I awake as if from a dream – One Year On

I wrote this as a little tribute from me to the Wonderful Dark Souls video game.  I had been avoiding it and its precursor Demons Souls as I no longer have the same amount of time to play video games any more.  So I prefer smaller, easier games so that I can enjoy myself and feel I am progressing.  The idea that I would play a game that relentlessly punishes you time and time again, seemed alien to me.

However I am also affected by what is happening around me.  So many positive reviews and articles about Dark Souls made me think “What if I’m wrong?”  Then one day I say it on Ebay and did what I always do, put in the maximum I would be happy to pay for it (In this case £10) and forgot about the auction.

I won it and when it arrived, I installed it to my 360 as I read the instruction manual.

I miss actual instruction manuals.

The game started and something clicked.  It was hard but not overly so.  Every play session, I felt as though I had achieved something.  When I died in the game, it was never because of bad game design, it was always a mistake I had made.  I had gone for an extra attack instead of dodging, or I had not kept track of my surroundings and walked off a cliff.  The difficulty of the game is no joke but it never feels unfair (Yes even Ornstein and Smough!!) .  I was inspired to pen some fan fiction.  Re-reading it now, it still makes me remember the thrill each new area brought me.  The joy I got when I finally took down a Boss (Four Kings – 1st Time – no help – I rock!!)

Since that time I have bought Demon Souls, Dark Souls 2 (twice…well technically 3 times!) and Bloodborne.  In an attempt to support this type of game, I also bought Lords of the Fallen – It is good, just not as good.   I have not completed any of them but each time I play, I am enveloped in the atmosphere and I discover something new.  I will buy Dark Souls 3 in time but for now, I will complete at least one of the above games first.

So in case you missed it first time around, here is the short story.

Praise the Sun.

 

For a split second, all I can see around me are lush green trees and grass.

Then the reality sets in and my surroundings are rubble and mud.  My fire has almost burnt itself out and I shift slowly from my prone position to get closer to its warmth.  I do not remember going to sleep here but the evidence is there in front of me.  Despite my tiredness I had built a fire and arranged a camp for the night, seemingly on auto pilot.

I eat some meagre rations, not enough to tame the hunger inside me and I am left feeling as hollow as before.

Todays plan, go and find something to eat it seems. Standing up hurts parts of me that I did not know existed.  My chain mail creaks softly as I stretch, the links have seen better days and will need to be repaired soon.  If only I knew how.

Starting my trek to the broken down building that I can see at the top of the hill, I pass through an area of such desolation, that I wonder if anything had ever lived here.  The ruins ahead of me would seem to indicate that life had existed here, but it must have been so long ago.

What am I doing in such a place?  My memory is as rusty as my armour.  Images flash but they do not help.  The ruins are important, that much I am sure of, but the why escapes me.

By the time I reach the outer rubble, the sun is high above me. Its light provides no warmth but does allow me to see most of the way inside the building.  It looks like something from a dream.  Ornate carvings seem to decorate the walls, untouched it seems, by the passing of time.  Taking my time I crouch under what seems to be a half collapsed archway and venture inside.

This was some palace, that must be it.  Such glorious decoration could only have been paid for by the very rich.  A grand mirror stands unbroken off towards the end of the room I have entered.  Approaching it, I can see that the dust of the ages has covered the surface.  Using my fingers I brush as much of the detritus away.  The reflection has dulled with the passage of time but I can still make out my reflection.

It horrifies me.

My face is sunken and aged, my eyes wizened and tired.  I look as if I had died years past.  My travels have taken a heavy toll on me. If only I could remember what I was searching for, then maybe I could get some rest.

I hear the clang of metal on stone behind me and I turn quickly to face whatever has made it.  My sword slides out of its scabbard smoothly and glistens in the light.  It has served me well and I have no worry about putting my faith in it again.

The monster looks at me as I would look at a bug.  It is easily four times my height.  Its lips peel back to show blackened teeth as it moves towards me.  Looking around my position, I realise that it is now between me and any means of escape.  Gripping my sword on two hands, I slowly try to circle around the creature.  It anticipates this and thrusts forward with its weapon.  I see the lance strike the ground beside me, the force of the blow knocks me off my feet.  Scrambling up, I realise I am standing in a patch of green mist.  A side effect of the creature no doubt.  The mist seems to swarm around me, covering me in its fingers.

Then it is gone.

I feel slightly better, at least it was not poison.  I reassess my position and try to circle the other way but once again the monster reacts, his strike this time crashing off of my raised guard.

Then I see it, As the creature moves towards me, I can see a gap between its legs.  Not a large one but possibly enough to roll through if I time it right.

I start to run towards it and just as it attacks me, I roll myself underneath its vast bulk.  The pike shatters the stone where I had been just a moment ago.  Standing up, I see the exit ahead.  Do I run and have it follow me, or do I fight?

Slashing at the creatures legs draws thick black blood.  Its scream of pain reverberates throughout the stone walls and emboldens me to keep attacking.  Slash after slash draws blood from the monster and I lose myself in my possible victory.  Lose myself for just long enough to not notice that it had turned to face me.  Too late I see the point of the pike bear down on me.

I awake as if from a dream.  For a split second, all I can see around me are lush green trees and grass.

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A weekend spent stripping vampires

Yes you read that right.  I spent my time in the Akibhara district of Tokyo, running around with various companions and stripping Vampires of their clothes.

You see without their clothes, the sunlight will hit their skin and BAMF, they are gone.

Now as you can imagine, this is not without its complications.

Firstly, they call themselves Synthisters.  They suck life energy out of people instead of blood but the effect is the same.  Sadly this kinda  also happened to me (but not quite the same…it’s complicated)….and as a result, when fighting these Synthisters, I have to be careful not to be stripped also.

Sorry did I not mention that I had to fight them?  You can’t just rip someones clothes off, not with todays materials.  So you have to hit their clothes until they become weakened and then rip them off.  Oh and headphones, Cat ears, caps and bandanas also have to be removed.  It can be very time consuming and I found myself occasionally having to fight normal people too…..they just ran off when they were down to their pants*

Occasionally while fighting, I would get into a rhythm that would enable me to remove several items of clothing from the group of people I was fighting, in one smooth combination of moves.  I did not believe how lithe I was to be honest but I was there and it happened.  On several occasions, my removal of clothing items generated what can only be called “Sunlight” and that would make the people I was fighting bras and pants fall off.  This then caused them to burn up/run away.

I am still not sure how that happened!

In between the fighting, I would hang about with a gang dedicated to keeping Akibha safe and sound.  A sort of Guardian Angels if you will.  We hung out in a video game cafe and had several adventures together.

It was a good weekend.

 

Ok so Akibha’strip is not the deepest videogame I have ever played but it does have its charms.  The stripping mechanic was obvbiously designed to pull in the 14 year old boys and to be honest, if I was 14 I may have thought I had seen heaven in this game.  But I am not 14, so it is a good thing that the game does not take itself too seriously.  Little in jokes are scattered throughout the story and the interaction between the characters is generally enjoyable.  The combat is basic but there is enough different types of weapons to use and they all handle differently.  Combat Strip animations tend to stick to the same 3 until you level up / change weapon / advance the story (I am not sure) and can get very boring very quickly.  There is a team strip move that you and your chosen partner can perform but again, these seem to be limited to one per partner and last far too long.

Yet despite all the bad points, I had a lot of fun playing this.  Not finished it yet but will probably do so in the next day or so.  Given how my mind jumps from game to game, this is a welcome change for me.  Its on sale on PSN at the moment (PS4 version anyway) and at £11.99 it is still expensive for what it is.  Still, you will never play anything quite as weird for the sake of being weird and yet charming, as this.

 

Next time I may have to tell you all about how the opening of “The Last Of Us” is probably the best videogame opening ever.

 

 

*I am Scottish…Pants are pants, not trousers ok!

Where Bloodborne tries to test me.

Oh Father Gascoine.. I had heard such tales of horror about you. Our first encounter happened by mistake. I had searched for you, t’is true, yet I avoided two strange creatures at a fire by running up some nearby steps. There was no mist to warn me (Dark Souls had seeped into my bones deep) and there you were.
I knew the trick with a quest item and although you fought well, I felt I had you on the ropes when you transformed.
It was but a distraction as you soon finished me off and made me lose over 7000 blood echoes.
I vowed to do better next time we met.
Oh and how I did…
My second attempt

I cheered and journeyed back to the Hunters Dream.