Grayish Souls

Dark Souls, maybe you’ve heard of it? People seem to be absolutely nuts about this game, but I opted not to buy into it when it first swept the gaming world. I did buy it once it hit $20 though, because it’s just so beloved that I felt like I needed to know what was up.

And, well, I wasn’t so crazy about it. It was at least a few weeks after purchase before I put the disc in my 360 for the first time, and that first play session was the only Dark Souls play session for me until months later. What can I say? It just wasn’t really what I was expecting to play.

My first brush with Dark Souls was probably much like most people’s first brush with Dark Souls. I watched the opening cutscene, which left me more confused than anything, and then I made my character. Or maybe it was the other way around? Whatever, doesn’t matter. I rolled a lady thief named Morgan, and then I was told that she was actually a zombie of sorts. Huzzah.

I bumbled my way through the tutorial stage, which is some sort of purgatory for zombies. It’s probably the first time in a video game where the tutorial level posed a significant level of difficulty. I don’t remember how many times I died there, but the important thing to take away from this is that I died in the tutorial. And that’s the kind of game Dark Souls is.

After somehow managing to best the Asylum Demon, who looks to me like a gritty version of a monster out of Dragon Quest, I made it up into the actual game world, and marked a new checkpoint at the Firelink Shrine.

I was led to understand that Dark Souls is an open-world sort of game, and there were two immediate ways to go from the Firelink Shrine. I figured that heading in the graveyard-looking direction seemed more like the intended way forward, and after a very short bit of travel, I ran into a couple of skeletons. Two minutes out of the tutorial and I had my first You Died screen of the real game.

Dying in Dark Souls strips you of all your souls (which function as experience points and currency) and Humanity, which has a few different uses that I’ll get into later. Handily, these are all left in the spot you died in a glowy orb that you can grab to regain everything. If you die again before you collect it though, it’s gone forever and all those points are lost.

Knowing this, I headed back toward the skeleton area, figuring that it would be best to recollect the small amount of souls I had on my person at the time. I also thought I’d try my hand at fighting the skeletons again; maybe I wasn’t playing carefully enough before. I had just been running forward without much of a care, after all. I was able to retrieve my lost souls, but the second fight with the skeletons did not go any better than the first. You Died.

Maybe it was time to take a look at what the other path had to offer.

Tune in next week for Part 2: Road to the Undead Parish

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