Ornstein & Smough 04/09/21

I stayed up a bit too late last night playing Dark Souls. I tend to put the controller down and turn the machine off when I suffer a particularly bad loss, which means I have a style of play that’s maybe a bit different from marathon gamers: chunks of about 30 minutes at a time, then I do something else for an hour, then 30 minutes on. Once I hit Ornstein and Smough, however, I played for about three hours straight. Fuck these guys.

This is the halfway point of the game by most accounts I’ve read online, and many fans call O&S the hardest boss of the game. I can see why.

You are in Anor Londo, a massive, desolate, marble clear city. Precipitous drops, skinny pink demons and massive golem sentinels patrol the area. Rococo style bedrooms with oil paintings of stern oligarchs and carpets with the texture of dryer lint. You are running through, wrecking shop on Silver Knights (which, I mean, one of them gave me trouble at the start of the game). Fight your way through to the fog wall, and then these two assholes come at you.

A normal game might have each character trading off, one backing away to do ranged attacks while the other moves in for the kill. Not these motherfuckers. They just kind of come at you at the same time, each one in 100% kill mode. They’re not fucking around.

In Dark Souls, when you die, you’re resurrected without your humanity. You can get it back by using an item (“Humanity”), and when you have your humanity, you can summon this guy to help you with the fight:

Here’s the problem: the spot where you summon him is patrolled by two enormous golems that, again, come at you at the same time. Many of my tries had to do with dispatching these two before summoning Solaire. Because if I summon him before going into the boss fight proper, the golems would cut his health in half. No bueno.

I took to the internet: “the crystal halberd knocks those golems out quick.” Fuck. I had to go back and kill another monster to get the crystal halberd. Once I did that, it was game time. The pressure was enormous to kill the boss(es). I was running out of Humanity, and if I ran out, I’d be forced to either go farm more, or take them on at the same time. At this point, I’d tried running straight for the boss solo, and even managed to kill the big boy on my own, at which point I was down to nearly no health. During his death animation, knowing what was coming my way, I simply sighed.

But with the golems out of the way, all 10 of my Estus flasks, AND Solaire, I managed to finally vanquish my foes. Here’s the ending video that I recorded:

My palms were sweaty, I was mumbling swears under my breath. When Ornstein hits me with that lightning bolt that nearly ends my game right there, I thought to myself, If I die at this point, I’m going to have to go to sleep.

Knowing that I’m lying to myself, honestly.

And then…I got him. I knew I had him. He was gearing up for an attack. No health left. I jogged up, stuck him with the halberd, and that was that.

Absolute elation! It’s only been surpassed by how I felt when I finally beat Isshin the Sword Saint in Sekiro. Which, to be fair, took me about a week, rather than a three-hour, red-eyed slur session.

I started listening to an old Dark Souls podcast today, which I’ll have more thoughts on tomorrow.

Have a great Friday!

3 Comments

  1. Is this game heavy on esoteric symbolism? Never played, but that pic is interesting: a knight in templar garb standing in the center of a circle with 8 points (star of Ishtar) and then next to him looks like his Solar or Astral body right next to him in what looks like a summoning circle. And, they both have their arms outstretched in the crucifixion position. That’s my first impression at least. Congrats on your victory!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, the game is definitely heavy esoteric symbolism. It would be neat to get someone like you to play through it and comment on what you see!

      Like

      1. That’d be fun! Might be my next gaming excursion when I’m back on the buttons.

        Like

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