Editorial: Dark Souls and Difficulty

The First Bastard of a Boss Fight
Dark Souls Boss Fight

Hello, LusiSlaves! I have returned! Yes, yes I know you all were so saddened by my departure from the site but I saw fit to return and give you all my pleasure of my company once again. Last October, I punishingly played through the PlayStation 3 action role playing game, Demon’s Souls. After beating Demon’s Souls I was thoroughly flogged and beaten down, so much so that I didn’t even want to attempt the recently released sequel Dark Souls. Flash forward to the beginning of June, 2012 and the itch of a punishingly hard video game experience had returned and with that itch I turned to the long shelved Dark Souls. So I came up with the idea of chronicling the adventures through the game. For those of you not in the know about the Souls series, consider yourself lucky. The Souls series are probably the closest thing that the current generation of games has to a “NES hard” adventure game. These games are set in dying fantasy worlds where the gods have decided to punish man kind for being insolent, which players see in Demon’s Souls. In Dark Souls the player finds that similar gods have gone to war and the result of such a war is that certain people can no longer die but turn into the zombie like start of the Horrow. Now before I get into my thoughts let me set the stage for you all by giving you my character info and such:

Name:Pearson Sloan
Level: 37
Covenant: Way of White
Class: Warrior
Play Time: 17:47:21

Up to this point I have fought through the Bell Gargoyle(s), sounded the first Bell in the Undead Parish, cut my way through the Darkroot Garden taking the Moonlight Butterfly as I went, died countless times to the Capra Demon in the lower Undead Burg, waded my way through the dark and dank Depths, cut the heads of the Hydra, and finally claimed the life of the Undead Dragon. Overall the difficulty level has periodically gotten to the level of Demon Souls. More and more I am finding that the majority of my time with Dark Souls is MUCH easier then is predecessor. That being said the game does have harsh spikes of difficulty. The Bell Gargoyles, the first real bosses, will gang up on you and unless you take them one-on-one you will perish in a matter of moments. All this talk of difficulty has gotten me thinking what if From Software did bring down the overall difficulty of Dark Souls? If that is so could a possible third Souls game be easier than its predecessor? On a similar note, when did it become the norm to have certain developers only developing hard games that give gamers a real challenge? Shouldn’t all studios strive to have the same level of challenge as their competitors? The sad truth is that because of the causal gamer boom of this generation the hardcore gamers are finding that shovelware has become the dominating selling force behind the majority of video game sales. In a frightening reality we may see the day when studios like From Software can no longer survive in the causal gaming world where waggle motes and video sensor bars are the only way to play games. Where will we be then readers?


  1. Hard games like the Souls games won’t ever be the huge sellers that so many other series are, but they’ve still been quite successful overall and I don’t see From Software closing up shop anytime soon. Super Meat Boy is another game that has found both significant praise and difficulty. When Demon’s Souls released, it was the biggest selling title that Atlus had published at the time, and they have extended support for online play multiple times, with the most recent extension being just a few weeks ago.

    However, I also remember reading that any future Souls titles would not be more difficult than Dark Souls. Also, a patch was released a couple months after the release date that has made the game easier, mostly in the form of larger soul drops.

    My experience with Dark Souls was pretty similar to yours, occasional spikes of extreme difficulty, but an easier game overall. I’m not sure if this is because it is actually an easier game, or if playing Demon’s Souls first was able to prepare me better for this one.

    Keep up the good work! I look forward to hearing more about your playthrough.

  2. Welcome back, Sloan! “LusiSlaves” is my new favourite handle for our readers.

  3. The way Dark Souls was made inherently made the game easier. Bonfires are easy to abuse, and that goes a long way to making the game less harrowing. Also, From made the game more viable for other play styles that weren’t glass cannon builds. In doing so, the game became less about “never get hit” and more about “equip yourself well, and play defensively”. This pretty much made the whole affair less nail biting. The addition of the Poise stat was really what helped bring this on. That Capra Demon? If you throw on the highest Poise and highest Defense armor you have, then that fight is a joke. No “right” combination of equipment could make bosses that easy in Demon Souls. Oh and removing item burden for items not equipped is something to note, as well.

    About the only thing this game made more difficult was the item burden for equipped items. The threshold for having a quick roll is now one quarter your max burden, not half. But, again, the lack of an unequipped burden means this is a little easier to achieve.

    Overall, I enjoyed Dark Souls more than Demon Souls, despite any lowering of difficulty, simply because it brings a lot more to the table in a much better package. HOWEVER, the multiplayer is markedly worse. Thankfully for me, I didn’t make much use of it in either game, but the lack of dedicated servers for Dark Souls really hurts its replayability and is why Demon Souls still has a thriving PvP community to this day.

  4. @DefChoas I didn’t know about that patch. Since writing this post i have encountered rpobably the biggest difficulty spike in the game so far with things like the Great Wolf, Quelaag, and Sen’s Fortress.

    @Ethos I am glad to be back. Also thank you for letting me take my old spot back in you ass, it is more comfortable then I remember

    @Mel With respect to the multiplayer I have to agree and I wouldn’t be surprised if the multiplayer for Dark Souls when down before the servers for Demon’s Souls.

  5. Have fun with Smough and Orstein! It’s the only time I HAD to call for multiplayer help.

  6. Double post: I’d say “Hey if you wanted to play together, I’d be down with that”, but there’s literally NO WAY to get two specific people connected with any guarantee of success or even.

  7. @Blitzmage: Are you connected to psn/xbl while you play? If so, do you get invaded a lot? I had WAY more invaders after the patch, which was quite problematic for me because I am godawful at pvp. If possible take Mel’s advice and get help for ornstein and smough, that fight is just mean solo.

    I do wish that they made it easier to play with friends.

  8. @Mel Yeah multiplayer is a tad screwed in the game. If you ever wanted to run through Demon’s Souls together I would be down sometime after the FFVI playthrough.

    @Def I am connected to the PSN but since I am harrowed 9 time out of 10 I barley ever get invaded. I remember one time though I did get invaded and it was some kid wearing nothing but rags, a wooden shield, and a HUGE butchers knife sword thing. Needless to say he didn’t get his humanity from me!

  9. Haha, yeah. The PvP is tough in this game if you’re not speced for it. Running around doing PvE is usually a great way to get screwed by a guy with a sword that ignores physical defense. I also spent most of my time hollow, so I didn’t have to worry much about invasions. The way they set up the covenants in this game greatly determines your likelihood of getting invaded and by whom. Way of White has one of the lower propensities for invasion.

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