, then think I’ll surely die.

    • sebmojo says:

      If you have a controller then it needs one mod, dsfix, which is a tiny file that you put in the main directory (and you can pootle around in the configs to make it even prettier). Once you do that it’s gorgeous and smooth as butter on a modest modern machine.

      If you want to play mouse and keyboard then there’s another mod, haven’t done that so I don’t know how well it works but I understand it’s fine.

    • sansenoy says:

      One. It takes one mod with a simple .ini file to fiddle with. Everything from unlocked resolution, borderless support, added effects, AA and AO and DOF methods and unlocked framerate. It even adds extras like savegame backup, INTRO SKIPPING, HUD scaling and dll chaining so it gets along with other mods. Just beautiful.

      There are other mods if you want to use a mouse+keyboard properly, or easily connect to friends for coop.

  4. Andy_Panthro says:

    Played it, enjoyed it until O&S, now after beating them (with help), I’m a bit stuck. Got frustrated with it and moved onto mgs5. Not sure I’ll go back.

    • Willywil says:

      I fought them for 3 days on and off. Finally beat them. Only once. I never completed the game because my pc died.

  5. amateurviking says:

    Yes! Not only that, but Steam tells me I have played it for nearly 500 hours.

    I do love it so.

  6. Eight Rooks says:

    Yes. Yes, I have. Ragequit on Ormstein and Smough as my ageing reflexes are simply no longer up to the task, Solaire isn’t a reliable enough crutch, no-one was available to summon and life’s just too short. I was enjoying it up until that point, though.

    • Vandelay says:

      This was a stumbling block for me too. Solaire helped kill one boss, but would normally die near the start of the second boss. I would then fuck up some how and die. I soon had no humanity left and saw no way for me to progress.

      I took a break and after some encouragement from this very site I went back. First I mined some humanity from sewer rats, but when I faced the bosses again I managed to beat them on my first or second attempt.

      Dark Souls has a habit of feeling like you are hitting a brick wall, but taking a step back often helps you get through.

    • Addie says:

      I’ve never found Dark Souls to be a twitch game, so much as it is a dancing game. Positioning, spacing, timing, awareness of the space contribute much more to success than pure reaction time. Watching Youtube videos of people who are great at it makes it look like they’re just wandering through the levels without a care. Unless you’ve got a bit better at it, you won’t notice the subtlety of what they’re doing, and wondering why it’s so much effort to do it yourself.

      Ozzy and Schmo are a fine example of the wake-up call boss. Up till then, you’ve been dancing around single strong enemies, or groups of weaker ones (but generally groups of the same kind of enemy). Positioning yourself in the right spot to goad and punish their moves is relatively easy. O&S takes a lot more awareness. I find it better to position myself relatively close to Ozzy, with Schmo stuck behind him. This tends to make them choose attacks that are either dodgeable or punishable, and keeps them under your control a bit better.

      Took me about three hours to beat the pair of them the first time I tried. Second time I tried, I was on a no-armour run, and beat them first try; was almost disappointed. Artorias made up for that, though. Good luck, and keep trying!

    • Blake Casimir says:

      In situations where bosses seem too much, consider a magic instead of melee if you have the stats. Or using the black knight halberd. Or try to upgrade your weapons and armour more.

  7. Kemuel says:

    Too much trial and error for my liking. I don’t think there’s anything clever or deep about design that so often relies on just fucking you over while laughing “Better luck next time!” until you remember where all the traps and gotchas are.

    I’ve had arguments with people not unlike John and Kieron’s one over Limbo about this.

    • Andrew says:

      That’s BS. I’m sorry, but it is. Yes, you gonna die when you first encounter [spoiler], but then you gonna be careful every time you come across [spoiler]. “Souls” games have rules and they teach them very well.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        I don’t think that’s fair, whether you like it or not that comment is accurate. There are a LOT of scenarios that you could never anticipate – even if you only have to experience them once to know not to encounter them again. It is very much a game of trial and error. Whether that’s something that bothers you is another matter entirely.

        • fish99 says:

          A lot yes, but they make up a very small percentage of your total deaths.

        • Andrew says:

          I disagree. Every trap, every enemy, everything can be anticipated. You can go back to the place of death and see for yourself: that sniper was barely visible, that trap was telegraphed by marks on the floor, and that mad move was very “in character” for that enemy, etc.

          Well, yes, there are places — not many, mind you, — were you supposed to die, but DS built around death anyway, so it’s like resetting a puzzle in a puzzle game. Just a mechanic.

          • Vandelay says:

            The game is not all bullshit, but to claim there are no bullshit moments is looking at it with rose tinted glasses. You can probably count them on your hands, but they are there.

            The Capra Demon fight in an extremely confined space and the Silver Knights with the arrows when you are running along a small ledge are two examples I can think of off the top of head.

            To claim the opposite would also be untrue. Going slow, playing defensively and being observant will get you through 90% of the game.

          • Dan Milburn says:

            Yeah, agreed with Vandelay. This argument that the game is never unfair and that you can anticipate everything if you just pay attention is ridiculous. To the list I would add the curse mechanic, where there is absolutely no warning or way of knowing in advance that it will persist through death, and which if you get cursed pretty much ruins the game until you can figure out how to dispel it.

          • baozi says:

            If I remember correctly, fighting against the Capra Demon I struggled a lot with the camera…that wasn’t an issue with the other bosses, and I thought it was BS.

          • Andrew says:

            You can beat Capra Demon and Silver Knights at first try. It’s not easy, but doable.

            Personally, I beat Capra at first try but I was aware of what to do from notes and overleveled a bit. Knights… are bastards, but not because you don’t know what to do, but because it’s hard to pull of. “Souls” games are hard, big surprise! :)

            Curse mechanic is, well, a mechanic, not a trap or an enemy. Nothing in “Souls” is spelled out in big neon letters, as in other games, but that’s another topic.

      • Sin Vega says:

        …which is the very definition of trial and error. Killing the player for making the mistake of not being a magical time travelling wizard is a dick move.

        • botonjim says:

          ‘Trial & error’ is the same as ‘learning from your mistakes’. For people intelligent enough to learn that is.

          • Andrew says:

            I was trying so hard not to sound like “get better then”, and I’m not sure if I succeeded, but, dude, that’s just an insult. Not cool.

          • Sin Vega says:

            Oh, so the reason you know not to stick your head in the barrel of a lit cannon is because you tried it, died, and now you know better? That’s interesting.

          • Andrew says:

            You need to be magical time travelling wizard to know not to stick your head in the barrel of a lit cannon? Fascinating.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Dark Souls is a great game but it has the most fucking obnoxious fans like you this side of eternity. You guys are the worst and I swear you’re actively preventing people from playing.

            EVE players are more fun than that! By a long country mile. And they’re EVE players!

        • RegisteredUser says:


        • mllory says:

          The game is undoubtedly trial and error but not in a bs way. It just presents you with increasingly difficult challenges and expects you to learn from your past attempts and master then.

          And the asylum level is made to specifically teach you all the tricks it employs and make you pay attention to the environment. The deaths you encounter after that level are rarely anything other than the player’s fault.

        • Andrew says:

          Everything can be anticipated. So, no, not a dick move — your own fault (my own fault if you never played).

          I’m gonna defend this point to the day I die (which is soon, obv.), because if there is a lot of trial and error, then this game is awful. Like, give-me-more-quarters awful. But game is honest and just, and teaches everything you need to know before you need to do something (and after, for more dumb people like me).

          • Josh W says:

            It doesn’t, it gives you various unexplained mechanics that have lots of trap choices (level the wrong stat and you will be locked off from coop because you will have to be much higher level than anyone else to survive, and will be killed by pvpers).

            It gives you starting items, some of which are intentionally useless, where one of the choices is almost vital in order to play the game at it’s non-linear best.

            Also it puts a quest npc you’ve never met before (or anyone who looks like him) within bow range in a threatening environment, while having previously signaled that shooting magey types when you see them is an effective way to survive. If you kill him, you get a key, but never get a message that you need to go to the other side of the map because the boss room will auto-kill you without a specific item.

            You can have a clue not to kill him if you go the right route through the game, and also take a risky trip over a branch with bad collision detection in a much earlier area with lots of slowdown, which is no great consolation.

            It also has gotcha moments where barrels or stones roll down and you have to dodge them, and they never do it again. There’s nothing to learn there, no way to bypass them by shooting people in advance, and they never trigger again.

            It also puts important things to help you complete the game, (including checkpoints!) behind unmarked illusory walls, in the great tradition of pixelbitching adventure games.

            Any terrible game that doesn’t delete itself allows you to get better by learning it. Dark souls is rewarding because for the most part you can develop skills that allow you to improvise to new situations, and also, importantly, because it encourages players to spoil and explain the game to each other through the soapstone message system.

            That latter mechanic transforms those elements that are arbitrary into something that players can collectively work to overcome; your misfortune with an unfair mechanic can be a warning to other people.

            And that is not about skill, it’s not about intelligence or wisdom, it’s about people working together to help each other, making guides etc. Part of the game’s charm is that it embraces people making strategy guides and sharing tips etc. in a very old school way, and incorporates that into gameplay.

            “Bonfire ahead”, “beware of up”, all of these things help make the game what it is, but they act to mitigate some elements of the game that are totally and authentically cheap.

          • Nevard says:

            Thank you Josh. I enjoy Dark Souls, but the constant insinuation by people that “nothing in the game is unfair” is just nonsense, without the community aspect I think even a lot of the most fanatic of players would have had a much worse time.

        • khalilravanna says:

          The only problem with this statement is there’s a certain predictable layout and design to the levels. After you’ve played through one of the games and taken the time to understand/learn this design then you can very easily waltz through a Souls game on a first playthrough without many deaths at all.

          I’ve been playing since Demon’s Souls came out however many years ago and played Bloodborne for the first time with nary a death before like the 5th boss or something. And that’s the wonderful thing about these games. It’s *very* hard at first exactly *because* the player hasn’t gained the experience necessary to understand the design and develop the proper strategy to succeed. I love these games exactly because they’re a learning experience. After you’ve beaten all the bosses, downed every enemy, you’ve done it because you, as a player, have grown. Not because you ham fisted your way through the level with stubbornness and luck or trial and error.

        • Arglebargle says:

          The trial’n’error ‘die til you figure out the trick’ gameplay, combined with checkpoint saving, poor PC port, questionable UI, etc, makes the game a no go for me. A couple of these are major personal bugaboos.

          Doesn’t matter how good the game is (again, to me) if it throws up continuous unfun roadblocks and irritants.

          I’ve always suspected that this sort of thing is a cultural divide, with console and handheld game players who got accustomed to this in their youth, being the major group of folks who appreciate this kind of gameplay. Not my background.

          • The Crane says:

            There weren’t any consoles or handhelds when I started playing computer games, but I adore Dark Souls. Is ‘struggling to make progress’ really such an alien concept for this generation of PC players?

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Thank you for being one of the few voices of sanity in regards to Dark Souls.
      A game that not only is intentionally obtuse about being many a time too hard, but also doubly so about how you get to retry the parts you died.
      The checkpointing logic of the game makes for hugely pointless and timewasting sloughs through the same parts you already mastered just to get to the one you did not yet, thus basically saying its way of doing it and its time is more precious than yours.
      Personally, if I have 2 hours of evening game time, I do not want 90 minutes of that to be retreading the same spots just to die at the last 5% that are intentionally made to be super extra special dick hard.

      The games largest failure isn’t that its hard, its that its intentionally uncomfortable, closed off and punishing for all the wrong reasons.

      I have over 800 hours in Chivalry melee combat and excel in most matches, yet I felt utterly victim to chance and punishment in Dark Souls. I do not believe this to just be my personal problem but just dickheaded design.

      I may some century go back and try to “learn the game” again, but everything the game does screams out “I DON’T WANT YOU HERE. I DO NOT EVEN WANT YOU TRYING”. And that’s not what I pay money and lifetime for, personally. I actually like myself.

      • mllory says:

        DS just might not be for you, and that is fine. Indeed it is not a game to be played on and off in 2 hour sessions.

        But I ask you to consider the fact that presenting a hard challenge does not equate bad design. The checkpoints are punishing, but it’s intentional and puts greater pressure on boss battles and leads to a much better pay off after you beat them. The game is more about a feeling of accomplishment against great odds than casual evening entertainment and I’d argue that isn’t bad at all. In fact it’s the main reason people enjoy it.

      • Andrew says:

        What the difference between playing same match in multiplayer game over and over again, and same thing in “Souls” game?

        I feel like “Souls” is more fair, actually, because AI plays at the same skill level every time and don’t cheat.

      • LacSlyer says:

        No offense, but it if simply came down to poor design do you really think the game would be as lauded as it is? I see this kind of comment about the game all the time, and the people who share this opinion can’t understand why everyone else loves it. This isn’t something that you few people see that the rest of us overlook.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          I genuinely think the difference is in whether its something that offends you or something you can psychologically twist into “challenging” when the game gives you a chore instead of a challenge.

          I know that a lot of older people played and liked it, too, but I also suspect that a lot of the fans are younger. I used to play the original console generations onwards (NES etc) and games were at times rather punishing, too, until you learned patterns and enemies and such. Back then, anything videogamey was entertainment, even if it meant infinite grind. So long as I was playing something.
          At some point though you aren’t as liberal with your free time anymore and frustrating sections actually stay frustrations instead of becoming “Yay, I mastered that” moments. Its just “Why did it have to make me redo those pointless 90% for those last 10?” and ongoing disgruntledness. Most games with variable difficulty settings and only have 1-2 of those sticky spots or spikes, Dark Souls is built on this as a base concept.

          And just because there’s a lot of following, praise and belief in something doesn’t necessarily mean something is actually there (e.g. religion and faith). It just means some people make weirdly different choices. ;p

          • Andrew says:

            Or same argument can be twisted into: if you have no time to waste, you want to play something easy. Agree?

          • Premium User Badge

            zapatapon says:

            @Andrew: I don’t. I’ve also bounced hard off DS for basically the same reasons as RegisteredUser. In particular my game time is very limited. But I’ve been a diehard fan of Super Hexagon (to my own surprise). Now, you will probably tell me that there is little in common between the two. Still, the discussion here seems to revolve around challenge, feeling the rush of gradually improving your skill, and the kick (“moments of intense elation” to cite someone in the thread) of finally overcoming the challenge: any SH player will list exactly these same reasons why they like the game. Granted, DS surely poses a much more complex challenge than SH. Yet, I contend that the main difference is actually the amount of time that you can afford to sink into it (or not). And yes, it is annoying that DS fans always conclude their argument by a dismissive and contemptuous “I guess it’s not for you because you don’t like to be challenged”, whereas in fact the main issue is available time. It’s like showing disdain at someone for not enjoying high-stakes poker because they don’t have the funds.

        • Rumpelstiltskin says:

          It’s pretty obvious (to me anyway) why so many people “love” it. In short – the game succeeded in making them “its bitches”. Unusually high difficultly (which is just high damage) intrigues the players and pulls them in, and then the game beats them into submission with harshness and repeating punishments. Then it gets combined with the sunken cost fallacy – and voila, DS has trained its victims to become faithful acolytes and defenders.

      • ffordesoon says:

        I’m sorry, but the idea that you can’t make progress in DS unless you spend hours on it every day is just not true. Every single thing you do in the game is progress of some kind. It’s not the progress of most modern videogames, true, but it’s progress. The key is to recognize that there is no fail state. There is death, that’s true, and you certainly die many times in the game, but you don’t lose any real progress when you die unless you choose to risk losing that progress – and even then, the progress you lose is solely based on character progression, and is recouped fairly easily. The gameworld is always exactly as you left it when you died, with all the shortcuts open and all your items still on your person. Many people sprint past enemies, get a great weapon, and then let the enemies kill them as a way of teleporting back to the bonfire quickly, and that’s absolutely a viable strategy. Yeah, if you die a second time without reaching your bloodstain, you lose all the souls you accumulated, but it gives you a chance – and all those souls you accumulate getting back to your bloodstain can add to the bloodstain’s souls, so it’s very possible to stack souls upon souls without consequence. And yes, the player can also lose humanity when they die, but it is always the player’s choice to gamble their humanity, and it’s needed rarely enough that you can hoard it fairly easily.

        Is the game built on trial-and-error design? Yes, but it doesn’t cheat. It establishes rules and sticks to them. The guy that stabbed you from behind and sent you back to the bonfire? He’ll still be there the next time, and you’ll know it. Every single death is a way of learning more about the world, and the penalty associated with that death is only as harsh as you decide it is. Death is not a fail state. Death is knowing more than you did before you died. Death itself is progress.

        You are, of course, welcome to dislike this system. It is what it is, regardless of your approval or lack thereof. That’s what makes the game so great – it is, quite simply, a complete artistic statement without compromise.

        Which is not to say it’s perfect. The archers are bullshit.

      • PikaBot says:

        That is indeed a personal problem. Dark Souls is hard, but it’s one of the fairest games out there. If you die, it is almost always your fault.

        • Nevard says:

          I don’t think that’s true at all. I like Dark Souls well enough, but there are certainly places in it where you are expected to die due to environmental causes (such as hidden traps or enemies around corners who push you into holes) which you are extremely unlikely to notice before they’ve already killed you once (especially in the case of some of the traps where the triggers are unclear or invisible).
          There are plenty of ways to die in Dark Souls without it really being “your fault”.

  8. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    I thought I was playing it but it was playing me.

    Seriously though, probably the only masterpiece our fledgling art has produced. A story told through gameplay, that naturally provokes introspection and rumination on the gordian knot shared by death and immortality, cunningly mirrored by its genius world construction. Plus a dawned hard challenge that teaches you something about yourself, and a game that uses 30 odd years of player expectation to play you back.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Masterpiece? Posts like this bewilder me. Awful controls, awful graphics, the worst user interface of all time, an entire game world in a blurry muddy brownish grey, horrible PC performance… How is this a masterpiece? Or even playable? I’ve sunk maybe 10 hours into it and I just do not get it.

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        Yeah, I guess we look for different thinks perhaps. Personally I think all the criticisms you just listed can be levelled at any game after a few years (apart from controls, not sure what you mean there, it still has some of the most tactile character control around. Are you playing without a controller?) all the classics will appear bad by those measures sooner or later. If you can’t see past them, though, then fair enough you’ll never truly enjoy it.

        It’s the gameplay and how it makes you feel that gets me. Interestingly now you mention it, I don’t think I was anywhere as deep in love with it after 10 hours. I was enjoying it, but it took a long time to really sink its claws in. There’s so much it does well I don’t know where to begin.

        Just try this one little bit, pop it in your thought mouth and have a little thought chew next time you’re playing it: the death/respawn mechanic makes perfect sense within the logic of the game world.

        This is a big deal on its own because NO games do this, you just have to jarringly accept that you can quickload/respawn, forever shattering your belief in the reality of the game, subconsciously if not consciously. Then when you think you see a hole in Dark Souls’ logic because some enemies are respawned but some boss characters never are, have a bit of faith in the game’s creators and think about why that might be. Have they stopped respawning because they’ve given up. The same way you have stopped respawing in the game world after your 10 hours? And what are the ‘souls’ you gather from defeated enemies? Points to spend on goodies? Or are they an indication of the number of souls that character has accrued, in the same way you accrue souls? Yikes, they’ve been here a long time and killed a lot of heroes. And what’s a hero? Ah, good question. Unfortunately literature and philosophy are still debating that one, but Darks Souls is a great brain catalyst to making you think about it.

        Ramble over, just trying to give an impression of what Dark Souls does to my brain, and so hopefully an impression of why I think it’s a masterpiece. It just feels like the only game so far that’s worthy of a Uni dissertation, you know? And unlike other wannabe literary games it doesn’t do it with words, it does it with actions. Gameplay mechanics, not lore. It’s a work of genius, I’m sure of it. But I totally understand I probably sound barmy to anyone who bounced off it.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          Well, firstly, I fundamentally have to disagree with you about the graphics.

          Here’s how it looks on PC if you don’t mod the hell out of it:

          link to img.gawkerassets.com

          link to images.eurogamer.net

          Utterly awful, in other words. This is the same year that Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the Witcher 2, Crysis 2 etc came out – those graphics are simply unacceptable.

          I mean, this is a game with a locked resolution that just upscales to fit whatever screen you actually have.

          I’ve also been playing PC games since before having a mouse was standard, and I would say it took me a solid 20 minutes to have even the remotest idea how to operate the user interface (term used loosely). Hell, I remember trying to quit in disgust the first time I played it and that taking about 4 minutes to work out! Maybe I’m just slow.

          the death/respawn mechanic makes perfect sense within the logic of the game world.

          While this and the rest of your post might well be correct, as someone who has played the game for 10 hours I have no way of assessing this because they game has made no effort whatsoever to explain any of this to me or even let me figure it out for myself. I can only assume one of two things: (a) you’ve read a lot of extrinsic material which explains all of that to you, or (b) at some point later in the game all of this is explained in great detail.

          So for a person who hasn’t studied up on the game before playing it, none of it makes any sense at all. This has serious implications given that the very first thing that happens in the game is that you are required to build a character using completely unknown characteristics. Not giving the player any information about what any of this means isn’t fun or challenging, it’s just perverse and really bad game design. It’s a more complex version of saying “pick a number between 1 and 10! …wrong, you lose!!”

          And controls – yes, I’m using a controller after originally starting with a mouse. I find them fairly clunky and the camera is particularly poor. At times it’s hard to even work out where an enemy is in boss fights. Moreover, the combat controls are about as unintuitive as I can imagine.

          All of that said, look, obviously there’s something there. People like you wouldn’t be so passionate about it if there wasn’t something good lurking under the surface. I think ultimately this game is in the same category as Dwarf Fortress – probably a great game in there somewhere, but for many people the design choices ranging from poor to perverse are a huge impediment. With hundreds of excellent games clamouring for our time, it is hard to reconcil oneself with such things.

          • simontifik says:

            Sounds a bit like going on holidays to a beautiful tropical island and complaining about the sunburn, sandflies and the price of a pint. Each to their own I guess.

          • sebmojo says:

            You don’t have to ‘mod the hell out of it’. You download this file and put it in your directory. Then, it is beautiful. That’s it.

          • Nevard says:

            Given that the controls, graphics, and interface are essential parts to actually using the game I’d compare it less to complaining about sunburn and more to the fact that your hotel is covered in mould and on fire.

            And perhaps it is also easy to mod, but doesn’t change the fact that the game itself… does actually look really bad until you get someone to fix it for you, and this has never been changed by the developer.

    • horrorgasm says:

      Pretty sure From Software just likes making hard games.

  9. csbear says:

    The game is definitely frustrating, no doubt! But once completed (if the patience is there), I realized it was one of the best video games I’ve played. Before any game can be put on a pedestal, it must be completed first. Its grinding nature and difficulty prevents that for many unfortunately. However, after finishing DS, I was able to finish DS2 and Bloodbourne as the learning curve was lowered.

    My favorite part of the game was not the combat anyway, but the world Miyazaki built.

  10. Replikant says:

    It is an amazing game. Apart from OMGstein and Smug, obviously. And this annyoing dragonbow archer pair. And Sen’s bloody Castle and its hidden campfire. I could go on. It is still amazing.

  11. dagnamit says:

    Bounced hard off this game three times. The controls just don’t feel right and I hate fighting against controls. It also toes the line between challenge and cheap shots, and in my own opinion, I feel it’s cheap far too often.

  12. DrollRemark says:

    I got it fairly recently, and enjoyed what little I’ve played of it, but I’m still a proper rube. I need to get back and put in a proper shift.

  13. knelse says:

    I’ve beat DS1&2, SotS and Bloodborne, also DS1 and DS2 are among the few games I did all achievements in just because it’s so fun.
    Honestly, the best game I’ve played in years.
    The only “problem” though is if you’re into that type of storytelling or not.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Rather a hinted story than D3, won’t spoil but
      -“Har har”-
      -“You will nevaar defeat me”-
      -Obvious betrayal-
      -“Realm of Terroooaaarr”-
      Gothic my ass, kids should feel insulted by calling this childish.

  14. Synesthesia says:

    What a wonderful short writeup! Yes, I have played it. I think it might be the best game i’ve ever played. I loved it’s deep story, and the need for some sort of archeological work from the player, to dig the bits and pieces up, to see the bigger picture.

    “You play a role by playing it, not by answering multiple choice questions.”

    Oh god, yes. The same reason I love arma, and why I think it’s also a proper RPG.

  15. basilisk says:

    One of the most brilliant stories in all of videogames, in a videogame that goes to great lengths to tell you as little of its story as possible.

    There’s a lot about DS that I find extremely annoying and tedious, but once all the pieces finally click together, it becomes a thing of unparalleled beauty. Gameplay mechanics, world and story in perfect harmony, all being just facets of the same whole. It’s incredibly impressive in many ways, and a rare example of utilising the medium to its full extent.

    Definitely a masterpiece, even though it’s not without its major problems.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Are you claiming that if I keep clicking past the unexplained zombies and Engrish text boxes that an actual story will emerge?

      • basilisk says:

        Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. There is an actual story, and it’s very clever. Feel free not to believe me.

      • The Crane says:

        ‘Engrish text boxes’? What do you mean?

  16. fish99 says:

    Yup. First playthrough I did a str/pyro build which I took through NG and NG+, and then recently I beat it with an 2-hand dex (uchi) build, which was way more fun.

    Overall I love the game, but there’s always moments of intense frustration with all the Souls games. I would like to see them improve some of the core mechanics which feel like they haven’t changed from Demon’s Souls to Bloodborne, like dodgy collision boxes, and enemies hitting you through walls.

    They also give moments of intense elation though, like beating Artorias and Manus. The Artorias fight is my favourite Souls moment, a very well designed hard-but-fair fight.

  17. Merlin the tuna says:

    Didn’t love it. It’s frequently beautiful and occasionally clever, but it mostly felt like a mediocre Metroid game clumsily grafted to medieval fantasy land. That’s not awful – even a weak Metroid is a pretty good game, Other M notwithstanding – but I’ll never understand why it became the darling it did. Both the cleverness and the difficulty are wildly overstated, IMO.

    I will say that I really enjoyed the Bell Gargoyles boss fight, which did an excellent job of tying together enemy skills and terrain in a way that the typical “Stab them in the ankles” bosses did not. And the descent through Blighttown managed to be shitty in a fascinating way. I don’t think I’ve ever had a game remind me so much of my experience with rock climbing: advancing a few holds, pausing to catch breath and plot out the next few moves, rinse and repeat.

  18. Al Bobo says:

    Oh, yes. The battle that I had with Artorias was one of the best moments of my almost 30 years of gaming. I tried and tried and died so many times, using different weapons and gear until I finally went to superlight gear and rapier.
    I could do only 99 damage with strong attack, so I rolled around like crazy and scratched Artorias once every time he finished his mad chain attacks. Every time he hit me, it took 2/3rds of my health away. It was a loong fight, but in the end, when Artorias finally crumbled in front of me, I had used only 2 Estus flasks on my first try with rapier.

    • Josh W says:

      Yeah artorius is incredible. Fireballs also work quite well (although they work on most people), and in that one it’s basically a question of dodging so that you are just outside his sword when he starts one of his combos, so you have time to pull the spell off before he moves again.

  19. airtekh says:

    Took me two years and multiple attempts but I did eventually manage to get into, and beat Dark Souls.

    Currently playing Dark Souls 2 SOTFS, and enjoying it.

    I still think the games are absolutely rubbish at communicating how the mechanics of the game work. Once you understand how they work, (in my case by copious wiki reading), they become very enjoyable.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      I still think the games are absolutely rubbish at communicating how the mechanics of the game work. Once you understand how they work, (in my case by copious wiki reading), they become very enjoyable.

      I think this might be a key point. The in-game text quite seriously seems to have been written by someone using google translate, and that’s when there is any in-game text.

      As I posted above, how the hell is a new player supposed to know what characteristics matter in a new character build, which is mandatory right at the start of the game?

      • Immobile Piper says:

        By asking a friend if there are any no-brainer stats to get/avoid.

        Yeah, it’s pretty rubbish like that. I love it but it’s not a welcoming game. At all.

      • PikaBot says:

        If you mean ‘how do they pick a starting class’, they can just pick whichever class looks best to them. All of the classes are just starting equipment and stats, and all of them are viable.

        If you mean ‘how do they decide what to level up’, well, if nothing else there’s a help function on the character and level up screen that will explain exactly what each statistic does.

  20. RuySan says:

    This makes as much sense as asking: “Have you drank…water?”

  21. Philopoemen says:

    Steam tells me I have 15 minutes in it; I just bounced off it hard.

    I understand the appeal, and can respect the design philosophy, I just don’t enjoy it. And at the end of the day, that’s why I play games.

  22. Assirra says:

    Played it, enjoyed it, don’t call it a masterpiece but a very good game. A big gripe of me however is the lack of actual explanation which makes your first playthrough in the series way harder then it should be and gives you this illusion of “super hard game”.

    However, it has some of the most annoying and obnoxious communities in gaming history.
    Unless you praise it from the roofs you are a either a noob, someone not worthy to be called a gamer and all other insults (like shown in the comments here) or even more obnoxious they straight up refuse you played the game at all.

  23. grrrz says:

    seems like a fantastic game. I will never play it because I don’t want entire weeks consumed in this and be frustrated never seeing the end of it because it seems to be pretty hard by what I’ve heard of it.
    I already spent way too much time on Isaac rebirth and FTL.

  24. mavrik says:

    Dark Souls is a good game plagued by annoying technical issues, absolutely worst user interface I’ve used in years and rather wierd control scheme. But all of that is ok. By far the most annoying is the community around it – it’s like Apple fanboys just (and I really never though I’d say that) about 10x worse.

    The elitism over this game is just baffling, it’s not even all that exceedingly hard or exceedingly well written. Good yes. Best thing that ever happened to gaming? No.

    • baozi says:

      ”Get gud” hurr durr. When I played DaS1 I spent quite a bit of time on related forums and it was always “interesting” to see this uttered, or people telling other people with certain builds that they were playing it wrong. I find people saying “after DaS all RPGs feel bad” or such also extremely annoying; they’re always comparing it to games that have little in common. Sure, DaS is a good game…but there are many good games.

      • Geebs says:

        To be fair to the game itself, Dark Souls limits player interaction to an almost Nintendo-like level. In game, the worst a member of Dark Souls’ oh-so-horrible player base can do is shrug at you in an exaggerated fashion.

    • Andrew says:

      An you come here and tell us what we all wrong?.. Who’s annoying here, again? ;)

      • Stellar Duck says:

        You, Andrew. You are the annoying wrong. That much should be obvious.

        It’s fine that you like the game. I do too! But you make me wish I’d never played it and dislike the game ever so slightly, do the extent that people like you are probably the reason I don’t want to finish my half finished play through. I don’t want to run the risk of becoming a Dark Souls fan.

      • Assirra says:

        1. He didn’t say you were wrong.
        2. You proven exactly what his point was.

    • horrorgasm says:

      Elitism? You mean like those people who go around bragging about how easy any given notoriously difficult game is?

    • Cinek says:

      By far the most annoying is the community around it” – This man speaks truth. Game itself was fine, but… man… community… it’s godawful. I would rather pretend I never touched this title than get in any longer discussion about it. Comments like this one above my are barely a tip of an iceberg.

  25. baozi says:

    What I hate the most about Dark Souls is that there’s no bonfires in front of the bosses, whom I dislike anyway. It makes the fights even more tedious than they already are. I can live with dying a lot when it comes to regular mobs…but the bosses are just…so…tedious. Never gives me a rush when I defeat one either. I just think…finally that’s over. I like the rest of Dark Souls enough to compensate for disliking the bosses, but still.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Yes, the boss fights in particular are a major stumbling block for me. I dislike boss fights in general, but the ones in DS just feel frustrating.

    • PikaBot says:

      Once you’ve been through an area once, you can usually make it to the boss without fighting any enemies by just booking it.

      • baozi says:

        Sure, I did always try to just run past the enemies without engaging them. It’s still tedious, though – you know, like there are games where the game autosaves before the cutscene, so every time you fail at defeating the boss, you have to watch it again? It’s that. With bosses as difficult as in DaS games, when half the time spent on defeating a boss is running to the actual boss fight…that’s annoying.

  26. Psychomorph says:

    Tried to get into it a couple of times, but the controls still hold me back.

    One day, maybe.

  27. Wulfram says:

    As a roleplaying game I find that the choices are shallow and weak and the mechanics are only to the games detriment.

    Its a good action game that has a well told story, but dreadfully over-rated.

  28. mukuste says:

    Yes, yes I did, and it was fantastic and atmospheric and the difficulty was just hard enough to keep egging me on, and then I got to Ornstein and Smough and they crushed my soul and I ragequit and haven’t gone back since then. I **want** to finish the game, but… fuck those dudes.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      You can do it. Took me a year to come back to them after the same, and when I did I spent ages upgrading weapons and working out how to summon help for the fight, but it worked damn it. That was it then, it’s the biggest hump out of the way, the second half the game is wonderful with them 2 bastards defeated. Hell, life is better knowing you beat them two.

      Don’t quit now, keep trying!

  29. kikito says:

    Tried it a couple times, but never “clicked”.

  30. Marblecake says:

    Yeah, so, this article prompted me to give it another try. Apparently DSFix broke it. The game won’t start. I get to the character create screen, do what needs to be done, start the game and – crash.
    And since I can’t be arsed, I bought Mad Max instead. Seems fun.

    • Horg says:

      If you have in game AA or motion blur enabled before installing DSFix it probably wont run due to a conflict. Remove DSFix, disable in game AA and blur, then try again.

  31. banananas says:

    Oh yes! I’m also firmly on the Masterpiece side with this one.
    It is, in many ways, one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in my gaming life so far.
    It’s brilliance (one of many) lies in this unity of story and game-play, shown in the fact that turning hollow, i.e. “losing hope and/or the will to proceed”, is also quite a thing irl when you try Dark Souls for the first time. You really need to try to push through the first 5-6 hours in order to properly sink into the bleak, melancholic, but very atmospheric and beautifully crafted world. And oh it rewards your persistence so gloriously after you finally defeat that boss. Dark Souls can be quite an emotional ride!

    I would recommend this game to anyone, it’s really awesome, and it’s NOT as hard as you might think! All you need to be is persistent, observant and careful, and you will make progress.
    Don’t miss out on this gem. You will be rewarded! :)

  32. Blake Casimir says:

    Demon’s Souls is a superior experience. Yes, it really is. But Dark Souls 1 is very very good indeed. Let’s pretend 2 never happened.

  33. Barberetti says:

    I can’t stand boss fights, and I got the impression that this game was basically a string of boss fights, so I had no intention of playing what to me would be the most boring game ever. However, a friend of mine sorted me out a copy, so I installed it.

    I rebound my keys.
    I moved the mouse.
    The Windows mouse cursor popped up and decided it wanted to play. It moved about the screen at twice the speed of the game’s cursor, while the camera flew around like it was being held by a person stage-diving into the worlds biggest moshpit.
    I laughed.
    I uninstalled the game and threw it in the bin.

  34. ffordesoon says:

    I’m sorry, but the idea that you can’t make progress in DS unless you spend hours on it every day is just not true. Every single thing you do in the game is progress of some kind. It’s not the progress of most modern videogames, true, but it’s progress. The key is to recognize that there is no fail state. There is death, that’s true, and you certainly die many times in the game, but you don’t lose any real progress when you die unless you choose to risk losing that progress – and even then, the progress you lose is solely based on character progression, and is recouped fairly easily. The gameworld is always exactly as you left it when you died, with all the shortcuts open and all your items still on your person. Many people sprint past enemies, get a great weapon, and then let the enemies kill them as a way of teleporting back to the bonfire quickly, and that’s absolutely a viable strategy. Yeah, if you die a second time without reaching your bloodstain, you lose all the souls you accumulated, but it gives you a chance – and all those souls you accumulate getting back to your bloodstain can add to the bloodstain’s souls, so it’s very possible to stack souls upon souls without consequence. And yes, the player can also lose humanity when they die, but it is always the player’s choice to gamble their humanity, and it’s needed rarely enough that you can hoard it fairly easily.

    Is the game built on trial-and-error design? Yes, but it doesn’t cheat. It establishes rules and sticks to them. The guy that stabbed you from behind and sent you back to the bonfire? He’ll still be there the next time, and you’ll know it. Every single death is a way of learning more about the world, and the penalty associated with that death is only as harsh as you decide it is. Death is not a fail state. Death is knowing more than you did before you died. Death itself is progress.

    You are, of course, welcome to dislike this system. It is what it is, regardless of your approval or lack thereof. That’s what makes the game so great – it is, quite simply, a complete artistic statement without compromise.

    Which is not to say it’s perfect. The archers are bullshit.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      There is death, that’s true, and you certainly die many times in the game, but you don’t lose any real progress when you die unless you choose to risk losing that progress – and even then, the progress you lose is solely based on character progression, and is recouped fairly easily.

      See, whatever this actually means in gameplay terms, NONE of this is explained to any degree to the player. This is the main thing that is wrong with this game.

      • banananas says:

        My god, you really are persistent, but rather with your I-know-it-better-everybody-is-wrong behavior than the one which carries you through the game. We get it. You are bitter that you didn’t beat it and now try to sour it for anyone due to your personal reasons. Get over it!
        I think it’s save to say that you’re in the minority here, and you won’t convince people in love with Dark Souls otherwise! just by stating your opinion over and over again. In fact, everything you said you despise about it is a reason of why I adore it so much: It does NOT hold your hand! It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          You are bitter that you didn’t beat it and now try to sour it for anyone due to your personal reasons.
          Wow… what the heck is this?

          I’m not “bitter”. I really don’t care much one way or the other. I was progressing through the game perfectly well and decided not to continnue because the interface and overall experience were so appalling and there are so many superior games that actually want to be played and enjoyed.

          Your post certainly typifies the way that Dark Souls fanatics view any criticism of the game, though. I only wish there was some way to set you guys up in a war with the Elite: Dangerous nutters. Ideally, you’d wipe each other out once the flames subsided.

    • iainl says:

      Except it’s not true that you don’t really lose much by dying in Dark Souls. Of the 6 hours I’ve clocked on the thing, at least 3 of them were against the Taurus Demon. And some of the rest is because after an hour of tediously failing to deal with the thing I gave up and used a YT video to see how to do it most easily – it’s by using the stuff you can coat your sword in to make attacks more powerful. Of which there’s a limited number, and once you’ve used them up in your latest failed attempt all you can do is restart the game to get more.

      Now, I’ll admit that I’m a bit rubbish at these sorts of games, but the attack lag is tiresome and I just can’t be bothered to try again.

      • basilisk says:

        Strange. The easiest way to defeat the Taurus Demon is with plunging attacks; right next to the doorway you come out of, there’s a ladder leading to the platform with the two archers, and from there it’s quite easy and relatively safe to jump on the demon’s head, climb back and repeat. I’m sure there must be hundreds of guides on the internet mentioning this.

        I don’t think I ever used the weapon-buffing resins in DS. I definitely did in DS2, but even there they’re really not that important.

        But yes, it’s very easy to become frustrated with DS, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who feels there’s no point to banging your head against it. (But there is, which is the maddening part.)

        • iainl says:

          I could get one plunging attack in reliably, but always got whumped once on the ground and trying to get past the big bugger in order to go up for another try. It’s more the feeling that I’d repeatedly failed to do it -with- resin, and so now I’ve got to manage it without that made me realise that maybe I just couldn’t be bothered.

          But then, if I start counting the number of games I was enjoying until I gave up at a frustrating boss fight over the years I’d never stop. Boss fights are always hateful as far as I’m concerned, without exception. It’s why Gunstar Heroes is probably my least favourite Treasure game, too.

          Come to think, it’s also why the “007 spends ten minutes having a one-on-one fight with the head baddie” endings are always my least favourite part of any Bond Movie, I suspect.

      • ffordesoon says:

        You chose to use the resin, though. This is what I’m saying: Dark Souls is about taking absolute and irrevocable responsibility for your actions, even the actions you consider rote. Mindfulness, see? That’s not for everyone, as it’s harrowing and sometimes infuriating, but it is a fundamental part of the game’s appeal. It doesn’t compromise its internal logic for any reason, not even to make players happier. It is what it is, without compromise.

        I say this not to be an elitist. It is absolutely fine not to like Dark Souls. My only point is that everything about it is deliberate, and that’s a rare thing in any medium. It’s worth treasuring for that alone.

  35. baozi says:

    Well…it’s an Action-RPG. That is, an action game with RPG elements. You level up your character, you give your character better equipment, you can make a few choices here and there, and you fight a lot. So, like Borderlands :P

    “You play a role by playing it, not by answering multiple choice questions.” Exactly. So, how many of those choices were defined by who you chose to role-play as? How did you express your character through your choices? How often were you given the opportunity to express your character? How often is that choice kill this monster with a sword, or kill it with a spear? I did play Dark Souls and liked it. I did try to always interact with the stories of NPCs. I did join a covenant. But it always felt like an Action-RPG.

    Integrating themes well isn’t the mark of an RPG, it just makes the game very coherent. And setting the protagonist of the story as someone merely playing a role in the greater context of the Dark Souls universe and you realizing this is obviously not the same thing as the game giving you ample opportunities to role-play.

    • simontifik says:

      I think the role playing elements of Dark Souls really shine through online play. The game gives players very limited means to communicate. Players learn to read the little details in other players action and dress. The armour you choose to wear, the weapon you wield, your style of fighting, whether you are a shining sun bro or a baneful invader communicate to the world your character.

    • Alistair Hutton says:

      Dark Souls is clearly an Arcade Adventure but that categorisation has long fallen out of favour.

      • Bugamn says:

        And here I’ll say that it has even less of an adventure style than RPG and that those names are limited in expressing games and being pedantic about them leads to the dark side.

  36. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    Yeah, I played it, and seemed to be one of the few (perhaps only) that hated it. I thought it was so shitty; hated the controls, the aesthetic, the ‘story’, the trial and error bs gameplay, the boss design, the sound design. I hated almost everything about it in fact, with perhaps the exception of the moment that I turned it off and decided not to play it any more. That’s not to say I can’t appreciate how much people loved it though, not everyone is me.

    • Harlander says:

      No, no, you’re not the only one. I felt much the same, though some of that is converted resentment for the reasons I described near the top of the comments.

      It does feel like there’s some kind of conversion point in playing DS, where if you pass a certain point you’ll love it. Or perhaps the causal chain runs the other way: if you don’t love it, you won’t struggle past that point.

  37. malkav11 says:

    Yes, I played it, it’s brilliant, and I am nowhere near good enough at it to get anywhere so I moved on to watching other people play it.

    Re: whether it’s an RPG. I think there’s a perfectly fine argument to be made that it is, but can we PLEASE stop pretending that the CRPG genre, as a way of categorizing videogames, is in any way defined by whether or how you roleplay? Insofar as any singleplayer videogame permits real roleplaying of any sort, it can be argued that a wide assortment of FPSes, strategy games, adventure games, and other 100% non-CRPG titles offer the ability to play a role. That in fact, a vanishingly small percentage of videogames -aren’t- about playing some role or other. It’s not a relevant or useful distinguishing criterion. What defines the CRPG genre are particular mechanics and approaches to gameplay. And yes, in other contexts, the “RP” in RPG stand for “role playing”. But then, there’s also a context where they stand for “rocket propelled”. Neither are relevant here.

  38. pistachio says:

    Two things i really hate about ds :

    -the totally unfair multiplayer when you are leveling. I have NEVER met an opponent of equal gear in hundreds of hours of playing. 100% troll kills, the game is somehow made for it. I get oneshot almost always.

    -the game doesn’t explain itself properly. So without a wiki you WILL miss essential skills / info. I have gotten fed up with games like that ever since guild wars 2 multiplayer where you couldn’t even trust the tooltips (which I consider a bug nowadays, despite being mechanically sound, if you look things up). Screw the information war. If games like WoW and TF2 can do it, any game should be able to provide you with everything you need to know from WITHIN the game. I never look things up anymore, so I avoid multiplayer games where the reddit / wiki crowd owns the rest.

    Really hope they fix that in ds3.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      This is likely the appeal for the fans. Having inside knowledge and a high entry barrier to become part of the ingroup also heightens the feeling of exclusivity and being special.
      I agree with you that its a bad thing to be intentionally closed off to use when you want people to be able to “use” you as a game. Basically customers pay for the priviledge to convert a fighting game into a “look it up first” puzzler / quiz. Which is both sides right to do, but it inevitably leads to that sharp divide between those and the kind that would actually like to know what they’re sitting in front of.

    • Replikant says:

      This. The thing I hate most about DS is the multiplayer invasions. Especially when I am trying to beat O&S. Even after joining the white convenant. It’s just super annoying. There should be a way to turn of PVP.

      • Bugamn says:

        I think you can avoid most of them simply by not being human.

  39. Szarrukin says:

    Dark Souls is, indeed, the best RPG I’ve ever played.
    In other news, my bike is the best car I’ve ever seen, and my dog is the smartest cat in the world.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Given that dogs sniff out bombs, drugs and contraband, help lead the blind and can memorize and recognize over 500 objects associated with words, its easy to see for the dog.
      The bike does not have emissions, can park in far more spots than the car and does not have tax on it nor requires petrol. It also increases rather than decreases your health on heavy use.

      Just say Dark Souls is a weird thing to call RPG is one associates CRPGs with that term usually. Calling it an RPG ironically enough is one of the least problems I have with it, given that I always liked calling it a “masochism simulator”, which I feel is a form of roleplaying.

  40. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    DS is brilliant at manipulating the player, but it’s a fundamentally mediocre game otherwise. First, it creates an illusion of depth by jacking up the difficulty (by simply increasing damage) to lure the players in, and keeps them invested by forcing to replay large sections of it many times. Mechanically, its combat is functional, but inelegant, obtusely convoluted, and mostly derivative. The magic system is a joke (and a pretty poor one). The story is just a handful of obfuscated tiny scraps of pseudo-lore that are as coherent as ink blots in a Rorschach test. Only visual design is probably above average in general, but it’s spoiled by occasional cases of “look we are Japanese” quirkiness.

    • Robyrt says:

      Illusion of depth, you say? I think harder about a fight in Dark Souls than one in Devil May Cry, despite there being more moves, more mechanics, etc. in the latter. The story actually has meaningful things to say, if you take the time to piece it together. The architecture isn’t just memorable because you see it 100 times – Dark Souls 2 has some insipid level design I’ve trudged through just as often, but Dark Souls is a masterclass in how to use verticality, doors, key views, and enemy/item placement to draw the player towards the main path and away from secrets. The world is interconnected elegantly so that you don’t need many levels to get a lot of different experiences. If by “magic system” you mean “I want Skyrim”, then yes, it’s pretty bare-bones; if you mean “I want magic to be fun and useful in different places than my sword”, it’s great.

  41. Alistair Hutton says:

    Dark Souls has one moment that is a pure trap that you cannot possibly avoid unless other players have plopped down warnings for you to read – the first time you encounter a mimic chest you will be eaten. An then you’ll never be caught out again unless you are grossly careless.

    That’s it though.

    Everything else is sign posted with impeccable precision, I dodged a flaming barrel as I could see both the enemy behind the barrels and the gap in the staircase into which you could dodge. The blood stained elevator played suggests the spikes in the ceiling. The rolling boulder rolls and kills an enemy in your line of sight before you are at risk of being hit by it. Everything is laid out for you if you can but see.

    And it’s all kind of irrelevant. Dying in Dark Souls is a nothing. A triffle. The most minor of events.

    You have an inventory item to allow you to die whenever you want.

    That should be the hint. You shouldn’t care about dying.

    No game is as generous when it comes to dying. When you die you keep everything bar the inconsequential – easily collected – souls. You entire inventory is retained.

    Se the glimmer of an item across a crowded dangerous room? Sod it, just suicide run across it and pickup the item. If you die so what? You get to keep the item.

    It seems that much of the criticism of the game obsesses about dying and the number of deaths suffered. But death is meaningless in a game when you are already dead.

    • PikaBot says:

      Even the mimic chest can be spotted if you’re REALLY observant. The chain leading off to the right is stretched forward instead of curled towards you, and the lid breathes slightly.

    • baozi says:

      Who was talking about deaths setting you back?

  42. Crusoe says:

    Can someone please give a simple explanation of what the ‘humanity’ mechanic is in Dark Souls, and how it works.

    • Nevard says:

      Using a “Humanity” adds a “Humanity Point” to your counter at the top of the screen.
      You can spend a Humanity Point to transform from an undead to a human, until your next death, which also enables the online mechanics (such as allowing you to cooperate with other players, or be invaded).
      You can also spend a Humanity Point to kindle a bonfire, increasing the number of Estus charges you will receive from that particular fire.
      The more “Humanity Points” you have displayed on the counter in the top, the higher your hidden “rare item find” stat is, and the higher your defences (though not by a lot). There are also some weapons that increase in damage when you have higher humanity points.
      Like souls, all humanity points you have active are lost upon death and restored if you can reach your bloodstain without dying again.

      It’s an interesting mechanic, but not explained very well and ultimately I feel not terribly well executed.

      • Wulfram says:

        You can ignore everything except the “become human for summoning/invasion” bit. Or at least thats what I did.

  43. Laurentius says:

    Terrible port,awful UI, almost unplayable on keyboard and mouse. Gave it two tries, I can’t count many games of recent year sthat first impression would be so bad, deleted it without regert, too many good game son PC to worry that I never be able to get into this “masterpiece”.

  44. Denthris says:

    I enjoyed play Dark Souls, and one of the best gaming experiences overall. With that said, their was parts of the game I absolutely hated. Sens fortress I despised, my hands tend not to be steady at times, and so all those narrow ledges, was painful. Only to follow up a bit later with all those ledges in the next area after the fortress.

    Can everything be anticpated… honestly I want to hear of a single person that went through DS1 without dying a single time, and then and only then can they say that everything can be anticpated.

    DS is a frustrating game, and it was only by sheer stubbornness that I beat it. Am I glad I beat it. Yes. Will I ever play it again. Not unless someone mods out Sens fortress, because I don’t want to get a mile near that dungeon again.