Salt and Sanctuary EP2: Sultan Sanctuary

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 26, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 70 comments

Link (YouTube)

Hopefully I cleared out all the inevitable Dark Souls conversation in our last post, so this time we can actually talk about the game we’re playing.

On the other hand, it’s so hard to talk about this game without bringing up Dark Souls, because the influence is so enthusiastic. The death mechanics. The armor mechanics. The bonfire mechanic. The glowing doorways. The archers. The mood. Shortcuts, traps, stamina, potions, dodge-rolling, shields, cryptic strangers, enormous bosses, the repetition, the fight to recover lost resources after death, getting knocked off ledges, and the atmosphere of decay and ancient buildings.

I don’t really fault the game for this. It’s quite thoughtful and intentional in it’s design. This doesn’t look like someone wanted to copy Dark Souls because it was popularIn contrast to most WoW clones, it looks like someone really loved Dark Souls and wanted to make their own riff on it. The difference here is the the former copies mechanics without understanding them, which the latter copies mechanics precisely because they understand them.

Is that a blurry line? Yeah. But I think often its clear enough you can tell which side a game is on.



[1] In contrast to most WoW clones

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70 thoughts on “Salt and Sanctuary EP2: Sultan Sanctuary

  1. Ninety-Three says:

    The difference here is the the former copies mechanics without understanding them, which the latter copies mechanics precisely because they understand them.

    I’m not saying this is the case for Salt and Sanctuary (that would start a hell of a flamewar), but that’s not necessarily true. Just loving a mechanic doesn’t mean you understand it. This very site features an article by Josh about how Dark Souls 2 is worse than Dark Souls 1 because its developers loved but didn’t understand Dark Souls.

    1. IFS says:

      I don’t think not understanding Dark Souls is what caused DS2’s issues personally, I’d argue that the games troubled development and switching of directors is what caused most of that. You can see looking at the 3 DLCs for DS2 (which were directed entirely by the director who took over late in DS2’s development) that the team knew Dark Souls and how to achieve it. Besides that the mechanics in DS2 are very solid (in fact I’d argue it is mechanically the best in the series, particularly for online mechanics), so it’s hard to point a finger at those as being ‘where DS2 failed’ in my opinion (though certainly some mechanics, adaptability and soul memory in particular, are not ideal).

      1. GloatingSwine says:

        There are a lot of places where DS2 just feels sloppy though.

        Hitboxes, for instance, are regularly bullshit. Especially for grab moves where you get teleported to the grab from any contact with an enormous hitbox (in basically every other Souls game the peripheral hitbox knocks you away with reduced damage and only the part where you would actually look like you got grabbed is part of the grab).

        Enemy placement as well, in many areas, especially Forest of Fallen Giants, they just feel like they’re sprinkled into the area rather than being cleverly placed.

        Very reliant on swarms o’ dudes as well.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Understanding dark souls is the dark souls of understanding.

      1. SPCTRE says:

        I salute you, good sir.

        Edit: Or is it “gud” sir?

        1. Supah Ewok says:

          No, in this case I think it’s “gà¼d.”

  2. IFS says:

    The mark on the bosses HP bar that appeared the second time you fought him actually indicates how much of his hp you have to knock off before you get your salt back, so long as you can consistently get a boss to that amount of hp you will never actually lose salt fighting a boss (gold is another matter, but gold doesn’t do much in S&S). The candle sanctuaries you can rest at but not level up at cannot be warped to (though the main sanctuaries can through use of a couple items or a guide you can summon to sanctuaries) and typically serve as checkpoints just before a boss. Both are twists to the Souls formula that I quite like, though the latter only works because they make the regular Sanctuaries much more important, and while I think S&S does a great job of converting the Souls mechanics to 2d and understanding the purpose behind those mechanics I really like that it was also willing to expand and provide its own twists on those mechanics.

  3. Flailmorpho says:

    I find it odd shamus hates the respawn journey in Dark Souls so much considering it’s so good compared to most “hard” games that just throw you at your problem over and over without giving you any time to actually calm down and start again.
    Respawning right at the boss is so painful because it just feeds into a cycle of anger that your strategy isn’t working over and over, while the dark souls journey back to the boss lets you think through, calm down, sort of zen out for a while. Then you can formulate a new strategy and retry.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      You’re saying that like it’s universal, instead of your personal reaction. I for instance like Dark Souls, but the boss respawn journey is some time-wasting bullshit that I tolerate only because I can’t get my Dark Souls fix anywhere else.

      Respawning at the boss is fucking great because it means that I won’t waste a minute of my life. Times ten deaths per area times ten areas times ten playthroughs of the various games equals literally an entire day of my life wasted on this bullshit. That’s painful.

      1. Flailmorpho says:

        if you were just constantly under attack dark souls wouldn’t nearly be as atmospheric and calm. Plus Dark Souls is really unique in the long respawn aspect because most hard games just think it’s a better idea to spawn you right next to the thing that just killed you, giving no room to even breathe. Also it kind of takes all of the pain out of dying over and over because by the time you die again it’s been like, at least ten minutes. Meanwhile dying three or four times a minute because the game wants to be hard and super lethal is just incredibly frustrating. Hell I even recently got a refund on superhot because of that bullshit difficulty through trying to overwhealm you.

      2. IFS says:

        I think it really depends on the game, in Dark Souls I don’t usually mind it (though there are exceptions). Having a handful of weak enemies to push through as you proceed through whatever shortcut you’ve opened gives you time to reflect on what to do differently, new strategies to try, etc. If say DMC3 or MGR:Revengeance gave me a walk back to the boss I’d be annoyed though, because in those games its less a matter of strategy and more of skill, I don’t want to reflect on how I should have rolled at the right time or parried better, I want to get right back into that clashing of blades and test of skill until I rise above.

        I’m pretty sure the designers of the Souls games are aware of this as well, as not every boss has much of a run up to it. Many bosses will have a short walk, sometimes with easily avoidable enemies. Plus you can always just try to run past all the enemies if you’re sick of fighting them, which more often than not will work just fine.

        1. Flailmorpho says:

          IDK, in a few of those boss fights in Metal Gear Rising, I really could have used a pallet cleanser between deaths against the bosses.

      3. RandomInternetCommenter says:

        “You're saying that like it's universal, instead of your personal reaction.”

        The same could be said of those who say the respawn journey is bad. I can relate to Flailmorpho’s cycle of anger, and this shouldn’t be too much of an alien concept. Pacing is as important in a video game as in everything else. Being all rise and no fall dulls the emotional aspect of any experience, what’s thrilling becomes exhausting, and victory comes through banging your head against the wall until it makes way rather than triumph through strategy.

        I will concede Dark Souls 1 may have overdone the distance at times, bonfires a dozen mobs away from the boss as in DS3 aren’t so bad to get that cooldown period and restore contrast.

      4. Robyrt says:

        Yeah, I’m with you there. I am willing to tolerate the time-wasting components of the Souls series, like long runs to the boss or merchant, or hiding major areas where casual players will never find it, only because they come attached to some incredible games.

        You know what’s wonderful? How Dark Souls 3 puts its toughest bosses (Nameless King, Pontiff, Gundyr) almost next door to a bonfire, and all the merchants are available at your central hub town. You don’t need to go through the entire poison swamp to get your Shards of Faintstone or whatnot.

    2. PeteTimesSix says:

      Yes, because nothing calms a person down quite like bashing your head against the same dozen zombies youve already had to kill three times because the boss landed a hit on you with one hit worth of HP left in its healthbar because your hand slipped and now because youre trying to rush past them to get back to the damm bossfight youre making sloppy mistakes and losing half your health in the process so youre actually worse off during said bossfight and have you never heard of quicksaves its not like you dont KNOW how to beat the boss now, just figured it out a bit too late last time ARGH DAMMIT FORGOT ABOUT THAT SPIKE PIT WHY

      …basically, what Im saying is that while that might be true for some people, it is REALLY NOT for others.

      1. Flailmorpho says:

        I mean I guess??? If you put a lot of value into straight up progressing through as fast as possible. But I feel like dark souls games were made so your first few runs were slow, calm, and a learning experience. Plus it’s one of the few “hard” games that have actually felt good instead of completely mind numbingly frustrating.

        From the other side of this scenario if the bosses were right next to a checkpoint it would just be like “MAN I LOVE NOT BEING ABLE TO DO A SINGLE THING AGAINST THIS GUY” for like an hour before ragequitting.

        There’s also the fact that most attacks in dark souls are heavily survivable and it’s only when you keep getting hit over and over you die. A lot of games have instant death that just completely confuses me how they thought that getting killed in one hit was any fun at all. Dark Souls always lets you run away and drink.

        1. guy says:

          It’s a lot like respawning right next to the boss, except the bossfight is ten minutes longer.

          1. Phill says:

            Or you have to watch a ten minute cutscene before each attempt at the boss fight.

            1. Syal says:

              Worse than a cutscene because you still have to pay attention.

              …don’t Dark Souls bosses typically have second phases when you take off half or three quarters of their health? So, that cooldown effect is already built into the first half of the boss fight, why would they extend it further?

              1. Flailmorpho says:

                Dark Souls doesn’t really require your full attention, just enough to stay aware of the enemies. The game takes out a lot of randomness so you can easily just physically learn the enemies after one or two suicide runs against them.

                1. Syal says:

                  It requires more attention than I could give it if I went to the fridge and made a sandwich, which I can do during long cutscenes.

        2. straymute says:

          I don’t really think it’s about rushing through as much as simply wanting to progress to fresher content. Since the enemies in Souls games don’t really think I never got much out of fighting the same guys repeatedly. The fight never changes and the winning strategy once is always the winning strategy. The areas are also pretty static so unless there’s a steady stream of new enemies and content it just becomes an exercise in rote pattern memorization requiring no ingenuity on the player’s part.

          I’ve seen the Dark Souls experience likened to All You Need is Kill/Edge of Tomorrow a lot, but I feel one thing people forget is in that story the main character ended up incredibly bored, hating being stuck doing the same combat task over and over and kinda wishing he could just die. It doesn’t surprise me at all that many people have an extremely negative reaction to the videogame form of that.

      2. Nidokoenig says:

        Isn’t the whole reason for the spooky aesthetics to tell you to take it slow? Shield up, ears up, both eyes open. Besides that, if the zombies are taking half your health, you aren’t beating them well enough and need to try some more. This is a major problem if you don’t enjoy killing the zombies, though.

        There’s definitely a varying threshold of how much progress a person feels is the maximum they should have to accumulate before they can bank it. Adding more raises tension for some, essentially gambling it against their skill, but it’s going to create a game that hits some people in the sweet spot and leaves loads either side, creating the fights between people who get a thrill out of gambling tens of hours of progress in a roguelike and think Dark Souls is wimpy for only expecting, what, twenty or so minutes without a major screw-up, and people who want to bank progress in smaller chunks because the game is pushing all their tension buttons with its ambience and fights have a high decision density that pushes their value up.

        There’s also the problem of bosses that differ too much from general gameplay. I had this gripe with Shovel Knight, I never felt the level taught me the boss. At least there there was the destructible checkpoints, so you could use them on your first run when you were learning and destroy them for loot on more “serious” runs.

        1. Flailmorpho says:

          Also a thing about dark souls is the enemies are all very telegraphed, the game teaches you to study their moves so you can just easily move through them like it’s nothing.

          Enemies take off a lot of health when you don’t have a lot of defenses but more often than not, after some good equipment, enemies take a good five or six attacks to kill you, and in that time you can easily roll away, heal, and come back to the fight.

          There’s also the fact that almost every boss in the game has an easy mode way of fighting them. Like the Ceaseless Discharge who you can literally just run across the map and hit him once or twice to make him fall to his death.

      3. GloatingSwine says:

        On the other hand, if you’re sufficiently tilted that you can’t even deal with the basic mooks on the way to the boss, you’re not going to do the boss right anyway.

        1. guy says:

          I don’t know about you, but I can often win bossfights without being able to beat the mooks before it perfectly and flawlessly every time. If you can’t do that, the mooks are additional chances to suffer attrition, and if you can then the game is deliberately wasting your time.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The problem isnt what you can do,but if you can do it while being pissed off.You get the boss to its last legs,but he kills you.That frustrates you mildly.You go back through the mooks,but because you werent observant enough,this time they kill you.This frustrates you even more.And now you are so frustrated that the mooks kill you even faster,which just raises your frustration.Its a devilish feedback loop.

    3. AdamS says:

      Wow, this thread has attracted two very different types of gamer, and they can’t see eye to eye at ALL.

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      No,its not calming at all.Its the exact opposite.

      1. Flailmorpho says:

        IDK I find it calming, getting your mind off the boss for a minute or two getting back into the zone by fighting some smaller enemies.

        Along with that, it’s hard to think of new strategies mid fight while being outside of the fight helps a lot.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          You know what else would give you enough time to calm down and ponder a different strategy?Being able to save before the boss,and then just waiting for a bit in the empty place with no enemies around.

    5. Christopher says:

      You can make your own checkpoint to a certain extent. By placing your summon sign down right before the boss door, you will respawn there once you have either helped your host defeat the boss or died trying. There are lots of reasonable bonfires and shortcuts close to bosses, but when practising a boss I mostly summon anyway because you don’t lose anything when you die in their world and it saves me the trip.

    6. McKracken says:

      See, you could have your minute of calm, and Ninety-Three could have his instant retry if the game respawned you close to but just out of reach of the boss, in some kind of safe area.
      Wanna take a breath and wander about a little? Fine, go the other way. Wanna go at it immediately? Fine, too!

      But forcing everyone to have a hike first when they already know that this time they’ll just try to execute that one move a bit different and maybe that’ll work but probably not…

  4. John says:

    Those birds are giving me Karateka flashbacks. Weird. I haven’t played Karateka in over twenty years.

    Maybe it would be different if I were the one playing, but as I watch Josh play I am totally lost. I think that Metroidvania-style platforming may not be the genre for me. I do okay in top-down mazes, but this side-scrolling stuff is confusing.

  5. Christopher says:

    Shamus’ anger, both passive-aggressive and active-aggressive, is so funny to me. It’s like he’s trying to return all of the frustration he’s felt from every Dark Souls discussion since 2011.

    S&S seems alright, but I feel no need to play it as long as there are proper Souls games I haven’t finished yet. I specifically chose not to buy it because I knew I’d end up like Chris and dropping it as soon as Dark Souls 3 was out.

  6. Joe Informatico says:

    Torches act like flashlights* in video games for the same reason modern fiction treats drawn bows like cocked pistols that can cover a person indefinitely. Why bother with the complexities of a historical tool when you can just map it to its modern superficial equivalent? Horses are just bumpy motorcycles! Braziers and torch sconces are just modern lamps and light fixtures!

    *Except for some values of UK English, where torches act like…torches.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Heck,they treat even modern technology like that.You can reload your rifle after spending just a single bullet,and no matter the loading mechanism,you will never lose a full magazine worth of ammo for it.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        Well, that at least is a somewhat practical abstraction – few games lend themselves to having a handful of magazines with separate, tracked ammo count. You don’t want to be in the middle of a Call of Duty level and think “oh no, all of my magazines are half-full because I reloaded too early” – it doesn’t fit with the game flow.

        SWAT4, on the other hand, really benefited from that.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Every abstraction is a practical abstraction.Sure,you can make realistic torches,but does that add anything to the experience?Same goes for magazines,space and time scaling,hit points,….Even in the most realistic games you still have some abstractions woven into it,either due to hardware limitations or the enjoyment.

    2. Christopher says:

      Dark Souls 2 had torches that worked like torches, to a certain extent. You could only light one at a fire that was already lit, or with a consumable matchstick-like firefly item. Having said that, once you lit it, it would run for a certain amount of time depending on how many torches you owned. Like you were adding fuel to the fire with new torches.

      I’m personally happy that in Dark Souls 3, it’s an item that always works and you can just pull it out whenever.

    3. McKracken says:

      I think that rather than mapping to modern equivalents, this is rather a way of simplifying stuff. If it was realistic, you’d have to get something to light the torch with, then apply that for a couple of seconds, then wait until the torch gets properly going… easily half a minute of gameplay spent just making light! With maybe very few exceptions, this approach to peripheral things (eating, resting, gear maintenance… healing!) would turn most games into unplayable messes.
      Unless the game mechanics call for it, “light a torch” should not turn into a minigame of its own, and just turning the thing on and off is the quickest way to avoid that.

  7. Mersadeon says:

    I guess your Dark Souls is my dancing, Shamus.

    Oh no, EVERYONE likes dancing once they do it! Go on! What, you aren’t good at it? Oh, you just need to do it more! Isn’t this FUN? No? Well then you just have to let go and have fun!

    1. John says:

      That happens to me some times. I don’t enjoy dancing. When people see that you aren’t doing it, the best case scenario is that they think you’re shy and you just need a little encouragement. Then, when you decline–no matter how politely you do it–they get confused and occasionally offended. After all, they’re being nice. So whats’s wrong with you?

      1. At which point I answer “Severe clinical depression and anxiety. So, I appreciate the offer, I’m good, I promise, go have fun there and I’ll have fun here quietly singing along/watching.” This may lead to serious conversations that prevent music enjoyment though, and I would not advocate if you aren’t comfy talking about that. I’m an open book about it, because I think if more people understood brain malfunctions like depression there wouldn’t be such a stigma (and also the stigma is stupid).

        As far as I can tell, it’s only the extroverts among my friends who see my foot tapping and try to drag me out. My fellow introverts are more than willing to let me just keep tapping my foot (and likely singing along as the bands I tend to get into are ones like Emerald Rose where I know a lot of their songs and they’re hitting that “Whee Celtic Music!” button in my brain).

        You can also go with “You like to dance, I like to sing along,” but that might involve you having to mouth along if you don’t actually like to sing.

    2. Syal says:

      Just rhythmically kick them until they take the hint.

      “Hey, this IS fun!”

  8. 4th Dimension says:

    I feel like Shamus still doesn’t have a good idea on why people like Dark Souls games. And it might be because they like them for different reasons.

    For me I like the exploration elements and fighting the mooks. For me boses are gates towards more content but not really the goal of Dark Souls and I would have appreciated if there was a bonfire in front of every boss. But like I say I didn’t play DS1 for them.
    I love the shield up careful exploration of the level. I love finding nooks and cranies and loot in them. It’s not frustrating for me that I don’t know the shortcut to the boss. If I don’t know the shortcut that means I haven’t explored the level enough.
    Also the game was designed to be explored, with many ways between areas and many areas that weren’t actually plot relevant but were there simply because they were wierd and to explore.

    I loved the combat with the mooks in DS1. Fighting silver knights in Anor Londo was the best. So the way I tended to win over the bosses was to grind through exploration untill I am leveled enough that even though I’m a scrub I could beat them. And was the reason I went for a tanky shield based build.

    So all the gripes Shamus mentions really don’t work on me. You never should be carrying that many souls (unless you just beat a boss) that you can not regain them through traversing the level and fighting the mooks. Finding those shortcuts was the point of the game. Not knowing them was not something baring you from gameplay, but the point of the gameplay.
    Also bonfire respawn + Estus Flask mechanic insured that whenever you die you don’t feel like you lost any combat capability since your healing items refill and you get reset to a safe location. On the other hand had it relied on checkpoints you could easily find yourself out of healing items in an impossible situation.

    But I do admit this might just be me and that the game really is not for everyone. Not because of the difficulty (I’m a scrub and I did beat DS1 allthough I did not go in blind) but because it carters to a specific tastes (again not only for gitgooders) for pacing and game play progress.

  9. Geebs says:

    I get that some aspects of Dark Souls could feel like timewasting, although I don’t have a problem with it myself.

    On the other hand, I think that we’ve reached the point where, if all the folks making themselves cranky and miserable through complaining about how much they hate Dark Souls had instead chosen to make themselves cranky and miserable through actually playing Dark Souls, they would have Got Gud and the argument would have resolved itself to the satisfaction of all concerned.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      Ahh but people are not miserable while complaining. Complaining and ridiculing something that made you miserable is cathartic.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        So would you say complaining is a bit like playing Dark Souls?

    2. lurkey says:

      Eh, if I had to suffer through an extended period of being cranky and miserable before gittin gud, I would pick a more productive chore — like pottery, shoe-making or some other craft, where my efforts to git gud through doing some conveyor belt activity over and over and over again would be rewarded in some meaningful way (“Wooo imma gud at video gaemz!!1!” does not count for me). And in my video games I prefer to have fun* from get go.

      *Maybe “good time” would be a better term. Creeping about in Amnesia: Dark Descent or having bouts of existential dread in SOMA isn’t exactly fun as most people understand it, but I sure had an excellent time.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I think a more suitable term would be “positively engaged”.If you aim to be frightened,and a horror game frightens you,thats positive engagement.If you aim to be frightened,but the horror game only causes you to get angry,thats negative engagement.

        Same can be applied for all emotions.Sorrow,happiness,anger,calmness,…

    3. Echo Tango says:

      Better solution is to have good reviews and descriptions of games, so people can make informed decisions. e.g. “Oh, Fantasy Game XYZ has the graphical aesthetics of Wind Waker but is diffucult like Dark Souls? I’ll get a different game!”

  10. MichaelGC says:

    He’ll destroy the boss in two hits without getting scratched and then he’ll get bludgeoned to death by some useless weak mook. This is how he plays all games: the easy stuff is impossible but the hard stuff is effortless.

    It makes me think he’s griefing us all the time.

    Undoubtedly at a minimum a reasonable heuristic.

    1. Trix2000 says:

      I’m not sure why, by this point, they don’t just assume he’s been griefing them since the beginning.

  11. Darren says:

    Reminds me a little bit of the Darksiders games and the debate about how “derivative” they were. Yeah, the first game is little more than Zelda and the second is Zelda + Prince of Persia + Diablo, but it’s not like we’re drowning in Zelda titles, and lord knows Nintendo can’t break away from a lot of design decisions, diminishing the the value of every new official Zelda game. If you like a certain style of play, you need other developers to jump in and create their own variations on the formula, and to hell with the similarities.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Why? Okami is already the best zelda game ever made.

      1. Darren says:

        True, but it rather proves my point that if you just expect one person/team to deliver an entire style of play, you’ll miss out on some great experiences.

        1. Christopher says:

          It’s pleasant to have derivatives of game series that don’t get mimicked a ton. I don’t at all think Zelda-likes like Darksiders, Beyond Good and Evil or Okami are better than most Zelda games, but the things they do differently makes them feel fresh enough to offset that they aren’t made by a developer with all the time, money and experience in the world. At the time, all of those games were on non-Nintendo platforms, too. There’s a 2D pixel art Dark Souls-like called Death’s Gambit coming out at some point(hopefully they have a release date at E3), and I’m looking forward to that quite a bit.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Wait,zelda?Werent those games more like god of war than zelda?

      1. Christopher says:

        A little of this, a little of that.

      2. Darren says:

        Aesthetically: somewhat. Mechanically: not so much. The first game, if I recall, even used a Z-targeting style system that has no analogue to any God of War game. It was divided into a number of dungeons connected by a freely-explorable overworld, albeit one that was more like Metroid in its general feel than Zelda. The health upgrade system was also identical to Metroid.

        The second game played a bit more like God of War, though it had nowhere near the polish and precision of that series, instead choosing to rely on a Diablo-style loot system to make up the difference. It also had a more Zelda-esque overworld by dint of there actually being friendly settlements and shopkeepers rather than all-dungeon, all-the-time.

    3. Cinebeast says:

      Seconded. I’ve never understood the dissatisfaction some people feel when they play a game that borrows from other games. I mean, if they don’t like the gameplay being borrowed, that’s fine, I get it, but why would a Zelda fan complain about a new game that borrows Zeldan gameplay?

      Also: Good to see mention of Darksiders. I hope someone picks that franchise up again.

  12. Andy says:

    Saltine Snactuary?

    1. Shamus says:

      Oh, I’m stealing that.

    2. Syal says:

      Small tanned actuary.

  13. Jabrwock says:

    Darn, I was going to pick this up, but it’s not cross-platform… yet.

    Apparently there’s a GOG petition for an official port (and there’s apparently an unofficial port that actually works on linux).

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      So its exactly like dark souls.

  14. skellie10 says:

    I’m not going to say that Shamus should play Dark Souls, if he’s really that dead-set against it. However, I will say that I myself went through a phase of similar frustration when I first played the game. I too found it ruthlessly unforgiving and needlessly inconvenient, and I didn’t have the patience to see past that. I hated it, and for awhile I rejected it. Eventually, some friends of mine convinced me to give it another shot and stick with it, and after awhile it clicked with me. I’m really glad that I allowed my friends to persuade me to return to Dark Souls, because if I hadn’t come back to it I would have missed out on my favorite gaming experiences of the last few years.

    1. guy says:

      Eh, the primary issue (and why I haven’t played Dark Souls myself) is that Shamus has a relatively low tolerance for losing and repeating content. Especially long stretches of content. That’s the core of why he doesn’t like it and isn’t particularly enthused by people’s recommendations: unlike the people who are Dark Souls fans, replaying a boss several times until he beats it simply isn’t fun for him; the victory just feels hollow. And while expert Dark Souls players can learn and defeat a boss during a single confrontation, getting that good would require an extensive period of frustration, and Shamus has a blog, a family, and a lot of other games to play instead, so offering up tens of hours as a sacrifice to make Dark Souls become enjoyable is not a worthwhile use of his time. Josh, meanwhile, finds replaying a boss several times and then finally beating it extremely fun because he loves the thrill of a hard-fought victory. They discuss this during the Dark Souls 2 episodes

      There’s just a core disconnect between what people who love Dark Souls like and what people who listen to fans describe Dark Souls and refuse to play like. I greatly enjoy a hard-fought struggle that ends with me winning, but if I fail a challenge two or three times in a row I switch off the game and go do something else; I want to score a near-run victory with a silver of HP and no health potions left on my first attempt, or an RTS game where my base is going up in flames as the tattered remants of my offensive forces deliver the finishing blow to the objective. But I hate actually losing; even if the eventual victory is fun it’s going to be a few days later after the frustration wears off.

      1. Robyrt says:

        Yep! My brother, who absolutely loves Souls games, has the opinion that in a perfect video game, it should take you 3 tries to defeat the boss with a sliver of health left. That’s exactly the kind of difficulty curve that From Software is targeting for veteran players, which is already above your tolerance levels. Add in the hours it takes to learn the combat system in the first place (similar to the hours it took to learn FPS controls for the first time), and you’re talking about a huge time commitment for something that will be frustrating even when you’re doing it right. There’s no shame in deciding not to play, like Shamus has.

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