Electron Dance
22Nov/1618

The Drake Incident: A Dark Souls Story

Ding dong, the Bell Gargoyles are dead. I ring the bell. Where next for my lonely undead hero...?

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Comments (18) Trackbacks (0)
  1. When I saw the title, I was hoping for Drake the rapper. But this is OK too. I guess.

    I went in almost completely blind, so I got the Drake sword waaaaay to late for it to be of any interest. I was already pretty comfortable with my weapon of choice, so I never used it for realises.

    And no, you didn’t make a mistake. Carpa is a piece of shit and I hope someone got fired over it. It’s so cheap that it’s appaling to me they’ve even left it in the game.

    I’ve said it on Youtube, but I’ll repeat it here. I really, really, really recommend staying away from the other Souls games, because none will ever top the first one you play. You’ll just end up wallowing in sadness.

  2. At least you didn’t think I was making a video about fucking Uncharted. :)

    I’ve been having conversations with Eric about Dark Souls and he has also spoken ill of the Capra Demon, while dissuading me from the sequels. DS3 is better than DS2, but DS2 doesn’t feel Soulsy. I also read that piece by droqen about how he that Dark Souls feeling never came back. So I’m well warned on this one.

    I think there’s a big problem for late players like myself who are completely enthralled by the wikis and sometimes follow their instructions to the letter. Then again, I stayed the fuck away from basilisks. I don’t think that was a bad idea.

  3. “but DS2 doesn’t feel Soulsy”

    That was my first thought as well, and it still doesn’t inspire the same feelings in me as the first and third, but there is still a very good game there and the DLC areas in particular are some of the best areas in all three games – they maybe just don’t feel connected to the rest of the game in the same way.

    Great video, by the way :)

  4. Thanks kfix! I have a feeling I’ll be stepping away from Dark Souls for a while after I finish it, though. It’s such a monster game and devours all my time!

  5. I’ve only played one of these four games, but what do you think of this? Dark Souls: Salt and Sanctuary :: No Man’s Sky: A Valley Without Wind. (Not in terms of chronology/influence, obvs.)

  6. I know right, I’ve been playing little else but the three games for just over two years (also a little late to the first one, got into it not long before SotFS). I was just starting to ease off…. and then I went and got Skyrim SE and downloaded a heap of mods and I think I’ll just wall up my door any day now since I’m not gonna use it any time soon.

    Avoiding the wiki too, even thought it’s a completely different thing to Dark Souls, because I did the same as you for the first Dark Souls and had the wiki sitting open next to me for almost the entirety of the first game. So much regret now, really wish I had gone in as blind as possible and tried to work it out for myself, but I’d convinced myself from all the discussion around the game that I was not “good” enough to do that. Now I realise that was a terrible mistake, the game is not “hard” so much as… brutal in a wonderful way, and if it’s not the best game at tying form and atmosphere to theme then I’d love to play the one that’s better.

  7. Er, just realised that sounded a bit critical of you using the wiki, and that wasn’t what I meant sorry.

    It’s just that about halfway through DS2, while I was trying to work out why I wasn’t as enthralled by the game (still enjoying it, just not so deeply *into* in), I realised that the more linear areas had made even the little feeling of exploration I’d been getting in the first game (despite closely following the wiki) evaporate. I mostly ditched the wiki for the DLC areas (except when I got really stuck, like trying to beat that f***ing big kitten Aava), and felt better about it all – I think you need to feel a little helpless/hopeless in this game.

    Of course I then grabbed the wiki and went through again and found everything I missed the first time and had the best of both worlds, it was great.

    The various wikis (and very much including the subreddit here as well in a slightly different, pungent way) are almost works of art in their own right, and add something wonderful to the whole experience. But doing my first play through blind as I’ve now done with DS3 was well worth the pain.

  8. “I really, really, really recommend staying away from the other Souls games, because none will ever top the first one you play.”

    I know where this is coming from, ketchua, but my personal experience suggests otherwise! DS1 was a paradigm-shifting game for me and I really can’t emphasise its importance enough. I played it on PC with largely empty servers. It was a lonely, lonely experience, and that contributed to its atmosphere tremendously.

    Come Dark Souls 3 earlier this year, which I bought on release day for PS4, I found myself playing alongside huge numbers of other players. The social element of Dark Souls, the joys of invasions, covenants, PVP areas and Sunbros came flooding in for the first time. This has elevated the experience for me: I’d still say DS1 is the definitive Souls game, but DS3 is the one I will play again and again, and is probably the one I will remember most fondly.

    (It’s also hard as a bastard, which is Maximum Soulsy. I beat good old Ornstein and Smough on my lonesome, but the Nameless King? Fuck. That. Guy.)

  9. Hello,

    Reading about souls series here, I’d like to share my point of view.

    For me, Souls series consists of three games. Not all of them are called Dark Souls. It’s Demons Souls, 1st Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Dark Souls crowned above them.

    Demons Souls are first steps, allowed to happen by studio dispair of seemingly unfinishable title. And that’s where office rat Hidetaka enter the scene, making chance, that landed in his lap worth it. Even over its inborn burden of overcarried game of whatever original idea.

    Anyway. Later in time, and based on successful sells, principles engraved in Demons Souls becoming fundamental pillars defining whole new Souls family member. Dark Souls. Every single thing, that Demons had is there. Sharpened, better thought, and carefully crafted. In one word—Better.

    Bloodborne the youngest. Fresh blood and very aggressive child in the family. Sadly, was left quite behind its potential.

    About 2nd and 3rd Dark Souls. What Souls means to their authors/developers is something way too different, then what it means to me. It’s cohorence, sence of space/world, sort of smell of rust, humidity, clay, blood. Presence. Here and now, my steps in dark and… imagination drowned in silence around. Also its strange, odd, brave and naive citizens. Fragments of their own stories with different viewpoints, different origins and motivations. All together intimately presenting world and its history that becomes alive in result.

    PS—My mind is busy, for quite a while now, with fantasy and vision of Cyber Souls and how I would like it to see such a thing to happen.

  10. @Joel: droqen’s piece hits the nail on the head, as far as I’m concerned. He truly is the voice of a generation.

    @Shaun: That’s an interesting perspective. The PvP truly is stellar in DS3, there’s no denying that. It’s what DS1 PvP should’ve been, and it’s current. I do see your point, by my paradigm yearns for shifting, goddamit.

  11. Sick today. Guess I might as well respond to some comments.

    Matt

    I’m not sure what you’re asking?

    kfix

    No, no, I think the whole “using wiki” thing is fraught with problems. On one hand, Dark Souls is meant to be a collaborative effort – it embeds player-to-player messages in the system, right? But on the other, there’s also a sense of mystery and unpicking the ball of mechanics that is Dark Souls… which you cannot possibly engage with properly if you’re flicking through a wiki. This is a queer paradox at the heart of the game and every time I check a wiki, I feel a little part of me has died. Which is the subtext of the film, really. I still check, but I am tryiing to check less!

    Shaun

    I’m not really a PvP kind of guy (although who knows, I thought I wasn’t a Dark Souls kind of guy). Would I still get something out of it?

    michelangelo

    Thanks for sharing that here! I don’t know where From Software are going to go next. I think it’s understood this will be the end of Souls so perhaps your vision of Cyber Souls won’t make it to reality (unless it’s someone other than From Software)?

    The one thing I’m not able to do is to piece together the backstory of the games myself, because they’ve been talked about so much and I’ve read so much about them over the years. But at least I can live the important stuff: charging through the game and getting hurt.

  12. @Joel – I’m sure you’d get something out of it! Even if your experience of the PVP elements is just getting invaded and perhaps occasionally summoning assistance for boss fights, I think it adds a lot. In many mechanical respects DS3 makes steps forwards from its predecessors (in others, of course, steps back, though this is all subjective). Thematically, and in terms of its narrative, I think it ties together a lot of the themes and ideas of earlier Souls games rather nicely. But I wouldn’t go to it expecting a fresh experience, not off the back of having just played DS1.

    All that aside I would recommend that you invest your time in other interesting but time-consuming games instead as I know your time is at a premium. Unless you really want to continue playing astonishingly mechanically proficient games in a setting where everything is dead or dying, where entropic cycles of decay ceaselessly grind life and hope into dust, where even those who link the flame abrogate their responsibility, and where engaging with the lore will continually break little pieces of your heart. You know. Souls.

    P.S. I am extremely glad that Miyazaki has publicly expressed a desire for DS3 to be the end of it. The setting would not be enriched by endless revisits, and there’s nothing stopping various mechanics being utilised elsewhere.

  13. Joel: OK, I guess I need to elaborate, with the proviso that this is almost entirely stuff I’ve heard about. (Though, I demand a pat on the head for posting something that was not only on-topic, but double on-topic. I brought in the subject of the video and the subject of the preview!)

    So, at Tap-Repeatedly xtal wrote about Salt and Sanctuary which he said is basically and inescapably something that applies a lot of Dark Souls’ ideas to a 2D platformer. Which is of great interest to me, because for various reasons I’ll probably never play any Souls game, but I could see myself getting into a 2D demake sometime.

    And I was playing around with A Valley Without Wind recently, and looking at Jim Rossignol’s Wot I Think about it:

    …I began to find the groove of the game, and to become lost in it.

    Sadly, though, I think this sense of loss was due to a phenomenon I call “reviewer’s trance” rather than from genuine engagement with the game. Reviewer’s trance is a sort of mesmerisation through mild boredom, which comes about while being employed in an extended gameplaying activity which isn’t actually particularly compelling, but is nevertheless continuous and hypnotic. The challenge and pace of A Valley is such as you can become lost in the combat of endless slow streams of enemies, and the hoovering of resources, without noticing – immediately at least – that you aren’t really doing anything interesting, or finding yourself with anecdotally interesting experiences to report back later.

    And I thought, “Hey, that sounds a lot like what people say about No Man’s Sky, except as a 2D platformer.” Also somewhat in accord with my experiences–but I find (as some people have argued about NMS) that with AVWW it’s not so bad if you see it as something to dip in and out of and treat as a pure experience of its world, rather than anything that needs to work to a goal.–Though in both cases that raises the question of whether the game needs all these extra mechanics.

    Of course AVWW came well before No Man’s Sky, but I wondered whether we have two cases of huge sprawling games that are very much Of The Moment that have had some of their defining features transferred over to 2D platformers.

  14. ShaunCG and michelangelo – I didn’t know how excited I was about the thought of a Souls-ish Miyazaki game in another setting (I don’t have a Playstation therefore haven’t played Bloodborne) until michelangelo wrote “Cyber Souls” above…

  15. RE Joel: After what games they produced recently, perhaps I’d rather not see their Cyber setting approach happen at all. I am working on that concept by myself, and to me it can’t be just walking throught devastated corridors and killing something in them.

    To make it even possible in certain degree of complexity, some kind of meaningful incident/catastrophe should take its place and in such setting, there should be the future technology and surviving people/alive creatures struggling after such event. It can’t be superficial and shallow. But concept of dieing is easily solvable there. Many (way too many actually) gameplay mechanics/chapters/levels possible. Just meaningful combat is an issue. Therefore maybe deserve not to be core part of such game at all. Matrix hacking / logic puzzle sort of challange is a different story, and to me, way too more interesting part then cold weapons, guns, plasma rifles.

    RE kfix: Paragraph about Bloodborne I wrote is internetish. Only critique—”shadow of its potential”.

    But true is, that I did LIKE IT A LOT as it is. Just because it is wonderfull fusion of Lovecraft (and works much better if you are aware of this authors literature) with lycanthropy, vampirism, unconsciousness of mind, dreaming, victorian Britain, gothic Prague, early medicine and astronomy. And it smells by blood for a reason. So I would say: Go brave hunter, taste ferrum, and try to not go mad! Player / hunter relationship creates wonderful bound and great reality / game friction area.

    Way too many PS4’s all around and not much to play there really. So someone around you might be willing of borrowing it.

  16. Shaun

    “Astonishingly mechanically proficient games” is the thing. When I began my Dark Souls experience this year, I was like FUCK I am never going to get the hang of this. I. Do. Not. Do. Buttons. But somehow after apparently 40 hours at the game (over which I have only reached Blighttown) I am a bit more of mover, even if I do tend to run away and exposing my back rather than jumping backwards. I mean, I took down the Bell Gargoyles *alone* and I’ve only recently realised that’s quite an achievement, in the sense that I know many end up inviting Solaire or other players to help out.

    But you’re right Shaun. Although there’s part of me that would like more Souls… the thing is, I still have more Souls! And that’s going to keep me busy. I need to play other games. Short indie games like Fallout 4, the entire Mass Effect series, Skyrim.

    P.S. This isn’t the end of Souls “content”. Eric and I are recording podcasts of my progress. When I finish or quit, that’s when the podcasts will be released. This is more for dedicated followers than trying to game the masses to visit the site.

    Matt

    In a nutshell: I don’t think so, but thanks for playing!

    The thing about the Souls games which is hyper-difficult to comprehend until you’ve played (I honestly did not get this) is that while I can chat about “the cornerstone of Dark Souls is death” that’s only part of it. The other, chocolate chunky part, as Shaun put it its “astonishing mechanical proficiency”. The systems and physicality of the game feel incredibly deep and bosses and their surrounding areas are such intricate puzzles to solve it completely boggles the mind how anybody designed a game like this, particularly with the rich alternatives of character builds. And I think everyone agrees on certain aspects which went wrong – like cursing and others have mentioned the Capra Demon, too – but so much goes right.

    And that’s where Soulslikes can go horribly wrong. They might capture the permadeath/fear spirit but not the engrossing richness. And RPS’ review of Salt and Sanctuary does not work as well.

    I played AVWW2 a little and I just didn’t find anything to engage. There’s something about constant grinding to higher stats and bonuses and items and I find that stuff difficult to care about these days.

    To me, NMS is a Frankenstein mix of different mechanics, none of which are organised into something approaching a whole.

    Michelangelo

    Well, I don’t envy you! As I’ve just been commenting on above, I think making a Souls-like feel fair and rich are the Hard Problems. Good luck!

  17. Not read the comments yet but Steerpike’s piece over on Tap reminded me to finally watch this! Loved it and I think it might be one of my favourite videos of yours.

    I used to try and stay away from the Dark/Demon’s Souls wikis because they just kind of sucked a lot of the life and discovery out of the game. They used to make me realise how ‘sub-optimally’ I was playing, and even though I’m no min-maxer, knowing that you’ve been wasting souls on a certain attribute or precious stones on smithing the wrong type of weapon or going about something –seemingly minor before– wrong, does nothing to make you feel better about your experience.

    I’m really glad you sheathed the Drake Sword though. I remember back when I was trying to kill the Bell Gargoyles. I was having so much trouble and I decided to try summons. My connection was really bad so most of the online stuff never worked so I figured, what the hell. In came some hooded dude with a massive scythe and he just sliced them to bits. He took the ‘arg’ out, leaving just Goyles. It was indeed the hollowest of victories. So I decided to put signs down to BE summoned so I could pay my dues for fudging over a boss battle. Only it never happened, unfortunately. I waited and waited and I was never summoned, so the Bell Gargoyles remain a bit of a sore spot for me.

    And yes, cheesing arrows at a high HP enemy is so fucking dull. I remember doing it in Demon’s Souls to clear this route of a dragon that was frequently torching me before I got to a certain boss. I’d earlier attacked a character (and killed him — he had it coming) that I later discovered was the only vendor in the game to sell heavy arrows so this whole arrow-dragon-cheese session towards the end of the game was even more prolonged because my arrows were the basic ones. I’ll never forget it. In fact, I think I nearly killed the dragon once only to run out of arrows so I had to go back and buy even more and start again. Sigh.

    I’ll probably be back with more to say once I’ve read the comments :-) I’m going to put some time aside next week to read through your countdown too — there’s a lot I’ve missed over the years and I love your work.

  18. Hey Gregg, yeah I think the broader issue of whether wikis and walkthroughs enhance a game or soul-destroy it is a complicated one. Particularly as Dark Souls is intended to be a game of “shared” discovery. But it’s horrible to think that there’s a page out there which mocks your approach to a particular game.

    I also don’t understand arrows in RPGs. So many times they result in camping behaviour against AIs who are powerless to respond to this aerial threat.


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