Monday, 27 February 2017

Dark Souls 2: A Trip Report/Boss Fight Critique (Part 2)

(Hey, all! This is part 2 of a Dark Souls 2 boss writeup post. If you missed part 1, pop on over here and read some good words on the first half of bosses I faced in this game. With your spoiler warning of there being spoilers for the rest of the bosses in this game, let's get this shit done.)

Almost 50 hours. Good god, I haven't taken that long to beat something in ages.
Previously on Dark Souls 2: A whole bunch of spooky bosses of varying qualities threatened my heroic lady knight, Ishara. As she worked her way through the hordes and I worked my way through the game, the "feel" of Dark Souls 2 started to become apparent. I mentioned it snarkily in the caption to the last post's image, but one of the opening cutscenes literally does begin by having an old crone in red robes outright state that you're going to lose all of your souls, over and over again. Then she and her other old crones actually start laughing. That's really blatant and signposted and I'm not fond of it. Sure, Dark Souls was hard, but it was only the marketing which played up the THIS GAME'S ULTRA HARD angle with the whole "Prepare To Die" tagline. The game itself was above it... but, as has become clear, this was made by a whole new team with the design philosophy of "let's make it hard". We've seen that one of their go-to ways of making shit hard is outnumbering you, be it with the normal enemies or by adding mooks in the boss fights to overwhelm you. This will be the post in which I yell about their other big blatant "let's make it hard" go-to, but that's still a couple of boss fights away. Last time we covered roughly half of the fights I completed, so let's finish up the rest of the game with the other half.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Dark Souls 2: A Trip Report/Boss Fight Critique (Part 1)

(Hey, kids! Here's the reason why I haven't been writing things for the past two weeks! Now it's over and all I need to do is write about it while it's fresh and I'll be free! Free to fire off even more special words, both promised and not! This one's about Dark Souls 2 and it'll be in two parts. As always, there will be spoilers for Dark Souls 2 in this here writeup so if you care about that, be wary. Onward we go!)

"That which is called ego-death is coming to you. Remember: this is now the hour of death and rebirth; take advantage of this temporary death to obtain the perfect state - Enlightenment."

-Timothy Leary, The Psychedelic Experience

One of the opening cutscenes all but states outright "YOU'LL
As the Bells Of Awakening chime, the hour of death and rebirth has come to our little wordspace. Yes, it's time to tackle Dark Souls for an extended period of time. I briefly touched on it in this piece about roguelikes and "reincarnation simulators", but time has grown and so have I. Our main focus will be the game in the Souls series that I just cleared, Dark Souls 2, but I want to give context and meaning to where I'm coming from. So, a brief intro to talk about how I feel on the original Dark Souls. This was a game I got on the suggestion of friends with Christmas money, and I plunged into sheer hell for the next little while. I'm no stranger to difficult games, but this was no hour-long masocore jumper from the pixel days. This was a full-on big console game on my Xbox 360 and it destroyed me, repeatedly, at every turn. I, a humble dextrous character with a katana, was forced to dodge and roll away from dozens and dozens of deadly attacks from dread beasts who towered over me. Still, I made progress. The nature of Dark Souls is such that death is a mere hassle. Even through the worst areas, I made progress. Even when faced with the infamous brick wall duo of Ornstein and Smough, who fight you in a two-on-one battle to the death, I made progress. Eventually I made it to the final boss, not even knowing this was the end. I overcame that foe with a cheeky trick, and was amazed when the credits rolled. I beat this game. Oh, thank God, I beat this game. I never wanted to see it again. 3 days later, I purchased Dark Souls 2 for the 360. I didn't intend to touch it right away, however. The entire ordeal of Dark Souls had left me drained. I had survived the hour of death and rebirth, but I felt more like a boxer who'd narrowly won a fight than an Enlightened One. This would change, of course. I would regain my strength and I would go back. I went back to Dark Souls half a dozen times, and with the familiarity I found myself adoring it. I did it with swords, with spears. With magic and miracles. I did the DLC and its ultra-tough bosses and I loved them. The original game may be one of my favorites of all time now; it's just that good at what it does. I didn't think so at first, but I do now. So then I tried that copy of Dark Souls 2 I had. I... wasn't feeling it. That was when I learned about a whole new version called Scholar Of The First Sin that rebalanced stuff and changed it around. I found a copy of that for my "new" PS3 I'd obtained, and this is what I played for most of the month of February. Pity, then, that the PS3 version isn't actually Scholar Of The First Sin. It's just the base game with all the DLC stuff included on the disc. I was hoodwinked there, but it's okay.