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Deep Dungeon: Exploring the Design of Dark Souls

September 26, 2012 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

Robert Boyd, designer of Cthulhu Saves the World and Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 carefully explores the design of the popular but often misunderstood action RPG hit.

Dark Souls has gained a reputation for being an excruciatingly difficult game. Yet despite that, the game has seen a great deal of success, both commercially (selling over a million copies in the U.S. and Europe as of the end of the publisher's last fiscal year) and critically (with a current Metacritic rating of 89).

Why has Dark Souls achieved mainstream success and has not remained merely a cult favorite? I'd like to argue that a major factor behind Dark Souls' success is the disconnect between its perceived difficulty and its actual difficulty. Dark Souls presents itself as an impossible challenge to the player outwardly, but inwardly, the game is subtly designed in many ways to help the player achieve the impossible.

(Note: this article includes a few spoilers.)

1. Marketing

The publisher of Dark Souls actively sought to brand the game as a difficult game from day one. Just look at the name of the game's official website: PrepareToDie.com. Marketing the game as being extremely difficult increases the game's perceived difficulty without changing the actual difficulty at all.

2. It lets the players make their own rules

After stacking the odds against the player (with a huge, hostile world), the game starts stacking the odds back in the player's favor. First things first -- Dark Souls doesn't force the player to play the game in any particular way. Want to play a heavily armored knight, a light-on-her-feet warrior, a mage, a priest, or all of the above? Sure thing. The game lets you use the style of hero that you feel most comfortable with. Although the player chooses one of several set classes at the beginning of the game, class selection only determines the player's starting stats and equipment; where you go from there is entirely up to you.

3. It's difficult to truly mess up your stat progression

Dark Souls lets the player allocate their stats bonuses from level-ups however they wish. This gives the expert min-maxer a great deal of flexibility to create the ultimate Dark Souls destroying machine.

But what about the less experienced player who doesn't know what they're doing? No problem -- the design has taken that into account as well. There are several effective tools available to the player that have little to no reliance on stats, like elemental weapons, armor (armor increases weight but doesn't have specific stat requirements), and powerful fire magic called pyromancy, that the player can use to dig themselves out of the hole they've created with poor level-up choices.

All level-ups give a slight boost to the player's overall defense, so no matter what you choose, you're always getting slightly more resilient. And it's possible to max out all stats eventually -- so in the end, poor choices can be fixed with grinding.

4. We're all in this together

Although it's possible for players to fight amongst themselves, players can help each other, both through posting hints for other players and by joining other players' games to help defeat Dark Souls' many bosses.

Bosses give drastically more souls (the game's currency) than normal enemies do, and helping another player is the only way to defeat a boss more than once -- so the player has a definite incentive for helping out others. The game creates a feeling of "us vs. the game" and not just "us vs. us."


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Comments


E McNeill
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I kinda feel like there's something sinister about designing a game to seem much more difficult than it is. It seems like a way of tricking the player into feeling a sense of pride that's disproportionate to their actual accomplishment, almost like the dopamine-drip designs of some vapid farming games.

I enjoy that sensation of fiero, but I do think there's a difference between earned pride and wholly synthesized emotions. Should good games strive to be more "honest" about their systems?

E McNeill
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I'm not so much asking about companies being honest about games, but whether games should be honest about themselves. The interesting thing to me, here, is more the misdirection within the game itself rather than in the marketing. (I'm also not that interested in Dark Souls specifically, but in this technique in general.)

Michael Pianta
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I don't think anything this game does is dishonest in that respect, really. In actuality this is typical game design stuff. Like point 3 - "It's difficult to truly mess up your stat progression" - well, that's the case in most RPGs. You can almost always overcome poor decisions by grinding - going all the way back to Dragon Warrior. What about point 8, "Exploration is a limitless resource." It's true that in Zelda bombs are required to enter secret walls, but in every Zelda after the first one those secret walls were well marked so that any attentive player could find them all. Meanwhile, even going all the way back to the original Metroid, bombs were limitless there and you could search for secrets to your hearts content. Perhaps the only thing that I would actually call misdirection (as opposed to just good game design) is point 9. But even then, making the earliest bosses huge and imposing is a traditional game design tactic going way way back. Remember Demon's Crest or Mega Man X?

I'm guess I'm just not clear about in what sense the game is misleading in any of this. I would rename this article "How Dark Souls uses conventions of 8/16-bit game design and demonstrates that there are subtle ways to guide players without constantly holding their hands (and gamer's seem to like it)."

Nick McKergow
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Not if being misleading enhances the player's experience. It's all about creating a believable world, which Dark Souls does very well. You don't feel mislead about being engrossed in a good fantasy novel, even though technically the author is using everything at their disposal to make you buy into it.

Chris Proctor
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"It's difficult to truly mess up your stat progression" - well, that's the case in most RPGs.
There are some notable exceptions, e.g. most Elder Scrolls games, where the game scales enemies by level. If you level noncombat skills, when you come up against an enemy you're in deep trouble.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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Have you actually played either of the Souls games? Dark is genuinely far more difficult than Demon's. They seized on the basic enthusiasm for Demon's Souls in their approach to marketing this, and that's understandable.

About all the "perceived difficullty" really changes is the player expectations-people are more aware they need to be patient with this game.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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@Kellam

I have to disagree on that one... it seems to me like they made Dark souls much more forgiving. The self-replenishing healing flask (instead of 1-use items) is one example, another example is how in Demon souls you can't hope to block attacks by a boss, but in Dark souls you can block *almost* every boss attack with an heavy shield. And the shiny gecko respawn if you miss them, and so on.

Each of these changes are good, you should be able to use skills you train with the normal enemies on the boss, farming herbs was just annoying and the one-chance geckos were just frustrating. But they all made the game easier too, especially after the patch.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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"After a few relatively easy fights up the stairs, the player discovers several monster lure items on a ledge directly above the armored boar. What the player should do soon becomes obvious -- throw a few monster lure items into a nearby fire, and watch as the armored boar commits suicide by running into the fire."

Haha, I didnt know you could do that, I never used the enemy lure. I just killed the boar from the set of stairs going down inside, since he doesnt fit in. Or shoot at him from the top. Then jump down on him for the finish, targeting his weak point (the back) for MASSIVE DAMAGE.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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Man, I'd just roll and attack him from behind as he went past. This is what I love about this game-there are tons of opportunities to find a unique strategy.

Muir Freeland
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I absolutely love the level design in Dark Souls. This could merit an entire post all of its own, but Dark Souls is really the truest spiritual successor we've ever had to Super Metroid -- much truer than other games in the Metroid series, even though the game looks completely different on the surface.

At its core, Dark Souls is really a game about carving your own path through a lonely, hostile world. There's an obvious intended sequence of progression, but the game feels huge and open and multifaceted, even when you're unknowingly following a set path. Veteran players can sequence break through sheer knowledge of the world: if you're up to the challenge, nothing is preventing you from, say, fighting the Four Kings as one of the first bosses in the game, and the sprinting jump ability you have is surprisingly similar to Super Metroid's wall jump in that it's a mechanic that's never explicitly mentioned to the player that potentially opens up new areas. And just like Super Metroid, Dark Souls uses its atmosphere in very intentional ways to feel a lot more confusing and difficult than it really is.

I'm bummed that Metroid is so neglected these days, but as long as the Souls series keeps going, I'm confident that that particular itch will get scratched.

Christian Nutt
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Yep, it's well worth discussing the level design of the game, which is, indeed, fantastic. Actually Robert did that in his initial blog post about the game upon release, which is why I thought to ask him to write this article. You can read that here:

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RobertBoyd/20111010/90386/9_Things
_We_can_Learn_about_Game_Design_from_Dark_Souls.php

Muir Freeland
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This is excellent. Thanks!

Robert Boyd
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Actually, several people have called Dark Souls the spiritual successor to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a game which has definite similarities to Super Metroid. There was an even a nifty comparison chart going around the Internet at one point although I can't seem to find it now.

Muir Freeland
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I have to disagree with the SotN comparison on the simple grounds that SotN has nowhere near as much structure as Dark Souls or Super Metroid. I'll give it that SotN and Dark Souls are similar in that they have more variety in terms of monsters and weapons and abilities. If you strip the surface level stuff away and look at the sheer intent of design, though, SotN doesn't hold a candle to either of those.

CHASE DE LANGUILLETTE
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Interesting comparison, but Demon/Dark Souls has always felt like an extension of the King's Field series to me (also developed by From Software), especially King's Field 2. Beyond some some obvious similarities such as the Moonlight Sword (http://goo.gl/jnYaD and http://goo.gl/C0rLp), the structure of the games were very similar in that there was gated progression in a relatively non-linear, open world.

If you're comparing these games to metroid/zelda/sotn, it's important to note that (generally) those games mainly gated your progress by way of needing special items or powers such as a double jump, a raft or a spell, whereas in the souls games (and in King's Field), the typical gate you will face is strong enemies, weak gear, or lack of skill.

That said, I much prefer having difficulty as a gate instead of an item checklist. There's something very thrilling about exploring (and surviving) dungeons & caves you have no business being in, especially when you find powerful equipment well ahead of the 'designed' curve -- it rewards exploration and good play. The opposite of this would be the approach taken by Oblivion, where the world levels up with you -- the world becomes flat and uninteresting once you realize there is no real sense of danger.

Michael Ruud
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@ Robert & Muir

While both games have a conceptually similar framework, their execution is what separates them. When you balance the difficulty of your game on the edge of a knife player decisions matter that much more. With Dark Souls, every choice has legitimate weight and consequence at both the micro and macro level. Dark Souls is a game wholly dedicated and designed around the concept of deliberate intent. SotN, on the other hand, is all about providing superfluous and artificial choices while failing demand that they be explored, let alone, even understood. Which is why it a much more accurate spiritual successor to Super Metorid than SotN or any number of the other Metroidvanias could ever hope at achieving. It's about making every single piece matter.

Josh Bycer
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I still feel that moment to moment, Demon's Souls was a better experience compared to Dark Souls. While Dark Souls' systems were more refined as mentioned (the health and magic system, all stats increase defense.)

For me, Dark Souls ends after the Painted World and Anor Londo as I hate the last quarter of the game (Last Izalith, Valley of the Giants, Crystal Caves) They weren't as rewarding as they were more about being built on a cheap twist with very few checkpoints. My favorite level was Sen's Fortress (with Painted World a close 2nd) as I thought that it encapsulated the best parts of Demon's Souls design. It was focused, challenging and rewarded the players who got through it with a quick shortcut through the trouble spots.

Supposedly the PC version of Dark Souls was updated even more then the PS3 and 360 and added in more warp zones and re-balanced some items. But I haven't played it yet and I can't confirm that or not.

Robert Marney
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Yes, the PC version has added warp zones - notably in the very places you mention, the Tomb of the Giants and the Crystal Caves, allowing you to leave before the (very tough, gimmicky) bosses and easily come back later with the correct equipment and a few more levels.

Kenneth Blaney
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I distinctly remember my experience in the first game with point 9. That is, I got to the second boss in 1-2 who was a giant knight holding a tower shield. Then archers appeared on all the walls and the game gave me control again. "How the hell am I supposed to fight that?" The continuous trying and failing until eventually figuring out the patterns and beating the boss made the victory that much more triumphant.

"Demon's Souls" and "Dark Souls" both do an engagement curve very well. That is, each level is a small obstacle course with areas of low intensity punctuated by occasional bigger/unique enemies leading up to a major boss. It doesn't just try to ramp the excitement up to 11 and keep it there. It instead offers a "cool down" period after every boss.

Leroy Frederick
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I really didn't get on with Dark Souls, especially after had already be spoiled with a dynamic truly-open world game like Skyrim (and even Fallout 3 (I got it late)) it just seemed to be to backward a game for me.

I remember me and a buddy trying to do multi-player for hours and never managing it (many others had the same problem). It was one of the most convoluted multi-player systems ever in modern gaming (Made it easy to get my money back too since it was effectively a misleading feature that is defective).

Really to me the only thing (aside from the bosses which are great designs) that was actually hard in the game was having the patience to stay in the same location, fighting the same enemies that you already mastered over and over and over and over again for hours just to get low levels of level-up points and find another bonfire that is sometimes hidden to invisible walls, really!?

That re-spawning mechanic (as opposed to a modern dynamic one) is just lazy for me (speaking as a developer from a technical standpoint) especially when you require such a high level of attention just to get past even the meekest of enemies you've already mastered due to all of them having the ability to kill you in a microsecond. The in-game menu system was also hideous and for no purpose whatsoever you couldn't be in a Xbox Live party (private only) while playing. There's loads more strange / poor design decisions& floors I could point out if I had the time.

I do however admire some of the old-skool qualities to the game & their bravery of sticking to their guns and being different in a environment where everything is handed and explained to you to the last detail.

Muir Freeland
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@Leroy: I feel like you're attributing a lot of things to poor design just because they're not like Skyrim. Dark Souls isn't meant to have as many quests as a western RPG, and it's not meant to have a totally open, freeform world like a western RPG. The game gains a lot from doing this, though: as big as most western RPG's are, they're ultimately packed to the hilt with fetch quests, recycled enemies and assets, and empty level design because of it. Dark Souls is nothing like that, and it's nothing like that for a reason: every single part of it, right down to the individual enemy positions, is crafted with a lot of care, and everything is super deliberate. You might as well say that Mario is bad because it doesn't play more like GTA.

Also, I'm kind of curious what you mean about the respawning being "lazy from a technical standpoint." As another developer, I don't think there's anything "lazy" about it; it's the way it is because of design, not because of engineering limitations.

Leroy Frederick
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I couldn't see a reply button under your post's, so I've assumed you have to press the reply button under your own comment.

@Anthony

Hey Anthony,

While I accept that Skyrim and DS aren't meant to be the same game, the advertising and visuals describe it as an RPG and Open world which makes the comparison valid. DS is not open-world, open choice the further you get maybe, but not open world (as said on the box).

Also as far as multiplayer is concerned, the box (on the xbox version) does not say anything about the restrictive / broken nature of the co-op. It doesn't tell you before purchasing that the multiplayer is only for invading people 100 levels below you or aiding with bosses.

As far as challenge is concerned, challenge I don't have a problem with, completed many challenging games from NES right down to the 360. Un-fun / Unnecessary repetition I do. A recent example for me would be Final Fantasy 13, far from the best in the series (way too much video) but I found the battle system / tactics (come 3rd disc mind) made up for the repetition / patience required to level up your characters as you often have to in most RPGs just to challenge some of the hardest enemies in gaming (Neochu or Tonberry anyone).

Once I've figured out how to beat an enemy type I don't won't to fight it over and over again in the same arena for hours on end just to attempt that boss on top of having misleading features that don't work or are intentionally gimped.

In saying so however, I respect the fact that there are obviously many people that find that the DS flavour of gaming loads of fun and you know what, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

@Muir:

Hi Muir,

I think saying that someone comparing DS and Skyrim is like comparing Mario and GTA is a little ridiculous to be fair. Mario doesn't contain any cars, isn't top down and doesn't even have the same visual style / target. Both DS and skyrim have swords & sorcery, similar enemy types in some places (skeletons & dragons), have levelling up systems, have combat, and so and so on and so on. Also reviews and award shows categorise / speak of them in the same category / genre (I think Gamespot said they prefered DS to Skyrim even), whereas that would never happen with a cutey platform game and a violent Top-Down crime spree game (even if your referring to their latest 3d incarnations), so I think my comparisons are perfectly fine.

In saying that, that doesn't mean I expected, wanted or believed they were meant to be the same game in terms of goals and challenge (I wouldn't have bought DS if I did). I expected a lot of dying. The fact is the execution is better in one game more so then the another regardless of their core goals.

For me, fighting through the same enemies continuously just to attempt a boss again isn't fun. It was acceptable in the NES days where memory was sparse / technically challenging and you had to leave the machine on overnight otherwise you'd have to start over from the beginning only to find your console crashed. But in 2011/12, nah thanks, maybe if I was 12 again and had all the time in the world, but that's for a very specific demographic.

My technical point comes from the fact that having a dynamic environment where people and enemies go about their business and can be found in different states / places depending on the time, day, situation or actions of the player is a lot harder and more technically impressive then then just loading / reloading everything to it's start state each time you save / start the game.

While I think most games have dumbed-down these days and there is way too much spam saving / auto-saving and therfore can understand why some people really love what DS is about, the above isn't the answer for me it just leaves a lot to be desired. But there is positive lessons that I will take from DS (and maybe a few concepts I may even borrow ;) that I'm grateful for despite not rating execution compared with it's ideals as highly as some.

Muir Freeland
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@Leroy: I think you're confusing aesthetics with mechanics. Whether games have swords or cars, I was comparing the way they play, not the way they look.

Robert Boyd
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You seem to be thinking that you need to grind in Dark Souls which is far from the truth. Grinding is an option to make things easier for less skilled players while they learn how to play the game correctly. Just progressing through the game normally gets you souls much faster than sticking in one place and fighting the same enemies over and over since bosses tend to give huge amounts of souls (plus you find items that give souls as you explore).

The first time I played Dark Souls, it took me about 15-20 hours to ring the two bells. When I tried replaying it with a new class, it took me about 3-5 hours to do the same thing. My stats weren't any better the second time, but I had a greater understanding of the game's world & systems and I had already developed techniques to easily take down enemies that were once very challenging. Player skill is drastically more important in Dark Souls than your stats.

Leroy Frederick
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@Muir

I was talking mainly about mechanics (but also look / feel), Mario & GTA, completely different in all respects. DS and Skyrim, not completely different in all respects, only different mainly in execution. But it's just my opinion anyway. We may have to agree to disagree but I'm sure there are things in DS and Roberts article that we can benefit from in our own development endeavours. Cheers! :)

@Robert

Hello Robert.

Well admittedly I've happily watch a few youtube videos of Let's Plays of Dark Souls and they seemed to have a much better time with the game then I had so perhaps that's true, but what I also found is there just wasn't enough core gameplay help / information (as someone else has mentioned here already). And if it is present it's (intentionally or otherwise) well hidden.

In the case of my friend's experience with it, while I managed to find how to obtain magic in the game by accident (just from continuing to talk to NPC even though the sentence read very conclusive) which made things more enjoyable and quicker getting from a to b (that spell where you can knock dudes off the edge, very cool / handy). But unfortunately he never found out how.

What you have to realise about this dude in question is he's the type that consistently gets about 90% of every game's achievement (For example completing Dead Space 2 on crazy-fool difficulty) and he's far more patient and has completed far more tougher games then I have, yet he hated it more then me. It turns out he knew less about the game and it's mechanics than I did (thanks to youtube).

So there you go, whether it's misunderstanding, hidden mechanics & / or the somewhat mis-advertising there's no denying that depending on what you expect, find, read or watch regarding this game (in terms of knowledge) it's going to be a huge factor in how you find it and a lot of that has to do with how it's presented and executed in the first place in my opinion.

The problem for me is I don't like the idea of having to 'watch youtube videos or go on the internet' just to learn how to do basic things like jump, obtain magic or not grind. That's the developer's job. I had to constantly do those things and although it made things more flowing I didn't really feel like I was gaining anything, just felt like I cheating or something, which on 'From Software's' part is just lazy to me.

In any case, it's a good piece that is revealing in some aspects and I'm sure I and others will benefit from the lessons within your article and the game (or at least it's ideals) itself which does have some merits regardless of whether I'm misinformed or otherwise. Thanks. :)

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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@Brion Foulke

"The respawning mechanic is incredibly important in Dark Souls to create an emotional impact. You feel real tension as you're playing precisely because you stand to lose progress if you screw up [...]reward only has meaning if there is risk. Contrast that to Skyrim, an incredibly casual game where you never feel tension for any reason ever."

The risk however is only you wasting more time. I.e. time-investment.
It's the most primitive of risk mechanics.

Dark Souls lacks permanent consequences like other Roguelikes do, it has no risk worth taking.

Dark Souls doesn't restarts you from the beginning, its too smart for that, it knows that everyone would just quit the game on their first death in that case, because its design is based on repetition and lack of flow.
Instead it gently disciplines you by letting you run through half an hour of game one more time, which is on the threshold of being "bearable".

The game is deliberately wasting my time with this.

Skyrim doesn't have any risk, because the game isn't about reward through risk. It has completely different reward-mechanics.

No, reward doesn't get meaning through risk, thats just plain crazy-talk.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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@Brion Foulke

In one sentence you say its all relative, two sentences later you say Dark Souls is how it should be done.

Look, I am ready to concede to either of your rhetoric, but pick one.

If you want to discuss how Dark Souls is the superior game in design, thats ok, but then you need to concede that some things aren't relative and not just opinion. And I will continue to highlight how DS has mechanics designed to artificially lengthen and pad out game-time (most DS players agree with me btw)

If you want to say that its all relative and down to opinion, thats fine too, but then the discussion is over, as I have no intention to discuss your, or my, taste.

You can't have it both ways.

PS: I precisely argued that Skyrim has a different reward-mechanic than DS.
Skyrim isn't an inferior experience because of it, its just a different experience.

Robert Marney
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Fabulous article. I had just been thinking of writing something myself on the way the game feels a lot more non-linear than it really is, and how the checkpoint-driven healing items encourage the player to explore to the limit of their resources before returning to base. According to a recent interview with From Software, the game was originally even more linear, in that the forest area which offers a respite from the original ring-two-bells path was locked until the final stage of the game.

I'd like to point out two more interesting angles. First, Dark Souls liberally makes use of tough enemies and traps which do not respawn. This creates tense moments, difficult fights, or "cheap" sequences that don't feel repetitive because the player must only endure them once. Whether it's a giant ball rolling down a staircase, a poisoned blow dart in the back, or a high-level wizard surrounded by minions, the feeling of victory can persist even when repeating the same content as the player runs easily by the spot of their epic battle.

Second, Dark Souls has had several patches which are designed to simultaneously tone down the best strategies and decrease difficulty / hassle overall. On the one hand, additional fast travel points and optional area skips have been added, enemies drop significantly more souls, it's easier for low-level characters to wear heavy armor, bosses drop the Homeward Bone and Humanity items that ensure you can safely return to the bonfire to spend your wealth, and curing the "curse" status (called out by many reviews as the toughest part of the game) is much easier. On the other hand, items and spells that allowed the player to boost their defensive stability and poise stats to simply ignore boss attacks while mashing the attack button, and the elemental weapons that allowed level 1 players to out-damage level 100 players, have been nerfed. PvP still has a long way to go, but the single-player content feels less like there is a "correct" character development path than ever and wastes a lot less of the player's time, which is a very difficult trick to pull off.

Nick McKergow
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If you have a link to that interview I'd love to read it. I try to keep up with those but I don't think I've read that one.

Robert Marney
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Here's the link: http://www.vg247.com/2012/09/21/dark-souls-the-art-of-sadism-from
-software-speaks/ This fits with an earlier interview (can't find the link, sorry) where Miyazaki mentions that the Master Key shortcut through the forest was added late in development, as a way for frustrated players to skip the Depths and Blighttown.

Nick McKergow
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Thanks Robert!

Ian Richard
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This is a very good article. You did a really good job of showing that much of the "Difficulty" is only in your head.

Benjamin Leggett
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Agreed, my main reaction to the game's difficulty so far has been "wow, this is way way easier and more fair than the vast majority of Western and Asian RPGs from the 80s and 90s."

In a historical genre context, it's eminently fair and only moderately challenging. I think people forget how absurdly unfair and truly brutal older titles really were.

David Brown
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Great Article. Dark Souls is a great game, the only downside I feel is that it has a moment when players "get" the game, and this doesn't happen until you've changed your mentality to "overcome" instead of "win". I first got Dark Souls as present, played it, got pwned by a few early enemies, put the game down for months. Finally came back to it timidly, got owned, realized that it was ok, and became a bit more fearless. Decided running around and trying some crazy things out, and then realized that the game is far more freeform and flows much better when you play aggressively.

This is when the design of the game really shines through, and it's why I consider DS to be a masterpiece. I've never played a game that I felt was so well designed. Though it's been mentioned in this thread several times I'll restate it here... DS is not for everyone. If you like the classical RPG model DS is definitely not that and if you never reach that "moment" when you start to understand the game at a deeper level, I can see how this game may never feel right. Not sure if there's a way that From Software could decrease the time between feeling awkward and clicking with the mechanics.... hard to say if it's even possible without diluting the experience.

Maximilian Herkender
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#8 isn't right about the Zelda series.

First, bombable walls are almost always marked with cracks, although there have been games with falsely marked walls though. If that's not enough, there is usually a way to check walls (usually by attacking them, but also by holding a spin attack ready and pressing against a wall). The point about Dark Souls still stands, but Zelda games have been extremely good about not punishing players for missing secrets.


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