Dark Souls (360)
It’s not very often that I get obsessive about a game – usually about once in a generation. In the n64/ps1 generation it was Ocarina of Time; in the xbox/ps2/gamecube generation it was Final Fantasy X.
It’s been a while since something struck me as being generation defining, but Dark Souls is it. By all accounts, I’ve barely started it, having played for a mere eight hours, but its richness, depth and sheer brutal difficulty has already made its mark.
In terms of difficulty, it reminds me a lot of Williams’ Defender. For the first dozen hours of that game, the accomplished player will have concentrated on learning how to fly the damn ship. Shooting aliens comes later. In Dark Souls, the wise gamer will perfect his fighting techniques. The bosses are tough – really tough – but pale into insignificance next to the almost casually brutal ‘general mobs’ that roam around the areas.
Entering a new area involves being mercilessly beaten to death by a few new enemy types. You spend an obscene amount of time making incremental progress through the area, punctuated by frequent messy deaths. Then you get to the boss. And die. Back to the start. Wash rinse repeat.
But it NEVER gets dull and it NEVER gets frustrating. Every time you die, it’s your own fault and you know EXACTLY what you did to get yourself killed. By the time you’re skilled enough (and I’m talking playing skills here, not Mary-Sue equipment) to handle the boss, you’re flying through that previously ‘impossible’ area with all the destructive grace of a ballet-dancing ninja. And then, when against all odds, you take down that boss without taking a scratch – well, that’s the surge of satisfaction that gaming is all about.
Brutally difficult, horrible punishing, and never unfair. This is easily the game of the generation for me.
So, advocacy done, I’ll let you know where I am. I just *finally* killed the Taurus Demon in the first area (after numerous deaths) by using a combination of plunge attacks and well-time axe-blows to the bollocks. Next up, I have a nasty knight on top of a tower to take care of…