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What is the best part about playing a video game? Is it the thrill of watching the visual effects of a plane crash through a building and the amazement of the graphical destruction caused by the building crashing down to pieces? Is it the Hollywood style action sequences which keep the adrenaline rush going till you eventually want to jump out from the window to try and catch that ledge? Is it the thrill of racing or playing in a football game which one might not be able to achieve in real life? All of these can qualify as perfectly valid reasons for playing video games. But for me, they’re a bit too superficial. My reasons for playing games are much more basic. For me, its all about failing and trying again to correct myself. The possibility of death and the chance of life after it really intrigue me. I love a challenge, and I love to be rewarded for playing well and punished for being stupid. And in that regard, I feel Dark Souls is the best game i’ve ever played.
Improving on something like Demons Souls can be quite the challenge. Although the game did not have to create a name for itself from scratch like Demons Souls did, still when you set a standard, its always a challenge to better it. And the fact that Dark Souls has bettered its predecessor in almost every aspect speaks volumes about the developers determination to excel and make a name for themselves. But most of all, it commends their ability to make a great game. And Dark Souls is more than just a great game. It’s a love letter to all of the gamers who want a challenge, and who want to play something unique. And its not everybodys cup of tea. If you have never played demons souls, and if you’re a Call of Duty fan (I’m not trying to stereotype anybody, but if you haven’t played a difficult game before, then you wouldn’t be able to keep up with the sudden bump in difficulty levels), you’re going to get frustrated and probably regret spending $60 on this game. If you do like a challenge, and if you’ve played games like Far Cry and S.T.A.L.K.E.R., then you’re going to feel right at home.
You will die a lot in Dark Souls, but every death is a lesson to be learned, and every time you correct you’re mistakes, as the game itself puts it, there will be “Imminent Elation”. And considering the fact that you’re going to die a lot of times, the satisfaction you’re going to get will be unparalleled. Another thing I love about such games is the epic boss fights, and Dark Souls has plenty of those, and almost all of them will have you frustrated enough to break your controller. This is one game which really personifies the idiom – “Patience is the best virtue”; you cannot go all swords blazing , or else you will die, which you will even if you don’t, but to a much lesser degree.
Today, death in video games is handled very loosely. Games like Prey refrain from letting the player die in order to sustain the immersion. But I think death add layers of depth to immersion. When you have tried your best to reach the end of a level, the last thing you want to do is die, and this is where the prospect of death become nerve wrecking. Back in the old days, many games like Contra only granted a specific amount of lives to the player; lives gone, game over. These days, even the toughest of games will only spawn players at a check point infinitely. Hence, it becomes important to make the player earn his way to the next checkpoint. And no games exemplifies this more than Dark Souls. Realistically speaking, it may not the best game i’ve ever played. The experience that it gives is quite unlike anything. As the maiden in black from demons souls puts it,
Let strength be granted so the world might be mended, so the world might be mended.
That is exactly what you need in Dark Souls, along with a life worth of patience. After all, the true value of success can only be adjudged after a lot of failures, and any game which tries to personify this has to be good.