Demon's Souls has a reputation for being something of a bastard in terms of difficulty. I wouldn't know because I never got round to playing it. I was probably too busy with Kinectimals or something. And games that are really hard have a tendency to make me emotionally unbalanced. So I often choose to leave them alone. The sequel - Dark Souls - is meant to be even harder. Imagine that. Even harder.
Because I'm competently average at games (I'm no Billy Mitchell, which I'm thankful for) I thought it would be funny to have a go on Dark Souls. You know, to die after four seconds and enjoy a self-deprecating laugh at how crap I am. Maybe even make a video of it. But that's not quite how it happened. Because this is how it happened.
Above: Billy Mitchell winning something for being better than average at some old games
Seven minutes into my first ever go of Dark Souls and I'm still alive. This is mostly thanks to the fact that all I've had to do is watch the intro movie and create my character. So far so good. I have less faith in my ability to survive the first corridor, which stretches out before me. But I wallop some undeads and I'm through without a scratch. Easy.
A couple minutes more and I'm assaulted by a huge Asylum Demon. It keeps hitting me with an equally huge club. I think I'm done for. But I spot an open door and run through. No bother. Still not dead. Then, after about 10 minutes of playing, I find a shield. I was doing fine without a shield, so now with a shield it's going to be even easier. I begin to wonder whether I accidentally selected 'For Babies' as the difficulty setting. But there is no difficulty setting. It is what it is. Maybe I'm actually just very good at games after all.
Above: If you rest at these bonfires it replenishes your health. Talk about making it easy
With this new-found belief in my abilities, I'm strolling about the place like Barry Big Bollocks, with my shield and my sword and my full health bar and my four full bottles of magic health-restoring potion. But then - just as I'm about to start playing with one hand tied behind my back - I'm confronted by the huge Asylum Demon that I met earlier. Like a true hero I try to run away. But this time there are no unlocked doors. And the Asylum Demon has a health bar. No two ways about it - I'm going to have to fight the beast.
It doesn't go well. By the time I remember which button to press to target-lock I've used three of those magic health-restoring potions. There's a brief glimmer of hope as I manage to dodge a few attacks and get in a few damaging blows of my own. But that hope is quickly extinguished as the Asylum Demon's massive ass traps me in a corner and the camera flips out. Confusion, panic, despair. Then death. I'm dead.
Above: I had a fight like this before I died. It wasn't so tough
I check the clock and see that I've survived playing Dark Souls for nearly 15 minutes. On my first go. That's 14 minutes more than I was expecting. Based on this admittedly brief experience, Dark Souls really doesn't seem too hard. If anything, I found it pretty easy and would have been able to survive longer had I not been defeated by a camera completely losing its shit. Considering that Dark Souls is supposedly the even harder sequel to what people would have me believe is the hardest game in the world ever, I'm pretty happy with how it's gone
Above: All things considered, I'm pretty happy with how it's gone
I will sleep well tonight, comforted with the warm satisfaction that today was the day that a normal man with unremarkable gaming skills took on Dark Souls and won. At least for the first 15 minutes.
Dark Souls is scheduled for PS3 and 360 release on October 4/7 in US/UK respectively. We recently wrote this preview all about it. There are still no plans to bring Dark Souls to Wii.
Sept 14, 2011