Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker
andrewducker

I have defeated Ornstein and Smough!

This probably means nothing to 95% of you, but it was the latest boss fight in Dark Souls, one of the bastard hardest games I have ever played, and one of the best.

It feels like a cross between the deliberately difficult, pixel-perfect gameplay of something like Super Meat Boy, with the sword-fighting and exploration of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

You wander across absolutely gorgeous bits of scenery, enjoying not just the awesome views that are frequently laid out before you, but the fact that pretty much everything you can see is somewhere you can actually visit. And then you come round a corner, discover a type of monster you haven't encountered before, and it chops you into little bits.

And then you do it again, and it kills you again. And then, on the fifth or sixth attempt you manage to work out where its weaknesses are, what it's attack patterns are, and what you're going to have to do to kill it. And it's a nasty, clumsy battle, but you just about triumph over it. And the next one, and the next one, and then suddenly you realise that you're killing them trivially every time you encounter them. Not because the games has become easier, or because you've picked up a sword that's twice as good, but because you've actually become more skilful with your weapons, and your shield, and your attack timing, and your ability to read enemies intentions before they can hit you.

You learn to treat the words "You Died" as an opportunity to try something different, to leap into combat in an experimental way and try out different options and paths, because the worst that can happen is "You Died" and that's going to happen _anyway_. Not to play it safe with one weapon/armour combo you feel comfortable with, but to stop, examine all of your options, and try something different, and see if you can die a little closer to your goal.

Because I only wanted to put aside a hundred hours for the game, and not a thousand, I've been playing it with the help of a walkthrough. Because the castles are immense, and the options are huge, and rather than me spend dozens of hours prodding every possibility and learning it all from scratch I'm following the guidance of sages who have learned it all for me. I almost wish I did have the patience to do it all for myself - the feeling of mastery would probably be even greater.

But I'll live with the happiness I just felt when the two evil bastards who barred my way for the last ten days, the ones who slaughtered me no matter what I tried, finally fell before me half an hour ago, and left me staring unbelievably at my victorious character, vibrating in stress and victory, and then shambling next door to my sick wife and demanding that she give me a high five.



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