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12 Ways Dark Souls isn't as hard as you think it is
12 Ways  Dark Souls  isn't as hard as you think it is
September 26, 2012 | By Christian Nutt

September 26, 2012 | By Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC, Design

Though the game has a reputation for difficulty, and was marketed against that, Dark Souls is a fair game, writes Zeboyd's Robert Boyd -- offering up a list of 12 ways it isn't quite as hard as it appears to be.

Boyd is the designer of popular indie RPGs such as Cthulhu Saves the World and Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3.

One way in which Dark Souls isn't as challenging as it appears? "It's difficult to truly mess up your stat progression," writes Boyd.

While many RPGs with manual stat allocation can punish players that don't go for optimal builds, in Dark Souls, mistakes are recoverable.

Sure, a min-maxer can build "the ultimate Dark Souls destroying machine," Boyd writes, but the game takes into account less experienced players, too.

"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," he writes.

"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."

Grinding: the last refuge of the lost RPG player.

The full feature contains 11 more reasons Dark Souls is deceptive about its difficulty, including its clever co-op, the linear funnels in its open world, and the design of its spell and item systems, among many more.

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Will Oberleitner
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If you spend the time farming the game is really pretty easy. Just have to be patient with it. Patient with the combat and patient with collecting exp.

Joe Morton
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I think the game gets a reputation for being hard largely because of cheap deaths that lose massive amounts of souls. It can really get quite irritating to be hauling around just-under the massive number of souls necessary for your next upgrade, dying b/c something hits you from behind or you fall off a cliff, and then dying again before you can get to the darn souls you lost. In fact, that's why I've yet to finish the game. The actual gameplay isn't hard, it's challenging in a fun way ... the soul mechanic is just so unforgiving.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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Dark Souls is a patience game, and an obtuse one at that.

Its really easy to miss those things that make the game really easy, like summoning Brolaire or The Witch, because you need to discover them, and they aren't exactly unmissable.

On my first run, I only discovered that I can talk to NPCs multiple times after I already rang the first bell, because the "Press A to talk" prompt disappears for quite a significant amount of time after you used it. I just never returned to previous NPCs or noticed that I can use that option again.
If I had known that, I would have gotten Brolaires summoning sign earlier, and made fights significantly easier.

There are tons of instances like that where I went "if only I knew of this feature earlier!!!", and I don't mean enemy placement, but for example knowing how to parry/riposte (never mentioned ingame).

Dark Souls often withholds information from the player to make the game appear harder.

Another thing I noticed is that the game (after applying at least 5 fixes) is easier on PC because of the superior camera control, quick switch from lock-on to free mouse-look, as well as having your other 4 fingers free to perform actions (the ones you usually use to hold the controller).

Now I can finally freely rotate the camera, move AND switch weapons at the same time!
This makes quickly switching between pyromancy, sorcery and melee, as well as switching through items, SO much better than on the controller where you'd need a third hand to manipulate the D-pad.

Extremely useful in the new content Manus boss fight where you need to use the silver pendant to counter his barrage of dark magic crap he throws at you.

Mark Ludlow
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I don't know if it was patched in later, but the asylum tutorial run through explains the basics of parrying and riposte just before you fight the boss.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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it might have been patched in, i played it when it came out on 360. on my current PC run i didn't bother reading the messages anymore.

Robert Marney
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The PC version has added some tutorial messages. Parry and riposte are now explained after you get your shield, and if your starting class has a bow, the (arcane, unintuitive) first-person mode will also be explained.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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You can go through Dark souls easily with one simple rule: Dont stand in front. Almost every boss can be easily defeated that way. Just dont stand in front ok? Move to the back.

Mark Ludlow
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I agree that it's difficult to mess up your stats. There are a surprisingly large number of SL (Soul Level) 1 run throughs of the game out there. It requires a bit of patience but is really impressive to watch.