Dark Souls was an accidental success, but ever since its initial release in 2011 the famously difficult game has become a cult classic. Eight years later with various re-releases, a remaster and two sequels, the game has generated a fan base with similar experiences and discoveries. So here are our top 10 most relatable moments in Dark Souls.
No. 10: First Time Getting Cursed
So you’ve finally discovered The Great Hollow behind TWO illusory walls. You then dropped down the mapping of branches, flinching with every land in preparation for a fight after you have just crawled out of the Giant-Mosquito-infested hellhole known as Blighttown. But there are no enemies until at least half way down when you encounter what could be your first Basilisk. These frog-like creatures spew a poisonous gas which can curse you, killing you instantly.
If you thought this game was already hard enough, then playing it whilst cursed becomes a different matter entirely. At first you’ll be confused as to why you still only have half health after revival. Then you’ll realize that you can’t reverse your hollowing or kindle a bonfire while cursed, which is a brutal punishment for an already brutal game. Bonfires are our safety blanket as, once kindled, you won’t have to run so far to return to where you died. And that’s not all; removing a curse can be difficult and costly as the only way to get yourself out of this predicament is to use a purging stone or talk to an NPC in New Londo Ruins. In other words, being cursed really sucks and is the true test of your Dark Souls skills.
No. 9: Looking up Sif’s Backstory and then Wishing You Hadn’t
Sif, the Great Gray Wolf is a sword-wielding wolf boss found in Darkroot Garden. With her mostly fast and far-reaching moves, she can be challenging early on in the game. So when she’s finally beaten, either as soon as you had access to her or if you came back to easily wipe her out at a later date, there will be a huge amount of satisfaction. This will definitely be the case if you hadn’t discovered the hidden bonfire and unlocked the shortcut door and thus had to travel a lengthy distance back to her every time you died.
So after you have had your victory dance, you happened across Sif’s backstory and learnt that she only attacked you to protect the grave of her previous owner, who gave his life to keep her safe. Well done, hero.
No. 8: Constantly Running Back and Forth Between Blacksmiths
Out of the Dark Souls trilogy, Dark Souls probably has the most tiring system when concerning blacksmiths. There are four in total and each one specializes in a different kind of weapon upgrade. Andre of Astora is the most accessible and likely the first one you will encounter. But there is only so much he can do as he only scales weapons through standard, raw, divine and occult paths.
If you want crystal or lightning reinforcement, you have to keep on travelling up the obnoxiously tiresome steps in Anor Londo and dodge past several Sentinels and Gargoyles. Rickert of Vinheim can scale your weapons using magic but is tucked away in New Londo Ruins, and a lot of players will easily miss his obscure location if they're not paying attention.
And finally there is Vamos, the cool skeleton blacksmith in The Catacombs who will deal with chaos and fire reinforcement. Before the remaster added a bonfire, he was incredibly difficult to reach, and it’s pretty easy to kill him by accidentally luring Bonewheel Skeletons into his corridor.
So there is a lot of running about to do in preparation for your next area or boss fight as weapon scaling is just as important as levelling when it comes to surviving Lordran. This makes the constant backtracking worth it, even before you have unlocked fast travel. We all groaned at the prospect of having to travel all the way back to Undead Parish to upgrade our weapon, but it was totally worth it when we saw how much more damage we dealt as a result.
No. 7: BBQ
In Undead Parish you will encounter a particularly testing Fang Boar which can be difficult to kill so early in the game. Luckily there is a widely known ‘cheese’ method to kill the menacing porker by dropping Alluring Skulls onto a bonfire so he dives right on in and cooks himself to death. Gruesome, but it gets the job done and is very handy for new players who are struggling to take down this mini boss. Even veteran Souls fans can't resist the temptation to grill this guy.
No. 6: THOSE Archers
Anor Londo is probably the most beautiful location in the game. You will be in awe over its glorious sunset and golden cathedral when you are first carried there via the Bat Wing Demon express. As you venture through its marbled corridors, battling through the intimidating giant Sentinels, it can quickly become a favorite location.
However, this is likely before you encounter this dynamic duo. Upon reaching the main cathedral, you will have to travel around it to find a way in. And the main route includes performing a balancing act of Naruto running over an arch whilst two Silver Knight archers snipe you from afar. Their great arrows are punishing and will either kill you in a few hits or push you off. And you then have to repeat the same run up those ridiculously huge stairs that you also use to reach the Giant Blacksmith.
There’s a technique to killing these two but it’s very unlikely that you’ll succeed on your first try without dying. It takes a lot of trial and error to take them out. Even after killing the first archer to your left, you must then nudge along a stupidly tiny ledge, dodging each arrow as it comes and then trying not to fall off when you eventually reach him to take him out. They are frustrating, and that's what makes them so memorable for Dark Souls players.
No. 5: The Drake Sword
For some reason, a player one day decided to see what happens when you fire arrows at the Hellkite Wyvern’s tail. The result is the Drake Sword, which can also be gained by fighting the Wyvern properly and dealing enough damage to its tail as to cut it off entirely. This sword is a godsend for first-time Souls players as it’s so powerful early on in the game that it feels like cheating when you are cutting through enemies like butter.
But there is a catch to such an awesome sword as it’s also widely known that it does not scale well, much to the dismay of those who did not put any time into reinforcing another weapon. That meant they entered Anor Londo, strolled up to their first Sentinel and realized it merely tickles them and would then have to trudge all the way back to the nearest blacksmith to upgrade another weapon.
No. 4: Dying to a Boss Right before the Last Hit
This is probably the most painful item on this list. This is especially the case for a boss you have been struggling with and you have finally come close enough that you only need one more hit... and you’re dead. There will be a few seconds of disbelief and then some controller smashing. It’s excruciating and feels hugely unfair at the time, though it's usually due to the player getting greedy regarding how many hits they can land when they see the remains of the boss’ health bar. “I only have a sliver of health left but I can sneak in an extra attack, right?” Wrong. It’s not worth the risk. Trust me, we’ve all been here.
No. 3: Parrying Gwyn
This is the last boss in the game, so you would expect him to be the most punishing and difficult out of them all. Unfortunately this is not true because for some reason, FromSoftware decided to give him an Achilles' heel: parrying. That’s right, he's the last boss in the game and you can stun him silly without taking a single hit.
Even those who have not parried a single time (like me) throughout the rest of the game can probably learn how to do it in this boss fight. Block his other moves and wait for that slow triple attack and BAM, the Lord of Cinder will stumble back and you can sneak in a few hits. This is especially a blessing considering how difficult this boss is without using parries. He is incredibly fast and does not leave many windows open for an attack. We've all done it at least once, because it's just too funny and satisfying.
No. 2: Fighting Ornstein and Smough for the First Time
Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough are widely considered to be the first real test in Dark Souls. The two complement each other with one using weaker, faster attacks whilst the other is slow but could knock you out in a single hit. Upon entering their boss room for the first time, you will likely be pushed up against the wall and die within the first few seconds. At least I did anyway... But the incredibly majestic score makes up for it, right?
You can get help on this using an NPC summon or a player, but that only wastes time taking out the enemies before the boss which you could otherwise run past. And let’s face it; the run up to this boss is already tiresome enough as it is with those pesky Anor Londo stairs.
Because of their test in skill and that constant feeling that FromSoftware is just bullying you at this point, these two are highly memorable, and most Dark Souls veterans will probably remember that huge feeling of relief after beating them for the first time.
No. 1: Wondering how on EARTH this Game was Completed Without the Internet
How did they do it? How did they do it? I tried to complete my first Dark Souls run blind, but sometimes it’s just damn near impossible. How is a normal person supposed to know about the Ash Lake and The Great Hollow without finding out online that there are actually two illusory walls in Blight Town hiding the path? You got through the first one by blindly smashing away at random walls and getting excited when you unveiled a treasure chest, but who would then think to check for a double whammy of illusory walls?
And how did people complete Big Hat Logan’s storyline without first doing some research? You have to back track to a boss room which isn’t easy to reach, even with fast travel. So unless you kept on going back to empty boss rooms later on in the game just in case something had changed, you definitely watched a walkthrough or checked out a wiki page. Don’t lie; you checked the internet at least once.
GameLuster’s Tuesday 10 highlights memorable, light-hearted facets of video games or the industry at large. The No. 1 is a hill no one should die on, but it’s a hill that should be admired from afar.