It’s easy to overemphasise the importance of difficulty to Dark Souls, but I’d still argue it’s integral. From Software’s gruelling RPGs do loads else that’s cool, but part of the appeal is bound up with the same satisfaction you get from climbing a mountain. You want that tension, and the blessed relief of finally beating a boss after chucking yourself betwixt its jaws for the 38th time. That’s why I have mixed feelings about this mod for Dark Souls: Remastered that turns the first game into a roguelike with randomised weapons, enemies and levels, and only gives you five lives to reach the end.
I love it. It scares me. It’s made by “Grimrukh”, the same bloke that made the popular Daughters Of Ash mod.
I haven’t played it myself yet, to be clear. This is all just conceptual fear. Personally I wouldn’t go near Roguelike Souls: The Binding Of Lordran until I can comfortably beat most of the bosses in the original Dark Souls without breaking a sweat, and the idea of ever getting to that point is ridiculous.
People have been making ‘Randomiser’ mods for years, this one’s a bit more involved. Here’s how Grimrukh describes his horrible gauntlet:
“Roguelike Souls overhauls the Dark Souls experience entirely by replacing the game’s progression with a roguelike system not unlike The Binding of Isaac or Dead Cells. In each “run” through Lordran, you are tasked with conquering a semi-random sequence of levels containing random enemy types in completely random positions (not just existing enemy positions), fresh random loot, and random bosses, as well as a few other random events and risk/reward scenario.
“If you die five times, your progress in that run will be lost and you will be sent back to Firelink Shrine to start anew. Allies you rescue (from fixed locations) will permanently reside at Firelink to provide gameplay-modifying bonuses, and certain game progression events will unlock more loot options, but nothing else will persist between journeys through Lordran.”
On top of that, re-installing the mod will spawn in “a fresh set of procedurally-generated weapons, armor, and spells”. Enemy animations speeds are randomised, too, which sounds like a nightmare for my muscle memory (if it hasn’t atrophied to the point where that’s irrelevant anyway). Grimrukh says you can reinstall the mod if you wind up with an enemy that’s particularly brutal, or just disable the speed changes altogether.
Regardless, I am simply too intimidated. If you’re one of those people who can beat the final boss blindfolded with your hands tied your back while playing with a Guitar Hero controller (OK maybe just the last one), then maybe this is for you.
You can download it here.