Actually not dying for a little bit in Dark Souls

Last time on our adventures through death and pain in Dark Souls, we met a dude who didn’t immediately hate us on sight, took a dragon’s tail in exchange for its life, killed a boar in the cheapest way possible and took its skull as a trophy, and triumphed over the return of our greatest fear. Join us once again, as we lay siege to the undead’s church and try to ring bells because some guy who hates us told us to!

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So, at this point, I’ve got a bit of a reputation. I’m kind of a big deal. Undead the world over are filled with fear at the knowledge that the Best Chosen One is coming for them, and only Geezer Zeus can save them. Case in point, this little zombie loser starts running away from me as soon as I take the stairs down into the basement of the parish. I rush down the corridor after him, but stop short as he enters this open area. My Chosen-Senses are tingling. Sure enough, fear was only half the reason he was running from me. Well, maybe two-thirds. 80%. Ok, whatever, the point is, he was totally scared of me and crying like a little baby, but he was also trying to lead me into an ambush. Another undead leaps at me from the left as soon as I enter the room. Luckily, I am a genius and expected this move, so I block his attack and make short work of him.

I’m assaulted by a bunch more of these guys, but really, let’s be honest here. The undead in this room are of the same class as the one they used as bait. You probably can’t tell by the picture very well, but these guys aren’t exactly the heavily armed soldiers we’ve been dealing with so far. They’re not even the leather-armored warriors we fought in the Undead Burg. No, these guys are pretty much the same as the hollows we fought in the Asylum; armed with only simple clubs and protected by nothing but the clothes on their back. If they swarmed me, then sure, they might be able to do some damage, but I’m able to keep them separated and mostly toothless.

However, there’s something much more sinister than these hollows lurking underneath the parish, trying to sneak up on me. I see it though, but I pretend to lay unaware. I wait until it comes close, then like a viper, I swiftly turn and strike.

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The battle against these sinister barrels is over in just one strike. Know that you may walk a little more safely at night, for the world has been saved from their evils.

My civic duty thus completed, I scour the room. I find a mysterious key on a dead body laying in the corner. What is it with dead bodies and keys? Keys can go in other things as well. Like a chest. Or on a table. But no, if this game wants me to have a key, it has to be on a dead body. Even that knight at the beginning of the game had to drop a corpse in my cell to set me free rather than just giving me the key itself.

Anyways, having successfully defeated an ambush from the weakest enemies in the game, I rise through the light and head outside.

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I’m confronted with this new type of enemy. He’s definitely undead, but he’s even more heavily armored than the soldiers, although he carries lighter and faster weaponry. Luckily, he’s just as vulnerable to pointy things entering his spinal column as the rest of his hollow brethren, so I kill him with a single backstab and move on. This guy was watching over a dead body, apparently waiting for it to rise again. That doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, so I steal the corpse’s shield. Hey, given the demographics we’ve seen so far, chances are this guy’s either going to want to kill me or he’s going to be a total dick when he rises again, and in either case, I’d rather have the shield than him.

Moving on, we come across a few more of those new undead knights. One of them even tries to set up another ambush, catching me in a pincer attack as soon as I round a corner. Luckily, I am the Best Chosen One, so I’m much too smart for these parlor tricks. I beat back the attack, then make my way through a backdoor to the other side of that portcullis that forced me underground.

There, I’m besieged by two undead knights and an undead soldier, but they’re nice enough to come at me one at a time just like all those cheesy action movies, so I dispatch them with ease. I open the portcullis, then head for the front entrance of the parish. I’m immediately rushed by a tower knight, a heavily armored beast of a man that I never really got a clear screenshot of. Being the Best Chosen One that I am, I immediately turn and run like a scared little squirrel. The knight makes chase, but I’m able to double back on him and head back towards the open area in front of the church. The knight responds by promptly getting stuck on some stairs. Seriously?

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I mean, if the game decides to throw me a bone once in a while, well, who am I to argue?

After eating about a dozen arrows, the tower knight manages to break free from the level geometry, and clocks me good. Not good enough though. If I were fighting him fairly, he might be able to cause me some trouble, but with all the damage I did with my bow, it only takes two sword strikes to bring him down.

That miniboss out of the way, I enter the parish proper. I get shot from behind by a laser beam. Wait, what?

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Yeah. This guy jumps down from behind me. He shoots lasers. That’s his thing. Once again, I rush back to the open area in front of the parish, the better to shuck and jive around this guy.

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On the way out, I realize something. I realize that I am very good-looking and amazing and the Best Chosen One and I totally cheat. So I deliberately get this guy stuck on the level geometry. It’s probably hard to tell from this picture, but all of his shots are blocked by the door, whereas I can hit his left side with impunity. So I totally cheese yet another miniboss to death. Hey, if you want a fair fight, you can play this game yourself.

The only women I’ve noticed so far in this game are the mute one by Firelink Shrine and the random ghosts of other players I occasionally see. I’m kind of wondering about that. Is it because they’ve only made male enemies, or is it just impossible to tell genders on the undead clothed in armor? The armor in this game seems to be pretty unisex, and it could easily mask any distinguishing characteristics. Just something I’ll have to keep my eye out for.

Anyways, musings aside, I enter the Parish. There’s a corpse before the alter there, which holds a Fire Keeper’s soul. This will apparently enhance the healing capabilities of my Estus Flask. I really can’t complain about that.

Thanks to a combination of my skill, ingenuity, and cheating, I haven’t died in a good long while. Unfortunately, I haven’t passed a bonfire in a while either, and that’s got me a bit worried. Before I explore too much within the Undead Parish, I probably should finish up surveying the grounds around it. I spend a couple minutes exploring some areas I’ve already cleared, and find that somebody left a message saying that there’s a bonfire up ahead! Hooray! And somebody else left a message calling that first person a liar. Ummm… Well, it’s really the only area outside the Parish that I haven’t explored yet, so I press onward, fully expecting to fall for someone’s trick and get crushed by a giant fatty pig demon or something. But I’m in luck! I find an old, ruined church, and inside it, a bonfire! I light this fire, refill my Estus, heal myself, level up, all that good stuff, then continue exploring the church I found myself in.

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Downstairs from the bonfire, I find this dude. He’s a blacksmith, able to repair my equipment and upgrade it with the titanite I’ve been collecting off of enemy drops. I’d question what he’s doing trying to ply his wares so far out in the middle of nowhere, but with arms like that, he can do what he wants. I upgrade my new shield a bit, but save most of my titanite for later use.

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Downstairs from Andre, I run into this Titanite Demon, a massive, headless statue that can’t seem to stand up fully and shoots balls of electricity at me. It’s projectiles are slow, so I pull out my bow and counter with my own. I develop a bit of a pattern here: dodge, aim, fire, and repeat. It’s going pretty well, and I manage to bring him near death without taking any damage. Then I run out of arrows. Great. I pull out my sword, and take a few practice swipes. The demon knocks me back with ease. It’s too quick with its staff for me to make much headway. Ok, back to the long distance strategy. The Drake Sword has a special attack when held with both hands, firing a powerful, long-distance shockwave across the ground that does a lot of damage to the sword as well. Using this, I resume dancing around the demon’s lightning balls and firing back, driving my sword almost to the point of breaking, but doing enough damage to bring the demon down with ease.

Andre’s happy to take my money, so I get my sword fixed and refill on arrows, and I’m back to exploring this ruined church. The path behind the demon I killed leads to a forest that’s undoubtedly filled with… I don’t know, worms or something strong enough to be able to use me for a toothpick, so we’re going to leave that area for some time when I’m feeling a bit more adventurous. The church also opens up to a closed gate. The gate has a giant onion in front of it for some reason.

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Siegmeyer needs to get to the other side of the gate, but it’s closed and he can’t open it so he’s just going to sit there and be a total loser until somebody solves his problem for him. And that’s how you know he’s an NPC. Well, that, and the fact that no self-respecting player would be caught dead wearing armor that looks like that.

In any case, there’s no treasure here, so I head back up to the Parish. I enter the building through a side entrance, make my way through the pews and past the altar, and find an elevator. Where does it lead? I’m not sure. It could take me straight to my final encounter with the boss before the Bell! It could lead me to a room filled with marvelous treasure! It could sweep me off to another dimension, where the wo… oh, it’s just a shortcut back to Firelink Shrine. Lame.

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There’s a dude here, one of the total dicks who was a total dick to me before. Now, he wants me to join the Way of White. I have no idea what that is, but he says he’ll sell me miracles if I do. Seeing as it’s got to be taking a miracle for me to have lasted so long without dying, I should probably restock. So I join. Turns out “miracle” is just a fancy way to say “spell”. He pretty much sells magic. I buy a low-level healing spell, but oh me of little faith, I don’t have the stats to cast it anyway.

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So that woman who refused to talk to me is a Fire Keeper. I give her the soul of her brethren I picked up earlier, and she uses it to upgrade my Estus Flask. That…. doesn’t seem kosher. In any case, this is about all I can do at the shrine, so I take the elevator back up to the Parish.

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Heading upstairs in the building, I beat back a knight, then a bunch of these zombies start swarming me as soon as I enter an open space. I get them all lined up in the hall way, then unleash my Drake Sword shockwave attack, thinking that I’m so cool and smart and everyone’s going to be impressed by my awesome moves as the shockwave takes them all down in one blow. Turns out, the shockwave only hits the first guy. Oh, crappit. I beat the rest down the old fashioned way.

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Yes, I heard you mocking me, disparaging my crusade against these barrels. But look! This is what happens when their terror goes unchecked! This poor soul, I was unable to save him in time, and the foul barrels claim another victim.

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Then there’s this guy. He’s in a bit of a predicament. He’s locked in a cell in this Parish, and I’m the only chosen one anywhere near good enough to make it this far. Moreover, I’ve got the key to his cell right in my pocket. He promises me a vague reward for setting him free. I’m wary, however. There were a lot of player messages leading up to this place warning me to “beware of liar”. He’s got to be waiting for me to turn my back so he can fill it full of foreign objects, right? Actually, no. I unlock the cell, and he does nothing. He promises to give me my reward later, which I guess could be a lie, but honestly, I’d have let him out of there with no promise of personal gain, so it’s not like I lose anything. This is just further proof that players are jerks.

Shortly afterward, I find the entrance to the boss room on another wing of the Parish. However, by this point, I’m pretty wounded and worn down. I return to the bonfire at the old church to recuperate.

So, it’s been a good long while since the last time I died. Seriously, I haven’t died since last update. I’ve gathered 3 humanity. Unfortunately, my luck’s probably not going to last against whatever the boss is, and I’m likely to lose that humanity there. So, might as well use it now, right? I spend one point becoming human again, and another to kindle the bonfire. It’s in a nice, central place, seemingly a hub for a couple of areas, so it seems to be the right spot for it. From now on, this fire will refill my Estus Flask up to 10 swigs rather than the normal 5, and because I’m such a nice guy this also gives an extra Estus use to all the players who used this bonfire last.

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And, in case you were wondering, this is what my character looks like with skin. Don’t expect to be seeing this too often. I’m only human until the next time I die.

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So, since I went through the effort of making myself human, I might as well make full use of it, right? The main use of being human is that you can connect with other players and summon them into your world. You get help surviving, and if you beat the boss with them at your side, they get an extra humanity point. Sounds good all around, right? I start by picking the player who has the most badassed equipment. I see the above message. Ok, maybe that guy’s popular. I pick another player who looks pretty speedy. I see the above message. I pick a player who’s wearing nothing but a helmet. I see the above message. Wow, I must not be very popular. Maybe they’re all intimidated at the thought of fighting alongside the Best Chosen One.

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After a good long while of just clicking on random players and repeatedly getting rejected, I finally manage to summon another player! Yay! She (at least, I think that’s a she) gets excited and immediately waves and heads towards the boss. I try to wave back but accidentally select the wrong gesture and do something rude. Great. Now she thinks she’s protecting a jerk.

Together, we manage to kill a grand total of one knight before the dark side of being human pops up: the forced PvP. I get invaded by another player. You know, I can appreciate some good PvP under the right circumstances, but experience has taught me that most random yokels on the internet do not make for fun opponents, and I don’t appreciate having one pop in on my game like this. Kexxy’s on the ball, and doubles back to fight the invader while I rush to the boss room. If I can make it there before Kexxy gets killed, it should eject the invader and put the both of in combat with the boss.

I make a beeline to the boss’s room, ignoring the zombies, rushing up the ladders, and finally stepping through the white light. Shortly after I emerge through the light, I get two messages. Kexxy has been vanquished, and the invader has been repulsed. I was just a little bit too slow.

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We’re on the roof of the Parish, and I get one of these guys jumping down to meet me. The Bell Gargoyle; this will be my opponent of the evening. He’s got shield, axe, tail axe, and fire breath to bear against me, giving him a really variable arsenal. However, he’s lacking in physical power, and I’m able to tank him quite easily. I’m actually doing pretty well at this! Maybe I don’t need Kexxy’s help after all! It’s certainly a war of attrition, but one I’m winning. I’ve got this guy! My first try, and I’ve got him!

Then a second Bell Gargoyle jumps into the fray.

With two of them, the battle’s a much different beast. They’re able to cover each other’s weaknesses, and I don’t have the stamina to tank hits from both of them. It was a battle of attrition before, and it’s a battle of attrition again, but this time they’re able to wear me down much faster.

After my first death this session, I reload at the old church. You know, I could probably just play a bit more defensively and have these guys pretty easily, but before that, there’s a prize I want. They both have tails. Nice, bladed tails. And just like the Drake, if you take off their tail, you get to use it as a weapon. I don’t know if it’s a good weapon, but it’s treasure, and therefore, I want it. So I start adapting my strategy around that.

I shed my chainmail, and replace it with the wanderer gear I started the game with. I’ve grown to the point where I’m much faster in that lighter armor. Further reducing my weight, I unequip my bow, and replace my steel shield with a wooden one. Any hits I take in this setup are seriously going to hurt, but in the meantime, I’ll be much more able to get behind the gargoyles. I don’t necessarily need to survive the fight, but I do need to take their tails off before I die to get my fancy new weapon.

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It takes me a couple tries. I keep getting into situations where I’m almost, but not quite, behind the first gargoyle before he takes me down. However, opportunity only needs to strike once. On my third or fourth attempt, I find my moment with the gargoyle’s back turned to me. It only takes one strike to separate his tail from his body, and I have my axe.

Following that success, I replace my chainmail and heavy shield, and commit myself to bringing these gargoyles down. With my heavy gear, I can actually block their attacks without taking any damage. It uses up a whole lot of stamina, but no damage. I make full use of this, trading blows head on with the gargoyle then ducking away briefly to recover before matching him again. I’m able to wear the first gargoyle down with relatively little damage to myself, but I have to change my gameplan once the second shows up.

The second gargoyle seems to focus more on breathing fire than on physical attacks, forcing me to break off my assault whenever he does. I’m not able to separate the two of them, so I have to just pick my moments to attack and focus more on blocking and evading in the meantime. Eventually, though, I get my last few hits in on the first gargoyle, and the second is pretty easy pickings after that.

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With the Gargoyles out of the way, there’s nothing left to stop me from ringing that bell. I climb a tower on the other side of the roof, pull a lever, and…

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All within range now truly know I am the Best Chosen One!

Next: Running my head against the beef gate

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