Celebrating the release of Dark Souls II tomorrow, I thought it would be a perfect time to revisit some of our more….trying moments from it’s predecessor. So… I did! And here they are;
1) Being killed by a Hollow Soldier
Hollow soldiers are the game’s weakest enemies; only present in a small area at the very beginning of the game, before being replaced with knights, demons and other big nasties. These slow, shambling zombies serve as an introduction to Dark Soul‘s unique combat style, and are meant to ease you into the game. Unfortunately, the game in question that you’re being introduced to is Dark Souls; so these zombies are still more than a match for even a veteran of the game.
Dying this way serves as a real reality check to new players, in that it teaches you that even Zombies; an enemy that you’d usually mow down (sometimes literally, if you’re playing Dead Rising), in the hundreds, must be treated with caution. However it’s also one of the worst ways for a veteran to die; after all nothing shouts ‘humiliation’ more than being backstabbed by the weakest enemies of the game when you’ve just defeated a giant flaming spider demon.
2) “The Toxic Sprint”
We’ve all been there. You’re slowly, cautiously making your way through Blighttown, more than aware of this area of the game’s dubious reputation. You’re halfway there; furthest away from the security of a bonfire, and down to your last flask of healing Estus. Then…the inevitable happens. You get afflicted with Toxic.
Disbelief giving away to sheer panic, instantly you abandon your mission in a mad, frantic dash to get back to the safety of the bonfire and cure yourself, knowing that if you don’t make it before you perish, you’ll lose all your hard-earned souls and humanity, and have to start from nothing. As you sprint through the dark passages stark naked (so you aren’t encumbered, duh), you watch, panicking, as your health drains away quicker than a free keg at a student house party. You pause, waiting for the perfect moment to use your last remaining Estus, before continuing on. Then, inevitably, just as the bonfire comes into sight, your health bar finally drains completely, and you collapse to the floor, dead. If you don’t ragequit after that, you’re a better person than me.
3) Boom! Surprise Knight
The Black Knights, once the Silver Knights, the most skilled and loyal of Lord Gwyn’s followers, can be found all over the land. They’re a challenge for even the most well equipped Dark Souls veteran, however are usually worth hunting due to the rare items that can be gained from them.
However, again, this being Dark Souls, when I say they can be found all over the land, I literally mean they can be hidden anywhere. Usually at the most inconvenient moment possible, just ready to pick you off when you least expect it, so you face a long and difficult fight back to regain your lost souls. There are two alone in the game’s opening area, ready to pick off unwary newbies. They can be found hiding behind walls, in seemingly deserted corridors and more, and when they do, you’d better be ready. Basically, if Dark Souls was real life; the Black Knights would be those douches that drive hulking 4×4’s and steal that really good parking spot you’ve been waiting for.
3) The Anor Londo Archers
To anyone that has played the game, merely reading the title above will be enough to put them in a seething rage. Upon reaching a huge, looming palace in the sunlit city of Anor Londo, you find the gates are securely locked, with no way around. Exploring, you fail to find another way in, until you spy an impossibly thin arch, stretching up to the cathedral, and flanked by knights with huge bows, firing arrows that looks as if someone cut down a tree and hammered a bunch of swords into the end. “Surely not?” you think. Surely so.
Yes, the only way to progress the game is to somehow run up the arch in an arrow straight line, with no room to dodge and knowing full well that getting struck by one of those tree trunks may not kill you, but most certainly will knock you off the impossibly thin ledge and into the abyss below. If that’s not enough, if you do somehow reach the top, you still need to fight and defeat two knights at the same time; with effectively no room to dodge or flank them, essential moves in any Dark Souls fight.
The thing that makes this particular part so frustrating isn’t that it’s so difficult (even though it is), it’s that it’s pretty much based on luck. There’s very little you can do do prepare; you can take it slow or fast, can be highly levelled or a newbie, if you get hit with one of those arrows, it’s off the ledge you go all the same.
4) Traps Galore
Ah yes, the traps. As if the hordes of snake headed demons, krakens and living titans weren’t enough to deal with. In ‘normal’ games, traps are devices usually there to keep you on your toes, and add an extra challenge in particularly long dungeons. Usually, when triggered, they take off a small percentage of your health, or temporarily poison you (I’m looking at you, Skyrim). In Dark Souls, you trigger a trap; you more than likely are going to die. And it’ll serve you right for being so flippant, you eager beaver, you.
But this insta-death business isn’t the real problem. The main issue with the traps in Dark Souls is that in most cases, you never even know they are traps until you’re already dead. Again, in other games you usually see a tripwire, or a floor tile raised or decorated so much that there’s no way the makers of the trap didn’t turn to each other and ask “hey, aren’t we making this a little, you know, obvious?”
In Dark Souls, a partially raised flagstone may as well be a neon sign, practically shouting at you to avoid it. In most cases the only way to tell if a trap is there is by a faint, ambiguous patch of blood, or more likely, absolutely nothing. Yup, mysterious elevators will ascend to nowhere except a bunch of spikes; floors will randomly give way and friendly NPC’s will happily boot you into a pit full of skeleton warriors, for absolutely no reason. Traveller beware, indeed.
5) Venturing Into an overpowered area
Dark Souls, unlike its predecessor, is a fully open world game. Usually; open world means “go anywhere, do anything”. However if you think that Dark Souls is like other games, then you haven’t been paying attention, as the game takes the idea of open world, and completely turns it on its head.
As you probably know, in other open world games, either the enemies are scaled to become more powerful with your level, or the more advanced areas of the map are locked until certain conditions are met. In Dark Souls, you basically just have to wing it. Everywhere is open to you at the beginning of the game, and you receive no instruction as to where to go first; meaning there are plenty of points in the game where making a wrong turn can easily lead you to stumble into an area that you are laughably unprepared for. If you’re really unlucky, you may even labour under the impression that you’re going the right way, and desperately try to push on against overwhelming hordes of goat headed demons, completely unaware that if you’d taken the right turn, you’d find hordes of cute fluffy bunnies and merchants selling rare weapons at 90% discount.
6) The Capra Demon
Speaking of goat heads, that leads me neatly onto the number one cause of death in Dark Souls; the Capra Demon. Gee, its almost like someone planned that…
Yes, the goat-headed Capra Demon is probably the single biggest source of frustration, headaches and broken controllers in Dark Souls, aside from perhaps Ornstein and Enough, or the Lord Gwyn Himself. Ornstein and Smough are without doubt incredibly difficult to overcome without multiple players, and Lord Gwyn is about as fitting as a Final Boss can get for a game like this, but in terms of sheer frustration, the Capra Demon comes out top.
For one, the first time you meet it you have absolutely no warning, and no time whatsoever to even get your bearings, never mind prepare. You simply walk through a fog door, take a glimpse of a tiny room containing a big, big creature and then boom; you’re dead. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the whole fight with this muscle bound, dual sword wielding maniac is decided within the first half-second of you stepping through that door. That’s why it’s a know fact* that 100% of people who attempt this boss for the first time will die.
Indeed that’s what makes this fight so frustrating. You actually encounter a whole group of these enemies in one go later on in the game, but they are, if anything, easier to deal with, because if you’re careful you can take your time to draw them out and dispatch them one by one. No such luck here; as soon as you walk through that door the Capra Demon is already in full charge, and are instantly on the back foot. If that’s not enough, the room the fight takes place in is minuscule; so there is effectively no way to retreat, flank or manoeuvre at all. In fact, your best option is usually to run right past his wild swings, simply to give you some breathing room.
So there you have it, my personal list of the most annoying ways to die in Dark Souls. Hopefully that’s given you some preparation for the equal! Disagree? Have better suggestions? Let us know!