Dark Souls 02/17/21

The X-Box Store had a sale on all the Dark Souls games. I had played the remastered original on Switch a little bit, but figured a big TV was the way to go.

I got all three games for about $45, which is less than the cost of one brand new game. Between these three (and however much I have left of Sekiro), I think I’m set on games til 2022.

I have pretty strict rules for play. At the end of the day, once all of my work is done, I’m allowed to game for about an hour. Sometimes that rolls over into an hour and a half, but never more than that.

Surprisingly, this isn’t difficult. I can feel when it’s time to turn the games off.

Overall, I think Sekiro is going to end up taking me about 80 hours to complete. I started playing it a month and half ago or so. I’m currently nearly smack in the middle of the game, judging from my count of the bosses/minibosses I’ve killed versus how many are left (21 down, 23 to go).

So in total, I’ll spend about three months with the game. I’m assuming each of the Souls games will take a similar amount of time. That means I’ll be into November before I’ve completed them. And who knows if I’m even going to have that much time to play them.

I completely lost interest in GTA V and RDR 2. I’m sure I’ll return to those games eventually, as I’ve written about their appeal in the past. I love the pulp storytelling, and some of the adventures you go on are fantastically designed.

But honestly…they’re a bit too easy. I was rolling through about a dozen missions a day in GTA. There were very few that I was failing even once. First try, best try. The only one I remember really being tough was the boat mission, where you have to drive and shoot at the same time. It’s awkward and a little clunky, but after four or five goes, you have it down, and you’re through.

I have killed a few bosses in Sekiro recently on my fifth or sixth try, but the average is around thirty, with some bosses (like Lady Butterfly) taking literal days to beat. I truly believe I fought her about a hundred times. When I finally did my shinobi execution on her, I walked into the bedroom, a little stunned. “I beat her,” I told Rios quietly. She had seen me lose several times. Looking at me incredulously, she said, “Really?”

“Yes,” I said. “I finally beat her.”

It’s a mood, it’s a vibe, it’s a feeling. It’s hard to explain!

I love the challenge of these games. I love their obtuse stories, the fact that they don’t explain the world away immediately. You have to collect pieces of information. There are YouTube pages dedicated to figuring out the story of Dark Souls, and there’s still no real consensus. You’re an undead knight in a crumbling world, condemned to die over and over as you move towards…something. Along the way, you progress to increasingly difficult and scary parts of the map…but the game isn’t linear. If you’re having a tough time with a boss, you can always go somewhere else. Level up a bit.

It’s great. If you haven’t tried these games, don’t let the difficulty get in the way. Too often what kept me from enjoying video games was the feeling that I was letting time slip away from me, being guided by the hand through a story that honestly could have just been a movie. But these are real challenges. They’re teaching you to enjoy difficult things.

And that is a life skill.

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