The Count of Dark Souls

Little known cultural fact.  Ever since the darksign started blighting people in Lordran, and death stopped being a thing, we’ve developed a fun little game.  Basically what you do is you get a partner, and you see who can be more dead.  I lose.  All the time.  For example, I played it with Nito last time on Dooty Doot Dark Souls, and I lost hardcore.  Nito ended up so much deader than me.

But now we’ve got all the Lord Souls!  So we can do the Best Chosen One thing and save the world, right?  Man, I bet you can’t wait!  We’ve been running this series like two years now, and finally, we’re ready to go and bring it!  The end is in sight!

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut I’ve got some business to take care of first.  See, we had picked up the Darkmoon Séance Ring in the Catacombs.  You recall what I mentioned from the ring’s description?  That it claimed the Dark Sun Gwyndolin was the last remaining deity in Anor Londo?  And how we got set on this whole crazy kill everybody for their souls deal by the supposed Goddess Gwynevere, right there?

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Somebody’s lying to me.

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AND I DON’T LIKE THAT!

I speak with her.  She just repeats her tired spiel.  Urging me to go and be the Best Chosen One I already am, and just listen to Big Snake Dungmouth.  I’m not having it.  The ring says you’re not here, yet here you are.  I want to get to the bottom of this.  By force.

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I swing.  My blade doesn’t reach her.  No reaction.

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I hurl a fireball into her gut.  It explodes against her.  No reaction.

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I draw my bow, and send an arrow up her nose.  No…

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Well. Continue reading

Doom, Despair, and Dark Souls

Last time, on Aether’s Grand Struggles in Dark Souls, I managed to both lose and win at the same time. I’m so awesome that even death can’t bring me down! Seriously, I’ve been rampaging across this game for close to forty hours, and I’ve yet to show any signs of stopping! I’m starting to think the heavy reputation this game has is just people blowing wind. Well, at least I was. Something happened, though. Something turned my opinion around. Like, all the way around. I had an experience that once again filled me with fear for what’s ahead in this game, an experience that nearly ended this entire playthrough, an experience that once again had me prepared to die. Anor Londo, much like most areas, has a boss battle. Among veterans of the game, this boss battle is particularly infamous.

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And it’s the only thing I have left to complete.

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Stepping through the fog, I’m greeted with a brief pan over the area I’ll be fighting in. It seems to be a large chapel or great hall of some sort. At least I won’t be running out of room here.

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At the other end is… this. Executioner Smough. You may remember Smough from one of the statues at the start of Anor Londo. I… think he’s supposed to be male? It’s a little unclear. He looks to be wearing a corset, but obviously that’s doing him absolutely no good. He wanted to be part of the Four Knights of Gwyn, a group of the strongest and most trusted warriors serving Geezer Zeus. His skills we up there, but he was barred from entering due to his brutality and cannibalism. Still, he remains, guarding Geezer Zeus’s old home, Anor Londo. Swift, strong, and massive, I’ve got myself a very tough challenger in him. I can already tell, this fight will take me to my limits.

But wait! There’s more! As I ready my blade, motion in the balcony above catches my eye.

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Again, this is someone we’ve seen as a statue at the start of Anor Londo. Dragon Slayer Ornstein. Captain of the Four Knights of Gwyn. Possibly the most powerful warrior at Gwyn’s command.

He leaps down.

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Two warriors, both at the height of human potential, both among the most dangerous fighters in Lordran, individually. And I’ve got to take them both on at once.

Continue reading

Taking Vengeance in Dark Souls

Last time, on Aether Crushes Dark Souls Beneath His Heel, we took on Anor Londo, one of the more famous locations in the game, which is quite a testament to its design, considering this is like thirty hour in. Usually, the more well-known places tend to be early on in the game. Anyways, we took on hordes of the Dark Knights’ slightly lamer cousins, wrestled with giants, fought through demons, and none of them could stop us. We made our way through this castle-church thing, with the tons of enemies arrayed against us, barely able to slow us down. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty good about our progress. We’ve been going through the game slowly, but we’ve been absolutely indomitable. We’ve always been making progress. We haven’t faced a challenge that took more than a few tries to overcome since way, way back with the Capra Demon. In the time since, we have become truly mighty. Is there anything left in Lordran that can stop us?! Is there anything more in this game that can meet my challenge?! Or have we left all the difficulty that Dark Souls is famous for behind?

Those who have played the game before are probably laughing at me now. They know what’s coming next. For the rest of us… well, let’s just keep our innocence for now.

So, last time, we had capped off by slaying the fearsome titanite demon and heading up into a staircase into the unknown. Well, the unknown is actually a massive room. An entry hall of some sort, sized so that even the giants that apparently once called this place home could stand tenfold on each other’s shoulders and still not reach the top. You could hold air shows in this place. It’s huge, and there’s no way to really do it justice via screencaps. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

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I take stock of the place. For all its size, it’s still mostly empty. There’s another one of the Silver Knights across the way, and two ornately-dressed, giant sentinels on the floor. None of them seem to have noticed me. There’s a staircase leading down and another leading up from my current position. The one leading up seems to take me to a walkway around all the enemies, so I take that first. The walkway leads me by a broken window that gives me access to a section of roof. It has some dropoffs and seems to be a one-way trip, so I ignore it for now. I follow the walkway along to the other side. I hear a sound, a somewhat familiar sound of metal on metal. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it keeps coming rhythmically, growing louder as I approach a opening in the wall.

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The opening leads to a staircase down, which I take, as that noise grows ever louder. I spy this giant figure below. It’s him who makes that noise, metal impacting against metal, over and over and over again. Whatever he’s doing, his attention is solely focused on his work. Slowly, I continue descending. On top of that sound, there’s blood! So much blood! Smeared on the floors, the walls, streaks of it everywhere! What exactly…

Continue reading

Laying Siege In Dark Souls

Wow, it’s been a while since I had myself some Dark Souls adventures. Well, last time on Oh My God How Long Can I Keep This Going, we had a bunch of trouble with some imaginary people in a fake world, then met a beautiful woman who didn’t want anything to do with us.  Because of this, we jumped off a cliff.  Somehow that led us back to the real world. So now, rather than barely being able to handle the Painted World of Ariamis, we’re up against the rest of the famed Anor Londo, city of the gods. Will we be barely able to handle this one, or are we doomed to a life of failure and hollowness? Read on to find out!

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Leaving from the entrance to the Painted World of Ariamis puts us pretty much exactly where we left off; at the foot of this chapel. I don’t get a really good screencap of it, but all this is built really high off of the ground. Good thing I’m not afraid of heights. I would be, but after the first couple hundred times you come back from the dead, the more pedestrian ways of dying kind of start losing their sting. Of particular note, you can see some bat-wing demons, those spindly little pale creatures, perched gargoyle-like to each side of the staircase. They’re the same creatures that brought me here from Sen’s Fortress, except these ones seem armed. I’m wary of them, but they don’t make a move as I head by. Either they’re as docile as the ones that served as my transport earlier, or I’m just not within their sphere of aggression.

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Interesting thing to note about these stairs, they come in two sizes. Suggests there’s two sizes of people that visited this place. One relatively human-sized, much like me, the other some sort of giant.

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Like these guys. Two sentinels guarding the entrance to this place. I got my practice in against them near the entrance to Anor Londo, so I don’t expect these guys to pose much challenge. Well, as long as I can keep the fight one-on-one. I’m still not crazy enough to be facing these guys en masse yet.

Fun thing I quickly discover, if you lure a sentinel far enough down the staircase, they’ll hit a point where they just start backing up to their original position, ignoring everything else up to and including the Best Chosen One slipping behind them and taking them on from their unguarded rears. If you don’t think I abuse this… well, you clearly haven’t read the earliest posts in this series.

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I spy one of the bat wing demons lurking behind this door, seemingly trying to get at me. I guess it was too much to hope that they wouldn’t hate me just because they took the time to bring me here. Don’t know why I’m surprised. This is Lordran, everything and everyone hates me. Comes part and parcel with the undead curse. The more you die, the more likely you are to go hollow, and those already hollow, well, they’d love to have more of their own. Given how much I’ve fallen in this pursuit of becoming the Best Chosen One, it’s a wonder I’ve stayed as sane as I have. Anyways, lending further credence to my ‘humans and giants coexist here’ theory, this gate is built to accommodate to size. As a whole, it opens large enough to fit beings of a grand stature through, but it also has a little doggie door for those of my height built in. Hmm… ‘doggie door’ seems exceptionally fitting, the way this is built. Makes one wonder how relation between the two races was shaped.

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In any case, this gate is locked from the other side, and my big beefy arms are just too large to reach to the lock through the bars.  The main doorway into the chapel is solidly locked as well. The gate to the right of the doorway is wide open, however, and it’s through that I venture forth.

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It’s through that path that I finally come face to face with those demons. They… well, they’re very different opponents. They’ve got some tricks in them. They’re quick and jumpy and somewhat hard to hit and they have a habit of sneaking around corners when they go aggro unbeknownst to me so I end up fighting groups when I was trying to take them on one by one. They have electric spears, too, meaning I can’t entirely block their damage. They also slide backwards when they’re hit, so I can’t get more than one blow in at a time unless I’ve got them cornered. All these tricks makes them incredibly difficult to fight. I swing my Black Knight Sword low, so they often fly right over my attacks before punishing me for them. They’re too fast to be using pyromancy efficiently. And with how much they move, it’s hard to find an opening. Once I learn they’re moves, though, they end up pretty much being cake. Spears don’t actually have a whole lot of flexibility to them; like an inexperienced jock on prom night, all they can do is thrust. When you know what to expect, it’s not too much trouble to slip past their attack and strike out with your own. My favorite thing to do is to fight them up against a ledge. Since they slide back when hit, it doesn’t take much to fill the abyss below with their corpses. Continue reading

Enjoying that Dark Souls View

Last time, on a Dazzling Display of Dark Souls, we kicked some ass. Like, seriously. Did you see the fight against the Iron Golem? I haven’t seen anyone lose so humiliatingly since the Netherland’s victory over Spain in the World Cup. Ha ha! Topical humor.

Anyways we got dropped off in Anor Londo, city of the gods and, now that I spend most of my time in my undead form, one of the last places in Lordran where you can find true beauty. I head down the staircase to explore this new destination.

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These sentinels are the only beings still seeming to reside here, at least in these upper levels. I’m not wanting a fight before I’ve found a bonfire in the area, but luckily, these guys don’t seem to be looking for one either. Judging by their posture, they’re definitely guards, but mayhaps they’ve already heard that I am the Best Chosen One, and that I have honorable business here? Or maybe my reputation has preceded me and they want to avoid the thrashing I’ve been giving half of Lordran. Whatever the case, I don’t bother them, and they don’t bother me.

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Two more of them inside what looks to be some sort of temple or shrine. Again, I’m not looking for a fight, so I don’t get close.

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The shrine opens out onto a large landing. I take some stairs down from there, and find a bonfire, tended to by a fire keeper. I talk with her first, before settling down. She gives me a bit of direction, telling me that a revelation will visit the Best Chosen One if he visits Geezer Zeus’s old keep that’s just across the way. She also tells me a bit of life as a fire keeper, referring to herself as “a gatekeeper and a guide”, saying that she sticks with the job because otherwise, there’d be no beacons in Anor Londo. Turns out, the bonfires tended to by the keepers are special beyond just giving me a bit of extra estus. They’re linked to one another, somehow, and shall never die as long as the keeper lives. However, it seems keepers can’t leave the area around their bonfires.

Thus enlightened, I rest at the bonfire and level up before moving on.

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I’ve said it before, but this area is absolutely gorgeous. It strikes me as a bit odd, in fact. I’m just a little over 30 hours into the game now. Usually, game makers will blow their visual design load pretty early on, catching as many players as they can before some will drop out. I’m impressed that From Software has held out for so long. Hopefully, this is a sign that they’re still holding plenty of other great sights in reserve.

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Now that I’ve got a checkpoint, I think it’s time to mess with some people. I start by seeing what those sentinels are really guarding. I want to see what’s worth protecting. Turns out, the sentinels are aggressive, although you have to get fairly close to trigger them. I do with the two of these. There were treasure chests behind them, although it seemed to me they’re defending the statue more than the loot.

Their shields are the most annoying part of the fight, completely blocking any attacks that so much as brushes up against them and leaving their fronts and sides absolutely invulnerable most of the time. That means I have to brush up my counter game, but unfortunately, their attacks don’t leave them open for long.

Particularly when fighting two of them at once, the openings to attack are rare. It only takes two or three attacks in sequence to deplete my stamina and knock my guard away. I might be able to handle one of them, but two is just too much, and working in concert, they wear me down. Continue reading