I Play “Dark Souls” So You Don’t Have To This Halloween

In 2018, Dark Souls: Remastered was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. Upon its initial release in 2011, Dark Souls was renowned for its impressively detailed, creative, and often grotesque details. The remastered edition builds on the foundations laid down in 2011, providing enhanced and sharper graphics to all of the horrors faced throughout the course of the video game.

If you’ve heard about this game before, you’ve also likely heard that it is ridiculously difficult to beat. This reputation kept me from picking it up years ago. The release of Dark Souls: Remastered, however, prompted me to pluck up my courage and see why so many people are obsessed with this game. In honor of Halloween, here is my starting experience in Dark Souls: Remastered, so that you, too, can know what it’s like to play this terrifying game. 

First things first, you get to create your character. The most important part of this process is deciding your character’s class and their starting gift, or, in more general words, the skills and items your character will start with. I chose the Wanderer class because I tend to like quicker and more agile characters, which is what this class seemed to emphasize, and the Master Key as the starting gift. It wasn’t until after I had played the game for awhile that I decided to look up which class and gift were actually suggested for new players. Turns out, neither of my choices were recommended. Oops. Oh well.

Regardless of your choices, you start off in the Northern Undead Asylum where you have been locked away because you are, in fact, Undead.

See, the (oversimplified) plot of Dark Souls is that the world is about to transition from the Age of Fire into the Age of Dark (which honestly doesn’t sound promising). Due to attempts to keep this from happening, a curse has descended upon humanity: when some people die, rather than staying dead, they are resurrected as Undead (think zombies). The destiny of one of these Undead is then to either prolong the Age of Fire, or bring about the Age of Dark. Your character is this Chosen Undead.

Dark Souls starts off in a fairly regular way. Your character is in a cell, lacking any real weapon or way to escape. Fate intervenes in the form of another Undead throwing a corpse with the key to your cell through your skylight. Not very pleasant, but par for the course with this game. Outside is a hallway full of gaming tips, such as how to use your weapon. A warning, though: some tips are from the game itself, but others are from different players — many of whom just want to play a joke on you. Be wary of which you pay attention to! Walk for a bit and you’ll find a courtyard-like area that contains the first bonfire.

Not going to lie, the bonfires are incredibly cool. They have a gothic aesthetic that is very appealing, especially considering they are both literally and figuratively light points in this dark game. The bonfires act as checkpoints, basically. You can increase your abilities, restore your health, and reset your surroundings at these locations. Most enemies will also reset when you rest at a bonfire, so keep that in mind if you just spent time clearing an area!

The next room is where Dark Souls really gets interesting. Upon entering, you encounter your first real enemy, who just so happens to be one of the larger, more prominent enemies in the game also known as a boss. This boss is known as the Asylum Demon.

Lovely, isn’t he? Theoretically, you can defeat the Asylum Demon during this encounter. It is not recommended for a new player, however. You do get a powerful weapon if you manage to bring the demon down, but at what cost to your sanity? The more common choice is to immediately run to the left side of the room, where some stairs will lead you away from the Asylum Demon and to another bonfire.

It’s only in the next hallway that you finally get your starting sword and shield and can begin doing some damage. Beware an upcoming trap, however. Beyond a doorway blocked by white light, you’ll find an area with an ascending staircase. Take a few steps up the stairs, but then immediately jump/roll/walk off the staircase. A boulder will come rolling out of nowhere that will pummel anything in its path. It also destroys a section of wall, providing access to a cell and the Undead that helped you earlier. Somehow, he’s in really bad shape now, and just wants a friendly ear to listen to his parting words. It’s worth it to listen. Aside from it being a nice thing to do, he’ll give you some items to restore your health and a key.

Just up the staircase is another doorway blocked by white light. Beyond this, you’ll find our old friend the Asylum Demon waiting below the ledge you’re standing on. What you should do now is perform a plunging attack so that you hit him while you’re falling, doing a substantial amount of damage, and then intermittently swiping at him and rolling to dodge his attacks until he is defeated. What you shouldn’t do is freeze in panic on top of the ledge, and then let him jump up and smash you with his hammer, causing massive damage if not outright killing your character. I can tell you from personal experience that this strategy does not work.

However you end up defeating the Asylum Demon, there is only one place to go afterward. Walk through the large doors at the back of the room and follow a path up to the cliffside. There, a giant crow will take you in its talons and fly you away from this tutorial level (yes, apparently all of this was the tutorial) and into the real game. Welcome to Dark Souls.

So, what did you think of my experience playing Dark Souls: Remastered? Did I inspire you to try it out? Or is this tutorial description enough to satisfy any lingering desire to try this infamously difficult game? Despite my ineptitude, I’ve been having… I’m not sure if fun is the right word, but it’s given me some fond memories. Halloween provides the perfect environment to explore Dark Souls, if you feel like taking on the challenge, so pick it up this October! Happy Halloween, everyone!


Images: Cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7