Saturday, December 15, 2018

A few thoughts on Dark Souls: Remastered from a gay guy who usually plays cute games

I've been curious about FromSoftware's Dark Souls since it first made a splash all the way back in 2011.

I've even considered picking up the Xbox 360 version on a couple of occasions. I never went through with the purchase, though, because that system's spent more time tucked inside its box and hidden away in a closet than it's spent connected to our TV.

When publisher Bandai Namco announced it was prepping a remastered iteration of the game for the Nintendo Switch, however, I knew I had to get off my butt and give it a try. So, I pre-ordered a copy as soon as I could--and then rather impatiently waited for it to make its way to my doorstep.



Although it took me a few days to work up the courage to stick the Dark Souls: Remastered cartridge into my Switch, it didn't take me long to fall in love with the game that diminutive cart contains.

In fact, I've put more than 16 hours into Dark Souls: Remastered for Switch since I first booted it up. I'm not tremendously far into this unnerving adventure, I've got to admit--I just entered the Lower Undead Burg after spending a ton of time in the Undead Parish. Still, I'm having a blast, and that's all that matters to me with any game I play.

What does "having a blast" mean in this case? I thought you'd never ask. Here are some thoughts on my Dark Souls: Remastered playthrough so far.



It's not as tough as I thought it would be--Don't get me wrong, I've died a ton of times since I first started playing the game. But dying isn't a very big deal in Dark Souls: Remastered. Unless, of course, you bite it after you've accumulated a ton of "souls" and "humanity" and before you've saved at a bonfire. Even that's not the worst thing in the world, though. I guess what I'm saying here is I started Remastered expecting it to be completely overwhelming and instead found it to be surprisingly accessible.

I appreciate how its gameplay puts patience ahead of brute force--Although I'm sure with the right "build" you can brute force Dark Souls, too. I'm not skilled enough for that, though, so taking things slowly is the only option for me. Thankfully, Dark Souls seems as OK with that as I am. At the very least, I've never been punished for approaching a new area or enemy carefully rather than running in with guns blazing (or, um, with daggers swinging), and I think that's pretty cool.



I also appreciate how Dark Souls severely limits your ability to feel "safe"--Dark Souls: Remastered may not be as tough as I assumed it would be, but it's just as scary. Actually, I'd say it's scarier than I thought it'd be. Why? Because any time you're not squatting beside one of the game's few campfires, you're basically a sitting duck. I love that. It keeps me on my toes and even forces me to improve my abilities and tactics.

Playing this game while wearing headphones is both amazing and terrifying--Here's something I've rarely admitted here or elsewhere: I usually play games with the sound turned off. I do that because I often play games while sitting on the couch with my husband as he watches TV. I've bucked that trend while tackling Dark Souls: Remastered, though. What a game changer--pun intended. In particular, hearing the footsteps of nearby enemies when none are plainly visibly in front of you is unsettling, yes, but it's also beyond helpful (in terms of keeping you from racing into an ambush).



The ability to "cheese" certain enemies and even bosses makes me really happy--This may be the aspect of Dark Souls that's surprised me the most thus far. I honestly expected the game's developers to force players to win fair and square at every single turn. Instead, they went in the opposite direction. The result: you're free to "win" however you can--even if that means taking the easy way out. (Such as by luring a particularly tough baddie over the edge of a cliff rather than bothering to actually fight it.)

As much as I'm enjoying Dark Souls: Remastered, I have a feeling I'll never finish it--After the game first clicked with me, I was sure I would stick with it until the bitter end. Then Black Bird and Pok√©mon: Let's Go stole my attention away from it. Although I'm done with the latter and I'm only returning to the former every now and then, I've yet to pick up where I left off with Dark Souls. I hope to rectify matters in 2019, but even if I don't, I'm glad I learned this series isn't, as I initially feared, too hardcore for me.