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.