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Dark Souls is underrated

Steam trap typeschange game language steam DARK SOULS™ III review Music there arent many modern games that you can genuinely say changed gaming but dark souls is one of them and everyone knows that right dark songs is hardly some hidden gem in fact a lot of the time it feels a bit like people cant stop talking about it so maybe it seems a little strange for me to come in here and try to seriously state that dark souls be dark souls that dark souls this dark souls is actually underrated but it is now once upon a time video games were hard and there were reasons for that namely that early games were heavily inspired by arcade titles which used difficulty as a means of monetization with fail states designed to persuade players to insert more coins and also without a high degree of difficulty many older video games would be short too short far too short in some cases and so challenging gameplay and harsh fail states were a crutch leaned upon by games of the 80s and 90s to extend playtime and as people were used to the idea that games were meant to be difficult from arcades people didnt see a problem with this but then there was fire and with fire came disparity and games evolved i mean if you were to write a complete history of video games a large section about history would likely have to chart the various ways for which games became easier over time they became more accessible more convenient more respectful of the players time more broadly appealing more easy to get into and you can see all this reflected in many of the most successful games of the 2000s shooters added regenerating health horror games became action games action games became cinematic games mmos courted casuals pc dominated genres gave up complexity to find new homes on consoles and everything added more checkpoints auto saves tutorials difficulty options and more video games changed it was evolution progress modernity capitalism and then along came dark souls and it did the exact opposite a lot of the time the difficulty of dark souls dominates conversations surrounding the game and its not hard to see why it provides a good example of what set dark souls apart from so many other games but this is just one of many ways dark souls stood out and its just one of many ways dark souls rejected or subverted game design conventions of the time and really this story shouldnt even start with dark souls Music demon souls was meant to be a failure from software werent newcomers to game development actually they had made 49 games prior to demon souls although they were hardly a well-known name at this point and there was a time when demon souls looked unlikely to change that in fact it was because demon souls development was going so poorly that the company was willing to take a major risk and hand the project over to a still relatively inexperienced developer by the name of hirataka miyazaki who was given near unprecedented freedom to do with the project what he wanted after all if it was already a failure whats there to lose and so demon souls were shaped into something unlike anything else in the market at the time all in accordance to miyazakis vision and in indifference to established game design trends of the era now i dont know if it actually needs saying but demon souls was both difficult and also punishing your death didnt just send you back to the start of level and force players to recover their lost souls from where they died it also cut your maximum health in half if you died in human form and healing items didnt replenish on death so you had to regularly buy or far more and if you died multiple times as a human a mechanic called world tendency would lead to additional negative effects like having the players world invaded by deadly black phantoms basically demon souls was a game but like to kick the player while they were down and it was capable of kicking quite hard the result was a world which felt genuinely dangerous gameplay that had actual tension and a level of overall challenge that players found deeply satisfying to overcome because even if older games may not have always had the best reasons for being challenging and may not have always handled challenge in the best ways they still realized that you could utilize challenge to improve an experience by making progress feel rewarding and making players more invested in whats happening this is a big part of why certain games with relatively basic gameplay and little story can still hold up as enjoyable today and yet when miyazaki set out to deliberately create a challenging gameplay-based experience of a kind he felt was dying out in the gaming market at the time he still felt it necessary to hide the extent of demon soul sadism from the games publisher sony out of fear that sony would force them to tone the difficulty down after all this wasnt how games were meant to be designed these days and for a publisher profits are probably more important than the directors artistic vision still it wasnt just the difficulty that set demon souls apart in the year it released the highest reviewed and most widely acclaimed game was uncharted 2 among thieves a game which dazzled audiences with its movie-like level of presentation and cinematic action now in time some would grow critical of this games emulating movies approach but not until several years later and in many peoples eyes uncharted 2 represented a kind of video game ideal it was the definitive modern game that others should aspire to be like and it delighted players and critics alike with its heavily scripted linear action its loud and direct storytelling and its the emphasis on gameplay elements so as to better immerse players in what was happening on screen at any given moment in many ways it really was a game trying to be a movie and doing a very good job at that and then you had demon souls with its minimalist presentation rarely interrupted gameplay and cryptic understated story demon souls was quiet lonely oppressive it abandoned any and all hand-holding asking players to work things out for themselves and not seeming concerned when they didnt and it cared more about disempowering the player than providing any sort of traditional power fantasy even in its boss fights where dangerous foes needed to be outsmarted much more often than simply out battled in short it was as if demon souls was designed as a complete rejection of this new cinematic and accessible approach to game design and yet while its punishing difficulty and emphasis on gameplay could be seen as a throwback to retro games of old in other ways demon souls was thoroughly modern like in its asynchronous online systems which allowed players to leave messages that appear in other peoples worlds as well as the way it showed brief ghost-like glimpses of peoples actions and bloodstains that captured their deaths these elements heighten the sense of a shared experience where players might overcome the vast challenges before them through witnessing other peoples failures or just experiencing random acts of kindness and yet in fitting with the games tone demons souls also allowed hostile player vs player invasions where the usual sanctity of a single player world would be infringed upon probably against the players wishes and the freedom of the messaging system also meant players were just as capable of deceiving others as helping them and so demon souls was both something entirely new and something deeply subversive it was a remedy for anyone who didnt like the direction gaming was going and it was an experience unique to the market at the time and this was reflected in its overwhelmingly positive reviews its better than expected sales and its growing and passionate fan base this still wasnt enough for sony to publish the game outside japan however because sony thought the game sucked and no i am not exaggerating here former sony president shuhei yoshida actually said after dying too many times and not managing to complete the games opening level this is crap this is an unbelievably bad game and so they wouldnt release it outside japan meaning from software had to partner with atlas usa to bring it to the west where it went on to be rather successful my favorite detail from this little story is that the game was basically already localized there was an english translation already created by sony to be included as a language option for asian markets and the game already had full english voice acting in fact it only had english voice acting until the ps5 remake because from software were on a limited budget and thought english would better suit its medieval european inspired setting and yet sony were either so convinced it would be a failure or was so concerned about having their esteemed name seen alongside such a crap and unbelievably bad game but they still wouldnt publish it in the west that is how deeply demon souls went against gaming conventions of the time luckily demon souls fate was not decided by sony and now with a proven track record of success miyazaki and from software would begin work on an even more ambitious follow-up Music so contrary to shuhei yoshidas early impression demon souls was good and it was important it was a bit of a gaming trailblazer born of unique circumstances and a unique mind and it may well have been the exact game that gaming needed at the time but this video isnt called demon souls is underrated still you cant really tell dark souls story without acknowledging how much it owed to its predecessor because even if the two games arent strictly related through title or law they do still share a lot of dna that said dark souls did do one very important thing but demon souls didnt it released on pc and so more people had the opportunity to play it this has meant that the importance of demon souls foundation laying and innovation can sometimes be a bit overlooked still nearly everything that was mentioned about demon souls design still applies to dark souls i mean death was made a little bit more forgiving but the game world became arguably even more hostile to compensate and boss fights did become overall less focused on puzzle solving but most things the gameplay the lack of hand holding the subtle storytelling the atmosphere the presentation the disempowerment the online elements and of course the difficulty these all returned and worked for much the same reason and just as demon souls was unique and subversive for many who played it in 2009 so too was dark souls for many newcomers who never did or could give demon souls a chance but dark souls wasnt just a bigger demon souls and it wasnt just a slightly different demon souls instead dark souls took the one single thing that demon souls excelled at the most its ability to create a specific and memorable experience for the player and then it connected that to its storys central themes while incorporating this into every single part of its design to create one of the most cohesive and thematically resonant games ever made if that sounds like a confusing and or exaggerated claim then let me see if i can convince you ill come back to this but for now theres no better place to start than the beginning of life as we know it dark souls opening establishes the settings history and mythos in the beginning the world was unformed covered in fog and only inhabited by everlasting dragons but then there was fire and with fire came disparity heat and cold life and death light and dark and so on within this flame ancient beings found powerful souls and with these souls they waged war successfully against the dragons establishing an age of fire and yet now the fire is fading in its wake darkness is encroaching and amongst the living are seen carriers of the dark sign an undead curse whose victims are unable to die properly and will continually resurrect until they eventually lose their mind and go hollow you are one such victim and you awaken locked away in an undead asylum where you can only sit and wait for the slow decay of your sanity until an unknown man throws you a key and thus your journey begins in many rpgs your character starts out weak with little to their name but in dark souls it feels like you start with less than nothing immediately after taking time to create your character and making them look the way you want them to dark souls then robs you of even this revealing you to be this ugly desiccated husk of a man your weapon is broken your equipment is basic if you even have any and your objective and purpose is unclear and undefined you do still have one important thing however something other inhabitants of this asylum do not which is your humanity you are not hollow not yet and youre not the only one not quite you come to find that you owe your freedom to a random act of kindness from another undead he is the one who has left the messages you find that act as the games brief tutorial and he is the one who gives you the only hint of an objective that you will find in dark souls early hours which is a mission he was on concerning a prophecy involving chosen undead that must journey to this land and ring the bells of awakening thats about all you get by way of direction however and your savior will go no further himself as a result of injury leaving you once more on your own when it comes to storytelling and in particular its law dark souls is often cryptic and vague with many details only being found hidden amidst item descriptions that will largely go unread by the majority of players and this approach ended up being surprisingly successful much of dark souls does center on the player working things out for themselves this applies to navigating the world figuring out the games mechanics overcoming dangerous enemies and environments and of course understanding the story its an approach that fits with the games themes the player is meant to feel lost they are meant to question what the point of their journey is and they are meant to struggle to find answers but this approach also plays into the players this is what miyazaki said his intent was in a now well-known quote where he cited his inspiration for his storytelling style as coming from time spent reading as a child when he wasnt able to understand all of the text and so allowed his imagination to fill in the gaps just like how the game invites the player to imagine and engage with its world and story on a level beyond simply listening to or reading exposition this lack of direct storytelling also works to emphasize what is there in this world like the rich atmosphere or the emotions your journey evokes or the themes which underpin it most locations in game have no soundtrack and often the players only accompaniment is the sound of their own footsteps echoing softly reminding you how alone you really are and even in the games brighter and more captivating moments it still seems like youre journeying through places long since past their prime the fire is fading after all and you can feel that everywhere you go still if these thematic or stylistic explanations arent convincing enough on their own you could also make a strong argument that dark souls storytelling is realistic and logical even i mean what counts as story or law tends to be old history a lot of it involving beings known as gods and the events which occurred at the beginning of life as we know it and yet the world youre in is dying this age is ending and this is a process which is already well underway and so this world isnt really in any state to tell its history and there arent necessarily many people left around here to tell it and those who are still here may not be completely sane and if you do want to know more and uncover this worlds past youll find you have to approach this task much like you would with real life history i.e by looking at whatever sources and remnants and artifacts are still available and going from there and this may well give an incomplete picture that can be confusing and even feature competing narratives and contradictory accounts but thats how history actually works we may well understand a lot of our own history these days but there are still things we dont know and people of pre-modern times would surely have understood a whole lot less so really the way dark souls communicates its history makes sense and you could even say its other games and works of fiction who give their audience absolute knowledge over so much of their creation which are the unnatural ones and yet for as confusing and cryptic as dark souls story might be much of its symbolism imagery and motifs are made quite easy to understand through their reliance on obvious common sense connections like fire and its importance to life or the idea of a fading flame being tied to the end of a civilization or darkness in how it acts as an oppositional force to fire or the importance of souls and their connection to power and a beings essence and of course hollows man that is no longer man a hollow shell lacking that which matters the most in some ways i think dark souls is a lot easier to understand than many realize and you might not need to get all that much to get it still that doesnt mean theres nothing standing in your way Music action games are hard i mean unless youre quite skilled if you try to play through devil may cry on dante must die difficulty dante will die dante will probably die a lot many games out there feature some type of action gameplay and many games can be quite difficult by comparison you could say dark souls is an easy action game because despite its fearsome reputation its gameplay is relatively simple and players are likely to have the hang of most of its core parts through the tutorial alone in short you can dodge block or move away from enemy attacks and in response you have a light attack and heavy attack there are also some spells consumables parrying and backstabs but your overall toolset is small and executing these moves is relatively easy dark souls doesnt require the player to have fast reaction times or skillful hand-eye coordination or mastery over complicated button inputs or the ability to memorize long combos in fact dark souls almost feels like an anti-action game it substitutes fast and fluid complexity for slow and methodical simplicity and you could viably play through the entire game with dodging and light attack spam alone basically the skill barrier is low and in some ways it feels a bit like anyone could play dark souls if they wanted to so why then does dark souls have such a formidable reputation for difficulty well its because its punishing and dark souls is quite happy to punish players on both micro and macro scales each enemy attack does a lot of damage each player mistake has the potential to cost you your life and each death sends you back to the last bonfire and can lead to a loss of souls and as both memes and marketing can attest death comes often in dark souls world there are a lot of opportunities to make mistakes and there are a lot of enemies trying to attack you this gives dark souls a specific flavor of difficulty its a game where the player can feel danger all around them and knows the consequences can be high but theyre also aware of what they need to do to survive and they can usually recognize what they did wrong if things dont go as planned if there is one skill that dark souls combat asks of the player it has to be decision making do you attack or wait should you dodge or block do you position close to an enemy or away is now a safe time to heal this series of decisions that you make in each combat encounter tells the tale of your success or failure with the outcome often resulting from the fact that each action in dark souls comes with a clear commitment involved in time stamina or both for example if you attack or heal youre locked in place while the animation plays out meaning youre vulnerable to getting punished if you made a bad choice but enemies are forced to play by the same rules and youre free to take advantage of that and while they do hit hard they also tend to hit quite slow even the bosses with each hit being accompanied by a clearly telegraphed wind-up animation that gives players the time and information needed to respond correctly and when it comes to responding you do have a few different options available with different levels of risk and reward blocking is your safest option but it has a high stamina cost and offers little additional advantage dodging is more risky as it sometimes needs to be timed correctly but it consumes less stamina and can allow you to reposition into safer or more aggressive positions meanwhile evading attacks through movement alone has no stamina cost but you have less mobility and none of the iframes for dodging provides and lastly parrying is the highest risk option available requiring specific timing and player knowledge of what attacks can be parried but the rewards is that you can follow up with a high damage critical hit and so despite the limited tools available to the player and surface level simplicity combat still tends to feel very engaging the stakes are high decisions feel impactful and the results of decisions are easy to understand making it a perfect fit for a challenging game as if the player understands what they did wrong but difficulty feels like something they can overcome no matter how great it might be in this way dark souls feels a bit like a well-meaning teacher deep down it wants you to succeed and it tries to give you the information needed to make that possible yes you will die but each death will carry a lesson yes the punishments can suck but you are always given a chance and they can help make the lesson stick in your mind and yes the game can ask a lot from you but it knows not to ask the impossible i mean the main punishment is the loss of souls dropped on death that you then need to recover but really this is only putting pressure on yourself to do something you know youre capable of because no matter where or why you died if you were able to get there before you should be able to get there again in this way dark souls doesnt mind when you struggle to overcome a particular section and it doesnt mind when you get stuck its only when you do worse than you did before when you do worse than both you and dark souls know youre capable of only then are your souls lost forever basically dark souls just wants you to reach your full potential you cant blame it for that can you i think this is why so many people describe dark souls as fair even when the game actively tries to murder and trick you time and time again of course if dark souls gameplay was only about knowing when to attack and how to respond to enemy attacks this decision-making process would sooner or later stop offering much challenge but dark souls keeps things fresh by constantly introducing new and varied enemy types as well as carefully positioning enemies to ambush the player or limiting player space to reduce both offensive and defensive options or introducing environmental hazards that are added on top of everything else these additions keep players on their toes and as soon as you master one enemy type and area players will move on and be introduced to something new the clever part of this is that it doesnt matter what level the players skill is the game is still designed to match their skill level to provide a well-paced experience this is because healing is limited through only having a set number of esthers flasks meaning that if you havent managed to master the current area and enemies to an acceptable level you wont have enough healing to reach for next bonfire and gain a new checkpoint instead youll find yourself stuck at your current bonfire until you get good enough to reach the next one without running out of healing at which point the next challenge will open up to you i imagine many new players will experience this type of temporary roadblock in the games first larger area the undead berg or during their first descent through blighttown or on their first boss fight against more than one opponent dark souls wants you to master its basics before you get far enough ahead that you might truly get stuck on something youll feel you cant overcome because ultimately dark souls does want you to overcome bit by bit through trial error persistence skill and anything else you have at your disposal still while many foes may stand before you theres more to mastering dark souls than just combat Music dark souls has a lot of intimidating enemies there are bosses that tower over you monsters that ambush you in complete darkness creatures that inflict status effects that persist on death and yet the single most daunting thing that stands in your way might be the world itself as soon as you arrive in the welcoming calm of filing shrine after leaving the undead asylum the player is presented with wrong ways to go if you do journey into the skeleton-infested graveyard or take a trip down into the darkness of new londo you are going to have a bad time and there is a very good chance you will go to one or both of these places before finding the much easier route for developers surely intended new players to take i mean i know i went to both of these places and i know i had a bad time when i first played this game and this is not the only way dark souls allows the player to go wrong there are other places you can wander into earlier than youd like you can kill important npcs you can consume invaluable items like fire keeper souls that are meant to be used for upgrading your estus flask and you can get lost get killed get cursed get stuck at the bottom of blighttown with a broken weapon and a dwindling resolve frankly dark souls is generous in the amount of waves it provides players to  __  themselves over this is not town logic dictates games are meant to be designed developers should be helping players play the right way guiding them to an enjoyable experience safeguarding people against their direst mistakes and yet dark souls goes against this opting instead to drop players into its already dangerous world with no guidance no direction no safety barriers and seemingly no concern as many players will discover as they beat their heads against some much too powerful skeletons right at the opening of their grand adventure the effect this has isnt necessarily good but it does have an effect right from this games outset the player knows game design logic doesnt always apply but this world isnt playing by the rules of a benevolent game developer god and that if you want to get anywhere and make progress youre going to have to work things out for yourself and that can be surprisingly immersive after all the world is dangerous and you are on your own and dark souls makes you aware of this which in turn impacts the way youll play you become cautious observant thoughtful just as a person really would be if they were actually in such a dangerous situation and this is then further encouraged and rewarded by the games level design dark souls areas dont feel like normal game levels they twist and turn and loop back on themselves revealing shortcuts and connections they take advantage of verticality often showing you places and items that you can reach and letting you work out how to get to them and they play with your expectations making you question where to go and what danger awaits for you around every corner in a lot of ways each area in dark souls is more like its own puzzle that the player needs to solve before moving on you need to make a mental map of their layouts as you explore their various pathways you need to deal with a variety of unique environmental hazards like limited space or visibility and you need to recognize or learn from the potential pitfalls put in place by way of enemies traps and ambushes through this dark souls test players are more than just their ability to fight you need navigation and observational skills as well as a certain amount of perseverance but through the presence of new equipment upgrade materials bonfires shortcuts and other secrets this process of carefully learning each area you go through is always rewarded the high difficulty of the game makes these items and upgrades feel valuable as players will welcome every advantage they can get and with limited healing and the ever looming threat of death leading to a loss of souls each bonfire or shortcut you find is like a gift from the gods and represents a major tangible milestone on your journey the first time players will likely experience this is the ladder on the bridge in the undead berg which you only reach after successfully navigating the enemy infested streets of the berg and defeating the first real boss of the game the taurus demon and escaping dragonfire as you attempt to cross the bridge and then and only then do you find that ladder leading you back to the familiar sanctuary of the bonfire all through this sequence tension and the players souls are growing and growing while your estus charges dwindle and dwindle making that moment when you drop down the ladder and finally realize where you are a moment full of meaning and relief the level design combines with the limited checkpoints and healing and the dangerous enemies and environments to create these small self-contained narrative arcs of player accomplishment which i dont think any other game by from software has ever managed to replicate quite so well and this is partly because everything that can be praised about the level design in dark souls also applies to the world as a whole you see unlike in other games from the developer dark souls world is deeply interconnected for example firelink shrine itself can provide direct access to the undead asylum the undead berg the undead parish the catacombs the valley of drakes and new londo as well as quick access to blighttown sends fortress the depths and dark route basin and so as you journey through the lands of dark souls more and more roots can be found between areas making the entire world feel intertwined and cohesive on your first playthrough this level of interconnectivity can seem amazing it feels indicative of a level of detail and careful world building that you almost never see and it provides a contextual sense of place for each location you travel to because you can visualize how each area fits into this bigger hole and on subsequent playthroughs this interconnectivity can provide an unrivaled sense of freedom to tackle the games challenges in the order you choose while also making the player feel rewarded from all the knowledge of the game theyve accumulated from their time already spent with it youll know about upcoming bonfires shortcuts secrets and specific items and youre free to use that knowledge to your advantage still there is another way dark souls world stands apart even from others made by the same developer which is that theres no fast travel between bonfires until relatively late into the game meaning wherever you are in the world youre potentially stuck there and this is a game where you can end up a long way from home to me this is the thing that really makes dark souls sense of danger feel real its what makes the sense of adventure so genuine and its what makes the ultimate journey so captivating the lack of fast travel also allows areas to build on top of each other without immersion breaking interruptions to create specific experiences for the player like how you go from the more open and familiar streets of the undead berg into the much more claustrophobic labyrinth-like layout of the depths which culminates in this showdown with the gaping dragon a much larger more intimidating and alien enemy than anything youve faced yet only to then find yourself descending even deeper into somewhere even more oppressive as you make your way into blighttown with its hazardous walkways and constant assault from enemies that can inflict toxic and knock you to your death and then even at the bottom theres no reprieve as you cant even move anywhere without wading through this poisonous swamp and at this point your journey to get here will have taken hours and the prospect of running all the way back up just seems unthinkable and yet there doesnt seem to be any end to the hazards the game throws at you until eventually finally there is this provides an experience players will remember on that first time through you really dont know where you are or where youre going or whats waiting for you when you get there and you cant just change your mind whenever you feel like it and teleport back to safety youre committed to your path and forced to deal with whatever consequences this entails and there can be consequences on my most recent playthrough i was making good progress and happened to be making the descent through blighttown i made it to the midway bonfire but didnt rest there just yet because me you know being a little bit of a gamer still had five estus flasks remaining so i did a little more exploring first and then on my way back just before using the bonfire i got stuck in the floor now dark souls isnt a perfect game thats not the title of this video but anyway no big deal i can just take the cowards way out and make the descent again but perhaps as a result of me rushing on this second time i died and then i died again and then i died a few more times and then my weapon broke now at this point i was faced with an important decision do i suck it up and head back up through the depths to find a blacksmith or do i press on with no upgraded weapon back through this section that has already repeatedly killed me true gamer that i am i decide to press on so i buy a crystal weapon from a guy i know that lives in the sewer nearby which is a weapon with high damage even upgraded but low durability and then i made the gamble that as long as i didnt die many more times this would probably be more than enough to see me through the upcoming challenges but then i died and then i died again and then i died a few more times and then all my armor started breaking and then my crystal weapon broke too long before id beaten the boss and rang the bell that had brought me here now i think the official term for a situation like this is tilted and it was around about now as i sat in the middle of a great big poisonous swamp with a growing bag of broken equipment and a somewhat battered sense of pride that i started to think i might actually be a little bit  __  if this upcoming boss was as difficult as i remember them being what i didnt realize at this moment was that you dont actually need to defeat quality to make your way out of blighttown and so as i was finishing up the last few bits of exploration i was rather surprised when i stumbled into a cave that looked awfully familiar and then i realized where i was one short walk to new londo and one little lift ride later and i was back in firelink shrine where i could not only repair but also upgrade some things before heading off back down below dark souls lack of fast travel had allowed me to create a situation of genuine danger and tension even though i had played this game twice before back when it first released and then dark souls highly interconnected world ended up being the thing to save my arse in the moment when i needed it the most it was like i had just experienced my own little narrative arc full of drama and highs and lows and this just isnt something you would find in many other games the way i see it is that being at firelink shrine is like being a ship safely in harbor and heading off into the unknown of darkstorms world is like casting off and setting sail and you dont know exactly how long the journey will take or whether the waters will be calm or whether you have everything with you that you need or whether you end up in the destination that you intend but ultimately you just have to go for it anyway the game asks you to take that leap of faith but it rewards you for doing so through the experiences this creates and no other game even from from software themselves does this anywhere near as well in the end mastering dark souls world presents a greater challenge than even its most deadly enemies you receive little guidance after journey and navigate through numerous hostile locations are given no easy ways out of difficult situations and you are always forced to meet this world on its own terms and so through the foes you face and the lands you traverse dark souls asks the player to struggle to suffer to persevere and ultimately to overcome but where does this actually get you Music a major part of dark souls is stumbling around its world feeling lost but if you do persist the player will come across some more substantial guidance eventually ring the two bells of awakening and the primordial serpent king seeker frampt appears before you in firing shrine and offers to elucidate your fate he tasks you with succeeding the great lord gwyn by linking the fire in order to cast away the dark to do this you must journey to the great city of anor londo to acquire the lord vessel and then collect four great souls from the same lords you hear about in the games opening narration anor londo is perhaps the games most iconic location and its vast scale and the players unusual traversal route that has you journeying across rooftops beams and buttresses do a great job at making the player feel small and out of place all while its strange emptiness helps emphasize the fool of this once great civilization still its after this section where much of the most common criticisms of this game are placed i can understand why this is as these four late game locations dont always feel as high quality and enjoyable to play through as some of the games earlier ones but i still feel much of this criticism has been rather exaggerated the tomb of giants lost izalith dukes archive and londo all feel highly distinct and memorable they come at a time when the player has likely mastered much of the games core combat system and has gotten used to the concept of exploring non-linear locations and dealing with enemy ambushes and so each of these four locations seems to be designed with their own specific twist to ensure the player is still challenged and taken out of their comfort zone for example the tomb of giants reduces visibility by plunging you into near-complete darkness lost izalith features damaging lava and undefeatable demons the dukes archive is focused around tricking the player with the unwinnable boss fight the puzzle-like layout of its stairways and later the invisible crystal pathways and new londo features enemies that move through walls and can only be harmed after using a consumable item to me it seems appropriate that to acquire powerful lord souls the player would need to travel to even more dangerous locations and each of these places succeeds at making you feel like youre trespassing into someone elses domain they do a good job at putting you on the back foot and making you feel like youre at a disadvantage which helps allow the game to maintain tension and feel like its still building to something greater some people have criticized these locations for their lack of interconnectivity but you are traveling to some of this worlds lowest depths and most hidden corners so a lack of interconnectivity does have a logical explanation in this case and seeing as how no other game of this type has come even close to replicating dark souls interconnected world it seems fairer to praise dark souls for how much of its world it does manage to connect rather than criticize it for the few locations it doesnt still with the four lord souls acquired the way to the first flame is opened leading to one of the most impressive vistas in the entire series at the heart of this kiln is lord gwyn himself or at least whats left of him and if you overcome this one final obstacle you are free at long last to link the first flame as you might expect from dark souls no one ever explicitly says what linking the first flame entails and it turns out that this linking involves giving yourself to the flame giving your life your power all the accumulated souls that have helped you grow over your journey that the fire will now consume as fuel to carry on burning and sustain the age of fire a little longer this is a strange way for a game to end theres no fanfare no narration no one praises you or says anything theres not even any sign or hint of the future youve sacrificed yourself to bring about it just fades to black as you are undying character finally dies Music still even if no one will remember your sacrifice at least you can say that you did the right thing except if the player instead ignores the directions of king seeker frampt and journeys to new londo to defeat the four kings before placing the lord vessel you can meet dark stalker calf another primordial serpent who gives a very different account of this worlds events calf proclaims that humans are linked to the dark as a result of a dark soul claimed by our ancestors he goes on to say that the fading of the flame and encroaching darkness will actually lead to an age of man and that the great lord gwyn has in fact manipulated events to trick future humans into linking the flame against their actual best interests in effect calf is telling you that everything you thought you knew about man darkness the first flame and gwyn is actually all wrong his solution is to let the flame fade and instead use your power to rule this new age as a dark lord which you can do by giving him the lord vessel instead of frampt and completing the rest of the game as normal where you simply walk away after defeating gwyn instead of linking the flame there is no actual way to know which of these remarkably similar looking and sounding primordial serpents is telling you the truth if even one of them is and with this revelation what little concrete knowledge the player was given about this world and their purpose has been taken from them leaving you unable to determine what is right or wrong and what the point of everything was the irony here is that if you didnt go searching for more answers you wouldnt have these questions after all carth is well hidden meaning players are very unlikely to find him on their own and the normal ending of linking the flame provides a bittersweet yet satisfying conclusion one that suggests there is hope for the future in a way that still fits with the games overall somber tone instead though your reward for trying to understand more is to understand less while having your previously heroic journey robbed of all its heroism you might hope then that answers would be more forthcoming in the sequels after all dark souls seems designed to reward player perseverance as if it wants to encourage players to never give up despite how hard things get and so maybe the answers are out there and you just need to play more games read more item descriptions and link more flames and yet dark souls 2s narrative answers nothing and instead focuses on your futility making it clear that the linking and fading of the first flame is all just part of a cycle one that has happened again and again and one that will keep on happening as flames will always fade the secret ending for this game even says in its narration that its our fate to insatiably seek a path that doesnt even exist not to worry one more game to go and lets be real of course dark souls 2 doesnt provide any real answers its just the middle part of a trilogy and then we get to dark souls 3 and what do you know it is different because instead of just the same cycle repeating once more this time the cycle has gone a bit wrong the one chosen to link the flame in this age prince lothric has refused and the undead curse has not managed to provide a chosen undead to do the duty either and so in an act of desperation the flame itself has resurrected great lords of the past people who did once link the flame in their own age to collect the lords souls and link the flame once more and yet these lords of cinder also turn out to be unwilling and with no one worthy left to call upon the flame is then forced to turn to the unworthy this is who you play as an unkindled one who tried to link the flame in their own age but failed and so was never fully consumed by the fire and as you go through the same old motion of journeying across dangerous lands to defeat bosses and collect lord souls it becomes clearer and clearer but this cycle of linking the flame is coming to its end regardless of what you or it think about this the world is quite literally running out of people to save it amongst its current inhabitants its very hard to find anyone who still seems to care and in its attempt to continue this world is just becoming more corrupted and distorted to the point where the land around the first flame is actively collapsing in on itself in a state of entropic decay reflective of the age of fire as a whole dark souls 1 was the first repeat of this cycle and it seems like dark souls 3 is meant to be the last and sure you can still link the flame but in doing so it responds with nothing but a faint whimper that is a far cry from the roaring flames the player sees in the first game and so it seems it is finally time to let the fire fade not because the age of darkness would be better but because the age of fire is simply unable to continue the flame has run out of fuel and you can either let its embers slowly fade or hasten events by putting them out safely and yet when you do that you hear this the first flame quickly fades darkness will shortly settle but one day Music tiny flames will dance across the darkness like embers linked by lords pass by dark souls standards this is about as definitive and direct as explanations ever get and what it says is that the age of darkness will simply lead to another age of fire possibly even the exact same age of fire i mean the age of ancients is only a name given to that time by those who came after and it was described as a time where the world was grey and unformed which sounds a lot like a world of ash the presence of arch trees and dragons dont disprove this either in dark souls 3 there are a lot of examples of new trees seemingly growing within this ashen world and archdragon peak seems to suggest that some people might be turning into dragons regardless it seems indisputable that fire will follow darkness and thus dark souls story is concluded this effectively means that all endings across all games are basically the same ending and anything the player might do doesnt matter and it never did link the flame or walk away at the end of dark souls 1 and it changes nothing dark souls 2 still happens regardless proving that even if you didnt link the flame someone else did the same is true in dark souls 2 for it will always lead into dark souls 3 and in dark souls 3 every ending secret or not still shows the darkness will soon be upon us and that darkness will simply lead into an age of fire all over again and thats it thats the end of dark souls every ending is the same ending nothing you did ever mattered and its all just pointless Music the inhabitants of dark souls world are going hollow you might think this is because of the undead curse the dark sign the fading flame and the encroaching darkness but its not these things would cause everyone to hollow when the fire does finally fade but that hasnt happened yet instead the reason they go hollow is because in the face of this impending doom they give up they become resigned to their fate with no reason to continue and hollowing is the result this is shown by the various fates of the games many npcs these characters have different motivations some are on missions some have someone to protect some search for knowledge adventure answers purpose and yet almost all of them meet the same end they go hollow after losing their reason or motivation to continue sometimes as a direct result of the players own actions or immediately after they achieve their initial goal this is the same situation the players character is in it doesnt matter how many times you die or how you might look your character will not go hollow they will never go hollow as long as you keep trying the first flame may well be fading but it is happy to wait for you as long as that might take so long as you keep playing the game but if you instead give up this becomes the moment your character hollows just like how it happens with everyone else in this world and this becomes the moment the first fame finally fades as the light of your tv screen fades to black for the last time in this way the experience of the player and their character are in sync you are a part of the games story and its your resolve thats being tested just like how it is for every other inhabitant of this world and the game does try to test that resolve of yours youre dumped in a bleak hostile dying world with little explained and less understood where the game then tries to kill you over and over again taking your souls wasting your time and always asking you do you really have what it takes are you really going to keep going are you sure you wouldnt just prefer to turn the game off and roll over and hollow alongside everyone else and its left up to you how you respond to this but if you do choose to persist you will eventually find yourself rising to the games challenges both as a result of the games more encouraging than it might initially seem design and as a result of your own hard work this is the real reason why we succeed on our journey after all we are not the most powerful or skillful warrior around i mean if the player only had one life they wouldnt get far and sure you defeat many powerful bosses but most of these bosses also defeat you possibly many times its only because you get back up again and keep trying that youre able to accomplish the things you do in this game it is only through perseverance and this is what dark souls is about it wants you to feel challenged lost and intimidated and then it wants you to overcome all this through perseverance this is the true story of dark souls and its one that is told for its world its gameplay its mechanics and most important of all the player themselves however this story of perseverance and overcoming is ultimately reflected by the games broader narrative as well dark souls presents the player with a world and story thats confusing where the player feels lost where details dont always make sense where hope is fading where the world is always dying and where its ultimately hard to claim that anything the player ever does matters and then it challenges you to find meaning in it anyway in spite of the pointlessness and the struggle and in defiance of this inevitable end shared by all things that the fading flame represents dark souls forces you to find your own meaning and players do whether through the satisfaction of overcoming challenges or through each other and the shared experiences created through memes messages and more or through the search of knowledge and exploring the depths of the games law to find every answer that is out there or through creation which can allow this world and the experiences it creates to live on elsewhere or through plain old simple fun and is any of this really so different to our own lives one day you will die and so will everyone else whoever lives one day all life will end all knowledge will be forgotten all stars will fade and eventually the universe itself will reach a state where entropy can no longer increase and the heat death of all things will commence ending all that ever was or could be the flame always fades and we live our lives aware of this one day you will die and thats probably something you think about sometimes i know i do its not that easy being alive its not easy finding meaning in an inherently meaningless world its not always easy to justify continuing in the face of our struggles and suffering its not easy living a life where we always have to face death but we do because it is simply a part of being alive in dark souls world and our own there are some things that are beyond our control the flame always fades for most of us though we still choose to continue onwards regardless in this way dark souls explores many of our deepest human concerns why are we here why do we suffer how do we find meaning in our existence how do we accept that one day we will die and so on what dark souls doesnt do is provide definitive answers to these problems but really no game ever could and no answer may even be out there still what dark souls does do is provide space for us to create our own answers and i think that is enough after all that is about as much as we get in our own lives as well Music dark souls is a game which defined a generation it single-handedly created a positive association with difficulty within gaming it left a legacy on the industry that is still being loudly heard to this day and it did all this not through having the highest budget the longest development or the largest team working on it but rather for a steadfast commitment to its own vision dark souls breaks so many rules of game design that its world stops feeling like a game and becomes a place of danger adventure and discovery its high difficulty masterfully walks a line between challenging players while still making sure they always feel like they can overcome these challenges its levels and world design offer a sense of genuine exploration that is almost unrivaled and as for that world its interconnectivity and cohesion make it stand completely unique even amongst other games of the genre it created and to top it all off there is a level of detail to this world but this video has barely even hinted at it is a place built from the ground up with care and consideration in how every single piece should fit into the larger hole and that larger hole is always aligned with the games themes and its broader meaning and in a time when so many games use so many words to say so little dark souls stands as a testament to how the entire game can be used to tell its story and how if you do it well enough you wont even need players to read or understand a single word for them to still feel like they get it if you ever wanted to win the argument of whether games can be considered art dark souls is your path to an easy victory that said its not as art that i think dark souls should best be remembered but rather as the champion of games as an experience dark souls takes you places it makes you feel emotions and it asks you questions that you may well still be grappling with for years and years to come and thats why dark souls is underrated thank you for watching my video Music hello the video is over now you might be thinking that it took a while for me to make this and that clearly this never knows best guy is just getting lazy now that hes sold out and took the big sponsor money but thats not true the lazy part anyway because i actually have made another video recently its just on a different channel because its not about video games that said it is in my opinion a good video all feedback on it has been very positive and so if you want more content or you just feel like you know being nice go check it out ill put a link on screen its about the ways that people are lied to and manipulated about peoples appearance and you should watch it it would make me happy if it got more views otherwise the next video is going to be about a little unknown indie game i found out about recently uh its called elden ring modern steam radiators This Dark Souls game is pretty good I guess. Shame about the servers... and the poor remaster... and the bad original pc port... and the servers.Patreon - Other channel video - 0:00 Introduction 3:08 Part 1 - The other souls game 11:13 Part 2 - Unclear beginnings 21:19 Part 3 - Conquering your foes 29:51 Part 4 - Conquering the world 44:33 Part 5 - But whats the point? 58:35 Part 6 - Whats actually the point 1:06:19 Conclusion Spoilers for all of Dark Souls 1 and the endings for Dark Souls 2 and 3. steam top porn games steam games with controller support how to share steam games with another computer free games on steam now steam games crashing randomly