Dark Souls: The Final Verdict

The Dark Souls trilogy is utter nonsense, a polished turd in From Software’s Great Crown of Fraud. I have hated every From Software game I have ever tried. This time I got roped into Dark Souls 3 by a friend, who assured me that the game’s design has improved and been sufficiently streamlined to be tolerable. I am afraid this was a mistaken evaluation. The game is only slightly better than the last FS game I experienced, Dark Souls 1, which I played for ten hours until I realized what manipulative little shits these developers were, wasting my time, intellect, and effort with a soul-draining pallid color schema, an obnoxious, gluttonous fetish for grotesque necromantic aesthetics and monstrous parodies of European castles, and a game paradigm so Frankensteinian in its precise manipulation of human psychology. Abuse, punishment, reward denial, and an indoctrinated community of adorers who slurp every splash of urine that spews from this putrid fountain. I hate it with every fiber of my smoldering soul.

Oh look, it’s a swamp filled with poisonous enemies that have been mutilated by some mystical disfiguring contagion. Oh look, they all went to the same fencing school, all possessed of the same bizarre, awkward, unconvincing, insulting timing, as if they’d tested their swings hundreds of thousands of times against a particular humanoid with the exact same movement parameters. Oh look, that lumbering skeleton whose face twitches with indescribable torment and strains with its atrophied muscles just to lift its comical ax above its head also has the presence of mind to pause mid-swing for 0.3 seconds to catch a dodging enemy off guard. Oh look, I’m fighting a knight with slightly different armor. Oh look, no matter how good my gear is or how experienced I’ve become, they can all still two- or three-shot me. Oh look, there’s a quadruped monster who screams a bunch. Oh look, there’s a biped monster who screams a lot. Oh look, I’ve done all of this shit before. Why am I still doing this?

I have spent 120+ hours playing Dark Souls 3 over the past few weeks. It’s still hard to explain that previous sentence to myself. The best parts have been cooping with my friend, simply because coop puts the game on a more even playing field where every mistake is not punished to absurdity and the mere presence of another target disrupts the entire fragile paradigm, giving a poor player time to, dare I say it, recover from the normal vagaries of reality and the intended vagaries of this nightmarish holodeck. The worst parts have been the dull chore of finding out whatever arbitrary bullshit UNDEAD SKELETON #2187 has been programmed to do, learning how to vary your timing against its awkward timing over the course of an hour, maybe, and then repeating a sufficiently balanced sequence of button presses until the thing’s HP bar reaches zero. Lather, rinse, repeat until you want to break your controller.

The few bright spots in solo mode have been stumbling across bosses that minimize the bullshit and test your ability to fence and dance and time your shit in a way that doesn’t feel condescending. The Abyss Watchers, the Dancer of the Boreal Valley, Pontiff Sulyahn, the Lothric Princes, to name some. They’ve all been quite wonderful to fight, and they’re all connected by a common thread: there’s some lore behind their characters you can feel and experience as you duel them one-on-one on open field with no other mobs, adds, or ridiculous filler features to waste your time. Everything and everyone else sucks. Vordt is a barking frostdog. Treeballs is a test to see how well you can handle the game’s awful camera. High Lord Wolnir, a imposing behemoth of a skeleton trying to crawl his way out of the Abyss and whose single hand could crush you with ease, is just a check to see if you’ve ever played a video game ever. Hit the shiny things on his body a few times. Watch him die.

But no, what broke the straw’s camel back for me wasn’t even the gimmicky boss fights. No, it was the trash, as in the trash mobs between the bosses. Specifically one sequence in the last DLC, the Ringed City, in which I had to face off 20-30 mobs of the following types:

  • Frail undead peons in ragged robes who scream at you a lot and jump down and ambush you.
  • Shielded undead knights with glowing red eyes who do stupid amounts of damage.
  • Hulking giant undead knights who do stupid amounts of damage.
  • Frail undead caster peons in ragged robes who scream at you a lot and jump down and ambush you.

Wow, nice creativity, From Software. Working for you must be easier than EA’s Madden division. What skulking undead aberration should we put here in this next hallway? Eh, take this model of Undead Slave #2187, tint their clothes a little purpler, change their move-set a bit, and spam-populate the place. Done. Next. It’s amazing we’re not on Dark Souls XV by now, that From Software isn’t a giant assembly line with bored artists pumping these games out every four months. Why? What’s the obstacle? What’s the excuse? Everyone loves these games for some inexplicable reason. They make insane amounts of money. What’s the problem, From Software? Is that too shameless?

But what made me finally flip solo mode off for good was one of those caster mobs put on a secluded ledge behind the staircase of a descending spiral chamber, a ledge that served no purpose whatsoever and no one would ever build, a ledge that can only be accessed by jumping down onto a chandelier from a precarious rafter, then jumping onto the purposeless ledge, but since this is From Software’s majestic engine of wonder that won’t let you fall off any ledge until you’re either ten meters or ten millimeters from it, there’s a high probability that you’ll just miss the chandelier ledge and fall to your death. Oh, and you can’t ignore this caster mob because he can somehow see/hear you from fifty feet away and can cast through walls. I tested this. I tried ignoring him and found him casting on me through a dozen meters of pure stone while I’m fighting Mob Type #3 from the above list. HOW CHALLENGING.

Then I look up a guide and find out the next bonfire is still at least five minutes away. Oh, these developers are still manipulative little shits and I’m wasting my time. Bye, Lothric. Link your own damn fire, you hack frauds.

C2AeDSUWEAAUpy_

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