Fear and Loathing in Lordran: Notes on the first Dark Souls, and the second

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“It’s only smoke and ashes, baby”

– Tracy Chapman

I spent two hours last night dueling other players on the bridge in the Iron Keep, one of Dark Souls II’s more inhospitable locales. At some point I was set upon by three allied players with greatswords and hulking armour, dishonourable opportunists hoping to overwhelm unsuspecting players with their numbers. I picked them off one by one with poison clouds and slowly tracking orbs of darkness until, his two friends defeated, the leader turned tail and ran. I chased him down and gutted him.

No elation followed this victory. I put the controller down then and went to bed feeling exhausted and empty.

I want to say I have finished Dark Souls II; I have followed the threads of its story through to their ambiguous and depressing finale and achieved a mastery of its combat and systems which is now almost unconscious, but there are still secrets lurking in the recesses of the world that elude me. I suspect with this kind of game that will always be the case; like Skyrim it is a game that one can never truly finish, only grow tired of.

Perhaps it would be better to say I am finished with Dark Souls II. I hope that distinction is clear. Continue reading

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