Saturday, November 14, 2015

YOU DIED - More Dark Souls

Well, my proud record of always recovering my Souls/Humanity ended pretty quickly.

This game is seriously not messing around. It will make you question your skill as a gamer, though I think that the game it keeps making me think of is Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts - something that two friends of mine independently started playing again. For those of you unfamiliar, SG'n'G is one of the most infamously difficult games of the SNES era. It was an arcade game, and of course arcade games made more money the more difficult they were, as you'd have to keep popping in quarters to keep playing if you ran out of lives. The SNES port of it didn't really change anything about it except obviously make the "quarters" a kind of virtual thing - I think you could earn more continues as you collected money bags. The point is, merely beating the first level was something I could not accomplish.

Fast forward about twenty years to Dark Souls, and you get a very similar feeling.

Now, I have managed to progress - I beat the Taurus Demon, which is essentially the first mini-boss after the Undead Asylum's intro-boss (that one took me a mere three tries.) That freaking demon took me... I lost count. Probably around ten times.

Part of the difficulty here is that every time you die, you restart way back at the last bonfire at which you rested. All the enemies reset, and the "trash" in this game can very easily kill you if you aren't giving each of them the kind of respect you'd pay to a boss in most games. And you won't be able to re-fill your Estus Flask collection without resetting these dudes, so you need to fight them carefully so you don't have to burn through them. The other real tricky part is that if you enter a boss' area, "Traversing the White Light" (these light-gates are not always the entrance to a boss lair, and in fact, the Taurus Demon's area, which is on the ramparts of a massive wall, doesn't actually look like a boss lair until you get about halfway along it and the guy jumps at you,) you can't go back through it until the boss is dead. That means that if you want to recover your souls and such after dying to the thing, you have to go back into the boss lair - meaning you can't recover and go back to the bonfire to level up and keep farming souls.

The boss himself is actually relatively simple, and there are ways to more or less cheese the fight. But I think the way this game works is that you HAVE to cheese the boss or he will kill you dead very quickly. It's about flawless execution.

I don't know if I'm going to write about every last fight in this game, as it seems pretty huge (though much like SG'n'G, the length might feel a whole lot more significant thanks to the difficulty - in truth, the stretch of enemies that I dealt with on each run back to the boss would be a quick hack-and-slash in any other game) but we'll talk about this dude.

He's on the ramparts of the enormous city walls of Lordran. The first thing you want to do before triggering the boss by walking halfway to the far tower is to first turn around and climb the tower that you're next to - there's a ladder to your right as you walk in. Two undead soldiers will fire crossbows at you from above, though one of them sometimes has his sword out already. You want to climb up, possibly rolling right as you reach the top so that you don't get slashed as you get to your feet. Kill these guys so they don't sabotage your efforts during the fight.

Then you trigger the boss by climbing back down and running forward. As soon as he appears, you run right back to that ladder, climb up and then go over to the broken ledge. You can't take your time up here, because he'll eventually jump up onto the tower, but you can probably get a firebomb off before you make a diving slash - jump and then hit your basic attack. This takes off a massive chunk of the demon's health.

The trick then is to get all up in his crotch. Some of his attacks won't hit you while you're up close with him, so just stay there and get some slash-combos. I'm playing a Knight who starts with a 100% physical-reduction shield, so I could actually take some of his melee swings. There's not a lot of time to heal here, so the best thing is to just make sure that you raise that shield when he's about to strike, and lower it to allow you to regain stamina when he isn't.

Once you beat him, you'll be able to find a ladder to kick down to the very same bonfire you've just been resurrecting at. That ladder stays down, so you no longer have to go through all that stuff again. And the demon, as a boss, does not respawn, praise the sun.

So yep, that's... the first mini-boss. Jeez.

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