Fucking hell. What have I done to myself. I’m sat here, thinking about accomplishing my next personal target in Dark Souls, writing a Dark Souls inspired response to Andi’s ‘Sam-is-a-litle-bit-shit-at-Dark-Souls’ expose, the pinnacle of investigative journalism, and after that I’ll probably go and play Dark Souls.
First of all, I have to apologise. My sincerest apologies to anyone who doesn’t give the soggiest poo about this game. My twitter feed has been full of it recently, and it’ll be even worse if you follow those brilliant men, Andi and Sean – as well as a few others - as you’ll be subjected to the helpless questions I fire off at random, helpless in the seemingly eternal dark. There’s also our tactical back and forths that usually end up with me getting toasted before I finally achieve glorious victory, brief respite, and repeat.
They’re my companions throughout Lordran, you see. Conscience-like sprites that hover alongside my ears whispering little titbits of information. Friends. Andi wasn’t being an arrogant clunge mop when he said it in his piece; he genuinely deserves (a little bit of) credit for me being where I am now (just a little bit). For those interested, I’m preparing for the colossal fight against the Four Kings. A truly beastly quadruplet of angry regal pricks who will no doubt hand me my pale, pasty arse for hours without remorse, until I finally rise up and gladly pass their masochistic behinds back to them. That kind of biblical victory is without equal, it is what makes Dark Souls what it is.
It’s only been about 3 weeks since I picked it back up again, though. I wasn’t always so obsessed. I had previously given up, driven to hatred by the sour mud sodden lake of Blighttown. Its lack of sunlight, completely brown palette and a stubborn willingness to let me succeed left me hopeless. Frustrated by a lack of understanding, taking on Quelaag on my own like a bloody idiot, I genuinely had no clue, no guidance, and no support team of personal Dark Souls trainers to spur me on when I needed it most. It led to me handing in the towel. Deep red with scabby haemoglobin, the towel has rested until now. I’m back in the game, even if I’m a little under par compared to my teammates.
It’s become almost a game of two halves, Dark Souls. I have the game itself, which consumes much of my free time at the moment, and I also have the constantly intermittent chats with our group. In a way, I find more enjoyment just talking about the game than playing it, but that’s probably just because I’m an incompetent twat who finds the game brutally difficult. It is absolutely toilsome though, isn’t it? Give me a break.
It’s an ever-moving series of targets. For Andi, Sean and the others in our little group we have going - there are about 5 or 6 of us, my heroes - I’m a blithering idiot lost in an unknown and unfriendly world. I’m one of those guys in Saving Private Ryan who blew himself up with a sticky bomb because he forgot to throw it. I’m the guy in Final Destination who laughs smugly in the face of death before his eyeballs get roasted with a pair of hair straighteners. I’m the asthmatic dude in Malcolm in the Middle. I actually have asthma so I’m allowed to laugh at that a bit.
The thing is, as much as I’m clearly an absolute pain in the ass, these guys stick around to help. No matter how substantial the advice, even if it’s just a little nudge towards a fabulous little trinket that’s hidden from view, it guides me along my way. It’s always help, even when it might seem like nothing, and offering up those nuggets of wisdom fills them with a sense of joy, I know it. After all, they’ve mastered this game to an inch of perfection. What is unchartered ground to me is a series of precisely practiced steps to them. That’s how Dark Souls works, you bloody perfect it, and you never forget your steps. When they see my exuberant screams on Twitter, when I’ve finally managed to overcome a boss I was ready to give up on just minutes before, they lap it up. They’re like my fucking parents; all sharing me like a trio of hairy paternal guardians. My three dads. PRAISE THE SON.
The group relationship became most obvious during a segment before Ornstein and Smough. In hindsight, the bit I was stuck on was an absolute piece of piss and I was just being a stupid, petulant pussy, but I had been forewarned about the impending difficulty. It was referred to me as the place where people usually give up. The summit, as if once I was passed that meagre section, everything would be hunky-dory. All I had to run and dodge a few archers while navigating a thin parapet archway. That’s all there was to it, but as with everything Dark Souls, hindsight means nothing in the heat of the moment.
Having traversed through the rest of Anor Londo, which was a delight after the trap-ridden corridors of Sen’s Fortress, I knew how close I was to a minor victory. A smouldering, red-hot bonfire lay just a few meters around the corner. If I could just – ah fuck they killed me again. And again. And a-fucking-gain. Fuck you; you absolute prick of a game. I’ve never coined more interesting swear terms than I have in this brief segment of Dark Souls. ‘For-fuck-off you plebeian Nazi’ was my favourite. You can also see my tweets in Andi’s piece, where the red haze seems to make me only interested in masturbating. DARK SOULS.
And yet, the fact I’m writing this and haven’t completely given up on life shows that I succeeded. It’s mainly thanks to Andi’s unique approach to support, which usually consists of repeating the words ‘man up’, ‘get it done’ and ‘bloody pussy’ at varying volumes and with an increasing frequency of capital letters. It’s a Malcolm Tucker approach, but it works. Of course, I know deep down that I wouldn’t have given up. I would’ve continued trying. Or would I have? I don’t know how many attempts I had left in me, especially if I was alone in the suffering. Left to cry myself into a salty tear-damped pool in the middle of my bedroom. Heart shattered, soul extinguished, hollowed.
And as we chat more and more about the game, much to people’s annoyance, others have found their curiosity prickling and have picked it up, God help their souls. They’ve witnessed these drawn out conversations from afar, where 4 guys who should probably get proper jobs are talking about weird things like ‘Humanity’, ‘kindling’ and ‘Seath the Scaleless’ at enough length that they actually want to know what all the fuss is about. It’s to no doubt prove Andi right in the fact that I am rubbish at Dark Souls.
But I thank him, and the others. This piece is essentially just a love letter to all of them. Let’s go and sit in a deer filled meadow and talk about Dark Souls for the remainder of our lives. I can’t share this with anyone else. I can’t bound into my living room and tell my mum that I’ve got a seriously irritating problem with Ceaseless Discharge, can I?
No, I bloody can’t, and you shouldn’t try either.