[Editorial] Dark Souls: The True Story of Being in an Abusive Relationship

Just for posterity’s sake, this is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s more of a comparison and not meant to offend anyone who are or have been in an abusive relationship. If you are/were, then call proper authorities; nobody deserves to punish/be punished just to be with someone. Now that I have that “don’t take this offensively” piece out of the way, let’s begin.

I’m in an abusive relationship. I just can’t help it, in fact it’s like I love the abuse I take. It feels good, like I know I did something wrong but know I can make it better next time. Now…most people who read titles or see banners will know that I’m talking about Dark Souls. I’m about to give you some of my personal scenarios, proving that Dark Souls hates us mortals, and why it’s not a particularly bad thing.

Now, for those that don’t know what Dark Souls is, it’s an extremely hardcore RPG developed by From Software. These same developers made Demon’s Souls back in 2009, which was published by Atlus. Dark Souls was the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, but the difference is that Demon’s Souls was a PS3 exclusive due to the contract. Dark Souls was the developer’s smart workaround to that contract. New IP, same gameplay but now publishable on Xbox 360 and PC as well as PS3, and now under Namco Bandai’s wing.

My (probably unwise) decision to buy the PC port of Dark Souls wound up culminating enough of an experience to warrant an article about my currently still ongoing adventure through the constantly difficult and increasingly unfair world of this game. These stories you are about to hear are completely true and uncut. Everything you read actually did happen. (Sounds cliche, but trust me, that’s the least of your concern.)

The Narrow Path and the Plague Rats:

There’s a place in the Undead Burgs (which is fairly early on in your game if you took the upper path) where after you defeat the Taurus Demon and obtain the White Sign Soapstone (the item that enables online co-op play), you go down a bridge. If you go down this bridge for the first time, a dragon swoops in and burns the entire bridge, including you. Afterwards, you have to go to the underside of the bridge to reach the Undead Parish.

The paths are just wide enough where you won’t fall off if you carefully move and don’t do lunging attacks. However… there is a shield and spear-wielding Hollow that stays shielded on said narrow walkway. You’re supposed to kick, but the game is really finicky with kicks and jumping attacks. I died maybe five or six times this way.

So after you successfully dispatch this Hollow, there’s a room filled with what I call “Plague Rats.” These little flea-ridden scumbags will poison you if they get enough hits off, and there are three in this one room, so running in and trying to attack will get you poisoned and will very slowly kill you. Getting poisoned means you have to make a decision: Either run back to the bonfire at Undead Burgs (which thankfully, there’s a shortcut ladder) and restore your health and Estus Flasks, or race through the Undead Parish to reach the bonfire near the church.

This church bonfire is just past an armored boar, which will gore you if you even think about attacking it, and most weapons deflect off the armor it wears, so you have to go through the underground area of the leading path to the church. This means that you’ll face more enemies and have to worry about your slowly declining health from the poison (if you managed to run past the rats and avoid the poisoning, then congratulations). I spent about 5 hours on just this one section, and lost loads of Humanity and Souls.

Don’t even get me started on the inner sanctum of the Church… Oh, fuck it. I’ll tell you anyways.

The “Not Bosses” Enemies and the Actual Boss(es):

So after cleaning out the Parish (this is a couple hours before I discovered the bonfire to the right of the church, so each time I died, I had to travel back from the Burgs), I entered the church from the right side, only to discover…this.

This little pile of steel and darkness is called the “Tower Knight.” Oh, and it’s not the boss. It’s just a normal enemy. That can kill you in three hits. If you try to run out of the front entrance, then there are three “Balder Knights” waiting there, ready to kill you as well. On top of all this, you have a Channeler (Note: Also not a boss) shooting Soul Arrows at you. So you’re surrounded at all sides and in a fit of panic, you’re trying to find a good place to fight the biggest threat, which is the Tower Knight.

I fought him at the stairs after hurriedly dispatching the Balder Knights and nearly dying in the process. He has attacks that can wipe you out and combo you into submission. Thankfully, he’s hasty so I could strike swiftly and still dodge a strike. He also heals using Estus Flasks, which you can easily negate the effect while he’s drinking. After cleaning out the bottom floor, time to go upstairs and fight the Channeler.

So you run into the room where the Channeler stands, and a fucking army of Hollows runs at you. I run back downstairs to whittle down their numbers so I can focus on the toughest enemy without worrying about little knee-biters. After dispatching this Channeler, you head up to the roof. (Oh, and just a note. These tougher enemies don’t respawn when you die. Thankfully.)

The boss? The Bell Gargoyle.

This little bugger is a bit easy. At first. See, it only slashes it’s halberd and ax-like tail at you, and you can easily dodge those. (Something that I did, thanks to my experiences in Monster Hunter.) However, when you drop it’s health down to half, a second gargoyle drops down and on top of that, they both start breathing fire. I was only able to successfully complete this area (which, by the way, is only to ring one of two bells) by calling an NPC phantom to help me.

The Aftermath:

After 30+ deaths and the loss of about 15,000+ Souls and somewhere about 10+ Humanity, I finished only one section of Dark Souls. It took me about 7 hours, wherein other games, this would take mere minutes. I hated the constant back-to-back deaths. I threw things, I shouted vulgarities at my screen, I seethed for hours.

After some time in the middle of a session, I took a break and watched some TV. I felt horrible, but I craved more. The game beat me into a bloody pulp, but it was still fun. Why did I feel this way?

Because readers, Dark Souls is like an abusive relationship. No matter how many times it beats you, takes away things you hold dear, and leaves you in a vulnerable state, you’ll keep coming back to it. Only through perseverance will you wind up succeeding, but you’ll suffer through misery and pain to survive just a few moments longer. It’s an interesting experience to an avid gamer, but it was worth every second.

Written by: Tyler Busler

I'm an adept gamer with 15+ years of experience in the best and worst of gaming history. I've always believed that gameplay is the most important part of a video game in most instances. My favorite games are Super Mario 3D World, Journey, Yoshi's Island, Paper Mario, and Dust: An Elysian Tail.