"Perhaps you've seen it, maybe in a dream. A murky, forgotten land. A place where souls will mend your ailing mind" Alright, that's enough quoting the intro cinematic to Dark Souls 2. Sorry, been playing a lot of that one lately. And if you're reading this article, there's a good chance you've been playing a lot, too.
It's easy to spend an entire day or more exploring the kingdom of Drangleic, mapping out its many dangers and discovering its hidden secrets. But playing too much in too short a time span means you might start to internalize some of the lessons you've learned from Dark Souls 2. Do you find yourself overcome with the urge to light a bonfire in the middle of your living room? Have you tried time and time again to crush a rock in your hand in hopes that it'll cure syphilis? I'd be lying if I called you crazy for doing so. Here are a few other signs you might be playing too much Dark Souls 2, starting with...
Hippos at the zoo make you extremely nervous
It used to be that visiting the hippo exhibit at your local zoo was a neat way to look at a real-life Snorlax in its natural habitat. Now? It's a guaranteed method of suffering a massive anxiety attack. No one believes you, but you've seen what those things can do once they go bipedal--and not a single person at the zoo is carrying a Great Club +10, so who the hell will stop it once the bloodlust kicks in? Definitely not you. Peace, suckers.
You're convinced your aunt's creepy doll collection will spit poison when you walk nearby
Look, it's already bad enough that Aunt Sally's guest bedroom--the one in which you sleep during long visits--is crammed full of creepy-ass porcelain dolls. You've always hated their dead, beady-eyed stares, the way their mouths are molded into an unnatural position that conveys a cross between boredom and torturous pain. Now you can't help but look over your shoulder every time you walk near one for fear that it's about to spit a glob of acidic poison right in your face. The Gutter has scarred you for life, friend. There's no coming back from this.
You start trying to communicate with others via sidewalk chalk
Pffft, look at all those idiots using smartphones. What year is this again, 1992? They might as well be writing letters and sending them through the national postal service. See, you've discovered a much more convenient way to communicate with others: sidewalk chalk. What many consider to be an instrument of art marketed toward children, you know to be something much more valuable. Sidewalk chalk messages, which you can construct from a menu of pre-established phrases, transcend time and dimensional space; the you from an alternate timeline can read about the challenges that reside just up ahead and face them better prepared. (Disclaimer: Stick to that smartphone for medical emergencies.) In the event you run out of chalk, simple gestures will do.
You've convinced yourself that trees are once-living creatures that have been petrified
As a child, you found it funny that some trees looked as though they had gnarled faces. Now? You refuse to hike in the woods for fear that those trees were actually living creatures at one point in time. Staring at their twisted grins is beyond unsettling. Are they proof that giants once inhabited the Earth? As you contemplate this haunting question, you hear a shriek from above. Oh god, is that is that a giant bird flying overhead? You turn to run before you even check to see if it's carrying anything with its talons. Later, bird nerd.
You try to cure all illness with rocks and clumps of sod
Whether you suffer from a terrible cold or the ebola virus, modern medicine has always been the way to go. At least, until now. Thanks to Dark Souls 2, you wonder if, perhaps, nontraditional healing is your best option. The next time you get food poisoning from a fast food joint, try foraging in the woods for a giant clump of moss and ingesting it. Alternatively, if you're feeling a little under the weather, you could always just crush a light, pale rock in the palm of your hand to remedy your affliction.
You keep a homemade stick-figure effigy as a good luck charm
It wasn't so long ago that you tossed out the fuzzy dice that had been hanging on your rearview mirror in favor of what your friends refer to as a "really fucking creepy voodoo doll." But you know better. You know that you might one day need to crush that effigy, which you spent hours meticulously crafting, in the palm of your hand. And you know that doing so just might restore your humanity when you feel as though it's been completely drained. Or maybe you'll just burn it in a fire sometime; you've heard that such an act decreases the chances of someone breaking into your home and trying to kill you.
You're super cautious about entering new rooms
Ah, yes--the golden rule of Dark Souls 2: be very, very careful about entering a new room. It's something you've internalized in the real world as well. Where once you sprinted through doors without a care in the world, now you peek your head in to get a look at what might be awaiting you inside before even stepping your big toe across the dividing threshold. Your friends and family have expressed concern about your overly cautious approach, but deep down you know that, one day, this will save your life.
You're suspicious of anyone dressed entirely in red
It's not that you have anything against people who choose to dress head to toe in a single color. Sometimes that's fashionable! But you can't help to be a little bit wary of anyone whose outfit consists solely of a dark, crimson red. In Dark Souls 2, these are the types of people who have only one goal: to shove a sword in your back and rob you of all your hard-earned currency. It makes sense, then, that you'd be a tad suspicious of red-wearing people in the real world--especially the ones that walk around with humongous swords.
When someone approaches you with intent of violence, you immediately somersault away
They say that the best offense is a great defense. And in Dark Souls 2, the best defense is a well-timed somersault. Keep that in mind the next time that punk from school comes looking for a fight. Chances are, you don't have access to a shield, so start somersaulting toward the nearest exit. Not only will said punk be stunned with bewilderment, you'll look pretty badass during the escape. Just watch your stamina.
But when fights are unavoidable, you rely on circle strafing
Okay, so maybe you find yourself in a situation where somersaulting just isn't viable. No big deal--thanks to Dark Souls 2, you have another tactic shoved way up your sleeve: the good ol' fashioned circle strafe. As your opponent readies his fists, merely sprint around him in circles. Not only will he miss time and time again, but you'll be able to punish him for his whiffs. Unless he's been playing Dark Souls 2 as well, in which case he might perform a large sweeping attack by extending both arms and spinning in circles while shouting, "you can't touch me!"
Fight the urge
Have you picked up any of these habits from playing Dark Souls 2? Perhaps you've internalized others instead? What obvious signs did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you're looking for more, check out 8 ways Dark Souls is like a hardcore Zelda game and 10 punishing games that are totally worth the pain.