When I first played Dark Souls, it was the bane of my existence. It was everything I hated in a video game. The enemies were bastards, and too powerful. I was a weak undead, meddling my way through what seemed like easy enemies, but of course, they’d bash me four times and I’d be dead. The drops were nil, and I was furious. I couldn’t figure out why this game was out to get me. From Software prepared me to die, but they did not prepare me to be slaughtered like the next pig in line.
But alas, I stuck with it. I persevered. Many people say that it’s not the end result that matters, but the adventure that brings you to that result, and the hurdles you overcome. This game taught many lessons on not only how to defeat a Capra Demon, or how to avoid being cursed, but it taught many lessons in life. I’ve not only become a better gamer as a result of this adventure, but I’ve become a better person. I’ve become a warrior; a light skinned, god damn hero. This testimonial is not only how Dark Souls changed my life, but how these life tactics taught throughout your adventure can help you, and how they helped me.
The one thing that was drastically changed from Demon’s Souls was the introduction of the Estus Flask. Instead of dropping grasses that you could use to heal, essentially gaining the maximum number, and never having to worry about not being able to heal, you now carry with you the Estus Flask. At every bonfire, your Estus will refill, and by default, you will gain 5. After kindling, you’ll be able to attain 10, and with Rite of Kindling, you’ll achieve 15 and 20. What may seem like a minor change drastically changed the way you play.
You can not simply sit back, endure attacks, heal, rinse and repeat. Oh no boys and girls, you have to realize that you must maintain a discipline to ensure that you’ll have enough Estus for the big boss fight. Or maybe just enough to get through the level. Every Estus matters, and you’ll be hurt for every Estus you use that you will need later on. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Brett, how in the hell does this relate to real life?” You’re so lucky that I’m here, because that’s exactly what I’m about to answer.
Say you’ve got a small bag of cheese puffs. Now, cheese puffs are your absolute favorite snack, and you can’t imagine doing any differently than just scarfing down the entire bag in one sitting, but then you think, “Damn, I’d really like some later too.” Knowing yourself, you say that’s impossible. Then you think back to the times when you probably could have used a nice heal in your favorite game Dark Souls, but you waited. You waited until you really needed it, just like you would wait until you really wanted those cheese puffs again. Sometimes a little discipline can go a long way, even if it just means waiting on your favorite snack to get the most out of it. You’ll find with Dark Souls, you’ll be savoring every moment of your undead life, walking with caution, and scantily using those precious Estus Flasks, using the utmost discipline in their usage.
You know, as a child they always told me good things come to those that wait. I just called it a load of crap and rushed everything, usually stumbling upon my every move. I never really was the patient type either. Doctor’s offices were the bane of my existence, and all I could see was the end of the tunnel, not the small ride towards it. I’d do whatever I could to decrease wait time, and increase production time. Dark Souls has no sympathy for the impatient. You may say to yourself, “I’ll just run past those rats, they’re easy enough anyways,” and that’s true. But what are you going to be doing when you’re lying dead, poisoned, stamina drained, and trapped by seven rats in the depths, cursed from the frogs who also happened to ambush you. You know what you’ll say? I know what you’ll say. “I wish I waited.” Me too my friend. Me. Too.
|He can’t be that ba-oh look he’s got a brothe—|
Patience is a virtue, and no other software can teach that better than Dark Souls. I’ve broken a controller or two due to this game, I won’t lie. This game is brutal, and you’ll learn that throughout your adventure. But seriously, patience is the number one tip that anyone can give you for this game. With each death comes a lesson. A lesson on how to survive, and what you’re up against. You will die, over and over again. It’s a part of the game, and a brutal lesson that with each death, you must learn patience, and apply the lessons you’ve learned. Bosses will kneel before you when you apply this lesson. They’ll fall slowly, but easily. It’s all within your ability to simply wait for the right moment, and seizing that moment.
This learned ability will make you a better person. It’s not as if the virtue of patience is only applicable to Dark Souls. You’ll find it helps with more games, and even more so in life. Everything in life moves so quickly, so sometimes you need to take a moment and look around you. Just bask in the wonder of life. You will find that good things truly do come to those who wait, whether it’s the Soul of Gwyn, or that new job you’ve applied for just after college, or a car you’ve been saving up for.
A beautiful part of Dark Souls is the multiplayer. Seeing the ghost of another player makes the world seem so real, with other beings existing in it. You’re able to summon people into your world to help you conquer the beasts inside of it, and with that comes a sort of etiquette. Typically, you’re greeted with a bow. There is no voice chat in Dark Souls, but you can tell through the gestures exactly what the other character is thinking. This game takes cooperative modes and turns it into cooperation.
|“If only I could be so grossly incandescent”|
When you’re in human form, invaders can come and destroy your world. They can force you to kill important NPCs, and kill you, risking all of your precious souls. There are some invaders, though, who also hold true to this etiquette. Before attacking, there will often be a battleground established, and both combatants will bow before the first move is made. Most games do not see such discipline as this, seeing as griefing and exploitation is a main draw for some multiplayer gamers. Dark Souls teaches manners.
Etiquette is an important part of life. Respect is given to those with good manners, and Dark Souls is proof of this. It teaches you to be fair, and to help others. Helping others is always a great thing, and sometimes, you’ll require the assistance of others. No other game captures this as well as Dark Souls.
A plan. One thing that everyone either has, or needs. It’s what makes us strive for success, and what drives us to do things we may not want to, like go to school. A person with a plan is associated with good wellbeing, and responsibility. With every plan comes a strategy to defeat this plan. I know that I myself lack a plan, but I now know that I need one. I wouldn’t say Dark Souls has taught me this, but it certainly reinforces it.
Every new area in this game requires a new strategy. Your one and only goal, besides slaying a boss, is reaching the next bonfire. For some areas you may get lucky, and it may be close. Sometimes you’ll unlock shortcuts, which help a ton. Other times, though, you’ll realize that there are some serious mountains to climb in order to reach your destination. Sometimes it’s avoiding a certain enemy because you’re too weak. Maybe you’re super afraid of being cursed from the (goddamn) frogs. Mishaps are a definite, but as previously mentioned, you learn with every mistake. Every strategy teaches you how to overcome any task in the game, and with said strategies, you’ll breeze through the game.
You need strategy to survive. It’s the only way you’ll be able to achieve a plan, and make sure everything in life goes accordingly. I am currently working on a plan, but when you’re struggling with your plan, or you haven’t come up with one yet, simply strategize. Come up with ways to overcome any bumps and bruises, and persevere. Any strategy will turn mountains into mole hills, and you’ll go on just fine.
|Get used to this screen.|
To conclude, there is a reason this game is receiving so much praise. It is so much more than just the game you play. It’s an adventure. You become the Knight, or the Thief, or the Wanderer. You are not playing as someone, but you are the one in this game. It’s because of this that you learn so much about yourself, and how you can tackle and overcome such conflicts in life. It teaches you how to become a better gamer, and it teaches you how to live properly.
I’ve tackled this game three times now, and through each new character I learn a little more. I’ve literally become a more patient person because of this game, and I’m sure it has had the same effect on many others. It may not have any effect on you as a gamer, but I hope I shed some light on the pure excellence of this gem.