Dark Souls does not require an introduction, but for those that do, it is a third-person action RPG created by From Software and distributed by Bandai Namco that is tough as nails. But I didn’t realize that when I opted to “borrow” my brother’s Xbox 360 three winters ago, nor did I realize how powerful this one game would be.
After all of the cutscenes ended and I exited the character creation screen, I discovered my already dead character imprisoned in a jail cell. Dark Souls, like other games, took me through the fundamentals, and I quickly realized that this was essentially a more combat-oriented Morrowind with a poorer visual style. At this time, I was thinking to myself, “Sure, the game is dark, but the opponents are simply standing about like they’re scared.” I quickly discovered what they were scared of: the Asylum Demon. Despite the fact that I was holding a damaged straight sword, I went in believing that killing it was the obvious next step in the game. I couldn’t possibly be incorrect now, could I?
The following thirty minutes were not pleasant. It wasn’t so much the uncountable number of fatalities that made me feel bad; it was the embarrassment of realizing that there was no way I could ever kill this glutton with a weapon that clearly said BROKEN in its name. So, after conquering my ego, I decided to investigate the rest of the space by going down the left-hand hallway (there were a better weapon two staircases left of the boss arena). I returned for the Demon with a new weapon and newfound confidence. This time, though, I returned it to the depths of hell where the demon should have remained. This triumph allowed me to leave the facility, but it also meant that I had accomplished something far more significant: I had taken the first step toward healing my depression.
I rode to Firelink Shrine for free, suspended from the talons of a crow. By that time, I’d recognized that this game is challenging, but would it be enough to keep me from making impulsive and uninformed decisions? My inner demons screamed, “No,” as I walked into uncharted territory only to be murdered by skellies. My unassuming mind had once again succumbed to the game’s double-bluffing strategy. With each failed effort, I became increasingly enraged until I finally broke – I couldn’t take it any longer.
How could a game be so cruel and sadistic? I only wanted to explore what was beyond the swarm of skeletons in the cave. Why, therefore, did everything in this game feel so intimate, so genuine? I couldn’t even assault the NPCs without them pursuing me as if I had a reward on my head. It wasn’t like I was progressing either. No, that would mean a group of ganking foot troops would bomb me and hurl me down a cliff. Death. Death was all around me, and all I wanted to do was pull out my own hair. Where does it all come to an end?