You might think I’m insane. To some, getting the Platinum trophy for a game once is arduous enough, so to go back and do it all again must seem like madness. Thing is, I love Dark Souls (and Demon’s Souls, and Bloodborne most of all) and I really don’t mind doing it all again for the Remaster – even if killing Sif repeatedly for the boss weapons breaks my heart and going through Sen’s Fortress on New Game plus is a whole new depth of gaming hell that breaks my controller.
Find out more, right after the jump.
As far as the Dark Souls trophies go, none of them are particularly difficult in and of themselves, but a few of them take a bit of time and effort, if not necessarily skill, to earn – namely the “Collect all Weapons/Miracles/Sorceries/Pyromancies” trophies. Why? Because these require you to grind most of the covenants, complete several obscure questlines, and run the game at least two and a half times (killing Sif three times is required for all the weapons that can be made from her soul).
As I always do, I’ve been uploading all of my boss kills to my YouTube channel, here.
The Souls series of games are by far my favourite gaming franchise, and I’ve discussed why at length previously. Each of the games has their own special place on my heart for various reasons, and it’s these reasons that I wanted to discuss.
Dark Souls can’t claim to be the first game to follow it’s specific formula of punishing combat, obscure lore, and aesthetic of decay, if only due to its very nature as a successor to Demon’s Souls. However, Dark Souls took these ideas from its predecessor and built on them to create arguably one of the most influential games of a generation.
The lore of Dark Souls, however, resonated with me more than Demon’s Souls – we’re witnessing the end of an age, the final shudders of a kingdom that had long been in the throes of death. The history of this land is not a happy one, it’s a story of human failures, of fear of the unknown, and the depths we’ll go to in the name of survival – the Witch of Izalith damns her entire people, Seathe (and ultimately Big Hat Logan) both go insane in the pursuit of knowledge, and Gwyn locks the world into a cycle of decay and undeath to stave off the dark.
The land of Lordran is arranged like a cylinder. From Firelink shrine, the journey downwards leads to the catacombs, Blight Town, Lost Izalith, New Londo and the Tomb of Giants. The further one descends, the more ubiquitous the dark becomes – disease and decay, a corrupted civilization, the sunken ruins of another, and the domain of the Lord of Death himself. Below even this we find the last of the Eternal Dragons, neither alive nor dead.
Rising from Firelink Shrine we find more hopeful settings, the light is brighter, an entire township (decaying and full of the undead perhaps) but religion becomes more noticeable and it’s a religion of hope, of the Old Gods of Light and further upwards still is the glittering citadel of their reign.
This design reflects the nature of the world and it is with hope that we ascend to Anor Londo – hope that we can renew this age and heal the world. Those who stay the course of this hopeful path may go on to link the fire and realise this wish.
Those who spend more time in the descent may learn that the hope is all a lie, Kaathe talks of the truth of Gwyn’s fear and the rise of the Lord of Darkness. They may even return to Anor Londo and expose this deceit, flipping the narrative on its head.
Perhaps this is a way of stating that hope can do great things, even if that hope is ultimately based on a lie, but there is no good or bad ending, it’s purely a look at the human condition, how we face our fear or run from it, and we, as the player, have to wrestle with our own kind of hope – how long we can keep trying at something before we give up.
Those of us who have played and completed the game have shown that we live by the undead adage of “If you get knocked down seven times, get back up eight”. We have proven that we can overcome anything and that we can decide our own fate in a world that is crumbling around us. It is up to us to keep the torch lit.
I find that empowering, not just as a gamer, but as a human. Even having played Bloodborne, and Dark Souls 3 and 2 before getting to play the original of PS3, I struggled. Some of the older mechanics and the lack of omnidirectional rolling, combined with some punishing enemies and bosses, but the game taught me that the struggle was human and it’s the hope of what may yet come from that struggle (no matter how falsely it may be placed) that keeps us going.
That is why I am happy to struggle through to the platinum trophy a second time.
How about you? If you played the original Dark Souls, what did you like about it? What kept you going?