The perfect description of what playing Dark Souls 2 feels like. Enjoy:
None of my friends understand why I love this game. They think I only like it because it’s hard, because I get some elitist kick from it, because it feeds some superiority complex. Of course, as any Dark Souls player who’s stuck to it long enough to break through the learning curve knows, that’s not the case at all. Dark Souls sucks you in. It’s such an emotional experience, unlike any game I’ve ever played. Not just terror at the possibility or death, or fear of what lies beyond the darkness, or sadness brought on by the rather hopeless world. It’s something more. It’s personal.
Never was this more evident to me than when I faced the Lost Sinner on NG+. I’d heard the horror stories. I’d faced her once before–and died as soon as the pyromancers spawned. I went in with absolutely no expectations of victory. This was a new character with a new build, I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it, what my strategy would be. I knew I’d figure it out after a few dozen defeats. No worries. I was pretty zen, only a little nervous that I’d have to fight those fucking undead mutants again after I lost. But they’d go extinct eventually.
As soon as I cross the fog gate, she stabs me in the face. I roll away before she lands a second hit, which would have killed me, and immediately regret not getting the Bastille key and lighting the room, or at least turning my brightness up before entering. I can’t lock on long enough to cast spells. I can hear the springs of my already-breaking R3 twanging as I keep spamming it over and over. Two Flame Swathes completely miss her, my sword barely does any damage when I manage to get a hit in, and the cast speed on my lightning spear is slower than the interim between her attacks. Every other attack she makes is pummeling me; I’m swigging estus left and right. But I’m not concerned with conserving estus, since I don’t expect to make it through the fight. I’m hitting her with a lightning spear from time to time, whittling down her health, trying to last long enough to at least see what spells the pyromancers cast.
And then they come. Shit starts exploding all over and I start rolling randomly, chucking spears when I have time, and somehow avoiding the sinner’s attacks with split-second iframes–half by luck, half by over a hundred hours of playing without a shield. It’s like we’re dancing. I’m in the rhythm of the game, completely separated from reality, from myself, as if I don’t exist. Zen as fuck.
I get one pyromancer to like 2 pixels of health, but he falls back behind the sinner and I can’t lock on. Fuck. I don’t let myself chase him, even though everything inside of me is screaming for me to do so. Don’t overcommit. Fortunately I’m low enough weight to roll out of the range of the various fireballs exploding fucking everywhere, and my agility is high enough that I have a fair share of iframes. Somehow–I honestly cannot remember how–I manage to kill one of the pyromancers, then roll under the sinner’s sword and stab the low health one. They’re both dead. Holy shit. The Sinner’s at half health. Holy shit. She’s alone. I can beat her. I’ve faced her dozens of times as a phantom on NG. It’s the same shit. It hits me–I might actually win this fight.
At which point my hands immediately become retarded. I’m switching to my chime without changing my spells, and an attempt at casting flame swathe ends with my character staring at his hand like a child with a rattle. I misjudge the range on the Sinner’s overhead attack and she punishes me for my mistake. I’m out of estus. All I have are lifegems. I’m popping them like candy in between dodging/eating sword blows. But for every attack she lands on me, I’m landing one on her. I’m brushing death each time, constantly being brought below 10% health every time she hits me, meaning I have to pop two lifegems and wait for them to heal me before I can attempt another attack, all while rolling through her slashes. But it’s working. Slowly but surely, it’s working.
Then it happens. She’s almost dead. My mind is racing with the classic “DON’T OVERCOMMIT DON’T OVERCOMMIT DON’T OVERCOMMIT.” I tell myself to stay calm but my hands are shaking like leaves in a hurricane. She jumps up and tries to do a plunging attack. I roll forward at the last second so that I end up behind her, and then I stab. I stab again. She picks up her sword and turns towards me, preparing to cut me down. I stab a third time, emptying my endurance, telling myself not to overcommit while overcommitting, knowing I can’t roll away if this last blow doesn’t kill her, risking a fucking rare opportunity for victory on a weak-ass sword thrust, all while screaming “EAT IT, EAT IT” at my screen. And she does. She eats it. She’s dead.
You all know the feeling that follows. Like you’d just sprinted up the stairs of a ten story building. All your muscles are tense, your hands are shaking, you’re out of breath, your heart is pounding in your chest, mom’s spaghetti. I realize there are tears in my eyes. I have to choke them back. They’re not tears brought on by the constant death or difficulty, I’m not tearing up because “Dark Souls is hard lol”. I’m tearing up because holy shit, that feeling. They’re tears of pure joy. I’ve never felt so happy in my life. It’s absolute euphoria. It feels like I’ve transcended reality, like I’ve been elevated one step closer to heaven. It’s catharsis. It’s Dark Souls.
That’s why I love this game. That feeling of fucking doing it. Not for anyone else but yourself. It’s not a feeling of smugness or elitism, it’s completely personal. It’s pure and uncorrupted by the pretenses people hold for the game. Is Dark Souls hard? Fuck yes. But the difficulty isn’t arbitrary. It tests you. Not just your ability to push buttons on a controller, but you personally. No matter how good you are, no matter how many hours you’ve logged, no matter how many invasions you’ve won, you’re always in danger of losing. I’m convinced that the only reason I was able to win that fight (in addition to luck) was because I had no expectations of victory for the majority of the fight. And also because Sunlight Spear is kinda OP.
Anyway, that’s my story. Hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t played NG+, or you’re nervous to, I highly recommend you try it. I’ve beaten NG a handful of times now and I thought the game was losing that constant anxiety that made the first playthrough so intense… but NG+ brings that back. And then some.
tl;dr – Hooked up with a girl at a party, two years later ran into her at a family reunion. Turns out I slept with my cousin (by marriage).
ps fuck the flexible sentry I DON’T EVEN CARE