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Have you ever had a one night stand that ended with disastrous results? I’ve had a few.

So when I decided to play Dark Souls one night, I didn’t think I’d need bleach to get the stains out. What started as a perfectly innocent night ended rather horribly, though my television is still intact.

I've never seen this pose on a cover before.

The air smelled of blood and leather. A large figure loomed in the impenetrable darkness, and the sound of steel unsheathing cleft the air. I was about to be on the receiving end of some pain. How much pain determined the mashing of some buttons. So I mashed them. And mashed them. And mashed them. Maybe I killed some things. Maybe I picked something up, but all I could focus on was my brain screaming, “What the hell are you doing?!”.

This is what it is like to play Dark Souls. I held high hopes for it, but in the end I tossed it away like a bad relationship. Or maybe it was more like a divorce?

Dark Souls is unabashedly masochistic. Even so, the creator, Hidetaka Miyazaki, has said he tailored it to his own wants. But does that necessarily mean it translates well to the public? According to Metacritic, it has a rather large following.

Groupies aren't what they used to be.

There are good points to the game, to be sure. I didn’t mind the lack of a tutorial. Nor did the clunkiness of the controls, lack of polished graphics, or any RPG elements do much to deter me. I had been itching to play a fresh hack ‘n slash dungeon crawler on the Xbox 360 for a while now. I do not normally scrutinize games under a figurative electron microscope. Every game has its flaws. Nothing is perfect. But, I did not find myself enjoying it.

I’ve played long games. Almost my entire gaming experience has been spent playing long games. It’s nothing for me to drop 100 hours on a single game. But if my first hour or so isn’t enjoyable in any way, I will lose interest quickly.

The game is terribly buggy, which, for a foreign game doesn’t surprise me. However, I encountered a bug on the first mini-boss.

There I was, some shambling corpse in the darkness. Looting bodies. Slicing prisoners. Dodging arrows. Following pieces of advice written in fire. One such was just before a giant door that led to a giant room with the giant letters, “RUN!” scrawled on the floor. A heavy monster landed with a loud thud, and I made a run for it. Unfortunately, I was about to find out that mini-boss had a key on him. After battling other shambling corpses, I came upon a door that was locked.

Drawing upon all my previous years of experience in playing games, and maybe some real life lock-picking, I knew this door needed a key. And I knew this key was to be found on the giant mini-boss in the giant room behind the giant door where the giant, fiery letters told me to run from. I took a giant step backward, and….

"SURPRISE! Happy 6th birthday, Billy!"

I couldn’t get back in the door.

I tried another way. I tried finding more ways. I tried finding hidden passages. I tried back-tracking. But every avenue was exhausted and led me on a mobius strip.

So I quit.

Laughably, the time I spent in the character creation was probably the most entertaining part of my night. The game has a weird formula for choosing what your character looks like.

This is exactly what a blastocyst looks like.

In which you can make all number of horrid features. I’m not sure why the ratio of young/old, masculine/feminine, and weak/strong would produce someone with deep red skin, but it can. Cro-magnon brows and boomerang cheekbones are also little features!

I dub thee, Sir Butts!

Is it recommended? Possibly. Possibly someone with more time to invest than I have. Possibly someone who can take this game more seriously than I can. The screencaps I’ve seen so far tell a far more epic tale than mine.

But that requires time.


“you fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way”