Platforms: Windows, XBox 360, Playstation 3
Note: I’m not sure if you have to warn for spoilers for shit that happens in the tutorial level, but just in case, there may be spoilers ahead.
With the recent release of Dark Souls III, and my recent acquisition of a Logitech PC gamepad, I figured there was no better time to give Dark Souls a try. I was ready. I was prepared for death. I was not entirely prepared for so many deaths in the tutorial level.
I mean I knew I was going to be bad at this, but this bad?
Character creation was about what I expected, pick a class and a hairstyle and away we go. I was a smidge disappointed that you can’t see the pigtails because of the hood, but I assure you, they were adorable.
… and I just tanked my cred again, didn’t I?
The intro movie was almost painfully pretty – I knew the in-game graphics weren’t going to compare, but I watched the whole damn thing, and I am usually totally impatient with intro movies. And this was a lengthy one. I really liked the voice-over too; the voice just sounded old and wise without sacrificing any clarity of speech. Subtitles were on, but I didn’t need them. Perhaps I am dwelling too much on the cinematics, but my actual game progress was pretty limited.
I made it up to the first bonfire without any real issues (I’m not calling my endless need to try to look at EVERYTHING an issue), and I was opening this door, and marveling at the fluidity of the animation and then it all went horribly wrong.
Memo to me: Don’t attack the big nasty without your weapon equipped.
It took me three more deaths to realize that – SPOILER – you’re not supposed to attack the big nasty at all! Run right by him, and there’s more tutorial still to come. I felt stupid. I felt like Dark Souls wanted me to to feel stupid. And then I felt the burn of the challenge. I was going to continue on.
Which went okay. Not great, but okay. I discovered archers are irritating and can hit you from several states away. I discovered that setting the brightness as low as was recommended wasn’t working for me, and I sacrificed a little bit of ambiance for vision. I realized the monsters in the tutorial levels were dicks when one of them hit me with a big metal ball I’m pretty sure he couldn’t lift. And then I found this guy.
(notice I have now equipped a weapon & shield – progress!)
This nice dying soldier guy gave me something called an Estus flask, which is a multi-use healing potion that you recharge at bonfires (which are also save points). Did I mention that Dark Souls is a save point-y game? Of course it is.
I went into the light when I don’t think I was really supposed to – that’s how you transition areas – and face planted right back into that asylum demon that I really didn’t want to scrap with. Which was just as well – he knocked me off the ledge I spawned on and that was it for me. Dead again.
The “You Died” screen looks cool enough, I guess, but I really wasn’t feeling replaying the entire second half of the tutorial, so I decided to leave it, for now. But I can see why people plod along, struggling their way slowly to smarter play. I like the idea of an RPG where everything doesn’t just get handed to you for showing up, where all the monsters aren’t meant to be vanquished, and where bad choices hurt. I’m not sure I love it in practice.
I’ll likely return to Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition when I get a little more dexterous with the controller; from everything I read, playing without one is tossing yourself another giant handicap in an already challenging game. Personally, this isn’t a game I would drop $20 on, but for the $5.99 I paid on sale, I’m okay with the idea of never finishing it. I just want to see how far I can go.