Dark Souls Special Part 1: Reginald Cuft(bert), Agent of Shield

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Apr 23, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 171 comments

Link (YouTube)

Right off the bat, George asks who Reginald Cuftbert is, so now might be a good time to bring newcomers up to speed. To ruin the joke by way of explaining itWhich is far better than you later ruining the joke yourself by discovering it isn’t very funny I’m going to need to do an exposition dump on you:

The Reginald Cuftbert joke(?) began back in 2010 during our Fallout 3 let’s play. (Yes, Spoiler Warning has been doing Let’s Plays since long before other, funnier people popularized the format.) It was an attempt to come up with the most lore-inappropriate name for our character. Since then we’ve continued the tradition of using the name in whatever form the game allows, which is usually “barely”. We now have about sixteen thousand times more memoryNot an exaggeration, assuming typical memory today is about 8GB and was 512k in 1990., but game designers are still using the 1990 approach to character names, where they don’t want to give you more than 10 bytes lest you run out of memory and crash to DOS.

We typically play Reginald as chaotic stupid. Partly for comedy, but also because it lets us see rarely experienced content and bugs.

Here is the SuperBunnyHop critical close-up of Dark Souls that we talked about in the show.



[1] Which is far better than you later ruining the joke yourself by discovering it isn’t very funny

[2] Not an exaggeration, assuming typical memory today is about 8GB and was 512k in 1990.

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171 thoughts on “Dark Souls Special Part 1: Reginald Cuft(bert), Agent of Shield

  1. lucky7 says:

    Tagged as Sark souls. may be a typo.

    1. Josef says:

      Snark Souls?

      1. lucky7 says:

        With SW on the case, yes.

    2. Great. Now Shamus will be along with an “Attention young people” post about Tron. Thanks a heap.

  2. Ilseroth says:

    While I am sure after the informative rest of this play session Chris learned this; essentially, assuming you know how to play the game, usually you can wiggle your way past any issue.

    For instance you could lure the guy over the cliff and kick him off, or just backstab him over and over. But as I know someone else who did literally the same thing (with the same result and decision to end his play session)I do understand what you are saying.

    That being said, I think it does show the games feeling on consequences; which I think is a good thing. You attack a random dude, your choice will have consequences. This theme plays out through the whole game, especially with the NPCs you interact with.

    Without spoiling anything it, each of the NPC’s eventual fate actually does change based on your actions, some without you realizing that you have an affect on them.

    I could point to this and say “this is what people mean when they say they want consequences” but at the same time, the game is so ambiguous about what affects what to the point that sometimes it is absurd.

    For instance, there is one gentleman that is trapped. If you save him he appears at firelink shrine as a merchant/trainer. Obtain a certain item and show it to him, he leaves and you have to fight the hollow version of him later.

    Another gentleman asks you a question with no clear answer, there is no reason to pick one or the other and the effects of that answer, while not game breaking are significant.

    It is a clear step in the right direction, but tipping the hand just a little more to let someone make an informed decision on at least *some* of the choices (other then kill or no kill) would be nice.

    That being said, the consequences for attacking lady gwyndolin are pretty epic. It reveals the simple truth that she is an illusionary projection and the previously glorious city of Anor Londo goes dark. On top of this you now as punishment get invaded by other players when you are there.

    Granted it doesn’t affect the games narrative from there on out, but it changes an entire game zone to a bleak nightmare where you are under constant attack.

    1. Cyndane says:

      Regarding your spoiler text there? If you read the item description for the Silver Armor set, which you will practically stumble upon before you fight the boss of Anor Londo, that spoiler is ruined for you. The game spoils itself!

    2. Doomcat says:

      (In referance to the thing in spoilers)

      It does affect the narrative though, specifically with Dark Sun Gwyndolin, You can’t join his covenant, and it makes his area appear much easier (I believe) then it otherwise would?

      Its not technically a piece of narrative that is absolutely crucial to the main plot, but its interesting. Its also worth mentioning that the firekeeper in the brass armor set goes hostile when you do this too, meaning you lose that bonfire if you kill her.

  3. lostclause says:

    Rutskarn, just so you know, at least one person got your sinister pun.

    1. Cybron says:

      I also got it, and was sorely disappointed in the lack of groans from his fellows.

      1. Thomas says:

        I guess the task was left up to us

        1. Tapkoh says:

          Would it be gauche to point out that pun?

        2. Hitch says:

          Well, he did slide that one in pretty dextrously.

      2. lostclause says:

        To be fair, I probably only know that bit of etymology because I am left-handed.

    2. Blake says:

      I think nobody noticed because it just came out of left field.

  4. TMTVL says:

    I am so hyped for this week I can’t even begin to describe it.

    On a serious note, though, I’ve survived the occasional hit from Havel in the Wanderer’s set.
    But only one handed weak swings, of course.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      I’ve also survived wearing Elite Knight Armour barely having any points in Vitality, not quite starting gear, but it’s mostly just the slightly better but slightly heavier Knight armour.
      I could block the guy too!

    2. poiumty says:

      Havel doesn’t always 1-shot you, if you get the Master Key you’re just too low level to fight him and the damage he does will almost certainly be more than your maximum health.

      Didn’t stop me from trying on my first playthrough.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Parry Havel barehanded or get out.

        e: and on NG+ Greatshield of Artorias shieldbash to death.

        1. poiumty says:

          I parried him to death with an unupgraded dagger as a sorcerer, can I join the cool kids club now?

        2. TouToTheHouYo says:

          I arrowed him to death from a safe distance like a boss.

          Does that count?

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Only if you do it to Manus too.

      2. Deadpool says:

        I played Demon’s Souls and remember my lesson: Play naked.

        Doesn’t work as well on Dark Souls 2 though…

      3. Ringwraith says:

        This just reminds me how someone once mentioned they don’t wear much armour because it ‘won’t save them from the one-hit kills anyway’, except nothing in Dark Souls is a one-hit kill if you have enough armour(/appropriate defence against whatever it is).
        Probably exemplified by my not massively high-HP but tin-can-wearing character could survive being impaled by Ornstein, despite this is apparently usually being the death knell for anyone else.

        1. Tse says:

          I never knew that attack could kill some people outright. I was kitted out in the Giant set and using a Tower Shield. That same shield could block Havel without draining all my stamina. I never needed to learn how to parry or dodge.

          1. Ringwraith says:

            It’s also probably because it does lightning damage, which is probably the hardest thing to resist against (for both parties, lightning-enchanted weapons tend to make mincemeat of most bosses as barely any resist it).

            1. WILL says:

              Havel uses the Dragon’s Tooth, which is a pure physical weapon, and I think blunt weapons do more stamina damage when blocked.

              Havel simply does massive amounts of damage either way, no fancy shmancy fairy magic about it.

              1. Ringwraith says:

                I meant in reference to Ornstein, if that wasn’t obvious by mentioning lightning damage.

        2. TMTVL says:

          Actually, bosses level-scale. If you play through with a low-level character none of them can one-hit you, unlike regular enemies (such as Havel).

          1. Vipermagi says:

            Bosses do not scale at all. Ceaseless, for example, always deals 800 Physical Damage per hit (I presume Strike damage). If your Physical Defense + Life exceed 800, you can just take a swing to the face and always survive, regardless of level.

            1. Ringwraith says:

              The only damage that scales is fall damage, which is percentage based off your maximum health and I think also your equipment load.
              Otherwise everything else is completely fixed, not even random damage ranges.

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    8:50, I really wanted the camera to go “clang!” and bounce off the bars. No way the huge lens they need for all these dark shots would fit in that gap. Plus it would have added just a bit of levity to this otherwise all-too-serious intro… Though ten seconds later things got silly anyway.

  6. Spammy says:

    I snagged Dark Souls a few weeks ago when it was real cheap on GMG. I’m some dozens of hours in to my first playthrough, got to the boss fight area of Sen’s Fortress, and…

    I am in the difficult position of not being amazed at this game. Shamus, you would probably flip your lid at the context sensitive controls the game doesn’t tell you about. Especially at the start, there are a lot of cheap gotchas that undermine everything everyone tells you about the game being hard. A lot of places are pure Do It Again, Stupid. Not to mention the game’s wonderful habit of not telling you things, not making things clear, and not pointing things out. I nearly didn’t make it out of the Undead Asylum or the Depths because the hole you were supposed to go through stands out in NO way from its surroundings. You know what you guys complained about with no one seeing Liberty Prime in FO3? Yeah, it’s that. From Software is horrible at that.

    There’s still some stuff that’s good. I mean even in the Undead Burg, you can see the amount of thought that’s gone into making the level interconnected, which shows miles more care than went into, say, Mass Effect 3. There’s a lot of moments of looking around and being able to see where you just came from.

    And I mean the combat system is a bad, underdeveloped version of Monster Hunter’s combat, but I haven’t played Monster Hunter since my Wii bricked itself, so I can at least get my fix of that. And when you actually DO find out something or anything about the world or the lore it’s generally interesting to see. Some of the characters you meet are actually interesting, even though no one tells you their name which is a major impediment to me caring about any of them.

    So… I guess the point of all this is that no game can ever live up to repeated praise and that goes for Dark Souls too. All I was told was how great Dark Souls was, and even when I’m enjoying it all I can see are the things the game does awfully.

    1. poiumty says:

      “even though no one tells you their name”

      Oh-hoh! Forgive me. I was absorbed in thought. I am Siegmeyer of Catarina.

      Ah, hello! You don’t look Hollow, far from it! I am Solaire of Astora, an adherent of the Lord of Sunlight.

      Brilliant! You opened the door for me! Thank you; I am saved. I thought I might never escape. I am Griggs of Vinheim.

      Hrm? Well, this is unusual. You haven’t lost your head. And more importantly you’re free. How on Earth… …Well, I shouldn’t pry. I am Rickert of Vinheim.

      Thank you, yes, sincerely. I am Knight Lautrec of Carim. I truly appreciate this, and I guarantee a reward, only later.

      Well, you must be a new arrival. I’m Andre of Astora. If you require smithing, speak to me.


      Your comment on the combat system also rustles my jimmies. This is the best combat I’ve ever seen in an action/rpg hybrid. But I’ll chalk that one up to your personal tastes.

      1. HeroOfHyla says:

        Personally I found Dark Souls combat pretty good, but it could have been better if they made it a little more Zelda-y. Twilight Princess (the Gamecube version) had a lot of fun options in combat, with all the special attacks and stuff that you learned. Take that, expand it to multiple weapon types, and you’d have something wonderful.

      2. Garrrrrett says:

        This although they only ever say their names the one time and your character is to shy to ask them ever again. My jimmies are equally rustled by the comment about the combat and while I have never played any monster hunter games it seems from a cursory look at some gameplay videos that Dark/demon Souls combat and Monster Hunter combat are descendant from the same game, or maybe Dark souls is a fork off of Monster Hunter I have no idea if these games both borrow from some earlier game.

        1. Darren says:

          Dark Souls and Monster Hunter are similar enough that I’ve made the comparison myself, but Monster Hunter places much more emphasis on preparation than Dark Souls does. They are very different structurally, as well.

      3. Cybron says:

        While I agree with you – most characters do indeed give you their name, right away – I will point out that most of the merchants who don’t go to Firelink have no names.

        Re:visual direction: I’ll agree that it can be problematic. It took me a couple hours to locate the door to lower burg, just because it was so unremarkable. But at the same time, the developers have proven, in my eyes at least, that when they want you to see something, they’re more than capable of highlighting it. It seems more like a conscious decision than an inability.

        I suppose that’s little to no consolation when it’s happening to you though, so it’s a fair commplaint.

        1. poiumty says:

          There’s like 3 NPCs who don’t tell you their names: the merchants in the Burg, and the Crestfallen Warrior. Which is obviously not his real name.

          1. Cybron says:

            Off the top of my head, you never learn the real names of the merchant in Sen’s, the Lady of the Darkling, and the giant smith in Anor Londo.

            1. poiumty says:

              Fair point. Those slipped my mind.

      4. Spammy says:

        I know Solaire’s name because of memes. Besides him the only name I remember is Andre’s. Everyone’s name just goes by with no change of emphasis in their voice that I never got a connection to any of their names. Dark Souls is a wonderful look into the world of people like me who are terrible with names. Everyone just brushes by theirs and you can never remember it so you just describe people by their notable aspects. Grumpy Sweater Guy. Fat Cleric. Pyromancy Bro.

        And I’m not going to budge on what I say about the combat. When I first watched people streaming Dark Souls I thought, “Oh, so it’s Monster Hunter.” And then I actually started playing Dark Souls and thought, “I wish this was Monster Hunter.” Monster Hunter gives you more combinations of attacks to work with that are radically different and not just a bog standard weak/strong attack system. I’m sorry, but in terms of slow and deliberate combat systems focusing on learning the timing of your attacks and managing stamina, I cut my teeth on Monster Hunter. Dark Souls has provided nothing new.

        1. IFS says:

          To provide a counterpoint monster hunter’s combat looks really weird and boring to me, its all giant weapons that don’t seem to have any weight to them, weird traps and on the wii at least frequent chases through multiple loading screens. Dark Souls has a lot of different weapons that all feel different, many of which even have attack patterns or special abilities unique to them.

          1. TMTVL says:

            No weight to them? The giant sword (except the silly katanas) are massive and, due to their animations and speed, FEEL massive.

            What I don’t like about Monster Hunter is the lack of a lock-on system. I always feel like my character is an absolute idiot who can’t aim a swing to save it’s life.

        2. Vipermagi says:

          Dark Souls has light and strong attacks, but also a kick, backstabs, running attacks, rolling attacks, ripostes and jump attacks. Just saying.

    2. TouToTheHouYo says:

      The developer notes at the start tell you of the various attacks you can perform, though not in any explicit detail. Backstabs can prove unnecessarily tricky as the targeting in the game can be less than stellar, and parry/riposte is naturally difficult, but through practice effective use of both practically break the game.

      Enemies rather blatantly telegraph their attacks and when you do make a mistake it’s typically easy to learn from. Don’t strike the rapier wielding Balder Knights when they point their sword at you. Don’t attack the Hollow Thieves when they’re swaying their knives to-and-fro. You’ll probably die the first time to these situations but if you’re paying attention you learn what to look for.

      Dark Souls can be insufferably vague but it purposefully uses death as a teaching aid, generally to great effect. Some of the boss fights break that rule, such as the Hellkite Dragon and the first Capra Demon. There are also a handful of “troll” moments: The bridge, Blighttown, your return to the asylum, Blighttown, anything involving Patches, and Blighttown.

      No, the game isn’t quite as fair as some make it out to be. But you die, pick yourself up, learn from your failure, and move on.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        I found I didn’t die that often from surprises, as you just have to be slow, observant (there are often visual clues to traps and the like) and always expect anything, which is often expecting the worst.
        If something looks like it’s way too free, it’s probably not.

        Though the fact my character was a typical knight probably helped. I even dumped all my early points into endurance just so I could no normal rolls in my tin can. Certainly having a lot of damage reduction and a sturdy shield helps a lot for survivability.

        1. TouToTheHouYo says:

          I’ll give you that but there are still some “Got’cha!” moments that’re almost impossible to avoid without forewarning.

          The dragon coming out of no where and flaming you on the bridge. You know it’s in the area somewhere but even creeping out onto the walk way usually fries you.

          The boss room floor giving way in the Undead Asylum and planting you smack dab in front of the Wondering Demon. The said demon planting it’s massive hammer smack dab upside your head.

          The whole of Blighttown.

          Caution certainly helps, but parts of Dark Souls are deliberately designed to punk you unmercifully. Adds to the charm.

          1. Raygereio says:

            The dragon coming out of no where and flaming you on the bridge.

            You know there’s a dragon around and then you arrive at a bridge that’s covered with scorchmarks.
            Come one. Hellkite’s appearance should not have been a suprise.

            The whole of Blighttown.

            Blighttown got a reputation for being terrible on the consoles due to the engine struggling with that area on that hardware, which resulted in the popular nickname of lagtown.
            But it’s not terrible area: It punishes you for running around like a headless chicken, but really all areas do that. A common complaint of that area is the poison/toxin, but I genuinly don’t get why people find it hard to deal with that since you can just heal through the dot-effect with estus and there’s a merchant one area back that sells infinite cure-poison/toxin

            I’ll give you the Stray Demon one. That really is one of the few “Haha, gotcha!” moments. Stray is one of the more crappier bossfights since if you drop down at the wrong spot and/or don’t know that you’re supposed to immediatly run towards his ass, you’ll likely die without having any clue as to what you did wrong.

            1. Janus says:

              If you sideline the 2nd bell and do the Hydra/Moonlight-Butterfly first you will involuntarily farm a lot of poison/toxin-cures just by going through these areas. Did that on my first playthrough, so Blighttown was ok for me – the 2nd time, I tried to do it first and got ripped to bloody shreds (didn’t buy enough at the merchant).
              It’s not worse than any other area – on the PC at least. On the consoles it was barely playable for me.
              But the best addition of the pc-version: The female undead merchant now sold cures for the Basilisk-Curse. Did wonders for my blood pressure.

              The Asylum-Demon was awful, just awful – It took me more tries than most other bosses (except Laurel & Hardy). Stripping naked and running away like a crazy, panicked mouse turned out to be the winning strategy.

              Hm, all that will sound like utterly ridiculous nonsense to anyone who doesn’t know the game… Sorry

  7. poiumty says:

    OH GOD this needs to be a whole series.

    Though half the cast not knowing a damn thing about this game would probably mean they’d have nothing to say for a long while. Too bad.

    Rutskarn, it’s not that left-handed people don’t exist in this universe, you just can’t play a left-handed character. Nor can you play a character with a beard.

    People kept harping on the “weird lore” so I’ll add my thoughts to it: Dark Souls does storytelling differently from your average game. It only gives you the bare minimum information and makes you put real, active effort into interpreting the enviroment and the scarce information found in dialogue and item description to put together a lore that, in effect, seems expansive and vast.

    The lead producer wanted to replicate the effect from the days of his youth where he used to read english books but knew very little english, so he had to piece together the meaning and details behind the story and characters with the little he knew. It’s definitely not a bad way to tell a story – figuring it out this way is more of a community effort, with a result which is far more meaningful and satisfying when it all comes together.

    Lots of other details are kept intentionally vague, like which of the 2 endings is even the better outcome, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We need more games like this.

    1. lucky7 says:

      Beards are for nondead!

      1. poiumty says:

        To be fair, they fixed that giant oversight in the sequel.

    2. IFS says:

      I second making this a full series, this episode was hilarious and Josh certainly seems to know the game well enough that they could make consistent enough progress without getting stuck.

      As for the lore I love the mythic feel it has, its ambiguous enough that you put it together yourself, and any of the stranger issues (like how does civilization work) are distant enough from the game to not be of great importance. Its the only game I’ve ever played where I’ve felt like the world resulted from some creation story out of Greek or Norse myth, and it lets the player piece together on their own how the world came to reach the state its in. If anyone is interested in learning more then I highly recommend the prepare to cry series on youtube.

      Also on the subject of the Pygmy, the furtive pygmy is thought to be the father of humanity (called a pygmy because the other lords/gods are giants) who shattered his soul (the dark soul) to create the shards of humanity and let them spread. Its also theorized that Manus, the primeval human, you fight in the DLC is the Pygmy, just having been twisted by the abyss/excess humanity. Its one of the more interesting parts of the lore to me, and there is a lot to discuss regarding it. In fact I think the ambiguity and ‘put it together yourself’ aspects of the lore are a big part of why people still talk about the game so long after its release, it gives people stuff to talk about to piece together and discover as a community.

    3. Kana says:

      I think there’s also a rarely touched on point when it comes to the lore of Dark Souls. It deals with religion though, so I’m going to try to be very careful.

      The native religion of Japan is Shinto (well, technically Shinto-Buddhist now), which is filled with a myriad of gods. Worship in Shinto is, traditionally, based in ritual practices and actions. This could be seen as the Covenant system, where you do a task set by the leader to both earn favor and as something to anchor your humanity to.

      There are a myriad of “gods” in Dark Souls, although your definition may vary. The stricken God of War, Nito, Gwyndolin, and others all exist in the context of the game as super-powered beings who can bestow boons to their followers.

      They can also all be killed by you, the player, that’s worth remembering.

      But then they have this odd mix of (more or less generic) Western religion and structures. The architecture is distinctly Western, full of churches and cathedrals rather than shrines. If there was any ‘over-figure’ for a supreme god, it would be Gwyn. He’s at the forefront of pretty much everything. It’s implied through a couple items Gwyn is at least renowned if not outright worshiped in the other lands, where knights and clerics hunt down and destroy the undead.

      It’s this really bizarre mix of Eastern and Western mythologies and practices. There are almost a dozen gods in the game, and you can even pledge yourself to one of a few, but it never answers what happens after that. What happens to an Undead’s soul if they devoutly worship a god, what the deity is getting out of this besides one follower.

      I really like the aspect of Dark Souls where it creates this general idea, and then leaves it to you to fill in the blanks. In this case, it also creates this weird disconnect where two different outlooks on spirituality are overlayed. It raises a lot of questions on what the humans in the outside world think, or how it influences them and the characters within the game.

      Really hope I didn’t step on toes or open a can of worms. I find it interesting to fill in the gaps, look at their relationships with mortals, or even if they are ‘gods.’

      1. Cybron says:

        With note to Gwyn as the supreme deity, he’s not necessarily in charge, I think, given that his uncle Lloyd is titled the All-Father. But it’s not like we know. Beyond Gwyn and his children, Dark Souls is REALLY fuzzy on the subject of deities and their relationships.

        1. TouToTheHouYo says:

          Deities in Dark Souls always struck me less as actual gods, in any real sense, and always more mortals of some description that lucked out and got their hands on some power.

          They’re all withering, finite beings desperate to extend their own existence by any means possible. Three of the four primeval lords more or less stumbled upon their respective souls, then through abuse of power corrupted themselves into husks. Except for Nito, who I guess was always like that. Somehow

          1. Kana says:

            It is interesting you say that, because even as mortals, there are some omnipresent gods. Nito is described as watching over all death in his miracle, Gravelord Sword Dance.

            “Nito sleeps deep within the Giant Catacombs,
            quietly overseeing all death, and waiting for
            his servants to usher in the Eye of Death.”

            Velka is similarly described as looking over all sinners, meeting out the punishments they deserve. This also extends to the other gods, which is why she went rogue.

            Edit: wrong word. Present, not potent. Velka and Nito know of their respective domains. Also, other gods know when you betray them for another, and you can lose their powers. This, however, could just be a gameplay mechanic to prevent abuse by having high ranks in multiple Covenants.

        2. Kana says:

          Oh, I think so as well. I don’t mean to say Gwyn is head of the Church, but rather that the in-game organization has deified him further. Havel was a Bishop, and Lloyd strikes me as something akin to a Pope. Then there was that little rebellion that may or may not have happened.

          I think it works out because, as a sort of Over-God, Gwyn is the source of all generic Miracles. Because he was deified, his miracles continue to function even after he got screwed. When you get other miracles from other gods, it fits their lore.

          Velka doesn’t care, as long as karmic justice is served. Nito doesn’t care, because you’ll continue to murder with his power. But Gwyndolin’s miracle ceases to work the moment you betray his authority and goals.

      2. poiumty says:

        Yes! I’ve always maintained that The Lords are in fact the japanese versions of divine rulers who aren’t omnipotent so much as powerful beings with magic and authority. If you look at the japanese creation myth you’ll find the major gods of japanese mythology (such as Izanagi/Izanami) reffered to as Lords. Japan also has a tradition of considering their emperors to be of divine nature. It can’t be a coincidence, especially since in Dark Souls power is something tangible based on how powerful your soul is.

        Miracles don’t seem to be drawing power directly from them though, otherwise Gwyn wouldn’t be able to sustain the lightning bolt spell. They seem more like spells invented rather than powered by them.

        1. Janus says:

          The way the game handles its deities and other non-humans never struck me as having much in common with actual religious practice/beliefs/rituals. It draws a lot more from mythologies.
          Like the Eddas, the Gilgamesh-Epic or stories about the greek pantheon. The way the gods act, behave, the way the world works fits the mythological stories about Zeus’ or Thors exploits a lot better than it does (most) forms of actual worship and beliefs.
          The whole game is like that – Dark Souls isn’t really a “fantasy”-game as far as many of the usual tropes & norms are concerned – it’s kind of a fictional “mythology-game”.
          You traverse the mythological world starting in midgard, ascending to Asgard/Olympos and climbing down into Niflheim & Helheim/Hades & the Tartaros, visiting the roots of the world tree itself.
          The player character is less of an Aragorn and more of an Perseus or Herakles – and like the greek heroes, doomed by fate from the very beginning.
          At least I always thought so, ymmv – a lot. The shinto-theory sounds pretty sensible as well :)

          1. IFS says:

            It seems like a mixture of both to me, and the mythological feel it has is a huge part of why I love the series so much. I honestly can’t think of any other game out there that has the same sort of feel to it, and the way the lore is tied into the environments really helps sell the extremely good atmosphere.

          2. Kana says:

            “Like the Eddas, the Gilgamesh-Epic or stories about the greek pantheon.”

            Now I’m giggling like a schoolgirl. Have you, by chance, ever read the description of the Heal line of Miracles? If you haven’t….


            “To cast a miracle, the caster learns a tale
            of the Gods, and says a prayer to be blessed
            by its revelations. Heal is the shortest
            of such miraculous tales.”

            Great Heal Excerpt:

            “Great Heal Excerpt borrows from only
            several verses of Great Heal. As a result,
            it can only be cast a stark few times.”

            Great Heal:

            “Great Heal is a long tale, only learned by a
            select few. No caster will be disappointed
            by the bountiful life that it yields.”

            Oh my, it does draw a lot from these Epics, doesn’t it? That said (and pardon me if I’m wrong, it’s been awhile since I’ve read through my Shinto books and am going by Wikipedia), the description of Shinto is very interesting.

            “It is defined as an action-centered religion, focused on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past.”

            Like… an Epic of one god’s adventures in the past? Maybe, Dark Souls lets you draw your own conclusions.

            Also, “ritual practices to be carried out diligently” has some fun uses. This doesn’t mean occult rituals, but small things. A prayer to the local shrine god daily, spiritual or physical purification (Old Shinto has no concept of ‘sin’, only impurities that gather like dirt might).

            This comes across in the game. You are expected to preform your designated task to whatever god you serve.

            Blades of the Darkmoon, who punish those who have transgressed against the gods.

            Gravelord Servants, who are expect to spread miasma and death as Nito once did.

            Warriors of Sunlight, who protect and assist weary travelers.

            You are expected by your patron to carry out these tasks daily, and dedicated followers receive greater boons (Great Lightning Spear, Gravelord Greatsword Dance).

            Interestingly, there are far more Covenants with no god, but dedication is implied or required. Chaos Servants, who must bring Our Fair Lady humanity to ease her suffering. Forest Hunters, who protect and defend their forest under the watchful eye of a nature spirit, Alvina. Path of the Dragon, who fight and travel the world for rare Dragon Scales, to hasten their ascension into dragons themselves.

            I suppose then, it is no surprise that the one faction who discards this is the most self-serving, Darkwraiths, who only care for themselves.

            1. Janus says:

              @IFS: Seconded :)

              Don’t really get your argument. As I’ve said, the shinto-theory makes a lot of sense too.
              And the “Heal”-Descriptions reminded me of one of the Merseburg Incantations. Specifically a healing charm, that “works” by recounting a tale of the gods, drawing on themes of germanic mythology, trying to heal Baldrs Horse. So… Yeah, fits pretty well?
              Many magical practices/ritual incantations work similar to that – recounting tales of the gods to gain their help.

              Also the Covenants:
              You’re not really performing any diligent rituals here. You swear an oath to behave a certain way – help the helpless, slay the helpless, bring forth the end of days, etc.
              They reminded me a lot more of Chivalric Orders, like the Order of Saint Patrick, t.O.o. the Black Swan, O.o. the holy spirit, etc.
              But yeah, it’s all very vague so ymmv here more than in most other games.

              [Also, I don’t really want to go into real religions here. It almost never works out & isn’t welcomed here anyway (for good reasons).
              So, just to clarifly: Things like “no concept of sin”, diligent rituals “connecting past and present”, etc. – this is not unique to shinto, there are a lot of similar ideas and practices all around the globe. How does that relate to the game?]

              So, I don’t quite get where you’re going at. Sorry? :)
              It draws a lot from shinto, makes sense to me. It still plays/feels a lot like a very sinister mythological tale – the former doesn’t invalidate the latter…

              1. Kana says:

                Well, it wasn’t meant to be an argument rather than an expansion of what I’d said before. I’ve kinda read a lot of Dark Souls lore, but very rarely get to talk about it. I’ve probably gone a little too far into theories edging on things I ought not have, and I apologize for that.

                As for relating to Shinto, as I’ve said before, it’s native to Japan. I’m sure plenty of other religions have similar concepts or tenants, but I think that is applicable here because of the source and context (From Soft being a Japanese developer). So yeah, lots of Eastern and Western concepts of play at work here. Still, I shouldn’t push too far into this. I wish I could edit it to remove them. Maybe Shamus could just delete the post? It’s not really adding anything, just an expansion to a point I’d already made.

                I really like your comparison to greek stories, where the hero is more or less doomed from the start. It even says at the beginning, “Soon the flames will fade, and only dark will remain.” Even if you choose Link the Fire, you are just delaying the inevitable. Great comparison.

                1. Janus says:

                  Ah, so I’ve misread that… And I was just slightly confused – all is well. Got me thinking that I should read up some more on shintoism though :)
                  And thanks – overthinking the Souls games to a rather worrying degree is one of my beloved pastimes too… So I can relate.

                  Sometimes I think, that I get somewhat annoyed at people harking on the difficulty mostly because that discussion tends to overshadow all the other amazing aspects of these games…

                  1. Kana says:

                    I think it’s a double-edged sword. Dark Souls is very unforgiving to mistakes, but it (almost) always plays fair.

                    Finally killing Quelaag was a huge deal for me because of how much I had struggled with her. And Artorias… good god, Artorias. I spent two and a half days fighting him, and the final kill was so bittersweet.

                    Locations too, having to fight through 20 damn Basalisks is an exercise in frustration, especially with Curse. But Ash Lake was so worth it. Absolutely breathtaking. I’ve heard similar comments of Anor Londo after the Iron Golem fight.

                    I think it’s fun to look at the Japanese side of things, because there is so much we just miss. For instance, you know Pinwheel is something of a joke boss in the west?

                    He’s actually a literal joke boss in Japan. (Getting the name from EpicNameBro, who I trust after all the work he’s done.) His name is San-nin Baori. What you may not know, is a Japanese party game called “Ni-nin baori,” where two people put on a large piece of clothing and the guy in the back has to help the front.

                    Ni-nin means two people. San-nin is three people. So many fun little details like that, just hidden away in the same game.

        2. Kana says:

          Dark Souls Spoilers below:

          Actually, the Lightning Spears come from the un-named God of War, not Gwyn himself, at least how I interpret it. See the description of the Sunlight Medal:

          “The symbol represents Lord Gwyn’s firstborn,
          who lost his deity status and was expunged
          from the annals. But the old God of War
          still watches closely over his warriors.”

          If you betray the Warriors of Sunlight Covenant, you lose access to all the spear spells. However, you can still use Sunlight Blade, which also belonged to this unnamed god. But in this case, he abandoned it in Gwyns tomb, perhaps as a final farewell. Perhaps gods can put their spells into common domain, where anyone can use them?

          Even the Sunlight Spear only works if you give Gwyn’s Soul to the statue of the God of War, and if you betray him, it stops working. It does seem like specific gods can bestow their boons to followers, but only by limited spells in their “domain.” I posted this above, but I think all generic miracles come from Gwyn and at maintained by his deification by the church.

          Now, interestingly, there are omnipotent gods in Dark Souls. Nito is described to be watching over all death, and Velka watches the world to meet out the punishments of sinners. Which is also interesting: Gwyndolin will only punish those who betray the gods, Velka will punish anyone screwing around too much, including the gods.

          Like I said, it’s this really interesting mix of Eastern and Western spirituality. I think the gods of Dark Souls would fall under a more demi-god status. It’s like you say, they are living mortals who can be killed, but can also bestow their power onto a follower.

          1. Vipermagi says:

            Only Sunlight Spear requires you to be in the Sunbro covenant; regular and Great Lightning Spear always work.

            1. Kana says:

              Ah, do they? I was just going by the wiki. I’ve only ever joined Warriors of Sunlight once. As much as I want to, I’m always drawn back into the interesting world of pyromancers, and dedicate myself to the Chaos Servants. I’ll edit it, thanks for pointing it out!

              Nevermind: It’s been too long. :'(

              I think the point stands, that the god doesn’t want you to screw around with his father’s memory, but as a God of War, perhaps he is satisfied with those who acquire his miracles continue to fight.

          2. poiumty says:

            Gwyn passed down the Lightning Spear miracle (a weaker version of his own Sunlight Spear) to his firstborn. The Firstborn has a miracle of his own, which is Sunlight Blade.

            About omnipotence: that’s an impossible concept. Neither Nito nor Velka are omnipotent, and the fact that they’re “said” to watch over things doesn’t mean they are. At least I’m pretty sure Nito’s not, sitting there chilling in his coffin. Before you kill him.

            1. Kana says:

              I wrote the wrong word originally, and didn’t notice it until after the edit ran out. Not omnipotent (I had thought that was ‘see everything’, not ‘all-powerful’), just implied to be able to see virtually anything in their domain. Nito could probably mess someone up, but he’s being drained by the necromancers and is probably content to let his servants do their thing and just watch. Certainly not omnipotent, any of the gods. Gwyn even gave his lord soul to keep the fire going, and that’s almost gone now.

              For the spears, yeah. It was pointed out to me that even if you bail on the covenant, you keep Lightning Spear and Great Lightning Spear. In the opening cutscene, you see hundreds being thrown. Like Sunlight Blade, I just think the spell has more or less entered ‘common domain’ and just has to be given by the Firstborn, after that you can do what you want.

              I don’t think that Gwyn would let go of Sunlight Spear though, which is why you have to get it from the Firstborn, and lose it if you quit the Firstborn’s covenant. This is conjecture, but I don’t think he’d give it out just to have someone disgrace his father.

              Dunno, Dark Souls rarely gives the fine details, so for me it’s always fun to think about what could be going on.

  8. mhoff12358 says:

    Shamus mentioned around 13:30 that Dark Souls is designed to be a punishing game, but I actually think that’s a bit of a common misconception about the game. You lose your souls when you die and fail to recollect them, which on the surface sounds a lot like it is the game punishing you for dying, but in actual play it rarely comes to that.

    1) In the case where you’re carrying a lot of souls and dying would be a major setback, that’s when you’re supposed to run back to the bonfire and spend your souls rather than push your luck and progress onward in the level.

    2) In the case where you only lose a small amount of souls, the game isn’t really punishing you for the loss. Just normally playing through the game killing an enemy or two for practice can net you a pretty okay amount of souls so your loss is very temporary.

    The loss of souls very rarely acts as a punishment for dying, but instead forces the player to make judgement calls about the risks they do face in the game. Have they gathered enough souls that they should scurry back to the start of the level and spend their loot, or do they want to press their luck and try to get the next enemy?

    1. TouToTheHouYo says:

      It becomes more of a potential punishment later on when level ups grow much more expensive. If you’re not exploiting one of the farming methods than trying to rack up tens of thousands of souls can be a hell of a chore. Thus, losing them is that much more damning.

      I would argue that the game is indeed punishing, especially compared to most others, but if you take your time and learn from your mistakes, or cave in and hit up a wiki, you’ll find the game isn’t difficult for the sake of difficulty. It has a very particular set of lessons to teach you and it will literally beat you to death with them, repeatedly, until you learn.

      1. poiumty says:

        “It becomes more of a potential punishment later on when level ups grow much more expensive.”

        Nah. You get about 10 times more souls from a Silver Knight than from a rat. You find better soul consumables too. And you tend to get better at the game; Dark Souls is a lot worse early on than later.

        1. Kana says:

          It depends. Losing 5000 souls at Taurus demon is heartbreaking. You need those to level up or upgrade your weapon for a ton of damage. Losing 5000 after Nito or Seathe is a pittance. It all depends on when you lose the souls, and how bad that feels to have gear and levels vanish right in front of you.

          Alternatively, this is why you should spend souls rather than horde them. You’re only two deaths away from losing them all, and you can always farm some more later.

    2. Thomas says:

      The level of progress Dark Souls sets you back is completely punishing. The souls lost is just spicing, but a non-punishing game wouldn’t think of resetting your progress back beyond the start of a boss fight, I mean in a non-deliberately punishing game people would complain if the checkpoint was before a bosses cutscene never mind 1-10 minutes walk away where you can potentially die if you make a mistake at any moment.

      I swear Dark Souls resets people definitions on what normal difficulty looks like =D

      And both Demon Souls and Dark Souls 2 apply some pretty hefty penalties for being stuck at any part of the game and dying a lot. Demon Souls would even make the enemies tougher if you continued to die in a particular place

      1. Cybron says:

        “I swear Dark Souls resets people definitions on what normal difficulty looks like =D”
        Or maybe it just attracts a crowd of people who tend towards certain kinds of games.

        1. Ravens Cry says:

          And that’s fine. It’s nice to see a game go for niche appeal instead of trying to go for as broad an audience as possible, and all too likely creating a bland experience all around.

      2. mhoff12358 says:

        I see what you mean about Dark Souls resetting you back before the start of a boss fight, generally you do have more level and enemies to rekill than in other games.
        On the other hand, I’d argue that “beating” an area in Dark Souls isn’t the first time you get to the end and beat the boss. You beat the area once you are consistently able to reach the end without getting you ass handed to you on the way there. The combat is set up in such a way that its completely possible for someone to go all the way from the start to the boss without taking damage once if they really know what they’re doing, so your progress through a level is you learning the skills needed to reach the end relatively unharmed. Dying to the boss /doesn’t/ take away that knowledge so it doesn’t really reset you all that much.

      3. Hydralysk says:

        If I recall correctly the world tendency only changed towards black if you died outside of soul form.

        The normal cycle I experienced was “Kill a boss and become human -> world shifts towards white -> Die in the next area -> world shifts back to neutral”. Unless you take the risk of going out of soul form you won’t suffer any penalty. In addition the further the world shifted towards black the higher the drop rate was and the more souls you got, so it was easier to get the required materials to forge stronger weapons or level up.

    3. syal says:

      “If you have a lot of souls you should backtrack to a save point” is a punishment in itself.

    4. Shamus says:

      When you die, you’re sent back to the bonfire and have to re-fight EVERYTHING between there and the spot where you died. This can be a considerable length of time and trouble. That’s the main punishment, and there’s no way around it. Without save-on-demand, when you hit trouble 5 minutes from a bonfire then you have to pay five minutes for every failure.

      You can say “that’s how it was designed” or “it needs to be like that for the game to work”. Fine. But it’s also the thing that keeps me from enjoying the game. That’s the way it goes.

      The occasional loss of souls is just adding injury to insult.

      1. poiumty says:

        It serves to highlight an interesting thing about the game: your second or third time through an area will be much faster and easier because you’re actually getting better at the game, and not your character. You learn enemy positions, area layouts, traps. The whole thing becomes intimate in your head. Sen’s Fortress is not just another dungeon for me. How many dungeon layouts can you remember from New Vegas, for instance? Same idea for the bosses. The need to re-fight the enemies on the way makes for a good piece of “quiet time” as you reflect on what to do better and what you’ve learned. It’s a pacing trick that few games do as well.

        It might put you off, but only because you don’t have the time this game requires. Being in a constant subconscious hurry to finish the game ensures it’ll never gather much significance.

        1. Akri says:

          “It might put you off, but only because you don't have the time this game requires.”

          I’m going to object to this. Obviously I can’t speak for Shamus, but your reasoning doesn’t hold true for me, and I doubt it does for him either. The issue isn’t simply not having the time, but the very idea that such time is needed in order to enjoy the game.

          I have lots of free time. If I wanted to, I could spend that time learning to play Dark Souls. Eventually I would get good at the game. But I don’t want to do this, because I don’t like the idea of needing to put a bunch of hours into a game before I can start enjoying it.

          If I thought I would have fun with the game while I was still in those early “what am I doing?” stages, then there wouldn’t be an issue. But this doesn’t seem like a game I would be able to enjoy until after I’d learned a lot of the tricks, and learning those tricks would require hours of frustration. So the limiting factor isn’t how much time I have to put into the game; it’s how much time I’m willing to invest in the game before I start actually having fun.

          1. poiumty says:

            Dark Souls is a game you can enjoy right off the bat. If you’re patient with it and like the feeling of discovering not just the map but the inner workings of the mechanics and UI, it’s great. This is saying nothing about all the other things the game does well, like the atmosphere.

            Yes, the game requires dedication to get good at. But never did I say it has to be frustrating until you are. The learning process is the best part of the game for some, and I know more than a few people who wish they’d just un-learn everything so they could go through that first playthrough again.

            It’s also why so many people look for challenge runs after they’ve finished it enough times. The satisfaction of getting through something difficult makes that something worthwhile, and that’s not something you get to feel much nowadays.

            1. Akri says:

              “Yes, the game requires dedication to get good at. But never did I say it has to be frustrating until you are.”

              No, you didn’t say that, and I didn’t mean to suggest that you had said such a thing. The issue isn’t that everyone has to be frustrated with the game until they’re good at it, but that some of us would be frustrated with the game until we got good at it. And because of this it isn’t merely an issue of having the time to spend getting good at it, but of whether or not you will enjoy that time. From his comments, it doesn’t sound like Shamus would enjoy that time.

              1. poiumty says:

                I still think the game could change his mind if he gave it a chance. The game can be completed both without dying once and without taking any damage (except maybe some fall damage). Hell, look at Yahtzee. He initially dismissed the game only to come back and eat his words a year later.

                1. Akri says:

                  Of course it’s possible that playing the game could change his mind. There’s always a non-zero chance that trying something will make you change your opinion of it. But given everything Shamus has said about why he doesn’t want to play the game, I imagine the odds of him changing his opinion would be rather low.

                  “The game can be completed both without dying once and without taking any damage (except maybe some fall damage)”

                  Can this be achieved by a fairly new player? If not, I don’t see how it has any bearing on Shamus’ feelings toward the game.

                  1. poiumty says:

                    I said that to reinforce that it’s not the game that is to blame for your mistakes, but rather that all mistakes are avoidable.

                    1. Akri says:

                      If someone very new to the game has a strong chance of avoiding making mistakes, then that would certainly be relevant to the discussion (since it means Shamus likely wouldn’t spend as much time doing death-runs as he thinks).

                      However if you’re merely stating that someone who understands the game well enough can avoid making mistakes, then you’re not really saying anything that should change Shamus’ feelings about the game, since he wouldn’t be coming into it as a player who has the knowledge base necessary to avoid making those mistakes.

        2. Decius says:

          You pretty much described Shamus’ idea of what Do It Again, Stupid gameplay looks like.

          1. poiumty says:

            I’d liken it more to a World of Warcraft raid. Except you’re doing it by yourself.

            This game does have insta-kills, but you can see those coming (pitfalls). Anything that you’d have difficulty seeing coming doesn’t insta-kill you. By that distinction, it’s not “Do It Again, Stupid”. It’s “Be More Careful, Stupid”.

            I’ve seen people play this game blind and avoid traps I never could, just because they were careful. I’ve also seen people charge headlong and die hillariously. Patience is a skill.

          2. John C says:

            There’s a big difference between DIAS gameplay and learning to be better at a game. Dark Souls has very few things in it that are DIAS, but it has a high skill ceiling.

            In DIAS gameplay, the game is setting you up to die at least once, no matter what you do, until you “learn the trick.” Whatever Dark Souls’s merits and drawbacks are, the gameplay is not DIAS.

        3. Klay F. says:

          I’ve long since realized that trying to conventionally convince people that death in Dark Souls isn’t punishing is an exercise in futility. What I just say now that the game demands that you play it in a different mindset than you play other games. If you aren’t willing to change the way you typically play and think about games, you aren’t going to have a good time. And thats completely fine, some people were pining for that kind of game, other are fine with how games currently are. I mean hell, when I die repeatedly in games not named Dark Souls I get just as pissed off as anyone else. The Souls series is still the only series that can force me into that different mindset.

          1. poiumty says:

            Yeah that’s what I said in another blog post here: if you’re playing the game to “just get it over with”, the game will punish you over and over until you learn to give it the focus it deserves.

          2. Akri says:

            What counts as “punishing” is pretty subjective, so trying to tell other people that a certain aspect of gameplay isn’t punishing would indeed be futile. It depends on the person, their playstyle, what they enjoy, what they find tedious, etc. Your idea of “punishment” may be their idea of “fun” and vice versa.

            And I don’t think it just comes down to mindset, either. If a certain aspect of a game goes completely against what you find enjoyable, then you’re not going to be able to just zen-master your way into having fun with it. It’s entirely possible to be willing to change how you think about and play a game, and still be completely unable to have fun with it. Some games don’t work for some people, and it has nothing to do with how willing they are to change their mindset or play style.

        4. Steve C says:

          your second or third time through an area will be much faster and easier because…

          I’m pretty sure I know Shamus’s feelings on this as I share them (abet not as strongly.) It’s even a searchable tag on this website.

          1. poiumty says:

            And you would be wrong. As other people have said here, the game isn’t setting you up for failure.

            1. Steve C says:

              We’ll agree to disagree.

          2. IFS says:

            To quote that article: “The thing that annoys me with these games is that there is no fail-safe. No matter how many times you fail, no matter how badly you fail, and no matter how long you remain stuck, you are never any closer to beating the mission than you were the first time you tried. There is no system to help frustrated players along or let them skip after so many attempts. There is no consolation prize. You have no new items or stats or experience to show for your work.”

            This is definitely not true of Dark Souls, you get any items you’ve found along the way, and you have a chance to recover what little you did lose in souls. Given that items and equipment are far more meaningful in the game than level you really aren’t losing much, and the thing that set you back is almost always a fault of your own so you do gain personal experience with each failure even if your character’s level isn’t moving. There are no cars coming out of nowhere and blindsiding you, any trap gives enough warning to avoid it if you’re paying attention (with two exceptions, that boulder in the Asylum will almost always get you when you first play, but I think they intended for that to clue you into the fact that it smashes the wall; other than that the infamous Anor Londo archers are one of the most disliked parts of the game for a reason). Even deaths to enemies are almost always your own fault, their attacks tend to be telegraphed well in advance and simple positioning and circling around then tends to be far more valuable for avoidance than rolling or blocking, it is as people often call it hard but fair.

      2. mhoff12358 says:

        You see, I hadn’t even thought of re-progressing through an area as a punishment. As I see it, a “level” in Dark Souls isn’t so much the linear path through an area as it is the collection of a player’s attempts to run through the area. So you haven’t “beaten” the trio of soldiers outside the church when you kill them the first time, you’ve only truly “beaten” them on your sixth or seventh time once you have gotten good enough at killing them that you can now do it flawlessly. And at that point running through them due to later deaths isn’t a punishment because they’re a minor nuisance you can basically sprint through without thinking.

        That said, its a lot easier for me to say that looking back on the game so I can understand how not everyone (especially newer players) would feel the same way.

      3. TheHokeyPokey says:

        Well, not everything. Generally speaking, when you redo a boss you just run past all the enemies. You tend to unlock shortcuts and the closest bonfire tends to be fairly close to the boss after you learn the quick route. The only place I can think of where it would even be difficult to skip all the enemies is right before Pinwheel, and that is the easiest boss in the game (tutorial boss included). I think the bonewheel skeletons before him are harder than Pinwheel. The longest run is either before Four Kings or Artorius, and I would estimate them at about a minute each.

        The way it is designed, “five minutes from a bonfire” doesn’t remain five minutes for long. It takes less and less time with each repetition.

        1. IFS says:

          Really you’re never more than about thirty seconds away from where you died, though there are exceptions (Sen’s Fortress and the DLC in particular). This is especially true once you realize you can just run past most threats, but even fighting the enemies rarely takes that long, and usually you’ll die to an encounter because of some fault or carelessness of your own so being cautious and observant will cut down your deaths tremendously.

          1. TheHokeyPokey says:

            I take it you never found the secret bonfire in Sen’s Fortress, or the cage elevator.

            1. mhoff12358 says:

              The swinging pendulums (and the one lighting shooting snakeman) near the top of Sen’s before the bonfire or the cage elevator are really hit or miss. You either make it past and get the bonfire, or you get to start aaaaall the way at the bottom.

            2. IFS says:

              I did, though not until after I’d beaten it my first time. I count Sen’s on that list mainly because the traps make me go a lot slower.

            3. Cybron says:

              I found the Sen’s bonfire, but missed several other very useful ones. The most important one being the one in Lost Izalith. Imagine fighting the Bed of Chaos and having to traverse the full lava area every time you died. Ugh.

              I also missed the Depths bonfire and the last bonfire in the Tomb of Giants. I’m just really bad at finding bonfires, for some reason.

      4. Ringwraith says:

        This is why the sequel added the change that on many main paths to bosses from bonfires, killing an enemy twelve times stops it from respawning.
        It seems like that’s a lot, but that’s the kind of point you should have gotten fighting those foes down to an art form, plus there’s nothing stopping you from just taking them out and resetting manually to depopulate them on purpose.

      5. Sougo says:

        Shamus just describe how I’ll never get into the Souls Series as it is despite spending hours on it, giving it a go.

      6. Starker says:

        Shamus wrote: “When you die, you're sent back to the bonfire and have to re-fight EVERYTHING between there and the spot where you died. This can be a considerable length of time and trouble. That's the main punishment, and there's no way around it. Without save-on-demand, when you hit trouble 5 minutes from a bonfire then you have to pay five minutes for every failure.”

        This is actually not the case in Dark Souls. Firstly, as already mentioned above, you can just run past many of the enemies. Secondly, there are a lot of optional/side areas that you never have to visit again once you have explored them, so the main path between you and your objective is usually quite short. Thirdly, the tougher enemies (and bosses) don’t respawn.

        Progress in Dark Souls is different than in other games, that much is true, though. You “progress” by making lots of little permanent changes to the world and to your character — leveling up, improving your equipment, finding items, opening shortcuts and defeating tough enemies.

        1. Sougo says:

          Firstly, to a new player who just lost thousands of his Soul, do you think he/she would want to risk rush through/run past the enemies when a mistake could cost him hours of progress? Second, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have to revisit these areas again, you still have to go and get your souls/humanities back from where you die. Third, it actually doesn’t matter if the boss/hard enemies doesn’t respawn, the ‘mooks’ of these game are the annoying part where you’re confident that you can faceroll them if a fight but not confident enough to rush through them so you waste your time going through the motion just to play it safe.

          1. Starker says:

            Losing your souls is not such a big deal as you would imagine. It’s actually relatively easy and painless to farm for souls. Also, you should spend your souls, not hoard them — each time you have enough to level up, do so. You shouldn’t even carry around 15 minutes worth of souls, let alone multiple hours worth.

            The point about not having to revisit side areas/explored areas is that you can “complete” or “finish off” parts of the new area and not have to worry about them when you are going through the area again.

            Rushing through enemies is a valid tactic and you do it to get to the next area, to the next boss or just to grab an item. If you need to get to your bloodstain to recover your souls or are just exploring, you would not be doing it.

            The mooks become just background noise after a while. The big bosses/tough enemies are the real meat of the game. It’s a little bit like Silent Hill, really — after a while you realise that you don’t need to fight everything and just run past the easy ones.

      7. Abnaxis says:

        I think what others here are getting at, and what you are getting at, is that your enjoyment is directly proportional to how much fun you have fighting mooks on your way to the boss.

        If you like fighting the smaller guys and maneuvering through the death-traps, setbacks aren’t really punishment. That’s why I have fun–yeah, I might have fought that hollow soldier twenty times on my way to Havel, but it’s fun to find new and creative ways to end him before I get mushed into past by Havel’s great hammer.

        One of the things Dark Souls gets right, is that there is very little time where you’re doing absolutely nothing. Cut-scenes are few and far between. Enemies are everywhere, but spread out over terrain that makes each individual encounter unique. When I think of that video you did on this stuff, I don’t see progress loss in Dark Souls as being like GTA, where you have to waste time on trivial driving and re-watching cut-scenes to get back where you were before. I see it like Super Hexagon, where it might be a while before you make it back to the place you died but you’re back to having fun five seconds after death.

        Incidentally, that’s why I think you see so many, “but you’ve got to try it Shamus, you might like it” in these threads. The game can be blisteringly hard, and there are bullshit gotchas in places*, but it’s not punishment if you enjoy the mechanics.

        *As an aside, Hellkite dragon is ridiculous–not only is there no way to foresee that the entire bridge will be ENGULFED IN ALL-CONSUMING FIRE (I mean, you know the dragon’s coming, but covering virtually every square centimeter in fire is BS), but if you have you shield up (on account of being shot at by crossbows, and because the rest of the game trains you to keep it up lest you get ambushed) you get stun-locked into submission.

  9. StashAugustine says:

    Dark Souls lore and mechanics are kinda weird because they’re deliberately aping the director’s experience of playing western RPGs in Japan as a child. Everything’s confusing and not obvious and on top of that no one speaks the language well. The game is designed to be one that you hunt down friends to talk about.

    Personally I like it because it’s got the best hand-to-hand combat system I’ve ever come across. The wide variety of weapons, slow-paced stamina management, varying build options between shields, dodging, magic, etc, and the amazing animation (when you hit someone with a Zweihander you wince a little.)

    1. TouToTheHouYo says:

      Riposting with a club almost makes you feel sorry for the poor bastard who’s brains and bollocks you just bashed into bits. Blimey

        1. TouToTheHouYo says:

          That was beautiful.

        2. Josef says:

          I was looking for this video so long. Thank you.

  10. Duhad says:

    Oh hey! I love SuperBunnyHop! I love how 20 Sided just randomly brings in amazing, slightly smaller name web personalities to be on the shows! My day has just been made all the more wonderful for this! (I didn’t listen to the podcast when this video popped up, so him being on Spoiler Warning was a total surprise.)

    1. Thomas says:

      I’m pretty sure Super Bunnyhop’s a fair bit bigger than Spoiler Warning. I think he got the legendary Total Biscuit recommendation :P Shamus might still have the higher view count though.

      I entirely and totally approve of his presence here, it was so awesome =D

      1. aldowyn says:

        Maybe duhad meant slightly smaller in comparison to someone like TB?

        1. Thomas says:

          Oh yeah I didn’t even think of reading it like that :P I’m going to assume it was that, because I was about to break out the tweet metrics to see who was biggest, but it’s a bit not-nice to try and measure internet-fame for a bunch of cool people who can read what you’re saying.

          1. Duhad says:

            aldowyn has it pretty much spot on. He is bigger then SW, but by the standers of “Big Name Youtube Stars” (TotalBiscuit, Two Best Friends, pewdiepie, ect.) he would still be considered a smaller named individual.

            That’s not meant to be a dig though, if anything I find it amazing that Shamus and company have managed to find these sorely under rated, but completely amazing people from across the web and bring them on to this amazing sight! Its grate!

            1. Nimas says:

              It’s times like this I feel something might be wrong with me. Read this entire comment chain with a sort of happy feeling because I totally agreed with you, and then the “Its grate!” comment happened and now I’ll spend the next 5-10 minutes annoyed/angry ;)

              1. KremlinLaptop says:

                “Amazing sight! … It’s grate!” – Duhad, 2014 review of twentysided. 10/10.

                (Sorry Duhad. Just poking fun and really throwing stones in a huge glass house by doing so.)

  11. Theminimanx says:

    I can understand them not knowing anything about pc games, but they could’ve put in a little effort.
    Look at metal gear rising. Platinum had zero experience with the pc, but at least they gave us resolution options and let you reach 60 fps. How hard can it be to change that? I don’t know anything about programming, but it seems like the most basic stuff you can do, considering you can often edit it in .ini files.

    1. Humanoid says:

      If people kept bugging me to do something I really didn’t want to do, I might eventually deliberately do it very badly out of spite. Maybe this is what happened here. :P

    2. poiumty says:

      “60 fps. How hard can it be to change that?”

      Metal Gear Rising was coded differently than this game, perhaps intended to be ported from the start.

      Dark Souls is coded in such a way that 60 FPS isn’t possible without problems – even if you use the latest version of DSFix, the game still makes you fall through the floor when you go down ladders at 60 FPS. The speed of the game is hardcoded into the framerate, and there’s no perfecting that without starting from scratch.

      Hopefully From learned their lesson with Dark Souls 2. But you can’t blame them – Demon’s Souls was a PS3 exclusive, and these games were always designed to be niche.

      1. Orogoth the Overlord of Oranges says:

        “even if you use the latest version of DSFix, the game still makes you fall through the floor when you go down ladders at 60 FPS.”

        Nope. From patched this a while ago – the gameplay bugs that used to occur when using 60 FPS (The most notable of those being PvP related: Enjoy not being able to backstab, parry or block someone using 60 FPS) now no longer occur. I’ve heard the roll distance is still affected by FPS, but haven’t personally tested it – I couldn’t really tell the difference after I swapped to 60 FPS, anyway.

        1. poiumty says:

          I was talking specifically about sliding down ladders. I don’t see that feature fixed in any dsfix changelog – the newest versions are mostly fixing compatibility issues the last patch brought up.

          1. Orogoth the Overlord of Oranges says:

            It was fixed by From Software, not the maker of DSfix. So it wouldn’t be in any of the changelogs. Regardless, the falling through floors if you slide down a ladder is fixed.

            EDIT: I remember one bug that isn’t fixed. If you go human while the bonfire graphical effect is still active, you get stuck in the sitting down animation and can’t do anything. You need to quit out via GFWL or by closing the program. It’s never really a problem for me since I only invade these days, which is why I forgot about it.

            1. poiumty says:

              I see. 60 fps doesn’t really work for me, I barely get 30, so I wasn’t aware of them fixing that bug.

              The stuck animation isn’t a factor of the fps unlocker, I get it too.

              1. Orogoth the Overlord of Oranges says:

                Interesting. I’ve only ever heard/seen it occur with uncapped framerate, so I assumed it was due to that. Is it reproducible for you? At 60 FPS, it seems to occur every time I attempt it.

                It might be due to large changes in FPS, rather than the high framerate itself. The bonfire effect brings my computer to it’s knees at around 20 FPS, then quickly back up to 60 as it ends.

        2. Cybron says:

          Well, the ladder bug happened to me repeatedly when I was playing the game not more than a few months ago.

          It was super annoying too, because it was an area where I REALLY wanted to be able to ladder slide (in order to get a hit in on the mass of giants skeletons waiting below).

  12. Deadpool says:

    The — Souls series has incomplete lore on purpose. One of the creators has mentioned when he was a child he liked to read Western Fantasy stories, but his English was weak. So he’d get bits and pieces of the story and had the piece the rest together on his own…

    1. IFS says:

      Its also explained in the lore itself why so much knowledge is missing, the archives were lost due to some mistake on the part of Gwyn’s firstborn if I recall correctly.

      1. Kana says:

        He burned them down, I believe. Oddly enough, you can still pray to him (“The old God of War”) and enter a covenant with a nearly “erased” god. I hope Spoiler Warning goes into the Covenant system, but as much as I loved them, they weren’t really fleshed out.

        Like, there was never a reason to join Way of White, and Gravelord Servants and Dragon Apostles pretty much got shafted for how hard it was to get their interactions to work. Still Chaos Servant was fun lore, Sunbros are bros, and the Dickwraiths… well, there you go.

        1. Doomcat says:

          Sorry, clarify, which covenant was the one to the firstborn? Is that the sunlight warriors? I always thought they were Solaire’s creation? (not meaning to open the can of worms that is ‘Solaire is the firstborn!’) Hmm…

          Agree with you 100% on the covenants though. I always liked Dragon Apostles in theory, mainly because the covenant items were really cool but…actually playing as one? ergh.

          I’ve heard that DS2 has much better covenants though…at least gameplay wise.(If someone replies to this, talking about them, spoiler tag it please. Still waiting till Friday so I can play the game myself.)

          1. Kana says:

            Yep, Warriors of Sunlight (or “Sunbros” for some communities) follow the unknown Firstborn of Gwyn. Solaire himself was a follower. (It’s been debunked that he is the Firstborn by Miyazaki. Interestingly, the Firstborn at one time could have been Andre for an unused plot thread.)

            In terms of lore and location, Dragon Apostles were my second on the list. The first time hitting Ash Lake and looking out was breathtaking. I’ve always had a thing for the trope of “human ascension into something more”, so it was something I really wanted to get in to… but that would involve abandoning Our Fair Lady. I can’t have that now, someone needs to look after her.

            Not played it, read about all the covenants in DS2. Good news, they fixed a lot of the problems Covenants had in 1, but it remains to be seen if any of the not-CoOp and Not-PvP ones generate a good enough following. They are pretty cool though, so look forward to it.

            Lists below, ye warned

            1. Deadpool says:

              Covenant of Champions is kinda cool, but leveling up in it is a pain AND the rewards are awful until the last one (which is a ring that lets you power stance while empty handed and do massive damage with fists).

              Way of the Blue is kinda nice in NG+ where invasions run rampant, even if the rewards also leave something to be desired. It is at least easy to level up. But the Blue Sentinels take a WHILE to join in… On the other hand, Silver Talismans and Chameleon spells (make you look like a box, or vase) are a thing now, so hiding until a Blue Sentinel shows up isn’t bad.

              Abyss gives you a mini dungeon and allows you to invade people seemingly without Sin in exchange for Bonfire Ascetics. On the other hand, invading in the Abyss is not for the faint of heart (enemies aggro on invaders as do other invaders and you only get the win if YOU get the kill. If the enemies, another invader or the environment kills someone you get NOTHING.) The rewards are second copies of the two strongest spells in the game, so that’s nice. The final reward is the best Chime and the hardest hitting (albeit largely unusable) spell in the game. Climax can three shot some bosses in NG+infinity… But the cost in souls is ludicrous.

              The PVP Covenants are interesting. Rat Covenant let’s you set up a trap infested area for other players to attempt to run through. Meanwhile Bell Keeper is similar to the old Cat Covenant, but the reward now are high level (+7-9) upgrade materials for your gear for every kill… It is TEMPTING.

              Overall, there’s room for improvement, but they’ve gone far…

              1. Kana says:

                Mind tossing up some spoiler tags? The strike tag in a comment does it. I don’t mind, I’ve already read through and picked which Covenant I’ll be joining, but others have been waiting for the PC release to dig in. All I’ll say is, the Japanese name I heard for mine first (it was later translated to something else): Shinto God Guardian. Going to be a fun time.

                1. Deadpool says:

                  Sorry, I didn’t realize people thought of these as spoilers… I’d edit them now if I could but I am too late.

                  Apologies to anyone whom this bothered.

            2. IFS says:

              On covenants in DS2:

              Personal favorites for me in DS2 would be the Bell Keeper’s and the Rat King covenant (which speaks to DS2’s improvements to PVP, since those are both PVP focused covenants, and in DS1 I always avoided PVP). Bell Keeper’s in particular make for some really interesting areas to fight in, and I find the lore about Alken and Venn among the more interesting bits in DS2. Sunbros are back again, but the rewards the covenant gives aren’t very good, so its not as compelling this time around. Pilgrims of the Dark are also interesting, but the dungeons they allow access to can be a bit of a pain, especially if you’re just trying to fight the boss of them.

            3. Doomcat says:

              First of all, thanks for the warning :P

              Second of all, yeah, the whole Andre thing was kinda “meh” to me when I first heard it. I kind of wish they’d done that with him, since Andre is a somewhat interesting character as-is. It does make me wonder though; Why are there those (petrified?) blacksmith statues that look JUST like Andre holding the divine/dark embers? Hm.

              I’d like to also note that Gravelord Servant was a great almost unseen thing, and at some point I think I need to play through the game with The gravelord mod except that sort of ruins the point of it…red phantoms should really be a uncommon occurance, not EVERYWHERE.

              And I guess its worth mentioning. The covenants in Dark souls have this horrible tendency to be REALLY hard to find. Off the top of my head, only 3 covenants would be “easy” to find, 4 depending on how perceptive/lucky you are (yay writing) all the others are hidden almost “easter egg”-y in their nature, I find that actually almost appealing, yet at the same time…not.

              Like, say I found the gravelord servant covenant, I’d think that its a really cool thing, however, I’d have to go to a wiki just to figure out what it DID let alone if I actually wanted to join it.

              small rant over I guess, sorry, I might have just derailed the conversation again..

  13. Deadpool says:

    Dark Souls 2 let’s you block with a right hand shield.

    It also has a set of shields designed to be dual wielded. And power stanced.

    Power stance is a new stance for dual wielding that gives you new moves to his with both weapons…

  14. Raygereio says:

    Dark Souls’ face creation truly is a sight to behold.

    Also a run where you’re only using shields is feasible.. This is worth watching if only for the insanity that is the dragon head glitch (stream 2).

    1. StashAugustine says:

      My second character was a Cyrano de Bergerac cosplay.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      Damn, I wanted to post about shiledfried.
      By the way the original GeopLP run through, from which adventures of shieldfried is a spin off, is an awesome way to experience Dark Souls if you don’t have it in you to actually finish the game:

      Essentially the player GeoP is going in blind, so you can experience all deaths an inexperienced player is bound to die from. But as an frustration prevention mechanic, he has co hosts who are experienced Dark Soulers to give him hints and point him into right direction of figuring out what to do if he gets stuck. Also since co hosts know their DS lore the lore and items concerning lore are pointed out and explained.

  15. Mr Mister says:

    I’m curious to know which character in the game George thinks is still Human. At the top of my head, I can’t think of any female NPCs that could be Human.

    1. poiumty says:

      Sieglinde of Catarina is very much human.

      1. Veloxyll says:

        Oh yeah, I forgot about her.

      2. Ringwraith says:

        Which easily makes her the most impressive character as being human means she cannot have died throughout her travels, whereas any undead at least comes back at a bonfire.

    2. Robyrt says:

      Sieglinde of Catarina, probably.

  16. Irridium says:

    Chris, I also attacked that guy right at the start. I died many, many times. Eventually I managed to perfect parrying and kill him.

    Yeah, in Dark Souls, it’s a good idea to NOT just attack everything you see. Especially when the people aren’t attacking you. I also ended up killing a merchant later in the game. Was right after the Quellag boss fight, that one parasite dude. I thought he was another bad guy!

    1. Hydralysk says:

      But on the other hand you’ve got people like Lautrec…

    2. Abnaxis says:

      I accidentally attacked Oswald of Carim the first time I made it through the Gargoyle fight. I was having fun playing with my new gargoyle tail axe, and I nicked him. o.O

      For those not in the know, Oswald is the guy you talk to to spend souls to make other NPCs forgive you if you piss them off. As I learned, Oswald’s rather unforgiving for trespasses against his own person, however. Damn hypocrite.

  17. Kana says:

    Minor footnote: But I’d like to point out… trying to kill Asylum Demon with just the busted hilt will take forever. If you really want the Demon Great Hammer he drops, just take the gift “Black Firebomb.” You get 10 and it only takes like… 4 to kill him.

  18. “We’re going to be the happiest man in the Abyss.”

    And cue one of the few Far Side cartoons not yet obliterated from the ‘net: “You know, we’re just not reaching that guy.

  19. And today I heard “primordial” pronounced “prih-mo-rid-dee-ul.”

    It’s like the internet is making people misspell when they talk now.

    1. syal says:

      It’s actually “Prime Meridial”, pertaining to the center of things.


  20. Heather says:

    Spoiler Warning is doing Dark Souls? And you have Super Bunnyhop on as well?! But my birthday isn’t for months! Thanks, you guys! ^_^

  21. Winter says:

    The fact that this episode did not end with Josh aggroing Crestfallen bro makes me incredibly sad. Aggroing him and getting two shot would have been incredibly perfect. (And then kick his ass at the start of the next episode, obviously.)

  22. Ryan says:

    I think an important point about the general craziness and confusion of the lore is that Miyazaki wanted to relate his experience of reading English fantasy novels as a child. He read English, but not very well, so he found himself immersed in these magical worlds full of fantastic imagery, all the while having only the barest comprehension of the novels’ plots.

  23. TMTVL says:

    For some reason I get the impression that people who love this game also liked Super Metroid back in the day.

    1. Abnaxis says:



      Lucky guess! :p

      ((Seriously, I had me some wicked speed runs on Super Metroid))

  24. Vipermagi says:

    One curious thing about the Jubilant Catarina preset: NPCs from Catarina aren’t actually black. Sieglinde and Siegmeyer are quite caucasian.

    The Broken Straight Sword is actually worse than your fists, but it’s only relevant when using roll attacks. It might also take a bit more Stamina to swing, but I never bothered to check.
    Punching the Asylum Demon to death takes quite a while, especially if you’re not familiar with how to make him chain easy attacks.

    Left-handing is actually a thing in Dark 2, as well. It’s neat!

    There are three Shields dedicated to punching enemies to death! They’re actually good because you Block while attacking. A lot of fun to tear off a dragon’s tail with a barbed shield.
    Shields and Whips cannot Riposte or backstab… And there’s no special plunge animation either.

    There’s a Soul of a Lost Undead on the other side of the path compared to Snuggly. Woo.

    1. IFS says:

      You can riposte with whips in Dark Souls 2 though (I know because some kind invader decided to demonstrate on me) its basically a punching animation though, the whip itself isn’t terribly involved.

  25. TSi says:

    Just a note about left handed, right handed stuff. There are a lot of readings on the subject but to be specific about military and shield wielding, left handed soldiers HAD to wield their shield on the left side to not be at a disadvantage as well as to stay efficient on the battlefield when moving in formation such as the early phalanx where group cohesion is primordial.

    The fact only a small portion of the population was left handed led it to be the default for carrying shields and defensive weapons such as the trident dagger/sword breaker or a simple dagger in more modern fighting styles where the sword and rapier remain the main weapon (there is also a lot of material to be researched here).

    On another note, my Switzerland mother-in-law is left handed but when she was young, she was forced by her teachers and parents to write with her right hand. I don’t know why (never asked) but this led her in the end to be ambidextrous. Some sort of social background related to the “etiquette” introduced in the early XV I guess.

    But then again, this is a video game so I agree with the cast that it shouldn’t matter unless wanting to be historically accurate or simply doing some lazy programming.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      I’m ambidextrous, but I think that’s from playing tee-ball in my formative years, where they never had left-handed equipment. Also they only showed me how to bat right-handed.

      My wife is in a similar boat, but with her it’s more like your mother-in-law–for some inscrutable reason, her dad made her learn to write right-handed, even though she’s naturally left handed. No idea why–it’s not some cultural thing, he just wanted her to be a rightie.

      1. TSi says:

        Yes. An easy way (for those interested) to understand what the hell is wrong is to simply look for the origin and etymology of the word “left-handed”.

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