People frequently ask me why I love the Dark Souls games so much. It’s kind of hard to explain to the uninitiated.
You see, after you make your character, you’re thrown into a world where nothing makes sense, and where everything wants to kill you. You’re given some basic controls, a vague goal, and a stick. You kill some mooks, and start feeling pretty good about yourself. Then, you encounter your first boss. You die. You die again. And again. And again. You die so many times that seeing the famous “YOU DIED” message (which I actually have on a t-shirt) sends you flying into a fit of rage. After hours, or even days of fighting, you finally kill the boss. Then, you realize that the game hasn’t even really started. You have to learn how to level your character and fight more challenging enemies. You have to figure out how to navigate the maze-like castles, forests, and dungeons that make up the world. At some points you’ll need to put the game down for days, weeks, or even months before you can stomach the idea of picking it up again. Then, it starts getting easier. Enemies that used to stop you in your tracks become mere annoyances. You start killing bosses on the first try. You find a weapon that you love and find your rhythm. The game begins to feel more like a fun challenge rather than a mocking series of impossible obstacles.
Through it all, you learn to persevere. The thing is, you never end up questioning why you died to a particular enemy. The game always lets you know how you need to improve, and what you need to look for next. If you get stuck, there’s almost always a merry band of Sunbros (players who are part of the Warriors of Sunlight, a group in the game that focuses on jolly co-operation) that you can summon into your world to give you a hand.
Dark Souls is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. While the comically large demons and castles can make you feel small and insignificant, you can still conquer every challenge the game throws at you. You learn to find light in the darkest places (praise the Sun!) and beauty when things seem grimmest. Most importantly, you learn to persevere. Every challenge the game throws at you can be overcome, even though you might need to call on others to lend you a hand.
If you haven’t already played any of the Dark Souls games, I really recommend that you do. It’ll be frustrating—even rage-inducing—at first, but if you stick with it I promise you won’t regret it.