The Lone Gamer is a Dark Souls Noob: Part Deux

Brickwallgames’ excellent Dark Souls Walkthrough on Youtube is my companion during my time in Lordran.

As I mentioned earlier, thanks to my Bloodborne experience, I decided against all common sense to return to an even more punishing From Software game- Dark Souls. And to be fair, I am having a TON of fun, in as much fun as you can have from this masochistic-laced RPG. Seriously though, the more traditional fantasy setting and the relatively more cheerful(!) tone compared to the far darker horror aesthetic and style of Bloodborne is very refreshing. Dark Souls CHEERFUL? MAD!

Anyways, since my last post on this subject, I guided my fetching Sorcereress to higher levels with a little bit of grinding. With the first levels- the Undead Burg and Parish, the Depths and the infamous Blighttown are now past me, their bosses slain, I moved on to one of the most infamous and frustrating areas of the game- Sen’s Fortress.

Once you finish the first two crucial tasks of your quest- which is to ring the two Bells of Awakening (both of which entail fighting your way to a boss and winning), this infamous zone is opened to you- in the same way a hungry lion opens its mouth to some dumb antelope. Not so much really a fortress but a lethal obstacle course, Sen’s Fortress greets you with narrow walkways, swinging giant guillotines, lethal dart traps (that would make similar traps in Skyrim look like party favors), giant crushing balls of death and, oh, an army of fierce Snake People. To be fair the Snakemen of Dark Souls are nowhere near as scary as the walking Snake bouquets of Bloodborne, but they’re still very, very dangerous.

The trick with Sen’s is to know where to go- and that is up. There is a very specific way past the dangers, and I do not deny that I watched various Dark Souls LPs to learn it. Still, knowing and doing are two very different things. I count at least ten times I failed miserably at various points, but every time I inched my way forward. Soon, I had was able to work my way past the swinging blades of doom, and eventually upgrade my weapon to quickly dispatch the otherwise very deadly Snakemen. I have to say though that I died one truly frustrating death to the last guillotine trap, a few steps away from the fortress’ bonfire and safety. AAARGGH.

But reach the bonfire I did, and from there, I eventually made my way to the zone boss- the Iron Golem… who turned out to be a total pushover that I took out on the first try, without even resorting to calling on an NPC or summon. From there, I was taken by Winged Demon Express to Anor Londo- the City of the Gods and the Undead Capital of Lordran.

Anor Londo is a vast city, although you only explore a tiny bit of it- still, the initial view of this fantasy city from your vantage point in the air is amazing. Once you arrive, you have to find the Lordvessel- some thing needed to continue your inexplicable quest. Thus begins another of the game’s frustrating gauntlets of sadism, where you have to first make your way through some narrow rafters where a single misstep means a plunging death (oh, and you have to defend yourself from ninja-like guardians all the way). Thankfully, I did this on the first try (thank you, prior knowledge!) thanks to informative LPs and the guardians’ wonderful tendency to jump to their doom all by themselves.

Its the second phase of the run that is even more frustrating- it’s a lengthy jaunt up a cathedral steps past guards and demons and up narrow ledges which are guarded by two Anor Londo Silver Knights armed with giant bows- getting hit, even while blocking, almost always ends with you falling off and dying, and having to do it all over again (you don’t have to repeat the rafters thing though, thankfully). I died here quite a few times, a couple of which right in the face of the lone archer blocking the way, which is beyond infuriating. EVENTUALLy though, the son-of-a-dungheap finally went down in a shower of white flakes, and I was through a broken window, to the bonfire and safety. For the moment.

From there, I had the time to just relax and spend the next few hours trying to master the art of Dark Souls Parrying- which is crucial to easily(?) dispatch the numerous Silver Knights on guard in the area. Thanks to my incessant upgrading (I finally got my magic weapon, a pretty sweet overly-long spear made with a previous Boss’s soul) I could kill the knights with a single parry- but I still died pretty regularly to my own mistakes. Eventually, I built up the courage to make the run to the area Boss- which was pretty much the most famous in the whole game- the Tag Team Duo of Dragonslayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough (or just Ornstein and Smough for short).

Now, it is with no exaggeration that these two epitomize From games’ record for scary, intimidating bosses. Heck, Smough alone, with his creepy metal face, giant sumo-wrestler bulk and MASSIVE hammer is scary enough- but you have to contend with Ornstein as well- a smaller (but still bigger than you) and faster armored warrior who can fly about and shoot lightning from his deadly spear. The trick to beating them is being able to keep both of them in your line of sight or to keep tabs of them, since getting caught between them is almost certain death. Yes, I’ve seen a vid of Sorcerers taking them out in a couple of minutes, but I am sure the guy was very high level and buffed in damage. Doing it myself was proving not easy. After several attempts, I was able to kill one or the other, but always came up short on the last one (who coincidentally renews the battle fully-healed and taking up his fallen ally’s powers).

Eventually I gave up and decided to try summoning and tackling the Terrible Twosome with help. For the first time ever, I got online (thank god for the PS3′s free online play) and summoned a human player (who tend to be very high level and strong) and also called to my side the popular NPC Knight Solaire. It took two attempts, but FINALLY, the bosses went down with our combined swords and spells. With total relief, I claimed my prize- the Lordvessel- from the city’s giant ruler, Princess Gwynevere (who has her own secrets, I know).

With Ornstein and Smough behind me, I have gone past a threshold. I can now fast-travel, which truly takes a load off the difficulty. From here on, I think most of the game’s hardest parts are behind me, but don’t quote me on that. There are still many quests to accomplish and bosses to beat, but at least now I don’t have something so pressing that it may take away time from my upcoming Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt game time.

Man, I wonder if From is already at work with Dark Souls 3?

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