This is my second play-through of Dark Souls 1. When I say “play-through” I mean that last year I got as far as ringing the second bell and coming face to face with Frampt. This is about one-tenth of the entire game, but it’s a really nice stopping point. The only way I was able to get even THAT far was with the assistance of my son and two of his friends.
This year I am trying a different “character build” (emphasizing different traits as my character gains in strength and skill). I’m also trying to do more on my own. Another difference this time around is that I have software that records game footage, so I hope to make some videos soon!
I really enjoy playing this game, though I probably play it differently than a lot of people. Tonight I spent about 20 min. working on my parrying skills. I hung out at the second bonfire, the one in Undead Burg, and just kept battling the same opponents over and over. Since there was very little risk involved — I could easily pick up the souls (points) I dropped when I got killed — I was free to try out some new combat techniques. I can parry successfully maybe one time out of 5. I am also practicing switching back and forth between the shield and the staff in my left hand, and the spear and the bow in my right hand. My goal is for it to be second nature. I did have an encounter this evening where I felled opponent #1 with an arrow but accidentally caught the attention of opponent #2. By the time I saw him he was just a few feet away. In my panic I forgot how to switch hands and so was whacking him over the head with my bow while still peering through the “binoculars”. The game admonished me “YOU DIED” and I said “I know, I know“.
Tonight I also practiced the most recent bit of new territory — from the second bonfire, up the ladder, to the walkway under the Dragon Bridge. First there are some poisonous rats, then there are knights that are more powerful than my familiar ones in Undead Burg, and some pesky archers. This time I got past the upper and lower archers and took the steps downward through a twisty hallway into what looked like a lunch area. I found a “mystery key”. I carefully, carefully walked across a beam and picked up a bit of treasure. Then I climbed another ladder and found a hallway blocked by a misty white wall. I left that progress point for another time.
I wanted to see what door was opened by the mystery key. There were three possibilities I knew of. As I ran around from locked door to locked door, I climbed high towers to see where I had been. In this game if you drop an item that you don’t want to carry, it hovers in the air, a glowing essence. I left a large pile of broken swords and cracked shields on the Dragon Bridge Walkway and then looked back to see where it was. The towers, walkways, and paths weave under and over each other, twisting back on themselves. I have a hard time picturing where things are in relation to each other, and so I really enjoyed looking for my glowing marker from many different locations.
I think I must have spent half an hour just walking through the empty streets, towers, rooms and stairways. They were eerily silent (because I had already cleared out the opponents). Even after about 120 hours in the world of Dark Souls, I still love wandering down the mossy cobblestone walkways past ivy-covered stone walls. I can almost smell the chill, humid air, the earthy scent of aged and rotting timbers, the smoke of the bonfires.
I decided to make my way home all the way to the first bonfire, Firelink Shrine. The undead soldiers in that area had regenerated and so I had to fight my way through them in reverse order. I tried some new approaches — for example shooting some with a bow from way up on a roof. This is a challenge because if you stand in the wrong spot your arrows bounce off the stone walls, and if you move carelessly you fall off the roof! James (of Extra Credits fame) refers to this as “ranged combat” and considers it a kind of Dark Souls easy mode. It is easy in the sense that once you have been through a new area and died a few times, you know which opponents to pick off from a distance and which to fight up close. I especially like using an arrow to “pull” one opponent away from a group so that I can deal with them one at a time.
I am currently here
In this video, Dan battles a sort of metal-armored rhinoceros-pig. I have already vanquished this creature. I did this by darting in and out of the pillars and blasting him with magic over and over again. It was a little sad to see him go: he was a magnificent creature.