Published on May 24th, 2013 | by Malcolm Spinedi0
Dark Souls Journal #1 – It Starts…
I’ve always had a respect for those dedicated to Dark Souls or Demon’s Souls for that matter. Dark Souls is one of the hardest franchises there is and these guys make it look easy. I’ve seen entire communities based just on these games, including my former college SNHU.
Admittedly, I took my sweet time in finally sitting down and beating Demon’s Souls. I pre-ordered it as soon as I heard reviews for it, played it for a bit… and I never made it past the first level. I guess I couldn’t figure it out and I just died over and over. What’s more, the first section of Demon’s Souls, you can’t level at all.
Yes, I’m afraid I’m one of those guys who levels up a bit before doing anything in Dark Souls. Honestly, I don’t understand why leveling is so taboo amongst the community. In my experience, the leveling doesn’t make either Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls a cakewalk. For example, instead of a boss killing you in one hit, it makes it take 2-3, and that’s after I leveled up 20 times. You should still expect to have to pull off a lot of trial and error to understand and ultimately beat the boss, so in all honesty, I don’t get why more people just don’t do it more often (aside from just wanting a challenge).
Now I want to make something clear, despite giving up on Demon’s Souls, I still thought very highly of it. My being stuck was on me, not on the game. I still thought very highly of it and thought the difficulty I faced was more on me and not Demons Souls.
I digress, so I gave up on Demon’s Souls for awhile until Dark Souls was announced. For some reason, this clicked something in me. Before I knew it I decided I had to beat it before Dark Souls before it was released. I was back in Boleteria and finally beat the Phalanax at one level. I started making my way slowly but surely through all the bosses. I even lucked out and gained what would become my favorite weapon, the Dragon Bone Smasher. Then I got stuck on False King Allant for eons. However, I persevered and won. Soon after I beat Demon’s Souls. Yay me.
So triumphantly I purchased Dark Souls… and had history immediately repeat itself as I put it down again. To be fair, I had just gotten into video game journalism and I had had little time to stick with simply one game. So shortly after I had written my review of it, back on my shelf it went… until Dark Souls II was announced.
So here I am again, trying now to get through Dark Souls, and once again I am entrenched in the experience. So I thought it would be fun to write about my experience as I play through this very epic game. Also, the bosses at Geek Link won’t yell at me for mucking about on a game. In the industry, we call this a win-win.
So we start with the my favorite part of every RPG, the character creator. This statement, by the way, is dripping with sarcasm. I hate character creators. My first inclination is to make myself and I end up with the reminder that I’m no Brad Pitt. One time I asked the wife to do it for me in Dragon Age 2 and let me tell you… that was a mistake. Let’s just say my nose is bigger than I thought.
So I end up doing one of two things: 1) Just use the default character model, or 2) add a bit of myself into the character. For Dark Souls however, I try to make the character look evil. I usually do this by make the eyes red and darkening the areas around them to make the guy look evil. The idea is to make the character look as demonic as the baddies they’re facing. Sort of a psychological advantage… on creatures that aren’t alive and therefore psychology has no use on them. Well, I like using it.
Though to be honest, I don’t understand the need for a “character creator” in Dark Souls or at least for the stuff pertaining to your face. Most of Dark Souls you’re going to have a helmet on that obstructs the view of it and other times (unless you’re a bad ass player) you’ll be a Hollow. Sadly, this is nowhere near as cool as in Bleach since you become a mummy, and now look nothing like your character that you spent all that time creating. On top of that, there are very little cutscenes in Dark Souls and when there are, rarely is it focused on your face. It just makes the process (at least working for awhile on it) seem unnecessary.
There are two important parts to the character creation however, the first is picking your character class. Now they give you a few to pick from: Warrior, Wanderer, Knight, Thief, Bandit, Hunter, Sorcerer, Pyromancer, Cleric, and Deprived. Now for the most part, it doesn’t matter that much. The reason being that Dark Souls makes it easy to change your mind and make your character as you wish. For instance, let’s say you chose a Sorcerer and after awhile you decide that spells aren’t your thing. You can decide to build up other stats and focus on something else. Very simple.
However, if we’re talking about my opinion, Warrior is a great one for beginners. It’s stats are focused on swordplay (which is what you should focus on and learn in the beginning) while giving you some decent armor to start off with. It doesn’t make Dark Souls that easy, but it will help you out. The Pyromancer is also a great pick if you want some magic and some good weapons. Granted, the armor and weapons aren’t as good as the Warrior, but you get a great item in the Pyromancy Flame. This item (along with the spell Fireball) gives you the ability to use a fire spell at the start of Dark Souls, and while it’s use is limited, it gives you definite advantage in the early going. Plus, the Pyromancy Flame isn’t powered by any of your stats, meaning while you may change your focus and the Pyromancy Flame can remain an asset in you disposal. However, if you want a challenge, the Deprived Class is what you want. You literally start naked, with a lousy weapon. If you want to get stronger, you have to work your way up. A great class for the criminally insane.
Next is the starting gift, which is an item you can use at the very beginning. Tip right off: Ignore the disposable ones. You get your fill of those as you play. All the other items provide some kind of advantage, with the exception of one: The Pendant. True story, the pendant was invented as a joke and it literally does nothing. The director of Dark Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki, had the item created and said in a interview “The player should pick the pendant or nothing to enhance their experience.” As a result, for a long time players picked the pendant and did everything they could think of with it to maybe find a secret to Dark Souls. Later however, Miyazaki would reveal that this statement was a prank to the players. No, seriously.
Your best bet is the Master Key. The key has many uses, including opening more than a few shortcuts in Dark Souls to make traveling easier (more on shortcuts later). It’ll give you an easier time of it for sure, that is if you’re looking for an advantage. IF that is what you’re seeking. You want a challenge, you can easily skip the gift. By the way, if you decide to take my advice on the Master Key, keep in mind that the Thief starts with a Master Key automatically. So remember to not pick it twice.
And with this, we begin our quest. So join me as I conquer Dark Souls! And by conquer, I mean repeatedly die till I just squeak by. Should be fun!