Most gamers, if not all of them by now, have heard of the Dark Souls series. The reputation for it’s brutal gameplay, the massive boss fights, and the phrase that in order to progress at all you need to ‘git gud’.
The third and, if the game’s creator has anything to say about it, final installment in the series from From Software and Bandai/Namco continues the trend of brutality. The third person RPG formula hasn’t changed as the series has gone on, but it has for certain been refined into the most polished release yet.
The game opens with your character rising from their grave to begin a quest that isn’t completely apparent right away. The very start of the game, using messages left on the ground from the developers, does an OK job of teaching you basic combat and mechanics. From swinging your sword, to dodge rolling, and even a backstab opportunity or two. Of course, in true Dark Souls fashion, as soon as you step out into the sun, round a corner, and light the first bonfire (the game’s check points) of the game you are on your own.
Then comes the first boss. Just as soon as you are confident after fighting your way through enemies that actually fight back, you step out into an open arena where the first boss waits. This is when the game really starts to shine. From the first boss to the last, there is always a new challenge. Frustration eventually gives way to relief when you finally figure out their attacks, get the dodges just right, and claim victory from the jaws of defeat. The reward for your tenacity is a large bit of souls (the series’ currency used to buy items and level your character) along with the soul of the boss itself. These larger boss souls can be turned into either a large bit of currency or traded to a vendor in the hub for a special weapon or spell that can’t be acquired any other way.
Make no mistake, just like the rest of the series most learning comes from dying over and over again. Veterans of the series don’t make it through the game first try, or even the second. Every death teaches you something. It may be as small as where an enemy is lurking to ambush you, or a boss attack that gave a tell you didn’t notice until it had killed you. While not for everyone, this way of teaching is effective if you can push through the frustration or even anger it may cause, as the taste of victory quickly becomes addictive.
With enough time, and enough learning, any challenge can be overcome. The winning gives way to more winning. Reflexes become muscle memory. The way is set out before you, the challenges are primed. All that’s waiting is for you to rise to meet them.