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!


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.


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.


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.

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Preparing to Die in Dark Souls

Last time on Aether Fails at Dark Souls, we escaped from prison and became the Best Chosen One. We arrived in the land of total dicks and had to go ring some bells for reasons that probably make sense to someone somewhere. We traveled to the Undead Burg and kicked zombie butt for a while then traded in our badass cloth armor for some chainmail that makes us look like a total ninny. We got thrashed by a Black Knight for a couple of hours before triumphing in a glorious way and taking his awesome sword that we can’t even use. Then we stabbed a giant minotaur in the face, found a dragon, then got killed in a stupid and worthless way. Will Aether be able to rise from his lack of skill and actually achieve something? Will those bells ever get rung? Will we find any sort of armor that doesn’t look like someone poured metal spaghetti over our head? The answers to at least two of these questions can be found in this post!


So, between last post and this one, I’ve cheated a bit by checking some things out on the internet. Turns out I actually do have enough strength to wield the Black Knight Sword, so long as I do it two-handed. Basically, I can use this awesomely powered weapon and glorious trophy, so long as I sacrifice my shield arm and most of my defensive ability to do so. I take it out for a few practice swings, and it can be seen clipping through the ground in this picture. I’m impressed with that damage output, but really, I can one-shot these enemies with my basic blade without having to give up my shield to do so. I worked really hard for that sword, but I can’t justify using it right now, so grudgingly, I put it back in my pack.

I make my way about to the place where I died last time, just before the bridge the dragon and a bunch of undead are guarding. Across from the bridge, there’s a knight, who I avoided like the plague last session with the memories of the Black Knight still sore on my hide. This time, though, I’m feeling a bit more ballsy, so I approach. This guy sees me coming, but in something I forgot was even a possibility for this game, he doesn’t attack me.


Solaire of Astora! The first friendly face I’ve seen since leaving the Asylum. He’s on a journey to ‘seek his very own sun’. He figures that I’m on a quest, and he’s on a quest, so we should be best buds and help each other out and probably wingman for each other at bars or something like that. I gladly agree, and he hands me a stone that lets me partner up with other players.

With that transaction done, I turn my attention to that bridge once more. There’s that dragon on the other side giving me the evil eye, but it seems to let me go halfway across with little issue. I wonder if it would just let me walk across the bridge?


Downstairs it is. I head down to the lower level, unlock a shortcut to the checkpoint, kick myself for not finding it earlier, then slowly creep my way along the bridge’s underside. And hey, look what I’ve found?


I wonder what will happen…


Perfect. As long as I’m on the lower level, the dragon can’t reach me. Oh, it’ll jump on the bridge above me and roar, but it can’t seem to reach me down here. I’ve got 200 some arrows, let’s see how many it can take to the tail before bleeding out.

After about 40 arrows or so, I blow its tail clean off. The dragon seems to be mildly irritated. Maybe it’s like the average lizard, and the tail will just grow back, so it’s not too bothered. I seem to magically retrieve the tail. And the tail has transformed into a sword. Ummm….


Well. It’s just 20 points less powerful than my glorious trophy sword, and still 2.5 times as strong as the blade I’m waving around now. I still can’t wield it in one hand, but I’m much closer to the strength requirement for this sword than I am the Black Knight Sword.

Obviously, this is a gift from the dragon, showing that it recognizes me as the Best Chosen One and begging me to spare its life. This offering pleases me. I shall let it live for now. And, of course, so the dragon saves face, I shall make my way across the lower part of the bridge. So that nobody sees the dragon cower from me and make fun of it later. It is for those reasons. Not because I can’t find any other parts of it to shoot from safety and I’m afraid to take it head on. Those are crazy thoughts, and you need to get them out of your head immediately. I am the Best Chosen One!

Thus satisfied with my new toy, I cross the bridge’s supports, and come face to face with… rats. It’s always rats, isn’t it? I just brought a dragon to heel! I am the Best Chosen One! And you seek to face me against mere rats?! I’d normally just ignore them, but they’re kind of in my way. So I raise my shield, ready for a quick battle. And it is a quick battle. It’s over in one attack. A rat strikes my shield and pushes me off the bridge. That was… slightly unexpected.

Okay! Again, I go to the bridge’s supports. This time, I get out my bow and shoot the rats from partway across the bridge. My way clear, I climb a ladder, take out a hollow, and find myself behind the gate the dragon was guarding. I have officially entered the Undead Parish. Considering it has about the highest tower I can see, I’m figuring there’s a pretty good chance I’ll find the Bell of Awakening here.


I pass by a small tower as I head towards the parish’s gate, and am confronted with what you see here. There’s a good seven undead knights, in addition to that armored boar. Something tells me I don’t want to take them all on at once, so I start luring the knights out one by one. By shooting them in the face. They take a bit of an issue with that. All’s well and good until I start going after the two on the bridge above. They’re armed with crossbows and, well, the bow controls in this game are really ill-suited for return fire. I can’t defend myself and shoot back at the same time, so I’m either going to have to charge them and risk drawing the ire of the boar or aggro the boar and move the battle out of their range. I do the latter. Not that it helps me. The messages on the ground said to use fire, so my strategy involved large amounts of firebombs. Did you know that other players are liars? The fire barely did any more damage than my blade, which could barely scratch it in the first place. The boar, on the other hand, could toss me around seemingly at will. I took it’s tusks about three times, then it was back to the checkpoint for me.

Okay, if that way’s blocked off for me, let’s see what’s up the tower I passed by earli…. No! No! NO! NONONONONONONONONONONONONONO!


Let’s just… let’s ignore the Black Knight for now, shall we? Boars are… they’re actually pretty cool things, right? Right?

Okay, strategy time. The boar’s strong. Stronger than me. I can barely do any damage to it. But it’s big. And there’s some stairs to the side of that entry way, that it probably can’t fit up. So I dash for those, drawing a trail of knights behind me. I end up facing off against three knights at once. It’s pretty rough going at first, but I play it defensively, and I’m able to take them down by picking my moments. I draw in the rest, take them down too, and it’s just me and the boar, who hasn’t made a step towards me.


Turns out, it’s just the front that’s armored. The boar’s hindquarters? Perfectly vulnerable. So I rain arrow after arrow down on her from above. The boar can’t make it up the stairs to reach me, and she doesn’t run away, so she’s at my mercy as I completely chip her to death. I take her helm as a trophy.

And you know what? That gives me enough souls to bump my strength as high as I need it to wield that Drake Sword. And all was right in the world. Well, not all.


I still need to test this blade out, right?

So this Black Knight uses a different weapon than the last one. His sword is quite a bit larger, and that gives different attack patterns. I recycle a bit of my strategy from last time, drawing him into an open area to start with, then running away and moving to a new area every time he gets a few hits and I need to heal. However, the timing of the parries with always really finicky, and this guy’s moves are more predictable, making it almost impossible for me to pull them off reliably. Plus, at one point, he clips his sword straight through a stone wall to stab me. How is that fair?


My counterblow game is out. I just can’t get his moves down well enough to use it reliably. Luckily, the Drake Sword gives me enough power that I don’t need it anymore. I can do enough damage with my regular attacks. Instead, I duck and weave, evading his attacks and striking at him when his guard’s down.


The first Black Knight took me two hours to conquer. This one falls in my third attempt.

With the Knight gone, there’s nothing more keeping me from the Parish proper. Well, nothing except a giant portcullis, anyway. The basement’s open, though, and I enter there.  And there I have all sorts of adventures and everyone finally realizes I’m truly the Best Chosen One and it’s all so very exciting, but unfortunately I don’t have the time to get into that now.  We’ll cover that in our next post.  ‘Till next time, everybody!

Next:  I manage not to embarrass myself for a while.

Steelport is Under New Management! The Saints Row Retrospective: Saints Row The Third


Saints Row Retrospective Introduction here, Saints Row 1 here, Saints Row 2 here.


Here we are. We’re finally at the game that I had fully expected would finish up this retrospective series. Little did I know, however, that I’m slower than a fat baby wading through peanut butter at getting these written. So I could have finally finished the series up with just one more post after this one. But no, Volition and Deep Silver decided to spite me personally by releasing Saints Row IV while I was writing this, thus moving my goalposts farther away just as I was coming in for a homerun. Or however sports work. Whatever, I’m nothing if not flexible, I can roll with this. So, Saints Row: The Third! That’s a game! Here’s a giant freakin’ post about it! Read it and shower me with adoration!

Oh, and for the record, I still haven’t played Saints Row IV by the time this post comes out, so keep that perspective in mind.

It seems that Saints Row 2 was a bit of a surprise hit, and Volition/THQ was aiming to take advantage of that newfound popularity in Saints Row: The Third. Everything in the game has been overhauled, from the tone to the engine, even the blasted title’s changed format for this entry. And while I may not agree with all the changes, I can’t argue with their effectiveness; this is by far the most unique game in the series to date, drastically setting itself apart from all the rest of the sandbox crime simulators out there.

It’s the tone that does that, more than anything else. This game is where the Saints Row series leaves any ties to reality behind, leaping from the diving board of the rational and plunging right into the deep end of insanity. This is the game where you’ll be assaulting people with giant purple dildos, where you’ll wage war as a deeply immersed avatar on the internet, where you’ll get into tank battles while falling from 25,000 feet in the air. Saints Row: The Third pushes the reputation the series had gotten for blatant irreverence and wild gameplay to it’s breaking point, and then pushes it just a bit further. The series has always been known for being wild, and this game is the most blatant of the lot.

That’s not to say that the tone is everything. Behind the newly reached heights of ridiculousness lies the most highly polished game in the series thus far. Except maybe for Saints Row IV. But we’re ignoring that right now because Deep Silver did not get my permission before publishing. In what feels like pursuit of a broader audience, Volition has given Saints Row: The Third the smoothest gameplay the series has seen yet, and made player convenience the order of the day. Well, mostly. There are a few missteps here and there, but we’ll get to those. It may be telling that this is the first game I’ve pursued 100% completion while replaying them for this retrospective series. While part of that is because The Third is a bit simpler and smaller than it’s predecessor, it’s mostly that I found the gameplay so entertaining and each individual aspect so accessible. It’s a good game. It’s a really good game. So much so that it inspired me to write 22 pages of text on it. That has to be some sort of point in its favor, right?

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