I have a very clear memory of thinking to myself, ‘I must invest in a repair box before I go off travelling in new areas.’ Very clear indeed. I remember it like it was five days ago. I then have a faded half-formed dream of a memory of thinking ‘Meh, I’ll be alright.’ Why did I think that? Why? Time and again I have posited the opinion that Dark Souls is not hard, exactly, it just requires concentration. As a player you must respect every single hit, every movement, every decision, always treating every second as important. So why did I think something so stupid? Why did I make any decision in Dark Souls which began with the word ‘Meh’? The answer is, because I’m a cockheaded idiot.
The problem is I got cocky, like the cockheaded idiot I am. I killed a boss or three on my first attempt and got much further than I did on my previous aborted attempt at playing this infernal brilliant game (in a fraction of the time no less). I started to get ideas above my station. I was a powerful warrior priest, able to harness the power of steel and God’s own thunder in murderous harmony. Praise the Sun! Oh, how silly I was. There’s probably someone in the Bible whose tale I could have learned from, but I am a renegade Bible-less priest so I wouldn’t know.
My first mistake was not turning back at the beginning. I used almost all of my offensive and healing miracles just walking in through the door of this cursed dungeon. That was a sign, which I ignored. I should have just run. Perhaps I could have made my way back to the Firelink Shrine and read a book instead. That would have been nice. Good ol’ Firelink Shrine, always welcoming, always there for me. I could have had a chat with Anastacia – she’s always good for a friendly natter when she’s not been murdered by that ‘Keh heh heh heh’ guy. Maybe get to know Frampt a bit better, I feel like we never talk.
But, no, I just had to push on. My second mistake was probably falling over. Falling over is bad at the best of times. It’s bad when you’re just walking up some stairs and you trip and then graze your knee. It’s much worse when you’re injured and bleeding, out of miracles because God hates you, you’re being chased by fire-breathing dogs and there is a fifty-foot drop on all sides of you. In retrospect, it would have been good if I’d died from that fall. I might have lost some precious souls, but also I would have respected the challenge that lay before me, respawned somewhere safe and familiar, and then gone back into it prepared. But God hates me so much that he saved me, in his infinite wisdom, with the power of repeatedly resetting my fall damage by smacking my head on various rocks and platforms and pokey bits of brickwork on my way down.
I landed with a sliver of health left. The dogs followed me off the edge and landed soon after, but they didn’t have the privilege of stopping their fall with their heads so many times, and hit the ground with a splat. More souls for me. Played for and got. I drank my last Estus flask to raise my health to an impressive 65%-ish, and looked around for a ladder to get back up to where I had been.
Except there wasn’t one. There was no way back. At this point I could have used a Homeward Bone, teleporting myself back to the last bonfire rested at, but I thought ‘No, don’t be defeatist. You’re almost certainly fucked, but just have a little look around and see what you see.’
I marched on a little further, suffering many attacks in the process but fighting each one off successfully. I got lost, got unlost again, and finally made my way to a bonfire. Now here was a dilemma. If I used that bonfire I’d get my full health bar back, a refill of my Estus flasks, and get all my miracles up and ready for use again. But it would mean that there were no more shortcuts back with the Homeward Bone. If I rested here, I’d be here for good, unless I could fight my way out. I decided to be brave. Evidently I was at least slightly capable of fighting the enemies here, as I’d come this far. I rested at the bonfire. Five days ago. I’m still here. That would be my third mistake.
My first few excursions out from the bonfire were mixed affairs. I got lost, alot. I got beaten pretty bad, but mostly survived and managed to skulk back for healing. But I was making no ground – each trip out lasted the same amount of time before it became pertinent to back down from the fight and recharge. And this place is a maze. I have no idea, each time I leave, whether I’m even travelling the same direction I did last time. One time I thought I’d reached an exit, but it turned out to be the way I came in. Why I didn’t take the opportunity to leave I will never know. Instead, I decided to back-track to the bonfire again and travel in the other direction to find the exit, rather than the entrance. I died en-route and couldn’t find that path again. I’ve gone looking for it numerous times, but I just end up dead or walking in circles.
There used to be a giant yawning rectum thing which my miracle spear couldn’t penetrate. It wasn’t far from the bonfire and it didn’t really do anything except sit there and wibble and occasionally spew filthy water down itself. In its own way, it was sort of cute. Certainly it was one of the more likeable enemies in the area: I felt a little pity for it, it had a sense of character, and it never once chewed my face off or set me on fire. However, I needed a way out of this hell-hole, and killing it was an option that needed to be explored.
I resolved to take it down with arrows as I didn’t much fancy going near it and the miracle spear was proving itself once more to be mildly useless. Unfortunately a little goblin thing pushed me off the edge of a cliff when I was firing at it, and it subsequently regenerated its health upon my death. My supply of arrows did not regenerate, leaving me without any long-range weapons. Plan B was to abandon the ‘killing it’ plan altogether and just skirt around it trying not to make eye contact. Then I got lost and ended up inside it, and managed to kill it from inside before being blasted out of it into a poisonous swamp and dying. Having been initially pleased to have made some progress on the rectum-front, I now miss it. That slimy demonic passage was a key landmark in my flailing attempts at navigation. Now it’s gone, I have even less of a clue as to where the hell I am.
The most notable problem with my warrior priest build is that I’m shit at fighting anything and I’ve got very few miracles, most of which are shit. I’m more of a scrappy Jehovah’s Witness. This is an issue. The greater related issue is that I’ve been fighting here for days with no access to a blacksmith and subsequently my weapon is now ‘at risk’. I don’t know if that means that it might break, but I do know that it means I’m not using it again until it’s been repaired. I probably should have invested in a repair box before I went off travelling in new areas.
The other problem with the warrior priest thing is that I have not really bothered upping the strength or the dexterity of my character. His sword is powered by his Faith, as is his magic, so when I’ve needed more offensive power I’ve just been increasing his Faith stat and leaving it at that. But I only have one Faith-powered sword. And now it’s ‘at risk’. I have no other good weapons, except the ones I can’t wield because my strength and dexterity are too low. Bollocks.
So what do I do now?
I’ve got the mace that I started the game with. I’ve got the physical power of a Level 1 Priest. I’m lost and since I don’t have a rectum any more, I can’t even tell which direction I’m facing. My miracle spear’s status as mildly useless makes it the most powerful tool in my arsenal, and I have no hope of levelling up again until after this entire fiasco is already dealt with.
Here’s the plan: I fight my way out. A bloody battle will be undertaken against all odds, and when I emerge victorious and stronger for it at the end, everyone will have a bit of a picnic and sing me Happy Birthday. Then I buy a fucking bloody cocking repair box. Then, I come back and try again. Very, very slowly, and very, very methodically. Each enemy here can be blocked, parried or dodged, and only needs 10 or 12 hits with the mace before they go down, and there’s only about 20 of them to deal with. Admittedly, I struggled with them when I had a sword that could one-hit kill them, so I’m not saying it will be done before dinner. However, it will be done. I did not come this far to die now.
After all, Dark Souls isn’t hard. It just requires concentration.