Dark-Souls-No-Easy-Mode

Developer From Software has managed to achieve what not many could this generation; an undiluted, pure video game. It doesn’t try to be a film with over-the-top cinematic cutscenes; neither does it trying to narrate a complex story. It just wants you to play it and play a lot. You will spend countless hours in this game, dispelling any disillusions you’ve had about the state of modern gaming. No more will you have to delve into your retro library for that familiar feeling of satisfaction as you press a combination of buttons while getting glassy eyed in front of the screen. Not since the 16-bit days have I ever felt so helpless and small, yet so hungry and determined to carry on. Dark Souls is a masterpiece that will forever have a huge part in videogame history and is still contributing towards its own legend.

Your journey through this third-person action-RPG begins in the Undead Asylum where you, The Chosen Undead, begin to fulfil your predestined fate to journey through Lourdran, picking up whatever weapons you can find to fight your way through dragons, undead and many other horrors waiting for you. You start with a chosen class but that matters little as you go through the game levelling up and customising your character to suit your play style. The world of Lourdran is one that is already defeated with abandoned cities and decimated wonders all around you. The world has been engulfed by the curse of the undead; the Darksign marks those afflicted by the curse. Bonfires are your safe havens, their purpose is to refill your finite healing Estus Flasks, level you up with the souls you collect and spend your precious humanity. However, this also resets the level, with the afflicted foes rising again (thankfully not the bosses) and each death causing the loss of humanity until hollowness sets in.

The story of Dark Souls is one that is rich full of lore and will not be explained to you with multiple cutscenes. The game demands you to figure it out for yourself by reading descriptions of items and piecing the story with your own interpretation. I found myself to be a part of a huge community of fellow Souls fans in my pursuit for knowledge about the game’s lore and this gave me a rich refreshing experience in digesting the game’s story. One of the biggest changes of Dark Souls from its predecessor Demon’s Souls, is there is no nexus for you to recollect your thoughts and suck your thumb in the foetal position. Dark Souls is open ended with all levels connected to each other in some surprising way. The world of Lourdran is in itself another character in the game, with multiple personalities that make you feel dread in its murky dark swamps to feeling like a God, high on the steps of the incandescent Anor Londo. Looking in all directions at any time during the game, you will most likely see your next destination, or even your next foe. This is another sign of the great effort put into the designing the game.

Dark Souls will remind you why you love video games and it will do that by punishing you all the time with its crushing and addictive gameplay. But that’s not the game being sadistic, Dark Souls is entirely fair and will only punish you accordingly for the mistakes that you make, so play by her rules because there is no safe word. This is what makes Dark Souls so unique. It will not hold your hand and let you try again with no consequences, the game elevates you to a new state in your skills as a player. When you die, be prepared to trek back to where you perished and retrieve your lost souls, but not before you face the monstrosity that killed you again. The game demands absolute focus and concentration, with the reflexes of a cat to topple knights three times your size. Almost everything in Dark Souls can kill you with little more than a few hits; conversely you can do the same back.

The splendour and tears of joy may come from defeating the colossal bosses, but it is the basic enemies that make the gameplay so addictive in a masochist kind of way. From Software have carefully crafted each foe, forcing you to change the way you fight every time you are confronted. The sadist developers basically don’t want you to be comfortable; just when you think you’re doing well, you will be humbled straight away, probably by a giant swinging axe or some other sharp pointy object hurtling towards your moneymaker. When you encounter Solaire of Astora (Dark Soul’s unofficial mascot), it is not to pick up that important item. It is to take in his babbling and learn to take a moment to embrace and appreciate the harsh, decadent and beautiful world around you. Incandescent or not.

There isn’t much to fault Dark Souls on except perhaps the lacklustre tutorial. Demon’s Souls is also guilty of this and this will force some to give up or stick it out and research for themselves the full mechanics of the game. At times the game can go from harsh but fair, to brutal in some of their challenging set pieces. But then this is Dark Souls, a game that pushes you to experiment and forge an experience that is incomparable to other games. If you are one to passively play video games then this is not for you. But if you are willing to commit yourself and spend some of your own humanity, Dark Souls awaits. Your sacrifice will reward you with truly one of the best experiences in gaming.

9/10 By Manny Pham

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For now I have decided to continue with the main quest as the grinding of my smithing and enchanting level, was becoming quite tiresome on my mind to carry out. I purchased Breezehome (that nice little place next to the War Maidens,) and my level seems satisfactory for the moment as I measure my strength based on how quick I can take out a giant.

During my level grinding phase, I had to seek out forts, bandits and caverns to loot just so the cost of material for smithing was covered. It turned out I had done more main quest missions than I originally thought. Carrying on from where I left off, I discovered another side of Skyrim I really enjoyed. The linear narrative really had me hooked as it forced you to assume roles of stealth as well as strength. It really depends on the way you build your character, so play to your strengths. I chose a warrior class of the Nord race as my Dovahkiin as he wields a two-handed axe, obviously to compensate for something and of course, because of the extra damage axes cause do the bleeding effect.

This provided a simple combat system for my adventure considering it does get quite tedious. Plus you would want to try other weapons, even though the limited level up points restricts you (but doesn’t stop you). I was distracted by the story to even care about this and I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a sucker for old stories, fiction or non-fiction. Myths and legends provide great mystery and story telling while making a part of you believe it may be true. Take the greatest storybook ever, The Bible. Not religious here but there are some great stories in it, great enough for millions around the world to believe to be true.

Skyrim’s story may not be the best in gaming, but it is enough for me to question and ponder my own theories before reaching revelations. Video games can depict and tell great stories and last year the video games industry tried their hands in storytelling. L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain were attempts at making video games that were more about the tale than the dynamics of the gameplay. The reactions were positive with L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain both nearly achieving a 90% rating from critics and that ‘universal acclaim’ title.

We have witnessed an evolutionary step in human story telling, which may not seem so significant, but to turn a blind eye to this is foolish. “Storytelling is a human universal occurrence, and common themes appear in tales throughout history and all over the world. These characteristics of stories, and our natural affinity towards them, reveal clues about our evolutionary history and the roots of emotion and empathy in the mind.” A quote from the Scientific American that pretty much sum up the value of storytelling.

“Skyrim Jobs – Skyrimming is a street term the gays use when talking about applying their tongues to the outer rim part of another man’s sewer spout, while that man is being hung upside down. See the gays have weird fetishes and are close to Satan.” Dafuq did I just read? This hilarious quote is from a blog post by Christ Wire. Christ Wire is a satirical blog site that highlights supposedly, the excesses of American Christian conservatives. Although completely amusing and worth a read, it brings up the subject of ignorance towards video games.

Video gaming is beginning to branch out further from its shell as in the past it was perceived as a dirty little secret associated with little kids, and where no self-respecting adult would be caught holding a control pad. Thanks to the mass marketing by Sony, during the PlayStation/Nintendo 64 generation, gaming was considered cool, and you were uncool unless you played the latest game. Sony discovered a niche and that niche was 20 something adults who grew up familiar with video games but were now older with new interests. So began the development of mature orientated games like Resident Evil and Wipeout. Wipeout was a massive marketing success with not only its gameplay hitting home with its audience, but a soundtrack filling eager ears with electronica for a new youthful genre. As for the present 20 somethings? We get Dubstep (yay…) and Skyrim (yeaaarrhhhhhhhh).

Now with the taboo issue out of the way, there seems to be something new to complain about gaming everyday. It’s turning our brains into soup, we’re becoming more anti-social and our kids are going to grow up looking like pale gargoyles. Take your pick. “Addiction is not the only worry. Since the launch in 2006 of the Nintendo Wii, there have been regular reports of people suffering from injuries during gameplay.” Let’s break this down: gamers who actually play the Nintendo Wii are not the reclusive adolescent pale gargoyles that are usually depicted, they’re casual gamers like older people and very young kids. Older people are obviously going to strain themselves! They’re old! Not being ageist here but it is a well-known fact that the older you get, the more knocks you have to the old joints. As for the kids, well of course they’re going to hurt themselves they’re kids, aside from that, what four year olds do you know that read the safety manual before playing?

Examples of Nintendo’s Safety Guidelines:

  • If your hands, wrists, arms or eyes become tired or sore while playing, or if you feel symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning or stiffness, stop and rest for several hours before playing again.
  • Do not use the Wii during a lightning storm. There may be a risk of electric shock from lightning. (Perfect weather for gaming!)
  • It is recommended to stay at least three (3) feet from the television. (You don’t say.)

A few of these warnings seem ridiculous and an insult to the old common sense, but some actually make sense and should be adhered. In doing, so we can minimise not only accidents but also a slow news day turning on our beloved past time. Overall I think the people who moan about the dangers of gaming should try gaming, and I don’t mean tiring oneself out after 20 minutes of Wii Sports. They should try and immerse themselves in a game like Skyrim, a game that constantly challenges and teaches the players new things. It would be a great benefit to their comprehension of this rising media that could one day be accepted, appreciated and analysed as an art form, like films.


Buckets

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Lolworthy
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Could it be? The return of the basketborn? Top rated comment for obvious reasons. But nothing can describe the hilarity of this video. It is so simple yet so effective in conjuring bellowing laughter. The thought of placing buckets on NPCs would probably never be thought of by a 20 something such as myself, but thats why we let underage girls play games they are not old enough for!

YouTuber ‘zwoooooosh‘ credits the discovery to his 10 year old little sister.

Such a lightweight

Posted: April 4, 2012 in The Playthrough
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**Spoiler alert**

My body finally succumbed to desired sleep and I awoke at dawn as our ancestors did. But instead of foraging for much needed sustenance, I switched on my Xbox to feed on that satisfying green glow. Last night’s half a glass of water would suffice for now; I had not decided whether it was half full or half empty, but I was leaning towards the latter. My thoughts of apathy stemmed from my addictive behaviour, which is a dragon itself: fearsome, overpowering and destructive. Destructive in the sense that any productivity I tried to engage in was slapped with a big scaly wing.

As the game loaded up, my character awakened in the The Bannered Mare. Before I made way to leave the inn, I decided to question the locals to see if they had any interesting missions. Hammering the ‘A’ button to swiftly skip past the time wasting NPCs, I came across an interesting character called Sam Guevenne. I decided to withdraw from the incessant spamming of ‘A’ because 1) he did not tell me how he used to be an adventurer like me until he ya di ya di ya dah (don’t make me say it), and 2) he proposed an interesting competition; A drinking competition! This game continues to surprise me with what it has to offer. The contest was simple, down your drink, first one to stop loses. Sam promised a staff if I were to beat him.

By the third drink Sam yielded and presented me the opportunity to win. I downed it and was congratulated as victor (by this point I seemed to be quite tipsy, very disappointed). But before I was awarded the staff Sam offered to take me to “a place where the wine flows like water.” Suddenly the screen darkened, and my first reaction was “oh s*** a glitch!!!!” it turned out that I blacked out (again disappointed in my man).

Dude where’s my goat?

I was awakened by Senna, a priestess who was not happy. Somehow I managed to get to Markarth on the western border of Skyrim! As I remorsefully cleaned up Senna’s temple and made my way out, Senna told me of my drunken mutterings of Rorikstead. Upon arriving I was accused of stealing a goat named Gleda and selling it to a giant. Being the gentle soul that I am (most of the time) I decided to humour the owner Ennis and rescue the goat. This was of course, a bad idea. Messing with a giant was never going to end well. After 34 tries I somehow successfully managed to lead Gleda away from the giant without him noticing me. A glitch perhaps?

Upon returning Ennis’s beloved goat, I was pointed towards Whiterun. No prize for guessing what happened when I got to there. Yep I had pissed someone else off. Ysolda claimed that I’d bought a wedding ring on credit from her and demanded I give her the money. Bitch please I helped you by getting that mammoth tusk! I was chased by two giants across Skyrim for it! But it seems past services had no place with her. Naturally I decided to retrieve the ring from my fiancée, Moira apparently. When I finally found her, I dropped the pad and just started laughing, hysterically. Moira was a Hagraven and requested that we consummate out marriage. But on a serious note this lady/thing was not taking no for an answer and seemed willing to consummate with my corpse. Fortunately the necrophilia did not occur, and Moira was annulled.

Not enough booze in the world

The quest goes on! Does it ever end? Yes. The ceremony was meant to take place in Morvanskur, a fort. It was probably Moira’s choice; she did after all live in a hut. Morvanskur seemed to be another dungeon with the usual greetings of arrows and balls of fire aimed at your face. After finishing off all life residing in the fort (I find myself feeling unsatisfied unless I double check), a ball of light was discovered which transported me to a pretty place called Misty Grove.

Sam was sitting at a table with a bunch of people calm, as you like. He revealed himself as Sanguine, a Daedric Prince whose domain is hedonistic revelry, debauchery, and passionate indulgences of darker natures. He lives up to his word and gives you the promised staff ‘Sanguine’s Rose’ which summons what seems to be a lookalike of Sanguine fitted with the best armour in the game. This mission is definitely worth doing for the staff alone.

I’m not going to apologise for the long post, this mission was definitely a highlight for me and shall be forever etched in my memories as one of my greatest gaming moments. The revelation of Sam as a Daedric Prince was mind blowing, especially for so early in the morning, well… late afternoon now. DAMN YOU SKYRIM.

You’re milking it now

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Lolworthy
Tags: , , ,

The ‘arrow to the knee’ jokes were the only thing that I disliked about the game. This joke ran into the ground and yet people felt the need to grind it until the remnants of why it was funny in the first place floated away into Oblivion.

The video below shoots out of both barrels for me by being immensely funny and ability in showing my personal anger towards the trolls of the internet.

It has been a long time since I’ve actually been so absorbed in a game that I disregard sleep. Disregarding my education is one thing, but to do it to my beloved sleep is pure blasphemy.  For two nights in a row I have without fail played Skyrim until dawn. I feel dirty and un-productive yet I continue to do this to myself.

I also continue to ignore the main story quests in favour of doing side quests given by the inhabitants of Whiterun and Riverwood. Why? A sense of community, surprisingly enough, is my reason. When Fralia Gray-Mane requested that I find out the fate of her son, I was more than happy to oblige. Even though the reward was merely a pittance (200 gold) and gave me nothing in terms of advancement in the game. Strangely enough, I feel content in this town, a sense of belonging if you will.

After gaining favour with the Jarl by killing my first dragon Mirmulnir, I was bestowed with the title of Thane. No clue what it means, not even my newly appointed assistant could offer a coherent answer. My assistant Lydia has become an internet legend for reasons unknown. Perhaps my fellow gamers out there enjoy the idea of having a female assistant who listens to your every command and lives with you.

Do video games teach us a sense of community? Considering many big titles such as World of War Craft (or pretty much any MMORPG), the presence of community, working together and accomplishing tasks, proves impossible for a gamer to work alone, regardless of levels. Although Skyrim is not a MMO, it nonetheless gives you this sense of community through interesting characters and beautiful level designs, making it that much easier to immerse yourself in this wonderful world.

This makes me excited for the next generation with graphic power improving more and more, meaning more engangement and hopefully more life in more characters. But of course this excitement stems from my belief that I shall survive this these coming months, my body is nearing shut down from lack of sleep, deadlines are being neglected and of course it is the year 2012…