Stop Asking Me to Play Dark Souls

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Feb 4, 2020

Filed under: Column 435 comments

For those of you who somehow haven’t heard of Red Dwarf, it’s a British sci-fi comedy series. It’s heyday was in the 80s and early 90s. In the show, there’s a sentient toaster that’s always trying to get people to order toast. At one point, Lister has the following conversation with it:

Talkie Toaster:

Would you like some toast?


(Already exasperated from all of his previous dealings with the toaster.) Look, I don’t want any toast, and he doesn’t want any toast. (Points to Kryten.) In fact, no-one around ‘ere wants any toast!

Talkie Toaster:

How ’bout a muffin?


(Getting worked up.) Or muffins! We don’t like muffins round ‘ere! We don’t want muffins, no toast, buns, baps, bagets or bagels, no croissants, no crumpets, no teacakes, no potato cakes and no hot cross buns! And definitely no smegging flapjacks!


Talkie Toaster

Ah, so you’re a waffle man!

This. This is what it’s like arguing about Dark Souls. It’s annoying. It’s repetitive. And barring some planet-wide extinction event, I don’t think there will ever be a cure for it.

If you’re one of those non-crazy Dark Souls fans who is happy to enjoy the game without needing to evangelize the teachings of our Lord and Savior From Software, then we’re cool. I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about THE CULTISTS.

You know who I mean. I’m sure you’ve seen them in various discussions around the web, always popping up to tediously re-hash this nine-year old argument and enforce the SIX RULES of Dark Souls.

The bridge leading from Andrei the Blacksmith’s Tower to Sen's Fortress. Watch out for the arrow trap when you reach the other side.
The bridge leading from Andrei the Blacksmith’s Tower to Sen's Fortress. Watch out for the arrow trap when you reach the other side.

Oh, you don’t know about this six rules? Let me explain. See…

1) You are not allowed to not like Dark Souls.

There’s no such thing as taste. No such thing as individual preferences. If you don’t like it, you’re wrong. Moreover, you need to be told you’re wrong. Each zealot pops up, just to let you know, by the way, in case nobody told you – and I’m not trying to be pushy about this – but you should know that you’re totally wrong about this video game in every way.

The cultists are always confident that nobody else has taken the time to let you know. You don’t play Dark Souls because nobody stopped to tell you that it’s wrong to not like Dark Souls. Each zealot is positive that you’re just one good nudge from diving into the game, falling in love, and joining the cult.

If telling you that your tastes are wrong doesn’t work, then the zealot will the resort to describing the mechanics to you in excruciating detail. They will do this even if you’ve played it and showed them footage of yourself playing it. They’ll talk about dodge rolls and I-frames and repostes. Stamina, environmental awareness, and fairness. They’re sure that if they can just describe why they like the game in enough detail, then somehow that affinity will be transplanted into you.

Me: Dark Souls gave me eye cancer.

Cultist: See, this proves you still don't understand the game. Repeat after me: Dark Souls is not about eye cancer. It just isn't. If you're worried about eye cancer, then it's no wonder you're not enjoying the game. You're focused on all the wrong things. Stop being a bitch, get some chemotherapy, and try again, but this time PAY ATTENTION to what the game is showing you.

And don’t bother arguing back with the same technique, because…

2) You are not allowed to talk about Dark Souls.

If you’re not a Dark Souls fan, then you are never allowed to describe the Dark Souls gameplay. I’ve tried. I’ve described the game in my own words, based on my time with the game. I was told that I was wrong. I tried describing the game using words that other zealots have used to describe the game. Wrong again. I’ve even repeated the other person’s own description back to them. Still wrong! I finally realized that it has nothing to do with the gameplay. It was wrong because I said it, and I’m not one of the faithful.

If I said, “Dark Souls was Developed by From Software and was released in 2011”, then a zealot would respond with, “It’s actually incorrect to think of Dark Souls as a 2011 game. To really understand Dark Souls, you have to look past the release date and realize that [12 paragraphs of meandering digressions on I-frames, paired animations, and ripostes.]

So you think you can just route around this rule by ignoring the game? Well…

Chaos Witch Quelaag, in her lair near the bottom of Blighttown. Obviously you'll want to use as much fire protection as possible for this boss fight.
Chaos Witch Quelaag, in her lair near the bottom of Blighttown. Obviously you'll want to use as much fire protection as possible for this boss fight.

3) You are not allowed to NOT talk about Dark Souls.

By all means, try it. Write an article on difficulty levels, environmental storytelling, or melee-focused combat, and make no mention of DarkSekirosBorne games. See how long it takes before the cultists stop by to let you know you messed up.

“I can’t believe you wrote an entire article on atmospheric levels and you didn’t even MENTION the Fortress of Falling Into a Pit Every Ten Goddamn Steps. And only an idiot would leave out the Valley of Skeleton Guys that Nearly One-Shot You With a Bullshit Lunge Attack. At the very least, the Church of What Keeps Hitting Me FUCK FUCK FUCK SHIT should make the list! That place is legendary. Next time do some proper research.”

Whoops. I shouldn’t make jokes about the game being hard, because…

4) You are not allowed to say that Dark Souls is hard.

If you make the mistake of claiming that Dark Souls is hard, then you have to deal with this guy:

“Stop saying Dark Souls is hard. It’s a dead giveaway that you don’t know what you’re talking about. You might not know this, but you can invite strangers into the game and they’ll win for you. It’s easy to watch someone else play the game for you, therefore Dark Souls is easy.”

Of course going by this standard, all games are easy. You’re never more than a YouTube search away from watching a random stranger play the game for you. If you’re foolish continue to argue with the cultist, then you’ll end up in this conversational dead-end:

“Besides, the combat is actually super easy once you know what you’re doing.”

Gosh, thanks for that profound nugget of wisdom, Sun Tzu. I never would have guessed that learning how to play a game would make it easier to get through it. Any other earth-shattering tips? Aim the bright side of the monitor towards my face? Use my hands to operate the controller instead of my mouth? All this time I’ve just been making screeching noises at my computer, but based on your mind-blowing revelation I’ll try learning to play and figuring out how the game works. Thanks genius.

5) You’ve never heard the One Truth of Dark Souls before.

You’ll say, out loud, that you don’t enjoy playing the game. Despite this, six people will give you conflicting advice on how to play it:

Cultist #1: Don’t worry about your build. In fact, ignore the leveling mechanics. They’re a distraction. You just need to pay attention to your stamina bar and dodge-roll at the right time.

Cultist #2: You need to learn the leveling mechanics. Build up lots of [some inscrutable abbreviation] and wear heavy armor to improve your survivability. In fact, just grab [some heavy gear you’ve never heard of, from a place you’ve never visited and that you don’t know how to reach] and you’re basically invincible.

Cultist #3: Whatever you do, avoid heavy armor. It’s a trap. It’ll deplete your stamina and leave you a sitting duck. High-mobility builds are where it’s at.

Cultist #4: If you’re a newbie, then the best thing to do is wait until you get a weapon you like and design your build around that.

Cultist #5: Use magic if you want easy mode.

Cultist #6: Don’t worry about your build. You need to focus on your gear. I suggest you just open up the wiki and read about all 200 weapons to get a feel for what’s available.

It’ll be a little confusing because they’ll be arguing with each other while giving you conflicting advice on how to play this game you’ve already explicitly said you don’t enjoy. You can roll the dice, follow the advice of the least-crazy sounding person, and then report back that you’re still not having fun. The five cultists you ignored will all insist that you should have listened to THEIR advice, and the other one will accuse you of following their advice wrong.

If you’re a fool, I suppose you could spend hours and hours slogging through a game you don’t enjoy to placate the cultists, but there will never be a point in the debate where you’ve exhausted their advice, you still don’t like the game, and they’re content to move on. I can only conclude the cultists get paid on commission based on who turns you into a fan.

Ignore all those other zealots! I’m the only one with the right guidance to help you unlock this mystery! You just need to play it differently. Or think of it differently. Or think of playing it differently. The game can’t possibly be the problem, so the only explanation is that there’s something wrong on your end for failing to love it. It doesn’t matter if you explicitly say you’re sick of the discussion. It doesn’t matter if you say you’re not interested. It doesn’t matter if you have other demands on your time. You haven’t listened to MY advice, so therefore none of those previous discussions count. I’m the only one who REALLY understands, so ignore what all the other people are shouting at you and listen to my voice in the crowd. I’m the sane one. Listen to MEEEEEEEE!

Protip: Do not listen to him.

Hunter's Dream / Dream Refuge in Bloodborne. You'll arrive here after your first death. (You scrub.)
Hunter's Dream / Dream Refuge in Bloodborne. You'll arrive here after your first death. (You scrub.)

6) If you’re not willing to discuss this, then you are a bad person.

Come on. I’m just trying to share this game with you. All I’m trying to do is convince you that your opinion is wrong, your personal taste is wrong, and that my views on Dark Souls carry more weight than your first-hand experience with the game. I’m just trying to have a conversation where everything you say is wrong until you agree with me, and the conversation will go on until you get frustrated and leave so I can declare myself the winner. I can talk about this game literally forever, and I can’t imagine that anyone else might feel differently.

Why are you being so rude about this? Excuse me for trying to share this beloved video game with you. It’s not my fault you’re too narrow-minded to listen.


The Consumed King's Garden, which can be accessed after defeating Dancer of the Boreal Valley and unlocking Lothric Castle.
The Consumed King's Garden, which can be accessed after defeating Dancer of the Boreal Valley and unlocking Lothric Castle.

It really is unavoidable. SoulsBorneo games are massively important. The difficulty and presentation of challenge is unique, regardless of how difficult or trivial anyone claims it is. It’s a wonderful example of how you can reveal a story and world without stopping everything for a flow-breaking cutscene or a radio conversation every 4 rooms. It’s a beloved series and makes for an immensely useful landmark for comparison between games and genres. I don’t have anything personally against the game or the people who love it.

But it is such a chore to bring the dang thing up, because there’s always that one loony who wants to lead off with “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”, before launching into an incoherent side-discussion that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Or the crazy person who wants to argue that your personal experience is wrong.

Sure, you can rebuke the annoying people and ban the ones who can’t take a hint. It’s not like annoying people are a rarity on the internet. But it really is tedious after all of these years. I’ll be writing an article, and then I realize I need to bring up Dark SoulsEither because it makes for a good comparison, or because someone will express disbelief if I DON’T bring it up., which means I’m going to have to fend off a couple more cultists.

For a while we had the joke “Talking about Dark Souls is the Dark Souls of talking.” But even that thing is worn out by now.

I have a script / article I’m working on now, and it pretty much requires me to bring up Dark Souls. I can see this trouble coming, and I know there is literally no combination of words, gestures, or expressions of intent that will save me from going another round with the cultists.

In the future, I plan to reply to all such inquiries, admonishments, passive-aggressive questions, and nitpicks with a simple URL linking back to this article. Feel free to do the same if you find the cultists are getting you down. Good luck.



[1] Either because it makes for a good comparison, or because someone will express disbelief if I DON’T bring it up.

From The Archives:

435 thoughts on “Stop Asking Me to Play Dark Souls

  1. EwgB says:

    That was really funny and sad at the same time. Why are there some games, movies, TV series etc. where the parts of fandom are so awful, even if the thing itself is not?
    I actually do enjoy Dark Souls (1 and 3 in particular). I got into it after watching Dan Jones’ (formerly of Extra Credits, now Extra Frames and PlayFrame fame) playthroughs. Going from terrible to passable to good enough to actually beating the game was one of the best feelings of accomplishment I ever had, second only to finishing my degree. But one has to realize that not everything is for everybody. My friend who only plays strategy and tactics games and despises everything using a controller – he will not like Dark Souls, not even a bit. I told him that I like, what is great about it etc., but I also told him not to play it, lest he hate it and me.

    1. Gethsemani says:

      Because some media requires huge amounts of commitment from its users. Not just in the way of spending time with the media, but in effort to understand and appreciate what the media is doing. Dark Souls has the player undergoing a fairly grueling learning curve before the game actually becomes somewhat enjoyable (unless you’re a masochist and like the punishment, I suppose), but once you’re on top of the learning curve it is a game that rewards you plenty. Suddenly you can do stuff like those “All Souls Games No Hits” runs, because Dark Souls isn’t a game about random punishment but about total mechanical mastery. Master how the game works and you can do some really insane stuff.

      These kinds of media tend to attract people that score high on Obsessiveness-Compulsiveness in personality tests, because the obsessive behavior of repeating over and over is explicitly rewarded by Dark Souls (unlike the boom-bust rewards of randomization). High Obsessive-Compulsive values are almost always detrimental to flexibility and openness and these people tend to generally not see how obsessive they are or how it affects their social interactions. In short, since they are so utterly into Dark Souls and have mastered every nuance of it, they fail to account for the fact that others might not like Dark Souls or not care for the challenge it presents. Instead, they want to tell you why you are wrong so that you might also enjoy Dark Souls just as much as they do.

      In essence, these are people who mean well, they just want you to share the joy of their favorite media, but lack the social skills to both understand that the media might not be for you or that their attempts at explaining the media to you are having the opposite effect.

      Source: Am a psychiatric care professional.

      1. Kathryn says:

        I have plenty of OCD (and OCPD) traits, and I hate games where I have to repeat the same thing over and over. It just feels like such a waste of time I could be spending on my house, my family, my job, or hobbies that result in creating something tangible.

        Maybe it’s that the best part of OCPD is the glee of checking things off the to-do list, and checking Dark Souls off would require a lot of patience and (for me, who can’t even keep straight which button honks and which one flaps the wings, a LOT of) time that I don’t have to spare. Whereas I can check off “put the clean dishes away” as soon as I get up.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          OCD is also a type of anxiety, so that anxiousness would probably act as a hindrance to getting heavily invested in something.

          So, it fits with you suggesting that you don’t like repetition in games – since OCD is more like a fear of repetition gone wrong, not so much about gratification from repetitive behaviour.

      2. Fizban says:

        I feel like there’s some point that could be made about mastery vs windfall here. Shamus often mentions the Skinner Box effect of various loot drop systems as widely effective, which always has me stepping back a bit because I find many of those systems to be, essentially, offensive wastes of time that reduce my enjoyment.* Not something I would expect to be broadly effective, if I didn’t already know that it actually is for a lot of people. Dating all the way back to Pokemon, where I never bothered to hunt more than a couple of the rarer ‘mons because I wanted them specifically. And of course, I quite like Dark Souls, and many other games which favor mastery over randomness, as long as it’s a system I’ll enjoy mastering.

        *I can tell I’m not fully immune to shiny gambling lights, but it takes very little to burn me on them.

        1. Chad Miller says:

          Shamus often mentions the Skinner Box effect of various loot drop systems as widely effective, which always has me stepping back a bit because I find many of those systems to be, essentially, offensive wastes of time that reduce my enjoyment.

          Heh, a long time ago when I was really into poker I made a lot of friends that couldn’t believe I had no interest in, literally, the entire remainder of the casino. To the point that one of them actually talked me into playing a slot machine with his money. Several minutes into it, I told him “This is like playing an arcade game except I don’t actually get to play the game.” I still don’t think he fully understood how bored I was.

          1. Daimbert says:

            This surprises me, because one would think that anyone who knew anything about casino games would be able to understand the difference between poker and the other games, mainly that there’s a lot more skill and thought involved in that game than the others. ESPECIALLY slot machines, unless you get into some kind of meta-strategy with when you change machines and the like. If you were a fan of roulette I could see it, but it seems like it would be pretty easy to answer their comments with “I like the skill aspect of reading other people and deciding how much to bet as per strength of hands” and leave it at that.

            1. Syal says:

              You’re forgetting that there’s no accounting for taste. In that it’s literally impossible for people to account for taste.

      3. King Marth says:

        Many of the same rules apply to Homestuck.

      4. Kylroy says:

        Related to this: since it demands so much time and effort from it’s enthusiasts, many of them self-identify with the game to an unhealthy degree. For them, you not liking the game is a personal attack.

        1. Zaxares says:

          Pretty much this, yes. And it’s the same kind of toxic relationship that these fans have with the developers/creators of the thing they love. When the creators take the game in a direction the fans dislike, it feels like it’s a personal attack against THEM, and oh boy, are they not shy about letting the hate fly.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      “It’s not the band I hate; it’s their fans.”

      -Sloan, “Coax Me

    3. Khazidhea says:

      I got into the franchise the same way!

      Tone deaf response to Shamus: I was just like you I picked up the game because of the hype and bounced off it real hard, somewhere around Darkroot Garden. However a year or so later I watched the Extra Credits playthrough and after a while their playing it really made me want to play Dark Souls, and I played it and enjoyed it and now it’s one of my favourite games! So that’s what you’ve been doing wrong, you just haven’t seen enough of the game in the right context to be able to understand what’s great about Dark Souls and get back into it to enjoy it for yourself.

      Also I found a good pike build that I followed that gave me a good grip on enough basics to give me the time to slowly get use to and master the difficulty of the game. I can’t find it now, but I’m sure if you go through the dozens/hundreds available and find the exact one I’m referring to without any further description of it I’m sure you’ll be just like me and get past any obstacles you’re having with enjoying the game, and enjoy the game just like I do.

      Also you’ve got the wrong image descriptor above. That’s not actually chaos witch Quelaag, but her sister, the Fair Lady

    4. Vinsomer says:

      Well, the truth is there’s a lot of confirmation bias that goes unchallenged. You know how people say ‘we judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions’? Basically that.

      In every fanbase, there’s somebody toxic. If you’ve interacted with people, you’ll have spoken to that one toxic guy. In reality, the obnoxious Dark Souls evangelists that have told Shamus to play Dark Souls is what, maybe a few dozen? A hew hundred at most? Mostly just the same few profiles in these discussions going back and forth over and over again. The vast, vast majority of the millions who enjoy Dark Souls are perfectly content to let others enjoy or not enjoy the series. But because the most obnoxious members of the fanbase are also its most visible, you get the entire fanbase tarred with the same brush. You could literally replace ‘Dark Souls’ with ‘Rick and Morty’, ‘Zelda’, ‘Pokemon’… it almost doesn’t matter. Everyone who says ‘X fanbase is bad’ is a member of Y fanbase and would feel hard done by if they were judged to be bad by association.

      Like, on some level if you wax on about how bad a group of people are, even when you’re adamant that you’re only talking about a subgroup of said group, it’s natural for members of that group to want to correct the record, so to speak. How many people’s take away from this article is ‘Dark Souls fans are bad’ and not ‘the most inflexible and obnoxious of Dark Souls fans are bad’, which as a point is so obvious and self-evident that it barely warrants mentioning?

      The other thing is that (and I say this as someone who has never, ever told Shamus or anyone else to play the game despite them saying they tried and didn’t like it) there is a difference between ‘You, average gamer should play this game’, and ‘you, professional journalist should play this game’. Not only do I think that, yes, professional media critics and journalists should consume the most influential and important media of their fields, but beyond that I enjoy Shamus’ writing and would like to see a lengthier, more informed take on the games and their design regardless of whether or not Shamus liked the games. Especially when so much of the long-form critical writing on Dark Souls is written by fans. It would be nice to see what a non-fan makes of the game. Although I acknowledge that is not the argument being made by evangelists, and I’m obviously not going to tell Shamus to play the games because he’s already said multiple times that he won’t and I think it’s become a matter of principle at this point more than anything else. Just that if, for whatever reason he did decide to play the games and write about them, it’d be really interesting to read.

  2. Lino says:

    Shamus, please put up a content warning when you write articles like this! I’m reading this at work, and a couple of colleagues were worried I might suffocate from laughter! My medical insurance doesn’t cover this!

  3. Mattias42 says:

    …So you’re a Demon’s Souls man, then?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    Still, damn, having to write an entire article to link back to about one studio… those are some up their own ass fans, alright. Love the series myself, but when I hear about this side of the whole Soulsborne fandom I’m frankly a bit happy I stuck with… well, the actual games, and the odd lore video.

    Want to add this, though: Even if you DO play them… you’re still not playing them quote “right” unquote.

    There’s this one let’s player I watch a lot, Keith Ballard, and every, single, darn time he plays a Soulsborne game, he’ll be accused of being overleveled, and that’s some grim insult towards the very spirit of the game. He doesn’t even grind, he intentionally avoids that, but just not dying enough and spending the majority of your souls always sets somebody off in the comments.

    Because you’re… apparently supposed to suck more? And that’s a rage level insult against all From stands for, or something? It’s weird.

    It’s honestly almost this injoke by now. Except everybody’s sighing and shaking their heads instead of laughing.

    1. Gautsu says:

      Obviously he’s a King’s Field elitist

    2. Duoae says:

      Hah! I was going to make that joke. Good one! :)

    3. DGM says:

      >> “He doesn’t even grind, he intentionally avoids that, but just not dying enough and spending the majority of your souls always sets somebody off in the comments.”

      “Get bad, scrub?”

      1. Mattias42 says:

        Gonna guess sadism blue balls, honestly.

        That, and those extra weird weirdos that insist—loudly, that 115 is the only “true” level to aim for, because that’s the somehow agreed on PVP level, and anything beyond that is “cheating” because it gives your invasion victim a chance of survival, or something.

        1. The Wind King says:

          I have three words for PvP in Dark Souls..

          Fuck that noise.

          I fucking loathe PvPers in Dark Souls, because the chill ones who decide not to invade in areas where you’re struggling by default, and bow honourably before fighting don’t actually exist anymore, and all that remains are the ones who think that attacking you in areas that are literally swarming with enemies and sniping you from off-screen which end game gear that they grinded out, and broke the game to get is “fair” because all you have to do is “Get Gud”

          There’s a reason I don’t play DS3 any more

          1. Mattias42 says:

            Used to take great delight in using the Camouflage spell and those silver somethings back in Dark Souls 2 as soon as invaders popped up. More or less for that exact reason.

            I think the time-out in that game was 45 minutes in that game or something equally silly, but gosh darn it, it was just so satisfying sitting there as a log, stump, vase or something in a carefully chosen shady spot, and have them run around like angry chickens, looking for me.

            Extra points for when its one of those jack-asses with intentionally laggy connection you see teleport around everywhere, or wearing end-game equipment for a zone an hour into the game.

            Heck, even made the odd invader that actually found me feel more satisfying to have to fight, since they’d actually worked for it, you know?

          2. Dalisclock says:

            One of the big gripes I have with the series is the griefing aka PVP aspect. I spent a majority of my time hollow in DS1 because I didn’t want to be invaded and only used humanity when I wanted to summon someone for a boss battle.

            DS2, OTOH, made me hate the system with a passion because there’s no way to opt out other then playing offline. I got to the point I would see an invader and wait till they were just close enough before “Accidently” Disconnecting. I think someone got really pissed and reported me after I did it to them like 5 times in a row because I finally got some kind of softban. Another reason I have no desire to play DS2 ever again(among the other problems the game has).

            I was super glad to find out BB requires you to opt in using the bell and Sekiro doesn’t have invasions at all.

    4. Scampi says:

      I guess he will enjoy Ninja Blade a lot. You know, if Souls is to hard for him, maybe he will enjoy some nice QTE video sequences. That will cheer him up, definitely.

      1. Scampi says:

        Allow me to play my own grammar Nazi and arrest myself for using “to”, when I should have written “too”.

  4. Wangwang says:

    What do you think of The Last Jedi?

    Terrible joke, i know. But no regret.

    1. Joshua says:

      I’m one of the ones who likes to rant about this, but even I’ll avoid this bait to start another conflict. :)

    2. Syal says:

      Isn’t that the one you can just knock off the bridge? Such an underwhelming boss.

  5. Dev Null says:

    You will be assimilated. Resistance is useless.

    1. Duoae says:

      So, what’s the equivalent of Shamlecutis? A pro twitch Souls streamer? Ooooh… does this explain his predilection of focussing on DRM?

  6. Noah says:

    The screenshots are absolutely *masterful* trolling. Well played, sir.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I recognize the first game but don’t remember what it is, know the second one (Huniepop) from playing it, the third one (Leisure Suit Larry) is obvious if you look at the foreground, and don’t recognize the last one (although I’d guess Harvest Moon if I had to guess).

      1. Crimson Dragoon says:

        Last one is Stardew Valley, the better Harvest Moon than modern Harvest moon.

        1. Maryam says:

          I had a laugh on seeing that Stardew was one of the screenshots, because I see a lot of conversations online about it that go similarly to the ones Shamus is trying to avoid here. If you don’t like Stardew, then you’ll be told you’re playing it wrong. (Usually they’re told that they don’t need to worry about the time limit for each day, which is the thing that’s causing them so much stress.) I love the game, but there’s definitely a bit of the same cultish feeling around it.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Wait — you can grow stuff in Stardew Valley? I thought the goal was just to max out all the relationship bars.

          2. General Karthos says:

            I love Stardew. I’ve told people they should play it for stress reduction, and a friend of mine said, “I would play it, but I think it would have the opposite effect, because I have an inherent need to do everything perfectly, and I’d be stressed about maximizing my efficiency and my profit.”

            And when I thought about it, yeah, he had a good point. I don’t have a particular need to do anything perfectly. I like my farm the way it is, and when I screw up… eh… I screwed up. But if you’re the kind of person this friend of mine is…. Stardew Valley is probably not for you.

            1. Dalisclock says:

              Yeah, I was one of those guys who played stardew and like half of my farm was still undeveloped when I stopped playing sometime in year 2, after I finished the community center and married and such.

              I was making more then enough money from ranching and farming that I just didn’t feel the need to develop the entire farm.

              So I guess Stardew isn’t the Dark Souls of Farming games then?

      2. Legendary Teeth says:

        Quite close (since it’s trying to be a new/better harvest moon), but the last one is actually Stardew Valley.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I knew it was something like that. I haven’t played either, so can’t distinguish them by sight. I only remembered that Shamus talked about the game at some point and it looked like that sort of game.

      3. Nimrandir says:

        I’m not familiar with the game from the first screenshot. I hang my head in shame.

        1. Sleepyfoo says:

          The first one is Muse Dash, a fun 2 button rhythm game.

      4. Pyrrhic Gades says:

        “the third one (Leisure Suit Larry) is obvious if you look at the foreground, ”

        Personally I only recognized Leisure Suit Larry because the screenshot contained Leisure Suit Larry.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      If he really wanted to mess with people he should have used mislabeled screenshots from the real game. “The skeletons under the graveyard get back up when killed, but if you kill them about a dozen times they stay permanently dead” “Two chests in Anor Londo, you can see that the one on the left is a mimic from how the chain wraps around in a circular pattern instead of pointing straight out” “Dragonslayer Ornstein (the fat one) and Executioner Smough (with the spear)”

      1. Hector says:

        Smow. Smoff. Smog. Smog. Smock.

        1. DrBones says:

          The closest we’ll get to an actual confirmation for that pronunciation is how Hawkeye Gough pronounces his own name “Goff”. There’s way too many old old names in this series for the fandom’s already fragile sanity.

          1. Hector says:

            We know he’s a goff, given all the black armor and chains he wears, but how is his name pronounced?!


  7. evileeyore says:

    Have you ever tried just ignoring them? It sounds like it’s less about the cultists and more about your inability to let them kvetch off in the corner where they belong.

    Give it shot, I mean it can’t be as hard as Dark Souls gameplay…

    1. GargamelLeNoir says:

      I think because even if he doesn’t answer those comments, they’re still annoying. Always linking this excellent article seems like a good solution to me.

    2. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I’ve been on the receiving end of this particular brand of Soulsborne evangelism enough to understand why this post exists. My experience has been that it’s persistent enough and energetic enough and is aggressively pushing for interaction enough that you can only ignore it for so long. It would be like trying to ignore someone who is poking you in the shoulder: At some point, you have to swat their hand away and say “stop it.” It probably won’t work, but it seems mildly better than the alternative of letting yourself get poked to death.

    3. slug camargo says:

      Easier said than done. Ignoring Dark Souls cultists is the Dark Souls of moderating comment sections.

    4. CrimsonCutz says:

      Normally I’d agree with this kind of thought, but I’ve seen the comment section here anytime Shamus has even vaguely referenced Dark Souls for the past, oh, three, four, five years maybe? It’s seemingly inevitable that someone will respond to him saying he doesn’t enjoy it by going off on a tangent about how he just doesn’t understand the game and continuing to insist on it no matter how many times he explains that he just straight up doesn’t like the things they’re trying to sell as positives. For whatever reason this website has a real hardcore following from people who just will not accept ever under any circumstances that it can even be physically possible to not enjoy Dark Souls without deliberately choosing not to.

      1. Kylroy says:

        For me, the simple answer is that *I don’t like games that are that hard*. They do, that’s fine. What gets me is when they treat my preference as a moral failing:

        1. Steve C says:

          I once asked how the rules changed in a board game if one single case of “not” was removed. Specifically “You can not perform the same action twice.”

          It was like I had spit on their wife and slapped their mom. I was repeatedly personally attacked. The only thing I learned from multiple pages of forum posts was that I was a horrible person. The game community is so toxic and full of themselves that the game designers have washed their hands of them. The most active posters don’t even consider the designers an authority anymore. That’s some serious levels of loving the smell of their own farts there.

          “not” That was all I was asking about… It was just insane.

          1. Kylroy says:

            …what game? I can think of a *lot* of games that would be *super* broken and unfun if you could repeat actions, but that’s hardly a reason to begin attacking someone’s character.

            1. Nimrandir says:

              I’m guessing Takenoko, because nobody would ever do anything but feed the panda all the time. I mean, it’s a panda.

              1. Kylroy says:

                I want this to not be true, simply because the idea of a game about bamboo-growing and panda-chasing being overtaken by a group of rabid, hateful fans is…not good.

            2. Steve C says:

              Providing specifics is dangerous. I’ve learned the hard way to never answer those sorts of questions. It links accounts across multiple forums and never does anything productive. It always derails too. The point of the discussion gets lost in the weeds.

              For example let’s say it was Takenoko. (It wasn’t.) There would be multiple people talking past each other arguing about gardening. Nobody would actually answer the question about taking the same action multiple times. However someone would google Takenoko discussions for the express purpose of finding what was originally said. After all, the others that personally attacked me could be right. I could be a horrible person. If they also throw shade they could be Right. The poster being a bad person gives full justification for why you should never ever even think of removing the word “not.” All the while everyone involved misses the point. The point being that the actual comment was about Dark Souls and toxic communities with rabid fan bases.

              However I already know me refusing to provide details provides me no protection. I’ve also learned that the hard way. People will guess and concoct scenarios and theories from thin air that matches the narrative they want to tell. You know… a bit like you did by guessing Takenoko.

              This is how it starts.

              1. Kylroy says:

                I wasn’t trying to attack you or bend things to my narrative by asking what game it was. *I* didn’t even guess, though I doubt Nim was doing anything evil by doing so. I was genuinely curious what game provoked *such* a ballistic reaction over a rules quibble. I can understand that you have no desire to revisit the discussion or attract the attention of people who participated in it, but please don’t map other peoples’ bad actions onto strangers.

                1. Steve C says:

                  Oh no. I did not think you were trying to attack anyone. That would have been a huge leap. I was saying that this is the first step on the road that leads nowhere good. I know the dangers of that road. I very deliberately take off my boots and take a seat. And like the creepy old guy at the start of the horror movie, I warn others to do the same. Yet people are curious. They go into that graveyard and get eaten. They become the monster they never thought they’d become.

                  Creepy gypsy voice: Turn back before it is too late.

                  1. Nimrandir says:

                    For the record, I picked Takenoko specifically because the mental picture of a table of people repeatedly saying, “I feed the panda, and then I feed the panda again” makes me smile. Because pandas are adorable. Nothing more, nothing less.

        2. Thomas says:

          Dark Souls is a medal of honour for people.

          And yes, it’s a skillful achievement. But it’s also a videogame. It’s not like it’s learning to perform a tracheotomy.

          I’m perfectly fine not spending the time to learn the skill if i choose.

          1. Kylroy says:

            Yes. Precisely. It’s like, I dunno, learning to juggle six things at a time. Good for you, well done, but you’re not saving lives or building houses with that skill. And it doesn’t mean that people who can only juggle three items are poseurs who should stop saying they can juggle.

        3. Dalisclock says:

          Remember, it’s only okay when the computer cheats. When you do it it’s wrong and terrible.

          Now if you’re excuse me, I need to stock up on poison knives to kill Micolash without having to deal with his stupid cowardly, monologuing ass.

    5. jpuroila says:

      Given that he personally moderates the comments on the blog, he can’t COMPLETELY ignore them. I’m guessing he inevitably sees every comment on the blog(and probably at least scans all of them to see whether they warrant deletion to maintain civil discussion, even if he doesn’t actually read them).

      Also, while “don’t respond to trolls” is often repeated advice on the internet, the majority of people are pretty bad at following it.

  8. Crokus Younghand says:

    I, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. People ask me for advice on which game to play, and I can never recommend my favourites . With what face should I ask them to play hitting-air-with-swords Morrowind, ad&d-rules-guzzling Planescape: Torment or janky-as-hell-and-back Deus Ex?

    1. Lino says:

      So, you’re basically this, then, huh?

      I gave up trying to recommend some of my favourite games a long time ago. Although in your case, if the person like old-school graphics and number-crunching, then they’ll have probably played the games you mentioned…

    2. tmtvl says:

      You can recommend Deus Ex with a straight face. It’s cool.

  9. John V says:

    Why am I not surprised that Chris Wagar helped prompt this?

    1. V says:

      I can’t say I’ve heard of him before (the comment he left here notwithstanding), is he notable for Dark Souls evangelism or something?

      1. John V says:

        His writing leans very heavily on the mindset of “I am objectively right and if you disagree with me you are objectively wrong.” And also yes he is very well known for his Dark Souls evangelism.

  10. ooli says:

    You can read this for your youtube channel, and I guarantee another 200k view.. and a lot of comments

    1. Wangwang says:

      But it will also attract a lot of unwanted audiences for this site. The kind that can’t hold a civil conversation.

      1. Lino says:

        Yeah, I flirted with the idea of sharing this article on the Dark Souls subreddit, but thought better of it – why poke the hornet’s nest?

    2. Duoae says:

      Haha, true. (And the comments below as well) My first thought was: why isn’t this a video? Three screenshot jokes would be even funnier!

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I was legitimately unsure on whether this was a video or not, with the custom lead image and all.

    3. Christopher says:

      You just need to get someone else to go “Have you tried Nioh?” at the end.

  11. Biggus Rickus says:

    The thing that kills me about the “playing the game wrong” types is that there really is no right or wrong way to play the game that any reasonable person would attempt. Sure, purposely walking off cliffs repeatedly is objectively the wrong way to play the game, but who’s going to do that? I love Dark Souls. I’ve played it with every kind of build imaginable. I find the ranged ones boring and the non-shield rolly types needlessly frustrating in certain areas. Hiding behind a shield works just fine for me. Other people obviously love rolling everywhere. Other people like shooting things to death with projectiles. And some people will hate all of it.

    Contrary to what the cult members say, there is a fair bit of bullshit in Dark Souls. I think playing the game completely blind as many of them tell people to do is insane. The systems are so inscrutable without researching them, you’re as likely to be made miserable as inspired to research how the game works. And while many traps in the game do give you signs, if we’re being honest, most people aren’t going to realize what they mean until after they’ve died once. “There are scorch marks on this bridge in a rotting world. Neat.” [drake breathes fire on you as you run across] “Oh, that’s what those meant.”

    I guess the point of this is that I absolutely understand your pain, Shamus. The internet is filled with all kinds of awful zealots. But have you tried…?

    1. Daimbert says:

      One of the big issues might be that there are different ways to play the game so that someone can enjoy it, but those ways are distinct enough from each other that each person ends up finding the ONE way to play it that they enjoy and find all the other ways to not be fun. Thus, when they see someone playing it in a way that they know they don’t enjoy and then complaining that they don’t enjoy it, the obvious answer is to point out that that isn’t the enjoyable way to play it and that if the person played it the enjoyable way they’d like the game. Not realizing that there are many different ways to play the game that appeal to different people means that they also never realize that they may come across someone who just doesn’t like any of them or that sort of game in general.

      As a personal example, I sometimes get visual novels recommended to me. In theory, I’m the perfect audience for visual novels. And yet the ones I’ve tried I haven’t liked. It’s not a criticism of a VN or the VN-genre for me to say that VNs don’t work for me. For example, right now I’m playing Steins;Gate, and I can only play it for about an hour or so at a time before having to stop, despite having already watched and liked the anime (which is one problem with playing the game right now). That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad game or a bad story. It just means that it’s not a good game FOR ME. Shamus, in his comments, TENDS to be pretty clear that Dark Souls is not a game that works for him, no matter how much it might seem like it should.

      1. Biggus Rickus says:

        I’m not the most sensitive soul in the world, but I can still recognize that people are not me and will have different likes and dislikes. It’s just baffling to me that people don’t or refuse to understand this. Maybe it’s just that I’m older. Maybe if the internet had been what it is today twenty years ago, I’d have been trying to browbeat people into changing their fundamental tastes.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Then again, I have lots of people badgering me about trying the things they like and think everyone should like completely outside of the Internet contexts, as my interests are fairly eccentric. For example, lots of people bug me and bug me about traveling, which I’m not at all interested in, with all of the standard arguments like you haven’t really done it and that I’m missing out. I went off on someone once who was pushing the line of needing to travel to expand my horizons for something replying “I think it would be better for everyone to learn philosophy to expand their mind, but you don’t see me bugging everyone about it if they say they don’t want to!”

          1. Syal says:

            I will say if it hadn’t been for traveling I would never have learned what crumpet was. And the Trigonometry Dinosaur outside of Haifa’s shopping mall is an everlasting mystery.

            But I was travelling for work, and I totally stopped leaving the ship after like five stops.

        2. Liessa says:

          I can remember having the exact same kind of conversations with people twenty years ago. It really wasn’t any better then; the only thing that’s changed is my lack of time and patience for arguing on the Internet.

    2. Mephane says:

      What grinds my gears about the “you are playing it wrong” argument is that since I play games for fun, I want play them in ways that I find actually fun. So often advice for how to play a game “correctly” boils down things that I simply find not fun to do at all, or are outright silly and not part of the intended game mechanics if you think about it.

      For an example detached from Dark Souls, some FPS do not punish you for jumping – no reticule bloom, no stamina bar that drains, nothing. As long as you can still hit your enemy while jumping, it is beneficial to keep jumping at all times because it makes it harder for them to hit you or specific weak spots (e.g. head), at worst the other player is good enough to complete compensate and it doesn’t matter whether your permanently bunnyhop, at best the enemy is not able to hit you at all.

      And if you ever dare to bring this up in a discussion, you will be told that the devs absolutely intended their shooter to be played with everyone bouncing up and down non stop, you will be told to git gud because yeah, technically bunnyhopping in an FPS is a skill you can master (more specifically, still hitting an enemy while you are bunnyhopping, especially if they are also doing it), but this is such a miserable way for me both to play as and against that I’d rather not bother at all, and in extreme cases avoid or abandon the game altogether.

      1. Biggus Rickus says:

        I don’t like FPSs for a few reasons, but what you’ve described sounds like hell to me.

        1. SidheKnight says:

          It is hell, and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t do multiplayer in FPS games (or most games, really).

    3. Hector says:

      I would agree with the level of, let’s say *preparation* required. I played DS1 on console, which I found to be a baffling experience and no fun whatsoever. I much later played on pc referring to a well-documented wiki and the results were much better.

      I still eventually put it and DS2 down despite mostly having a good time because the game gets monstrously frustrating. Despite its fans claiming the game is darn near perfect, it’s designed to thwart learning in a number of ways.

      1. Biggus Rickus says:

        That was my experience with Dark Souls 2. I also didn’t really like a lot of aspects of the game, so I wasn’t compelled to finish it. I found Dark Souls 1 a fairly even experience, but I also didn’t play it until I’d mastered Dark Souls 3, so it was easy for me in a lot of ways.

        1. hector says:

          I liked DS2 better and consider it the superior product. I just got tired if DS1 around the Four Kings, and just refused to fight the great wolf because he’s such a good boy!

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Dark Souls II is the only one rated T, so it’s the only one I’m willing to risk playing in front of the child.

    4. Dalisclock says:

      I’ve suggested that the best way to deal with the evangelists is to say “Okay. I’m gonna play Dark Souls/BB/Sekiro but I’m gonna mod it to be easier in some way”

      Because nothing seems to trigger an evangelist into angry screaming fits more then the hint you might not play it “the right way” which was handed down from gods themselves.

      I love the series(well, except DS2, which I feel is very flawed) but I won’t begrudge anyone who feels it would be more enjoyable with the difficulty modded down. Some areas/bosses are pure BS and the games are not uniformly “Tough But Fair” as some love to claim.

      “A Shinobi would know the difference between honor and victory”

  12. Mr Compassionate says:

    So I’m an enormous Dark Souls fan (I’ve beat all the bosses in all games and even painted all the miniatures) but Dark Souls is both imperfect and has a very, very specific fanbase. Imagine a venn diagram where the following personality traits have to overlap
    -Enjoys dark fantasy specifically, not just fantasy
    -Doesn’t mind feeling helpless against the various horrible things that plague the setting
    -Is a masochist
    -Has an infinite well of patience
    -Is willing to overlook various connection issues, glitches, poor level design and barely finished content
    -Doesn’t mind randomly being forced to PVP

    That’s quite a list of prerequesites to even start tolerating it, let alone enjoy it and it’s baffling why some fans don’t get that.
    Slight aside though I am impressed by your knowledge of Dark Souls locations despite finding the series repellant.

    1. Rack says:

      I’m a massive Dark Souls fan and part of the draw towards cultism is I have very few of those traits.
      1) Yeah fine I suppose.
      2) I guess.
      3) Definitely not.
      4) Absolutely definitely not.
      5) Yeah, but this is necessary for every game
      6) Offline mode ftw!

      On top of that I hate difficult games. I don’t fit the profile of a Dark Souls fan at all and it’s one of my favourite series, so I don’t think it makes sense to dismiss it out of hand because it doesn’t sound like your kind of thing. It’s worth spending an hour or two diving in just in case it’s something you love.

      1. Plays The Thing says:

        Well, this is basically the core of the problem right? Most Dark Souls fans had their own moment of “this game is horrible, I don’t want to play anymore” and after some pushing or guidance from their friends or the internet they manage to overcome it and fall hopelessly and irrevocably in love. So a lot of Dark Souls fans are, I think, just trying to help other people get past that same barrier that they did. Someone needs to tell you how to get to the bonfire in Sen’s to save you from undue suffering, and that’s part of the meta-story of the game. Alone, we are likely to suffer and quit (which in the game is going hollow) but if we can support each other we can perhaps survive the harsh world and overcome its challenges. I had accidentally skipped several bosses by starting with the key and was trying to kill Quelaag by running all the way from Firelink, and it wasn’t until my friend told me about the bonfire down there that I decided to come back 6 months later and try the game again, but this time with more help. Then I had to kill O+S with access only to +5 weapons. But when I managed to do these things I was convinced it was the best game ever, because it made victory that much sweeter. So we become evangelists, trying to get everyone to experience that same crack that we did, and like a bunch of drug addicts in a basement we’re arguing abut the best way to shoot up.

        Taste is a real thing. I should love isometric RPGs. KOTOR, Mass Effect, Deus Ex, games like these are some of my favorites. I have never managed to beat an isometric RPG. Not one. I’ve tried so, so many. For some reason I can’t do them. But at one point in time that’s how I felt about Dark Souls, and I think most fans did too, and at some point someone convinced us to try again. So there’s a way in which we imagine all people as potentially one conversation away from becoming fans, just like we were.

  13. Daimbert says:

    Shamus, you really need to play Dar … PERSONA 5!

    1. Syal says:

      Give in, to, temp-tay-TION!

    2. CloverMan-88 says:

      So many people told me that Persona 5 is a jrpg for people who don’t like jrpg’s, that it’s a game that I will definitely enjoy. And by now, 30 hours in, I do really enjoy it.

      But man, for the first 5-10 hours I was MISERABLE. It was an epitome of jrpg bullshit. Hours of cutscenes with no gameplay. Then hours of gameplay so restricted it might as well be a cutscene. Unskipabble, reused animations, dialogue that repeats every point as naseum.

      It gets much, much better, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It’s still a jrpg, so a person must be, at some level, able to enjoy jrpg’ s to enjoy Persona 5. It’s and excellent entry in the genre, but if you played other greats and didn’t enjoy them – this one probably won’t change your mind.

      1. guy says:

        I ended up dropping Persona 5 because it just had so many stretches of not getting to control the day’s activities. I stopped at a point where I had something like two straight weeks of no action.

        1. Daimbert says:

          HOW DARE YOU SAY … something that’s mostly personal taste and probably valid, although it didn’t bother me much?!?

          In the game’s defense, when it takes that control away it’s usually in service of the story or character development, but a lot of Persona 5 fans grumble about all of the cases where Morgana tells you that you can’t go do anything in the evening and have to go to sleep.

      2. Daimbert says:

        Yeah, I don’t think I would have recommended it that way, unless that was strictly referring to the dungeons and combat, which at least might be a fair comparison.

        I’d definitely say that if you didn’t like Persona 4 or Persona 3, you probably won’t like Persona 5.

  14. Bo says:

    Souls games are based on the idea that if you’re persistent enough, you can overcome any resistance. It’s no wonder their most rabid fans take this attitude in real life too.

    1. Scampi says:

      It’s also the exact kind of game I would expect to crop up in Japan, of all places.

    2. Steve C says:

      Well it’s true statement. You can overcome any resistance if you are persistent enough. A drip of water will erode away a mighty stone. And Doctor Who will punch through a diamond wall using a million deaths.

      More important than how true it is, is how fun it is. Becoming the drip that erodes doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me.

  15. Ninety-Three says:

    Who’s up for a betting pool on how long until a cultist shows up in this comments section? Because we all know it’s going to happen.

    My money’s on tomorrow.

    1. Higher_Peanut says:

      Should we add “Dark Souls cultist post” to the Twenty Sided drinking game?

      1. Kincajou says:

        Heh, I’m glad I’m not the only one tracking the rules of it :p

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          What are the rules? The only ones I remember are “In the original Fallout” and full article on the front page.

          1. Higher_Peanut says:

            I’ve been running on what I could remember from the old Spoiler Warning run. Much of it doesn’t translate well into blog form but if for some reason someone posts “stop shooting me!” I think it should still count.

            I also propose a “comment contains awful amazing pun” rule. Where reader discretion can be exercised depending on how much they wish they hadn’t read it.

    2. Lino says:

      My money’s on during today’s US session – bear in mind, most of the Americans (who are the majority of the readership for this blog) either haven’t woken up yet, or are in the process of waking up.

      I’m also expecting this comment thread to have a minimum of 150 comments by mid-day tomorrow.

    3. Kincajou says:

      I’ll bet by 20:00 gmt

      1. kincajou says:

        i lost by about an hour… curses!

    4. BlueHorus says:

      I’ve got a different bet here: how many of them will be trolling, and how many will be genuine?

      I was REALLY tempted to emulate a cultist while reading this, but didn’t because a) it was too obvious / predictable and b) CountAccountant beat me to it, doing a far better job than I would have lower down in the comments.
      Still, if I was tempted…

      Nevertheless, while I want to believe that no-one would be clueless enough to unironically do exactly what Shamus is calling out here…
      …but we’ll see.

    5. Rack says:

      Uh, hi. Sorry, but it’s earlier than that.

  16. John says:

    I wish there was a game I felt half so passionate about as some people feel about Dark Souls. Or maybe I don’t. I’m not above arguing with strangers on the internet–it can be strangely compelling–but it always leaves me feeling tense, angry, and slightly disgusted with myself. Best not to do it without a very good reason. (If strangers on the internet could just stop being obstinately wrong about things, I would really appreciate it.) But if there were a game I felt half so passionate about, then, judging by the number of hours Steam says I’ve played, it would have to be . . .

    Hello, friend! Have you heard the good news about Crusader Kings II?

    1. Daimbert says:

      For me that game would have to be the modern Persona games (3, 4 and 5), based on hours played (in the thousands across all of them, and I have Royale pre-ordered). That being said, my biggest annoyance there would be people who claim to be big fans of the series and then complain about the S-links distracting from the rest of the game. Um, that’s what makes the entire series unique. It might not be something you care that much for, but it’s clearly an integral part of the game.

      1. Fon says:

        You mean, that’s what makes the modern Persona (3, 4, 5) unique. Back in *my* days, we didn’t have Social Links and we liked it…

        … Whoa whoa, I’m not saying that those of us who like Persona 2 and even 1 are superior, but I hope you can see that, to those of us who played Persona 2 before the modern Persona, Social Links and the whole social life management thing is a new thing. (And I can see why the newer fans swear by Social Links or could not get into Persona 2.)

        Even without Social Links, a Persona game should still have the same modern setting, atmosphere, story themes, as well as persona changing (whether it’s via fusion or card trading. Persona 2 is the odd duck in this case).

        (Once again, I’m NOT saying older fans are superior, but that our views are a little different from those who were exposed to/hooked by Persona 3 or above first.)

        1. Daimbert says:

          Well, I thought that the modern Persona games for the second comment was implied, but fair point. The cases I’m talking about were people who had primarily and likely only played the modern Persona games, claimed to be big fans, and then inevitably complained about the S-links being a sideshow to the game, part of the “doldrums” of the game (that’s a direct quote of one of them). Some might not like the S-links as much as the dungeons, but it’s a big part of the modern Persona games and not mere doldrums, and is what draws some people to the games (I, personally, don’t care that much for the dungeons and LOVE the S-links and activities).

          As an aside, I have played Persona and Persona 2, and while I didn’t care for them as much as the modern Persona games it isn’t because of the lack of S-links. Persona was serviceable until in the final dungeon with no save points the random encounters suddenly shot up from “cakewalk” to “party wipe”, mandating a long replay to get back to the point where the same combination would come up again, which made me quit playing, while there were just too many random encounters in Persona 2 to keep my interest. Also, those games aren’t as good with merging and creating new Persona or upgrading them, which probably meant I was underleveled in both games with no real way to tell until I wiped completely.

    2. Lino says:

      I don’t know why we, as people, are so compelled to arguing online. In an argument, the best that can happen is for your interlocutor to see the error of their views and adopt your own view. However, 99.9% of people don’t like admitting when they’re wrong, and try to avoid it when possible (shocking, I know). And you know what the easiest thing in an internet argument is? Stop commenting once you see things aren’t going your way!

      So, as someone engaged in an argument on the internet, the best response you can expect to your well-crafted, time- and nerve-consuming comment is… silence. Which can be interpreted as agreement on the other person’s part, or as them giving up on trying to convince you, since you’re so wrong, that you’re essentially a lost cause.

      But no matter how many arguments over the internet I have, and no matter how often I see this play out, it feels like I never learn! As much as I try not to waste my time arguing trolls and – worst of all – people, I still catch myself doing it all too often.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        So, as someone engaged in an argument on the internet, the best response you can expect to your well-crafted, time- and nerve-consuming comment is… silence.

        Sometimes I wonder if the reason the internet is so obnoxious is because winning an argument looks like the other guy leaving the conversation, and so people aiming to win started choosing their rhetoric based on what was likely to make the other guy leave the conversation.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          It could be incentivized by the archival nature of Internet conversation. If your word is the last, it may very well be taken as right.

      2. Fon says:

        Nah, many people just haven’t understood that it’s okay to have a different opinion, and not everyone needs to agree on everything.

        And it’s cool if you disagree with me. I *am* oversimplifying things.

        1. Lino says:

          Of course there are different opinions! There are my opinions and then there all the wrong opinions that some people think it’s okay to have!

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Look. It’s clear that you don’t get it. But if you can understand why I think what I think, then you’d naturally agree with me!

            Let me just painstakingly set out my reasoning here in a massive wall of text…

    3. Fizban says:

      but it always leaves me feeling tense, angry, and slightly disgusted with myself.

      True that. Even the most masterful and justified smackdowns I’ve delivered on my favored subject (dnd 3.5 mostly), even with others supporting me, even *successfully swaying/forcing a concession to the minority* on occasion, it’s still a huge drain. Literally committing that entire part of your being to an emotionally charged conflict for hours at a time, shouldn’t be surprising that having a fight with a foe you can’t actually stop and which doesn’t actually threaten you in any way would leave one rattled and self-loathing.

      1. hectir says:

        I am curious. What specific opinions did you have required the argument?

        (I have actually designed tabletop games and written variations of DnD. I consider DnD since 3rd edition to be ungainly due to some changes written in without due consideration.)

        1. ivan says:

          He was probably arguing that a 3.5 Illusionist is immortal and unkillable, and that my level 1 alchemist in Morrowind would lose.

          I had a convo about that one time… :(

    4. Dalisclock says:

      Oh man, I want to learn how to play CK2 so much and I’ve tried. I just feel like I’m not getting over that initial hump of learning how to thrive and expand whenever everyone says the real fun is.

      And the pure time commitment makes it difficult to really jump into to learn it.

      Strangely, I got into Stellaris a hell of a lot easier then CK2 so I’m tempted to give it another go.

  17. Higher_Peanut says:

    I bounced off Dark Souls for similar reasons as you did. The barrier between retry attempts was just too tedious to bear. Which was a shame because the exploration was nice when it wasn’t glitchy. I like it when games stop pretending to be movies with hours of cutscenes.

    I think it’s the same reason I can’t really get into most roguelikes. Re-running the first areas over and over to reach the part I was at before feels too much like a penalty to me and it’s one of the pillars of the genre.

    1. Joshua says:

      I also haven’t cared for the Roguelikes I’ve played. I’m guessing that needing to enjoy them would probably be one of the requirements for a Dark Souls game?

      1. zackoid says:

        I don’t think so, necessarily. At least I can tell you that the opposite is definitely not true, because I love all sorts of roguelikes and rogue-adjacents but I can’t get into soulslikes.

        Shamus you forgot one of my favorite soulvangelist arguments, which is that DS1 for the PC was not a godawful port.

        1. Higher_Peanut says:

          It’s the worst PC port I’ve played and I played San Andreas on PC. SA still had tutorials teaching you auto aim, which were removed on PC and the default plane/heli controls mapped to numpad if you couldn’t use the mouse to fly due to sensitivity problems.

          Didn’t the Souls devs say when they ported it they had no prior experience with PC?

          1. Karma The Alligator says:

            They did, and they also said they’d leave it to modders to fix it.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          Nonono, it WAS a terrible port, but that’s because you didn’t install the fan-made patch. It solves all the problems, and makes it better than the newer PC Port!

          I mean, if you play the first port WITHOUT the patch, you’re just doing it wrong…

          (Argument taken almost verbatim…from a Steam review of all things. Of the second PC port, that was better. And as a counter to people complaining that the first port was bad!)

          1. Fizban says:

            I mean, bad ports that require fan patches aren’t exactly something new. Getting tons of PC ports is convenient, but also means you have to live with the fact that eventually you’re gonna have a problem. I barely got Nights of Azure 2 running satisfactorily despite the first game running perfectly (wasn’t that a nasty surprise), and I abandoned my playthrough of Tales of Symphonia (which I really wanted on PC) after I hit a completely screwed scene and read that even more scenes were screwed up at the end and the dev’s didn’t care and the fan-patcher couldn’t rewrite the script triggers to fix it.

            So yeah, if you had problems running the DS1 port and didn’t bother trying the fan-patch like everyone else, that’d be your fault as far as I’m concerned (and I refuse to pay for their supposed remaster, fucking charge me 20$ for a fix someone else gave you free, eat shit). Now, if your problem is that the DS1 port came out long before Steam’s universal controller support and thus you needed to either buy an xbox gamepad or a paywall input program, that’s a pretty legit problem I’d agree with.

            Dunno what idiot would try to argue that the later games having better ports means anything about the first though.

      2. Karma The Alligator says:

        Not at all, I hate most Roguelike games, I just dislike the randomness of them, because if anything, you don’t improve with repetition (or maybe it’s just me) and you can’t really prepare for bad RNG. At least with Dark Souls you can learn how to deal with a situation, and what you learn will apply every time in the same situation.

        1. Fizban says:

          Depends heavily on the roguelike (and how actiony it is). For a lot of them, the mastery comes from learning how to do the most with the basic mechanics, particularly the hidden and dungeon generation mechanics that you’d only discover after dozens or hundreds of games or by reading a wiki, and then “surfing the wave” as I might call it, through the bad stuff as far as you can. But when you play, say, Binding of Issac’s Greed mode, a nifty stripped down mode that has repeated wave fights in a single room rather than full dungeons, the smaller number of random things actually makes it much more obvious how screwed you can be by RNG.

          Ironically, the best roguelikes are the *most* random ones, in the sense that they have so many random elements that you’re frequently getting good rolls to latch onto, whether it’s permanent effects or just health drops.

          1. Syal says:

            The best roguelikes are the ones that feel like save-scumming. Die and restart until you get some super broken thing, then thoroughly enjoy your super broken run because you know exactly how hard the game is without the cheese.

        2. Cubic says:

          Not into modern roguelikes but I used to play nethack a lot (never ascended) and even a few games of rogue, and I would liken it to poker, in that you have to play the somewhat unpredictable hand you’re dealt. In some cases, like finding you’re on a dead end on level 20 or something, it can of course be frustrating. On the other hand, there is a strong element of skill too: you learn how to handle monsters and situations (run away! run away!), what gear you need, what to wish for, etc etc. All sorts of tricks. And you find yourself doing pretty well over time in spite of the RNG.

          1. tmtvl says:

            Elbereth; ID-ing items by price, name, engraving,…; fountain/altar strats;…

            There’s a lot of depth to Nethack which helps you overcome the RNG. Just don’t trigger a boulder trap.

    2. Lino says:

      I’m the same with rougelikes (or rougelites, in my case). The only ones I’ve played through were always ones that had some sort of checkpoint mechanic (e.g. Spelunky, which lets you unlock shortcuts to some of the later levels). It’s why I bounced off of Enter the Gungeon and Dead Cells (even though I beat the latter during the beta, and have reached one of its final bosses) – once I reach one of the higher levels, and get killed, I just can’t be bothered to trudge through the same boring first levels over and over again.

    3. GoStu says:

      I’m a fan of a fair number of roguelites, and I’ve played a few more beyond that. I think the big difference for me is whether or not that first area or two has any interesting decisions to be made. Engaging gameplay helps here as well.

      I used to play a lot of The Binding of Isaac but I really can’t get into it or strongly recommend it any more. It’s not really that approachable, the aesthetic is gross, the control can be fiddly, and sometimes the game just fucks you – leaving you against annoying bosses with little recourse.

      I love FTL: Faster Than Light and Enter The Gungeon because each have some interesting decisions. FTL’s ship-to-ship combat requires some strategy and decision-making, and the strategic layer demands constant assessment and reassessment of the player. Gungeon on the other hand has a fun shoot, dodge, and loot loop that keeps me excited.

      If they’re not for you, then they’re not for you – but I think this could be dependent on which of the more-modern Roguelikes you’ve committed your time to. Isaac might be the best-known but I think it’s actually one of the most frustrating.

  18. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    The last time this conversation happened here, I chimed in on it and ended up regretting it. But then I always do. It became the exact back-and-forth that I just don’t have the energy for anymore. Yet here I am again, taking another crack at it. The logical part of my brain knows that I’m fooling myself, but there’s clearly some significant part of me that thinks that if I use all of the right words and line up all of my arguments and defenses in just the right way, I can somehow say “I don’t like the Dark Souls games” without someone wanting to take me to task for it.

    Today’s attempt will be about bowling. I grew up with two parents who loved bowling. They were both in leagues and did pretty well at it. My dad’s been gone for four years now, but his picture still hangs in the “big city” bowling alley where he bowled a perfect game. Yet I don’t enjoy bowling. At all. If there’s a gene for it, that gene clearly skips generations. And growing up, that perplexed my mother to no end. She was always taking me and I was always complaining. She would say, “You’re just not very good at it – that’s why you don’t enjoy it. If you just keep doing it, you’ll get good and I won’t be able to keep you away from the lanes.” But with all the playing, I just wasn’t enjoying it. Finally, on that last summer after high school before I was about to go off to college, my mom said, “Let’s bowl one more time. We probably won’t ever get to do it again.” Moms are great with wielding guilt. So we went bowling and I bowled a couple of really good games. My mom was like “See? There you go. Isn’t bowling fun?” That’s when it clicked for me and here’s what I said to my mom: I said, “It’s not that I don’t like bowling because I’m bad at it. I’m bad at bowling because I don’t like it.”

    It’s the same with Dark Souls. I could invest those hours into getting my mind and reflexes trained to git gud and I’m confident that I could build the faculties to successfully navigate the game. But I just don’t find the game enjoyable enough for me to want to. And that has nothing to do with all of the people who love the game – even the ones who love it with that evangelical fervor. I’m actually glad that those games exist in the sense that the more genre variety we have in gaming, the better that gaming is overall. But I can’t say that I like what the games hath wrought: You can’t even mention one of them in passing without having to pay a tithe to The Church of Soulsborne.

    It’s not that I don’t like Dark Souls because I’m bad at it. I’m bad at Dark Souls because I don’t like it. There’s no argument that’s going to change that, yet people persist. I don’t like baked beans either and there’s no magical baked bean argument out there that’s going to change that. Taste is what it is whether it’s in video games or in legumes.

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      But what if the beans had more Worcestershire in them? What then?

      1. CountAccountant says:

        My dude, eating baked beans without worcestershire made me miserable too. Because I ate them like you. You are eating baked beans wrong.

        You’re getting hung up on the putting baked beans in your mouth and not enjoying the taste.

        At this point, it’s just you eating baked beans wrong, and when people explain: Hey man, I know why you’re having a bad time, I had the same bad time, here’s what you do to get around it you go


        Dude, you are eating it wrong, a mate who actually enjoys baked beans could teach you to add worcestershire in, like, two minutes of coop cooking. I went from a miserable baked bean hater to a glorious legume connoisseur. The more you deliberately refuse to “get” baked beans, the more inappropriate it is that you comment on them.

        1. Biggus Rickus says:

          This is probably my favorite comment I’ve seen here. Kudos.

        2. Duoae says:

          Wow, at least it wasn’t a post about cheese on toast…. with Worcestershire sauce.

        3. BlueBlazeSpear says:

          My unreasonable bean hatred has been exposed by your inscrutable worcestershire argument!

        4. Kincajou says:

          Well played sir!

        5. Dan Efran says:

          Funny, but on the other hand…

          I do hate to take the side of these annoying fanatics, and to be clear, I’ve not played the games in question at all, don’t plan to, and probably wouldn’t like them any more than Shamus does.

          BUT, I think this parody actually exposes the fact that, really, people who say such things are not necessarily wrong. It is indeed totally possible that you’ve left an important spice out of your recipe, and thus are not enjoying your beans as you might.

          True story: Someone I know (an adult living in America) didn’t like English muffins. (Which are pretty popular around here, because they’re delicious.) He didn’t think they tasted good or what the point was. Turns out he didn’t know you’re supposed to split them in half, toast them, and butter them. He was just eating them cold and doughy, and thinking “this food just isn’t for me.” For years.

          He was literally eating it wrong. He really wasn’t qualified to comment on their appeal, either. Finally, a fan was able to help him see the light. How many times had he talked right past someone on the subject before that? I don’t know.

          One of my favorite genres is old-school text adventures. They can be incredibly evocative and engrossing, a true theater of the mind…but the specifics of how the parser does and doesn’t understand you can take some getting used to. Certain genre tropes can take getting used to too. (Like how, in many games, you should probably Examine and Take pretty much everything you see.) For that genre, a coaching session of an hour or two (hopefully less!) from an experienced fan could indeed plausibly help someone learn how to “play the right way so you can enjoy it”.

          Being fanatical and persistent and infodumping big strategy guides into every discussion…bad. Honestly believing someone might have more fun if they understood better where the game is coming from…actually reasonable, in theory. It seems like a finer line to draw. It probably is worth enduring occasional fruitless conversations about games you hate, in case you really do discover a way to enjoy one now and then. I think it’s more just that attitude, and the predictable inevitability of the conversations popping up whenever you even mention the Spanish Inquisition, and the extremely detailed strategy suggestions, all of which conflict and still don’t sound fun.

          1. Joshua says:

            Sigh, another one of these types appears. If you read the history on this particular topic (Dark Souls), you’d learn how aggravating “Hmm, I think I’m the first one to say this, but have you tried…..” really is.

            1. Joshua says:

              Heck, just read point #1 at the beginning of this post. If your friend had posted pictures of the variety of ways he’d tried English Muffins, trying certain recipes, or in other ways demonstrated that he was very familiar with the preparation of English Muffins, maybe it’s fair to say he just didn’t like them?

          2. Paul Spooner says:

            Sounds like the English Muffin muffing duffer was something of a dope. “You seem like an idiot I once knew” is a poor opening argument to encourage engagement, whether or not it’s true. That’s basically the entire thrust of this whole article.

            “Honestly believing someone might have more fun if they understood better where the game is coming from” is not reasonable at all when you are incapable of perceiving how well they understand the game in the first place. Or, as your case seems to be, incapable of even basic reading comprehension. Just because you can write coherent English sentences doesn’t mean you are capable of communicating constructively.

            1. Dan Efran says:

              So wait, you leap to call someone an idiot and a dope because they happen to have misunderstood one recipe, rather than seeing an opportunity to clue them in and maybe bring them more joy? And you’re lecturing me on encouraging engagement? Really not sure where you’re coming from here. I think possibly you’re angry because you misread my post and got something different from it than I meant.

              My thinking was, “these poor misguided Dark Souls, though indeed behaving badly, are only trying to help and might truly help someone someday (but not Shamus, and not by being rude)”.

              You seem to be coming down on the side of “anyone who doesn’t understand how to eat English muffins (play Dark Souls) is an idiot” — seriously??

              1. Joshua says:

                Dude, quit now while you’re WAY behind.

                1. Dan Efran says:

                  Really, you like Paul’s approach here? Because I propose a thought not in lockstep with the article — while mostly agreeing with it — then I must not be sufficiently literate overall? Because someone doesn’t know one recipe they’re an idiot? What if the muffin person was me? Should Paul be saying to me that I sound like an idiot, because I missed one memo growing up? That wasn’t me, but see below about onions. Does having been served onions wrong as a child really make me a dope in Paul’s eyes? That just strikes me an unusual level of personal vitriol for this site, and it puzzles me.

                  Sheesh. I’m not saying don’t hate on the Dark Souls fans. Hate on them indeed, and let them begone from here forevermore. I’m just saying just maybe hate them with pity, like Gollum, not unreservedly, like Sauron.

                  1. Lanthanide says:

                    Yeah, I understood the point of your comment entirely and Paul’s response is rather confusing to me as well.

                    At no point were you lecturing at Shamus, or in fact particularly talking about Dark Souls at all except as a foundation to bring up your *general* point that sometimes people genuinely do misunderstand a whole variety of things which hampers their enjoyment of those things and just a small bit of extra information can make dramatic differences in their enjoyment of those things. Sometimes that small piece of extra information is entirely obvious to you (like english muffins should obviously be toasted and buttered) but somehow the other person missed it – that doesn’t make the other person a moron. As the XKCD comic says, every day in the USA there are about 10,000 people learning some thing that “everyone knows” for the first time.

                    It seems like Paul thought you were lecturing Shamus and talking about Dark Souls specifically rather than this concept in general, which I don’t think really warrants anything but agreement. And his comment did come across as unusually vitriolic for this site, to me, as well.

                    1. Shamus says:

                      For what it’s worth, my understanding of the discussion was similar to Lanthanide. I didn’t take any offense at Dan Efran’s original point. (Or anyone else’s, really.) I understood it as an analogy, not as another “but you should play Dark Souls” argument.

                      Unrelated: English muffins are pretty good, but if was going to eat that many carbs I’d just as soon have a pancake.

          3. Fizban says:

            I guess you needed a more specific “But for Shamus and Dark Souls people should obviously stop as they wore it out years ago,” since responses are failing to recognize that you specifically called out *persistent* and *fanatical* infodumps as bad.

            1. Dan Efran says:

              Yes, it’s amusing that I’m being accused of poor reading comprehension by people who apparently completely missed what I actually wrote.

              It does seem I should have made further explicit disclaimers that I’m not disputing the thrust of the article. I agree 100% that Shamus doesn’t like Dark Souls and never will. I already said the game’s fans are behaving badly. I suggested tolerating such conversations *occasionally* in case you’ve genuinely missed something, not tolerating them endlessly when you’ve already done your homework.

              1. Joshua says:

                You’ve been accused of poor reading comprehension because you missed the whole section where he addresses how he gives these people proper information about how he’s experienced the game and yet they ignore him and assume he just doesn’t know enough, so they’re happy to clue him in:

                The cultists are always confident that nobody else has taken the time to let you know. You don’t play Dark Souls because nobody stopped to tell you that it’s wrong to not like Dark Souls. Each zealot is positive that you’re just one good nudge from diving into the game, falling in love, and joining the cult.

                If telling you that your tastes are wrong doesn’t work, then the zealot will the resort to describing the mechanics to you in excruciating detail. They will do this even if you’ve played it and showed them footage of yourself playing it. They’ll talk about dodge rolls and I-frames and repostes. Stamina, environmental awareness, and fairness. They’re sure that if they can just describe why they like the game in enough detail, then somehow that affinity will be transplanted into you.

                1. Dan Efran says:

                  Yet…I didn’t miss that part. I thought I pretty clearly agreed with it. I called these fans annoying, and explicitly enumerated a fairly similar list of problems with their approach: unsolicited info dumps, persistence…. I didn’t explicitly repeat each and every criticism in the article; I explicitly agreed with several; I don’t get why anyone thought I disputed any. I was speaking more of motives that might in theory deserve understanding or sympathy, not methods that I too was calling bad and annoying.

                  It seems that what I wrote was, somehow, deeply unclear, and open to considerable misinterpretation of meaning and intent. I apologize for that. Perhaps reading it again would help — not because of reading comprehension, something about my prose must have obscured my point — or perhaps it was too fine a line to draw after all. Whatever.

                  1. Steve C says:

                    I got your point Dan. It was moderate and measured. I even agreed with it while making note of the dangerous slope it was adjacent to. Paul was out of line.

                  2. Bubble181 says:

                    I, too, got what you were trying to say, and tend to agree with it. Paul seems to have over-reacted, assuming you are one of the people you are calling out.

                    It’s perfectly ok to say “yes, DS fans are annoying because they won’t stop after being shown you know how to play; however, not everyone saying you may be doing something wrong is, by necessity, evil and stupid and obsessive – perhaps you are, indeed, doing something wrong”.

                    That said, in case of a game, I think it’s the game’s job to draw me in and explain. Doing something I’m not enjoying for hours on end until it becomes fun, isn’t my idea of time well spent. I accept many people consider this part of the DS style, but that just means it isn’t for me.

                  3. Lanthanide says:

                    It was perfectly clear to me :shrug:.

          4. ivan says:

            BUT, I think this parody actually exposes the fact that, really, people who say such things are not necessarily wrong. It is indeed totally possible that you’ve left an important spice out of your recipe, and thus are not enjoying your beans as you might.

            Except they are wrong, mate. Shamus already explained, through many articles and comments, over many years, that he has already tried all the sauce combinations on beans. He likes none of them, and now he’s requesting people stop constantly suggesting stuff, because he’s not interested.

            If someone has made it clear that they are not interested in trying new suggestions, or the same old suggestions, and you still feel like you’re the special snowflake that can ignore their expressly stated wishes, and thrust your opinion onto them, you are the one in the wrong.

        6. Jason says:

          I work with a guy who hates seafood, people really do use this argument on him.

          “It’s not that you don’t like seafood, you just haven’t had seafood that was prepared correctly!”

          I feel the same way about onions.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            But have you tried chopping up the onions and then frying them? They’re also better if you take the dried-out outer layer off first…

            (No, clearly you’re just eating them raw and unpeeled, like a terrible apple.)

            I can see that people who say this kind of thing can have a point, and that it is often genuinely meant well.
            Nevertheless, it’s fascinating that they don’t see how offensive it can be.

            (Also alarming, because I think I used to do that a lot (and still might, occasionally!)…)

            1. Syal says:

              The only version of onions I’ve liked was a soup with long, very thin strings of onion. Combined with other string vegetables I’ve forgotten, those were good. All other versions have fallen somewhere between tolerable and bad.

              The nice thing about seafood is you can just tell people you’re allergic to it and make them feel like they almost killed you.

              1. Lino says:

                Have you tried caramelized onions? Put those babies in a beef or pork dish, and you’ll eat your fingers out!

                1. Dan Efran says:

                  Literally this. For years I hated onions, thanks in part to McDonalds, where they put stale chopped raw onions on burgers, sometimes even if you ask them not to. For years I told everyone “I hate onions!”

                  Eventually I discovered caramelized onions. Heavenly!

                2. Syal says:

                  Maybe. If it’s the one I’m thinking of where you cook them until they have that boneless texture where they drape over things, those are tolerable. They don’t subtract from the dish but they don’t add to it either, the meat’s doing the heavy lifting. It’s like thick air.

                3. Jason says:

                  I don’t like carmelized onions. I can’t even eat raw onions. For real. I will gag on them. Something about the taste and the crunch. I will literally pick every raw onion out of a sandwich/salad/etc before eating it.
                  Soggy onions in soup, I can eat, but I wouldn’t say I love them. I kind of like onion rings, but if the onion pulls out, I won’t eat it, I will just eat the breading and toss the onion.

                  For some reason, I am actually OK with sauteed onions at a hibachi place like Benihana. However, it’s much easier and safer to ask for no onions than to ask for onions that are prepared in a way that I might tolerate.

          2. jpuroila says:

            To be entirely fair, “seafood” is a pretty big category. It’s entirely conceivable for someone to only hate MOST seafood.

            Of course, the fact that they MIGHT be right only makes it more annoying when they aren’t.

            1. Bubble181 says:

              Yup. I used to say I didn’t like fish, at all. Turns out, my mom is a great cook…but really can’t make any fish dish. I’m not a huge fan, but there’s plenty of fish I really like.

              1. Steve C says:

                Lol. Ditto. I also had my mom’s cooking in mind with Dan’s point.

              2. jpuroila says:

                I actually had a similar discussion with an online friend, recently. He doesn’t like potatoes, but it’s because when he was growing up, his parents would only feed him boiled potatoes. And like, yeah, but that’s basically the most boring, least tasty way of cooking potatoes.

              3. Lino says:

                That’s actually very common, I’ve discovered. Fish is tricky, turns out. Probably because they’re very delicate and it’s extremely easy to mess it up.

  19. Brisbe says:

    I’m definitely in the ‘Won’t play Dark Souls’ camp. My own personal experience with this has been talking with the zealots about these two linked things. 1) I like playing co-op games. 2) I dislike forced PvP.

    They are quick to tell me, sometimes in back to back sentences, that Dark Souls is both a cooperative game, and not meant to be a cooperative game, and that the PvP is not forced, but that it if you want to play the game cooperatively, then dealing with forced PvP is the price you pay.

    It is enough to make a robot’s head explode.

  20. Abnaxis says:

    I’ve actually been wanting to send in a question to the Diecast about difficulty in game design, but every time I’m closer to doing it I stop myself with “but then we’re going to get sidetracked with Dark Souls and I know Shamus hates that…”

    1. ivan says:

      Well now’s the time. We have the shorthand response necessary. We can do this, we have the technology, something something.

  21. EOW says:

    From now on, till the day i die, whenever asked how to pass a hard section of a game i will always answer “just point the bright side of the monitor to your face”

    1. Lino says:

      I pray to all the Gods I know that you don’t work in Tech Support, and that if you do, I never run into you :D

  22. Matt says:

    I’ve had this experience with the HBO show Rome, but from the opposite side. I love Rome. It’s probably my favorite tv show of the 2000s, even over shows that I think are better made or more important (like the Sopranos or The Wire). I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the dialogue, I love the story. If I had the choice between more Firefly and more Rome, well, I know what I’d choose.

    For a while, I wanted everyone to watch it. I showed it to my girlfriend (later wife) and all of my friends. I lent the DVDs to people. For the most part, folks liked it, but were never as enthusiastic about it as I was. “Rome” is a punchline in our house for when someone tries to make something happen that’s just not gonna happen.

    I did have one good friend that just didn’t like it. He got through 2-3 episodes and just didn’t care if he ever saw any more. For a while, I pestered him about this and was sure that he was just not giving it a chance or not paying attention or just watching it wrong. I’m sure that I annoyed him, but eventually I got the hint and just stopped bringing it up. If it came up in conversation, I stopped proselytizing for it. Maybe my enthusiasm for it waned, or I just grew up a little, or there were just other new things to talk about. I remain friends with the guy, despite the egregious failure of taste that he perpetuates. The only time it comes up now is when a colleague or new acquaintance asks for a recommendation for a show. “Have you tried Rome?” I always ask, a twisted smile creeping across my face…

    1. John says:

      Rome really is pretty darned good, but I wouldn’t expect it to be to everyone’s taste. I would not have been nearly so invested in the show if I hadn’t taken Latin in high school and weren’t the kind of guy who reads Plutarch’s Lives for fun.

  23. OldOak says:

    If you don’t like it, you’re wrong.

    No argument here, I’m wrong, and that’s how I like it!

    1. Philadelphus says:

      And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right!

  24. Kris says:

    Wow guy says he doesn’t like playing DarkSouls but somehow he got Quelaag to go on a date with him!
    And shes even hoping for a second one!

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      Just because he doesn’t like playing the game, doesn’t mean he can’t “play” the game, wink.

    2. RFS-81 says:

      Why has no one made a dating sim with Dark Souls bosses as anime girls yet? Come on, Japan!

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        People skipped the dating sim part and went straight to the porn images.

      2. Dalisclock says:

        This does feel like an untapped market. So much MOE!

        Hell, the Dancer in DS3 is already mostly there.

        Lady Maria is pretty much there.

        Vicar Amelia…..oh, wait, PlagueOfGripes already did that one.

  25. Karma The Alligator says:

    the Fortress of Falling Into a Pit Every Ten Goddamn Steps. And only an idiot would leave out the Valley of Skeleton Guys that Nearly One-Shot You With a Bullshit Lunge Attack. At the very least, the Church of What Keeps Hitting Me FUCK FUCK FUCK SHIT

    Great names, but you forgot the Caves of WHERE’S THE GODDAMN FLOOR? Always been my least favourite area.

    That was a great read, made me laugh a lot, and made me want to rewatch Red Dwarf.

  26. Syal says:

    Bought Bloodborne to justify my PS4 purchase ($100 from a defaulted storage shed, good stuff). Thought “Well, I don’t expect to like it, but I’ll gain a few levels and see if I can just bruteforce my way through.”

    Turns out Bloodborne locks the level-up system behind progress; you have to reach the first boss before you can raise stats. My inital goal of “level up one time” took eight hours of gametime, and was obviously extremely underwhelming once I got it. Haven’t played since.

    1. Hector says:

      I know there are two ways around killing a boss to level up in Bloodbourne. But I see exactly what you mean because it’s both an unnecessary limitation and rather confusing to new players, especially as it’s arguably the toughest part of the game.

      1. Syal says:

        Oh I didn’t kill the boss, just reached it and died to it once.

  27. Lazlo says:

    One thing I’m curious about is, from what I’ve heard you say about it (I’ve never played the game myself), the primary thing you don’t like about it is the combination of difficult gameplay with a brutally long DIAS loop. So, do you think that, if Dark Souls were re-written / changed / modded such that death only pushed you back to right before *this particular combat* section started, do you think you’d be, if not a fan, at least able to enjoy the game? Or even given that, is it just not your thing?

    1. Shamus says:

      At that point, it would be a lot like Batman. I’d be all over that.

      1. V says:

        Have you considered trying Sekiro? While it does have the same “restart from checkpoint” system as Dark Souls or Bloodborne, it’s somewhat more forgiving, because:

        a) Death is not immediate failure. You can get multiple attempts before being sent back.
        b) With the game’s heightened mobility, getting back to where you were before is a lot easier. Enemies can be easily skipped in most cases.
        c) Most of the bosses, which are the places where you’re really going to be stuck in that die-retry loop, are directly adjacent to a respawn point, requiring only a very short run-back with few to no enemies in the way (and enemies can be easily avoided thanks to the game’s better mobility). For instance, there’s a very tough boss at the end of the first act, took me a lot of retries, but the run-back was “you run out of a window, press grapple twice, and you’re back in the fight”. There’s no run-back anywhere in Dark Souls that’s so short.

        I certainly never felt that the game was punishing me in the way Dark Souls did, even though some of the bosses were blisteringly hard.

        1. Trevor says:

          Should we add “Dark Souls cultist post” to the Twenty Sided drinking game?


          1. V says:

            Hey, in my defence, Shamus expressed that he would be interested in “Dark Souls but more forgiving”, and I felt that that roughly applied to Sekiro.

            I guess alternatively there’s this quicksave mod for Dark Souls?


            No idea how easy to install or how reliable it is but if you can get it working then that at least partially accounts for the issue Shamus has with the game.

            1. Trevor says:

              Yes, but surely you see the humor in you making a comment that says “Have you tried playing [This FromSoftware Game]?” to an article titled “Stop Asking Me to Play Dark Souls”?

            2. corsair says:

              Sekiro is not more forgiving than Dark Souls. Sekiro makes Dark Souls look easy.

              1. V says:

                Depends what you mean by forgiving. The combat’s harder, but when you die, it’s quicker to get back into it.

                1. Benden says:

                  Which might be fine for Shamus, who loves mastering difficult beaty mechanics.

              2. Dalisclock says:

                Sekiro is easier in some ways but much harder in others. The levels and run to the bosses are far easier due to stealth and the grappling hook but the bosses can be way harder.

                You’re a ninja and expected to play as one and upgrades are mostly gated behind bosses and mini-bosses, so you can’t just grind stats if a boss is giving you too much grief(and there’s no summoning, but also no invasions). The most flexibility you get are the shinobi tools which can make some bosses far easier.

                I admit I had to really adject to blocking/parrying because I got through DS/DS2 with pretty much never blocking during boss battles, because it rarely felt like it was worth it. It does tend to suffer from the DS2 problem where a lot of mini-bosses feel copy-pasted.

                But if you don’t like Souls, it’s unlikely Sekiro is gonna totally make you change your mind.

        2. Rack says:

          The problem is to compensate for that Sekiro requires far more skill than Dark Souls. I was able to beat most of the bosses in Dark Souls first try, there was only one (Capra Demon) that gave me a lot of trouble. But I couldn’t beat the first boss in Sekiro if I lived to be a million.

      2. Nimrandir says:

        I think this came up last year, but did you ever try Monster Hunter World?

    2. GoStu says:

      I love the term DIAS Loop and will now begin using it.

      1. Trevor says:

        My tolerance for DIAS Loops has completely evaporated over the years. I used to love the SNES/Genesis era platformers which required perfect timings through the entire level and you maybe got one save point halfway through the level. But, of course, I was a kid then and the only limit on my time was bedtime.

        Cut to last year, playing the end of Control where in the final stages you have to fight your way up a pyramid/tower. Each level of the pyramid has a fairly difficult fight on it. You can very easily die on the first couple of levels. And if you die, you go all the way back to the bottom of the pyramid, so you need to do a single run up the thing without dying to proceed. This section frustrated me to the point where I stopped playing the game for a couple of weeks.

        I don’t know if it’s just me getting older and with more demands on my time and so I want a more forgiving game experience, but the needing to start over and DIAS really rankles. I still love getting good at a game and learning the systems and mastering them, but have almost no patience for the need for near-perfection over an extended period of time.

        1. Joshua says:

          It was interesting having a subscription to the NES online on our Switch and getting to replay many old titles. I quickly discovered I had a low tolerance for these kind of mechanics or games in my 40s, with more restrictions on my time. Plus, there’s just a lot less of a sense of obligation to grind through the challenge to master a certain game now that I’m older, as I just don’t care to the same extent. If I’m not having fun, I won’t continue.

  28. Christopher says:

    Hahah, it’s been a while since I’ve grinned this much at a good rant. Very much a justified one at this point.

  29. tmtvl says:

    As a big fan of Dark Souls 2, I apologize at behest of the community. Sorry that most of us are terrible wrongheaded doofuses.

    But yeah, I hate that the Souls community is basically the Python community of video games. It is a real turn off, and may be part of the reason why I haven’t felt like playing any of the souls games in a while.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      Dark Souls 2 is exactly the sequel I wanted. More Dark Souls but with a better PC version. It isn’t as inter-connected, nor as holistically ‘complete’ as DS1 but for what it is worth, Dark Souls 2 is a charming game.

      I can understand why people are annoyed by the perceived lack of ‘gamified’ low light (dark) environments, since it would have been cool and spooky to have them, and it does feel as if fans were misdirected via marketing.

      Dark Souls 2 also has some really good bosses. The DLC bosses are great, and even going back to Dark Souls 1, I am reminded by how clunky everything can feel in DS1.

      Dark Souls 2 is a workman-like sequel, that pathed the way for the action-focused sequel in Dark Souls 3 that is both interesting and feels great to play.

      If Dark Souls 1 is Diablo, Dark Souls 2 is a bit like that RPG Titan Quest in the way that it mixes aesthetic themes, heroes journey, mythical monsters, while also feeling good to play. Dark Souls 2 is also like if somebody mashed Clash of The Titans, Planet of The Apes, and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, and I like it. Mejula’s music is nice, and game can look pretty. Everything just works.

  30. krellen says:

    I was fully in until that Leisure Suit Larry screenshot yanked me out. I couldn’t help but think “That poor woman! What is she doing there? Is her kink rejecting drunken schlubs?”

    1. Duoae says:

      By statistical probability, it has to be someone’s kink! :/

  31. Milo Christiansen says:

    I’m not the kind of person who enjoys games like Dark Souls. I know I wouldn’t have fun.

    Still, the reason I won’t even try it is the fans. Nothing makes my contrarian little heart hate something like a horde of rabid fans.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      I got Dark Souls because it was cheap on an Amazon sale on PC back in. 2013, and I played it because I heard it had an interesting combat system. I had started to get irritated by First Person games because they were constantly trying to chase new hardware and graphics that could not run on my PC. Therefore I started playing a lot of Third Person games.

      Also, I didn’t like Skyrim’s combat much and was becoming less interested in the ‘experience’ of a video game, and looking towards challenge. Dark Souls did manage to mix both experience and challenge in a way that I enjoyed.

      I didn’t think I would like it. I thought Dark Souls was going to be a cheap, crappy gimmick of a game with a worse PC port and that it would be really hard and that I would hate it. But somehow it gripped me to the end. It is a game that you can play over a long period of time – like a big book you read infrequently. I poured time into a third person game that I would usually reserve for strategy games like Civ/Xcom and Paradox titles. I could chip away at Dark Souls. It didn’t purport to have deeper ’emotional’ engagements or AI gimmicks. It was an old school metroidvania style game that I didn’t know I ever liked (until Skyrim’s ‘roller-coaster’ dungeons with convenient exit made me realise I did). You can get invested in the world of Dark Souls because it is kind of like a strategy game and it does not impose too much narrative. It can be treated procedurally. And it is like an MMORPG but you don’t have to pay for a subscription, and you know that the content does not require a 40-man raid.

      But I also had similar thoughts about Resident Evil 4 – I thought it was going to be bad, since I had particular ideas about what games were supposed to be, but I keep very much changing my definition of what I like and what I play. Of course, much of it is defined by what is available. I’m fairly flexible when it comes to genres etc.

  32. Karma The Alligator says:

    What do you think about the opposite problem? When you’re on a forum or whatever, talking with fellow fans about a game you all enjoy, but get a constant flow of people who are known to hate the game yet still waste their time coming in and making posts about how much the game sucks, and why you’re idiots for liking it, even years later?

    1. ccesarano says:

      Not that bad, I’m not called an idiot for enjoying it, but I’m on a forum where the majority of the user-base has basically decided they think Darksiders is a bad game. This is frustrating to me in particular because I watched nearly all of them in a game club thread knock it down to Easy so they could stop dying, and then complained about how the combat was very boring.

      It made my eye twitch, because if you’re dying that much then you’re probably not making good use of your abilities like Blade Geyser, probably not using the parry mechanic and are relying too heavily on dodge, and aren’t swapping weapons based on number and type of enemies. Which sounds an awful lot like people discussing Dark Souls, doesn’t it?

      Which is part of why the Dark Souls cultists get me sighing as well. It’s not like From is doing anything that new with its mechanics. If anything, they’re slowing everything down in the Souls games. They just add all kinds of other stuff in that, sure, makes it fun for certain people, but I’d rather play faster paced action games myself.

    2. Kathryn says:

      I’ve yet to meet another person who actually liked FFXIII…

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        Funny, that’s actually one of the games I meant. Me and a few others are talking about it, what we like, what we don’t, trying to help others who try the game, giving tips and all that, then some hater will come in on the discussion and post a few hate posts out of nowhere.

        1. Kathryn says:

          That doesn’t surprise me at all…seen it too many times. I liked it a lot. Not saying it’s the world’s greatest game or anything, but I enjoyed it.

      2. Chad Miller says:

        The problem FFXIII is that many people justifiably get bored somewhere in the 30 hour tutorial and wander off without ever feeling like they actually got into the game. I do wonder how much more people would have liked it if they had gotten to “the real game” in any reasonable period of time.

        1. Geebs says:

          The problem isn’t even the 30 hours tutorial, it’s that the ways in which the characters are grouped and level up through the campaign, and the synergies between them, mean that at the end you’re left with a binary choice of either Team Awesome or Team Suck.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            Haha, “Team Suck” is exactly what I called Sazh and Vanille when I was playing through the game.

            But really that’s part of what I consider to be “stuck in the tutorial” by series standards. I consider there to be basically three thresholds in a Final Fantasy game where you can consider yourself to be playing the “real game”:

            * You have access to the bulk of the game’s mechanics
            * You have free access to end-game travel and can freely navigate the map
            * You can choose your party at will (if applicable to the game in question)

            I think Final Fantasy XIII is unique among the entire series in that it delays all three until the very endgame. I mean the game is split into 13 chapters and getting to “the full game” by these standards starts somewhere around the end of chapter 9 when it finally lets you choose a party leader for the first time. It splits the party, sometimes without even any logic to it. It puts off most of the summons until the endgame, and locks most characters out of most roles for an unreasonable amount of time.

            The whole segment in the junkyard is especially bad about this, as it has four characters travelling together but doesn’t want you to choose your party yet, so it shuffles your roster around pretty much at whim and has Lightning throw a tantrum solely so she can storm off, but only temporarily. Then at the end Lightning gets a summon, uses it for one battle, then says “okay now Hope is party leader” and because the game won’t let you reorder your party yet, you can’t use Odin, Just Because.

            I liked the game well enough to finish it, but I’ve been playing Final Fantasy since the very first one. I can’t imagine how I would have reacted if it were my introduction to the series.

            1. Karma The Alligator says:

              To be fair, chapters 9 to 13 represent more than 50% of the game.

              I find it weird how many people complain that the tutorial is 30 hours, yet they often don’t actually learn from it (hell, even people who have played the game several times don’t know that SAB is nearly a good as COM at stabilising the stagger gauge while increasing it more, making the parts with only Sazh and Vanille a lot easier than most people find). I wonder if it’s something to do with people barely paying attention to tutorials because they “know how to play games”, or because it’s too spread out (for the record, I agree chapter 3-8 take too long)? Or both?

              The splitting up and change in leaders is also there to teach you how to use each role and how each character differs even when they have the same role.

              I’m starting to sound like the zealot from the article, aren’t I?

              I can’t imagine how I would have reacted if it were my introduction to the series.

              You might have enjoyed it more, since you wouldn’t have expectations from previous entries.

              1. ivan says:

                That sounds like a bad tutorial. 30 hours (or whatever), and doesn’t actually teach the player things. Maybe they should have an optional tutorial on the main menu, completely divorced from the campaign, and cut the first 30 hours of the campaign to the main story beats.

                Honestly, sectioning off a tutorial mode isn’t a bad thing – it lets the player go back and refresh themselves on mechanics, without having your game littered with redundant tutorial prompts, as well (Rockstar, and many others). Also, it lets the player go back and refresh themself on mechanics, at will. Certainly sounds better than what you got.

                1. Karma The Alligator says:

                  Thing is, people call it a tutorial because you don’t get all to use all the game mechanics, but it’s not like the whole thing is an actual tutorial. You also get reminders of the tutorials in the datalog (equivalent to the Mass Effect codex).

        2. Dreadjaws says:

          The problem with this and any game is that whenever someone doesn’t like it the fans instantly try to come up with unreasonable motives for it.

          – “Oh, you were playing it wrong.”
          – “Oh, you didn’t play it enough.”
          – “Oh, you spent too much time in the less fun area of the game.”

          – Etc, etc.

          I’m not saying you’re doing it, but in almost any discussion where someone mentioned liking the game one of the very first things they’ve done is try to find reasons for why people who don’t like it are wrong.

          Objectively speaking, FFXIII is a terrible game (or, at the very least, a terrible RPG). It takes too long to learn to play yet it’s so easy that you can literally play it with your eyes closed. Its story is a bungled mess and major plot points are relegated to its codex. Its character progression is an illusion and every single character with dialogue is a complete imbecile. The majority of the game is entirely linear, and it does take about 30 hours for that to change but when it “opens up” it’s only to allow you to engage in a bunch of nearly identical fetch quests, as the main story is still strictly linear with no branching paths of any kind.

          That doesn’t mean that people can’t subjectively enjoy it. I mean, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an objectively terrible movie and I love it. But I don’t see the point in refusing to accept different opinions.

      3. Nimrandir says:

        Hi. I’m Phil, and I actually like Final Fantasy XIII. I mean, it’s not the best game in its franchise, because it can’t retroactively make FFIX cease to exist. However, I rank it higher than FFVIII on my series tier list.

        Oddly enough, the dearth of likable characters made me embrace the combat system. Once I finally had full party control, I loved wandering around Gran Pulse for marks. Heck, I even got a semester-long classroom exercise out of analyzing some of the item drop rates.

    3. Shamus says:

      It is only through the constant application of self-control that I am able to avoid becoming THAT asshole. I recently had to leave the Mass Effect subreddit because there was a huge thread gushing about what an awesome and brilliant character the Illusive Man is. I tried to read it with an open mind and the frustration was so intense I almost had to write another novel. (I left the reddit to protect myself, not to punish the people who like TIM.)

      Haters that want to convince you to hate something you love are probably overall worse than the overzealous fans. I mean, I can understand wanting someone else to love what you love. If it worked, you’d be sharing your joy with them!

      But what is there to be gained by making someone hate the stuff they love? (Which is probably impossible, but whatever.) You’ve just reduced the overall happiness of the world, and for what?

      I try hard to frame my praise / criticism as an explanation for WHY I feel the way I do, rather than as a sales pitch for joining my strange worldbuilding-obsessed cult. I’ll let others decide how well I pull it off.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        Relax. Everyone is basically talking about Resident Evil now anyway, because it is the Dark Souls of the 90s, with its own extremely strong fanbase.

      2. DaveMc says:

        I haven’t listened to the “Fear the Boot” podcast in so long that I don’t even know if it’s still a going concern, but your comment about not making people hate things they love reminds me of a saying I learned from them: “There is no wrong, bad fun”. Like whatever you find fun, and who’s to say that you’re not allowed? (With the obvious caveats about everyone consenting to the fun, etc, but they were talking tabletop RPGs where people can rarely be forced to participate against their will. Though that’s a funny/horrifying thought. “I don’t want to play this druid, I just want to sleep!” “Shut up and roll!”)

      3. Karma The Alligator says:

        But what is there to be gained by making someone hate the stuff they love? (Which is probably impossible, but whatever.) You’ve just reduced the overall happiness of the world, and for what?

        Hope I’m wrong, but I can imagine that for some people, they see it as getting rid of something that’s insulting their values.
        Or, they’re miserable and want to spread the feeling (stop having fun!), and they’re in fact raging everywhere (although I imagine moderators would cut that short in forums).

        Either way, it’s baffling.

        I try hard to frame my praise / criticism as an explanation for WHY I feel the way I do, rather than as a sales pitch for joining my strange worldbuilding-obsessed cult. I’ll let others decide how well I pull it off.

        Well, I never got the feeling you’re criticising something just to hate on it, so I’d say you’re doing it right.

      4. Grimwear says:

        Oh my god so recently I was curious about what people deemed “game of the decade” so I googled it and I believe it was a random Forbes article where right near the top is Mass Effect 2 and 3. Now to be fair he spends most of it talking about the controversy behind the end of 3 and how it “taught him how to be a better reviewer” but then finishes off saying it’s an amazing trilogy and that clearly 2 is the absolute best in the series. And I’m just over here yelling at my screen going WHAT? I think it was Smudboy who did a certain Mass Effect plot analysis but my favourite moment was during 3 and all the times some event would occur that made him say “proving once again, what was the point of Mass Effect 2?”

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          Mass Effect 2’s legendary status is based on EA Marketing and because it happened to crib lots of the features that gamers at the time got and expected from other games, namely Cover Based Shooting With Chest High Walls.

          Mass Effect, even as a concept in works, was over-hyped from the outset. It is like Alan Wake (itself generating articles of insane ambition over the sheer ‘brilliance’ of Directx10) but for RPGs.

          The reason why it is apparent that Mass Effect was going to end in disappointment was due to the simple rule of: What goes up, must come down.

          Almost everything was over-hyped during the 360 era. It was also apparent that Mass Effect was Bioware’s attempt to make their own version of Star Wars, after KOTOR.

          What is interesting about the phenomen is that people describe The Banner Saga as having ‘the Biowafe charms’, and that is probably because it was made by some ex Bioware employees who could probably see how EA was drifting more to ‘Corporate-Slick’ status that we are familiar with today.

          The criteria for a ‘good’ game is getting enough people to like it, and during the 360/PS3 era, there were simply more prospective customers around to like the ‘last time, but bigger’ versions of games that presumably some of the audience had no frame of reference for. It was easy to get people to like things that had bigger marketing budgets (and High Definition features due to more powerful hardware).

          It was really a fluke that I played KOTOR, and that it was a good Star Wars game, back when renting games for your original Xbox was an option, and I played the Star Wars games. So, when Mass Effect brings really the same design as KOTOR to the table (Three main worlds, plot twist, final mission etc), but then pretends that it is something wildly different, you can’t help but notice all the hyperbole never matched with reality. And Huxley and Prey 2 never came out. Fable 1 did not let you grow a tree from an acorn.

          Mass Effect 1 is KOTOR+, whereas Mass Effect 2 tried to lean more towards the action-shooter market because Gears of War (and ofc Resident Evil 4).

          Same goes for GTA4. I think people imagine that game as being much more engaging than it actually is – kind of a Bethesda ‘Radiant AI’ type boast that fails to radiate, but you convince yourself that you can feel it anyway.

          1. John says:

            I still haven’t played Mass Effect and likely never will, but as long as it’s Being Reductive About Bioware Games time:

            Knights of the Old Republic is basically Neverwinter Nights plus. Neverwinter Nights is very, very “three main worlds, plot twist, final mission”, not least because all three of the original campaign’s acts are structured that way. (Also, Bastila is definitely Aribeth as a Jedi.) So Knights of the Old Republic is Neverwinter Nights plus, whereas Mass Effect tried to lean more towards the action-shooter market because–well, you get the idea.

            Now, someone do Jade Empire.

            1. Preciousgollum says:

              I did own Neverwinter Nights 1 when NWN2 originally came out (bundled together) and I played a bit of it. Mostly some of the extra mod content that the game became famous for, so I don’t really know much about the campaign structure.

              And, if KOTOR I’d like NWN1 and Mass Effect is also like KOTOR, my point is that Bioware clearly had a track designed in mind, but the era of gaming at the time was about promising MUCH more than what had ever came before. So, for people who never played KOTOR or NWN1, Mass Effect is either brilliant or abysmal, depending on whether you meet the criteria of being a fan of RPGs and space settings. That is about it.

              However, for people who DID happen to play KOTOR and found it to be a decent Star Wars game, and hear that this thing called Mass Effect is being made, and is going to be Next Gen(tm), then I think people probably cannot help but be disappointed when they see the same cliché or quirks between the titles, because you are playing Mass Effect under high expectations, when most of us probably played KOTOR under low expectations. It is easier to surpass low expectations, than it is to meet or surpass the high expectations.

              Take Bioshock for example. For some people, it was an immersive, artistic triumph of a game with environmental storytelling etc etc. For the likes of me, it was over-hyped and gave illusions of being an open world FPS, when it turns out to be structurally similar to any other previous FPS game. It also tells players where to travel, and doesn’t let them die, and thus removes any survival horror tension. For people who knew the lineage and expected System Shock 3, they got a dumbed down version that seemingly had less features than older games.

              Resident Evil 5 vs 4 is also a good example of expectations. Nobody expected RE4 to be good. Even the fans of Resident Evil (myself) thought that the series was beginnin to wear away its welcome. So, RE4 was actually good, but it was also really, really weird. It is almost entirely self contained and leaves little narrative room for a sequel, despite being a game play formula that people craved another iteration of.

              Enter Resident Evil 5. It has all that marketing talk about ‘Fear The Daylight’. It has rumours about how being in the sun for too long will cause the player to . Expectations for new mechanics and a new feel. Next Gen(TM)…

              … but what we got was a game that feels like a HD content pack for RE4 but with co-op. It is… OK. But the marketing was, to some extent, better than the actual game. That’s also the case with Mass Effect 2. I love-hate Mass Effect 1. ME2 is just… ME1 with all the risks sanded down. It is meh. I didn’t hate playing it to completion. I just saw gameplay segments that felt as if they belonged in a different game. The combat system feels bolted on. ME2 is a soft reboot for people who didn’t play ME1. It killed off the player in order to give them new types of stats.

              Mass Effect 3… however… I haven’t completed. I played it, and kind of looked forward to at least finishing ‘The Mass Effect Trilogy” because the gunplay was… adequate. Narratively, it tried to do things to goad me emotionally, which I find stupid. So I seemingly stopped playing it and apparently have not resumed.

              I think you have to be in the mood to play a nuts-and-bolts cover based shooter (something like Spec Ops: The Line or Army of Two) in order to play Mass Effect 2.

        2. Ayrshark says:

          ME2 was an improvement over ME1 in two (somewhat major) ways. First, characters are far better than ME1 in nearly every way. Companions in ME1 often felt rather boring and lacking in personality to the point where they don’t really stand out all that much. Meanwhile, ME2 made them more vibrant and interesting while also acting in a professional manner when they’re on the job (which is where the ME:A companions completely dropped the ball). Second, the gunplay was a massive improvement over the previous iteration. They just felt better to shoot. Sadly, biotics felt like a massive downgrade as ME2 is the start of having to do combos in order to come anywhere near feeling like they’re decent and the different barrier types (shields, armor, barriers) preventing you from just using whichever ability you wanted pretty much killed a lot of the fun they were to play as you could no longer really throw a charging Krogan or lift a room of baddies. Also, adding ammo to guns in the form of heatsinks was just dumb. Oh, and companions also had their damage reduced to half of yours to make you feel like you’re the badest ass instead of part of a badass squad. Still, the massive improvement to characters (they actually feel like they have character now and less like lore-dump machines) and the improvement to gunplay helped people ignore the issues with the story and the complete neutering of biotics. I’d also imagine a large amount of people started with ME2 and didn’t have ME1 to compare it to.

          1. Preciousgollum says:

            Agreed. If Call of Duty is the Coca-Cola of video games, then Mass Effect 2 was the Pepsi.

            Sometimes, games are out at the right time, with the right marketing budget, all-encompassing features, and the largest, broadest audience to draw from. And that is how they become remembered as having ‘legendary’ status.

            Compared to ME1, Mass Effect 2 basically went Hollywood.

            1. Ninety-Three says:

              Mass Effect 1 sold 3.5 million copies. Mass Effect 2 sold 4.5 million copies. Most of the increase is accounted for by PS3 sales, since ME1 wasn’t available on that console. Their audience was the same.

      5. Shirdal says:

        I would argue that the toxic fan and the toxic hater are more alike than not. My interpretation of the toxic fan is that they don’t just love the Thing, they hate YOU for NOT loving the Thing, and even for not loving it exactly the same way as they do. At that point, it’s less about sharing the joy in something, and more about trying to coerce others into a cult-like mentality over that Thing That They Love.

        God forbid if you actually played Dark Souls to completion, and even ended liking it a little, but not loving it. To the toxic fan, you are probably STILL wrong, and may as well have not played it at all, because obviously you didn’t get it.

        Toxic haters may be nasty people who try to deny others their source of joy, but in my opinion they are just as bad as those who pour poison into that source of joy out of misguided fanaticism. I have only recently learned in the past few months of just how terrible toxic fandoms can be.

      6. Chad Miller says:

        But what is there to be gained by making someone hate the stuff they love? (Which is probably impossible, but whatever.) You’ve just reduced the overall happiness of the world, and for what?

        There are some people who just want to see the world burn or feel superior to others, true. But I think there’s also the issue that demand for bad things can crowd out demand for the good. I know you’ve made the point that bad writing in the Mass Effect sequels is infuriating specifically because it means you didn’t get to play the Mass Effect sequels you wanted.

        Viewed in this light, this is just a more indirect version of “I want more people to like things I like.” You’ve mentioned in the past that Dark Souls fans cry out about things like Easy Mode because they want “their kind” of game to keep getting made; is it really that different from being salty that “your kind” of game isn’t being made?

        (Not that this is a justification; yelling at people on reddit or blog comment threads won’t get us the next Mass Effect or Fallout. Which is why I actually appreciate your “how I would have done it” segments in some of your recent articles)

        1. Syal says:

          I’ll usually post one snarky opposition to a thing on the grounds that if nobody says they dislike it, new people can get suckered into trying a bad thing. But not on a fan site, because everybody already knows a fan site is going to be biased. If I’m really bothered by the thing I’ll suggest they try something else that I think did the good stuff better, and hope they decide on their own that the old thing isn’t any good.

      7. BlueHorus says:

        I feel you.

        I’m very much at risk of this with some TV shows – when I hear people talking about how clever Game of Thrones (the Show) or Star Trek: Discovery are, I have a kneejerk ‘what the hell is wrong with you?!‘ response, because those show genuinely offend me with their writing and callbacks to things I like that I find much better.

        But I (usually) suppress it and move on, because what’s the point? Ultimately, I don’t have to watch them, it’s just my opinion, and starting an argument on the internet is like lighting a cigarette inside a house fire.

        1. CJK says:

          I wouldn’t do this on any other forum, but this is 20 Sided. How bad could it go?

          Tell me: what’s so bad about Star Trek: Discovery?

          Because I don’t get the hate, and I say that as a person who absolutely loathes Into Darkness for the ways it breaks the Star Trek setting.

          1. Daimbert says:

            Well, as someone who has watched both seasons and has decided not to come back for season three for a number of reasons, here’s what I see in the complaints:

            1) Discovery is the first Star Trek show/movie to be pretty much focused on one character. No other character has been as prominent in Star Trek as Michael was from the beginning. Yes, there are other characters that get time and that are liked, but Discovery is primarily Michael’s story and told mostly from her perspective. This is something that Star Trek fans are going to look askance at.

            2) It’s made worse by the fact that Michael isn’t a particularly interesting character. I’m sure that there are some out there who really like her, but my reaction and the reaction of most people — including Chuck Sonnenberg, who has been doing Star Trek for ages — is that she’s at best a bit dull. Focusing on her, then, leaves us watching a character that isn’t that interesting in the primary slot.

            3) This is made worse by the fact that Discovery has tried to shoehorn her into the existing lore by relating her to Spock and Sarek. This is something that Star Trek fans would react to just on its own, but she also ends up changing the dynamic of those relationships. Amanda sometimes feels like she likes Michael more than Spock, and the clash between Sarek and Spock over Spock’s choosing Starfleet over the Vulcan Space Academy is changed as well, making Sarek’s issues at least in part guilt over what he did to her than simply over Spock choosing the non-traditional path. This will of course annoy Star Trek fans, who are KNOWN for those sorts of things annoying them.

            4) The science is insane even by Star Trek standards.

            5) Finally, given the current cultural context raising issues like this is likely to get someone branded as anti-diversity rather than as someone pointing out valid complaints about the show. That garners a reaction. This is only made worse by the fact that due to some of the deliberate decisions the show made the anti-diversity people WERE griping about it.

            I didn’t mind Season 1 (it was better than Enterprise, at least, but not as much fun as Voyager, for all of that show’s flaws) but for me Season 2 sidelined the characters I was interested in and then its ending will make it REALLY difficult to watch Season 3 right after, as the tone is of an ending which it won’t be. I also personally do think that things bend too much for Michael and do so unnecessarily (how does someone who assaulted her captain EVER get back into Starfleet?), which is an indication of bad writing. I don’t hate it, but it’s certainly not good.

          2. Vinsomer says:

            To be honest (and this comes from someone both hyped for the show and very much part of the pro-diversity bandwagon) it really comes down to this:

            Star Trek Discovery is boring.

          3. BlueHorus says:

            Eh, okay…

            So. I like original Trek. Not that much, but it had a very specific format and tone that appealed to me; self-contained episodic stories, a cast that are (mostly) rational adults who behave in consistent and usually believable ways, (not-always-successful) attempts to engage with interesting ideas and philosophical concepts. It could even, sometimes, be cerebral or thought-provoking.

            Meanwhile, Discovery has a continuous story, full of twists and turns, consistently ending episodes on cliffhangers (man do I hate this) that won’t slow down. Character’s actions are more often than not determined by plot requirements (‘Why’s he doing that? That’s really dum- oh, because that sets up the next thing.’) Interesting ideas, massive twists and utterly revolutionary technologies are picked up, invented and then discarded almost instantly.

            It feels kind of like someone is connecting the dots between set-pieces with little-to-no care for consistency. It’s a matter of tone or (if you’re a 20sided veteran), plot collapse.

            Two defining things about ST:D for me:

            – Season 1, ‘I’m going to cut off one of its claws’. A side character dies a completely avoidable death by trying something insanely risky that she knows won’t work in order to find the answer to a question that a 3-yr-old could have worked out. It’s actually kind of hilarious.
            Sadly, the show treats this as a tragedy rather than natural selection at work, and gives her a funeral full of misplaced EMOTSHUNALL DRAMA.

            – Season 2: ‘No, not Robot-Face!’: Another side character dies, and at the very last minute the writers realised she had had LITERALLY NO CHARACTERIZATION up until that point. So they crammed in all her personality into the episode she died as if we were supposed to care.

            As a schlocky space action show, it’s fine. Whatever. But what I hate is that it’s just full of callbacks, references, music and characters* from the original series(es?). It even (like Game of Thrones) will occasionally congratulate itself on being clever, usually when doing something astoundingly dumb.
            That’s what irritates me the most; so much of what I don’t like, masquerading as the Trek I do like.

            Anyway, TL;DR? Here’s a RedLetterMedia short that captures a lot of what I don’t like.

            *Don’t even get me started on bringing back a 79-year-old Patrick Steward for a Picard spin-off in this vein…

            1. CJK says:

              Thank you for the comprehensive and polite response!

              There are some things here I hadn’t considered – for instance, I just assume that all new series are intended to be binged as 12 hour movies at this point, so the cliffhangers didn’t bother me at all. I suppose if I’d watched week to week in the traditional format I would have had a different experience.

              I’ll certainly grant that Discovery is pretty dumb and the pseudoscience even sillier than most Trek. But I thought most of the character writing was effective. I like it in a very Mass Effect 2 kind of way….yep, this is dumb, and not really what I signed on for, but moment to moment there’s some neat stuff here.

      8. ivan says:

        I always take it as, “this thing was done poorly, here’s how and why, any developers or creators passing through and reading this, please do better in the new stuff you make”. Or, in simpler terms, constructive criticism.

      9. Higher_Peanut says:

        > But what is there to be gained by making someone hate the stuff they love?

        To speculate wildly: I think part of it might be that there is only a limited amount of anything being produced and a production with a budget is going to be directed at what is popular. There may be an element of trying to get people to call for the “correct” thing.

        That and the general case that no one is allowed to be “wrong” on the internet.

    4. Preciousgollum says:

      I actually find it a problem when other fans gush over a thing that I like, and praise it with hyperbole, because it creates unrealistic expectations.

      It is kind of the metaphor of having an ex-partner, and you meet their new love interest. That new interest taking about how absolutely great your ex-partner is, and all the great things about them. And you know they’re not strictly true, because you know your ex partner well enough.

      Basically, fandom disparity, leading to a contest of adoration.

      Sometimes, listening to sweet-nothings about a video game seems to save time and energy in lieu of actually (re)playing whichever video game is currently great under the lens of nostalgia, but other times it comes across as:

      A: “You know [insert game here] is really great.”

      B: “Yea, that’s why I played it and was a fan of it back in the day when we had to take more risks on game purchases due to limited information – I was pleasantly surprised and perhaps told some people how pleasantly surprised I was – it was a relief to have purchased a good game.

      A: Yea, and [insert game] is really great.

      B: Yea, BECAUSE we bought it and informed you it was good. Even if you found it out about the same time, your nostalgia should not be contagious. Reviewers at the time also graded games, so you got the best selection of classics and so job in discerning taste in video games was outsourced.

      A: You know, [insert game] is really great… this is why:

      (insert observations on why game is great, to players who have access to multiple decades of review maerial that told them why game was great at the time).

      B: I KNOW! And so does everybody else who probably didn’t even play the game.

      A: [Insert game] is really great. I’m continually amazed and in awe at how great it is. Somehow, it is great.


      1. Vinsomer says:

        ”I actually find it a problem when other fans gush over a thing that I like, and praise it with hyperbole, because it creates unrealistic expectations.”

        The biggest problem for me is that fandom gushing makes nuanced or critical discussion impossible.

        I do get that some games, books, movies or whatever can genuinely mean a lot to people but for those of us who enjoy discussing things critically it’s kind of impossible to do that when you either get downvoted or dogpiled for being mildly critical.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          Agreed, and implied.

          For example, I like the Resident Evil 2 Remake. It is fine. But fandom makes it difficult to discuss what works and what doesn’t, because of the strange nature of wavering interests. Like how Call of Duty fans hated Infinite Warfare before it even came out, despite the hypocrisy of buying a yearly sequel based on brand loyalty, and usually despite quality.

          … but there always some issues with games. Some of the bosses are only downable under very specific conditions, which are obvious to most players, but it is still a bit stupid under modern game circumstances. They don’t ‘activate’ until they are allowed, meaning that they have infinite HP and God mode on at times, and it does not translate well to the new forms of control that the player has. The game basically hopes that you don’t notice for the purposes of a scripted experience.

          I didn’t mind it so much in The Evil Within, because that was a game about exploring lost concepts and disempowerment in survival horror. The cutting room floor. RE2, however is about shooting monsters and solving puzzles. Biohazard enemis should be bleeding more and taking more damage than they actually do, because they are actually living organisms. The lack of any real variety in the A and B scenarios also doesn’t pay homage to the original RE2. There are also times when the way enemies move and attack, and clip through things, feels cheap and has a ‘gamey’ weightlessness to it that has been a problem in games ever since Empire: Total War (sorry, Total War: Empire) did away with simulated weight in their strategy game engine, and ‘graphics’ became the main talking points.

          Also, RE2 Remake owes much more to The Evil Within than people care to recognise. It doesn’t have ”the best zombie gore ever”, and it makes slight improvements to a game that came out 5 years ago.

          But, people praised the RE2 Remake almost unconditionally because they got to play a game that they never thought would exist, and it tickles the nostalgia. It felt ‘Premium’. The thrill of actually getting the product outweighs much else.

          I think one of the more interesting approaches in ‘toxic fandom’ is to discuss personal reference points for opinion. For me, Infinite Warfare was Top Gun meets Battlestar Galactica (and I haven’t seen Top Gun), and it also tried to be ambitious. Sometimes, I enjoy a Call of Duty on veteran. Pacing, however, is problematic – too fast- , but the unlockable difficulty with limited health might alleviate that issue. Infinite Warfare, did, however, have a couple of bugs, but I hadn’t suffered from future-warfare fatigue due to my last CoD game being Modern Warfare 3. I also got Infinite Warfare for $3 so I really can’t complain.

          I usually don’t like ‘Horror’ and scary things, so give me a gun, or a means to hide, in a game, and that solves my problem. I can totally live with the contradiction of not really liking horror movies, but enjoying survival horror games.

          People’s tastes change. Skyrim should be the best thing ever, but the irony is that Skyrim’s world is more like easy-mode Dark Souls than people realise. The people who hold on to the love of a Bethesda RPG perhaps still believe in the promise of ‘immersive worlds’ and storytelling content with meaningful purpose. But Skyrim can be as lifeless as Dark Souls. Dark Souls kind of deconstructs a lot of the facades that hold up the western ideas behind the RPG, while also ironically trying to be a western action-RPG.

          1. Vinsomer says:

            That’s just it. Fandom gushing is weird in that it has to be vague. People can’t even be specific about what they like because even that minor disagreement is enough to expose the cracks. Never mind that some fans literally believe that you can only be a fan if you give your unquestioning and unconditional support to a game. Being a Mass Effect fan is hard because I hated Andromeda and so many fans blamed those who didn’t like Andromeda for the downfall of the franchise, and still do to this day despite Jason Schreirer exposing the root of the issues lay in Bioware’s (not EA’s) mismanagement and bad working environment.

            But then there are fanbases that are toxic in the opposite direction. Try saying you like Pokemon Sword and Shield and don’t think Dexit is a big issue, or that you don’t mind more Fire Emblem characters in Smash, or that you think Metal Gear Survive is a good game. Even if you make arguments for that (and I suppose there are decent arguments to make… even for Metal Gear Survive) you’re going to get downvoted and dogpiled regardless of how well you make your case. But it is better now, I guess in part because gaming audiences have aged in the past 10 years so there are proportionally more adults who are at least more willing to tolerate disagreement on certain issues – God help you if you ask for an easy mode (though TBH Dark Souls should never have an easy mode). I’m not sure which is worse but I will echo what’s been said elsewhere in this thread – toxic fanboys and toxic haters are essentially the same.

            I haven’t played RE2 (despite getting it with my graphics card – survival horror games aren’t really my thing) but yeah, I do see a lot of fandom gushing and much like Dark Souls, design ‘quirks’ (and that’s a generous way of describing them) that put players off are defended as part of the ‘vision’ of the game, which is another annoying fandom behaviour that I can’t stand (because it makes discussion even more impossible), especially with the games made by developers with auteur status like Miyazaki, Kojima, Ken Levine, etc.

            And a part of me thinks that the reason there was such backlash against Infinite Warfare was it kind of exposed Call of Duty’s formulaic nature. If you can take the game and set it in space in the future and it still mechanically plays almost identically, it’s harder to ignore that you’re getting the same game year after year in different clothes. But then again since MW2 it’s impossible to take that fanbase seriously.

            If there’s one thing I do agree with, it’s Shamus’ point that the Dark Souls fanbase can get (or at least has gotten like this in years past) very annoying with its self-imposed rules and supposedly ‘correct’ way to play the game. No, you don’t have to bow before every fight with an invader/invadee and you can heal/use toxic/weapon degradation/giantdad builds if you want to. No, summoning isn’t cheating or breaking the game, it’s an included mechanic that players are intended to use. Yes, magic makes the game easier in many ways but it’s far from an ‘I win’ button and it does make the game challenging in other ways, especially late game when more magic resistant enemies pop up or when the lower health and stamina come around to bite you in the ass (especially on DS3).

            However I also kinda disagree with the whole ‘it’s impossible to play a game wrong’ argument. Sure, there are optimal ways, but there is mileage between suboptimal and ‘wrong’. Dark Souls tries to teach players the lessons they need to learn through game design and not bespoke or incongruous tutorials and for the most part it does do a good job at that – if a player fails to internalise those lessons, then is that the game’s fault or the player’s? Isn’t it fair to describe me as playing the game ‘wrong’ if I ignore stated objectives and player feedback, like if I drove the wrong way in Mario Kart or played the Witcher without equipping anything? However it’s also fair to point out that Dark Souls doesn’t do a great job of teaching players some of the valuable lessons they need to learn, especially the importance of upgraded gear over levels. But I’ve rambled enough…

            1. Preciousgollum says:

              I’ve said this before in the past that I am one of those people that gets anxious whenever a list of difficulty options appears in a video game.

              I have no idea what type of FUN I am going to have. So, having one difficulty level, and it being ‘reasonable’ does offload a lot of that stress for me. I know it was supposed to be this difficult, and I can judge the design by how difficult it is, and what scenes include the developer pushing their luck too far. I can only do this well if there is a ‘baseline’ difficulty. Most games don’t seem to have this, so they end up with things like turret sections which on Hard Modes are enormously more frustrating than the rest of the game itself.

              If there are many difficulty levels, one might be more balanced, but a section of the game might be poorly designed. Do you judge the game based on the whole difficulty, or the section? Is it enough to simply tell the player to drop the difficulty level at that section – when that might hide the reality that the section itself sucked, or broke aspects of the game rules. Games do this a lot, where they break their own design concessions (RE2 Leon end game boss being an example, where it has an insta-kill animation that is not a grab, and also difficult to run from. Other enemies have insta-kills, but you have defense items to deal with it – except for the last boss – and the attack is mostly scripted – the solution is also somewhat unintuitive – it was the game developers doing their best to try and kill the player right at the end, because they felt like it).

              It is entirely possible to make encounters easier, without making ‘Easy mode’ as an option based on stats etc. More modes that alter enemy placements, different enemy behaviours etc are also really interesting ways of adding and taking away difficulty levels for the interest of both casual and core player, which doesn’t rely simply on 25-50% damage buff etc.

              1. Vinsomer says:

                Yeah, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s being forced to choose something when I don’t have the necessary context to make an informed decision. One game’s normal is another game’s hard, hell, with some games like Devil May Cry, one region’s normal is another region’s hard. I just don’t have the frame of reference so if I’m going to just trust the developer and defer to their judgment, then why even have said difficulty modes to begin with? I’m currently playing Greedfall and it asked me to level up before the game started. It gave me options like alchemy, crafting, lockpicking… I chose crafting, only to discover that you can craft gear that gives you +1 lockpicking or alchemy. If I’d chosen the others, I’d have been so pissed off to learn that it was a wasted point. I needed that information before the choice presented itself.

                The other thing with difficulty levels is I’ve almost never seen them done well enough because most games are designed with a specific difficulty in mind, and then the numbers are just dialed up or down for easier/harder difficulty modes. Take the Witcher 3 for example: I played the main game on death march but when it came to the DLC, death march was nigh impossible as you’d be one shot (two shot if you had quen up) by literally everything, which clearly shows the lack of playtesting. If you ask me to name a game where the hardest difficulty mode was both challenging enough to force players to engage with every system but that didn’t require either requiring ridiculous amounts of grinding or practically perfect play, I’d struggle. Maybe Mass Effect 3, but even then that’s because that game has so much to it beyond combat and the power system works so well.

                Yeah, mixing up enemy placements, making enemies smarter and not just stronger and making them less predictable is something I’ve only ever seen done 3 times: in Dark Souls 2: Scholars of the First Sin, in the Metal Gear games, and in the Pokemon romhack/fangame community. But that’s a lot of work and clearly not every developer wants to put it in, or even really should. Some games are better just at their baseline and extra difficulty should be left to modders. I suppose I’ll also give some credit to Fallout 4’s survival mode which almost works but is hurt badly because the environment and quest design is all built around the ability to fast travel so a no fast travel mode just doesn’t work.

                And I too hate instakills, which is part of the reason I’m not a fan of survival horror. Ramping up the tension like that is par for the course, isn’t it?

                1. Preciousgollum says:

                  Difficulty in . Resident Evil 6, I think, had the option to pick a difficulty level per-player in a co-op session, although I think that ended up affecting how much damage that did to the player, rather than much else – and really, most people play on the same difficulty as their co-op partner.

                  Because Dark Souls is trying to be an online MMO at times, this would also make it difficult to design ‘easy mode’ without splitting the playerbase – the easy mode players would only end up playing with or against other easy mode players. Game difficulty negators can be built into the game. Blasphemous (2019 2D Metroidvania) uses exploration to incentivise empowering the player. Of course, this is all stuff that has been said.

                  OK, so in terms of Survival Horror, there are usually attacks that are more dangerous than the others based on how close you got to an enemy – or they can become insta-kills if your health is already low – Nemesis in RE3 had this situation where he could grab you, and if you had enough health you could actually shake out of it, but lower health meant needing to mash faster.

                  RE2Remake Leon’s final boss, I believe, was specifically designed to try and kill speed runners at the end of their game session, because the devs anticipated how popular the game would become to speedrun. It just so happens it also kills regular players, but they have the advantage of having saved often. It is like a last-minute QTE failure that invalidates the entire run, and is quite brutal. It is not the same as making a scary monster kill you instantly if you get too close.

              2. Dalisclock says:

                Well, Arguably Celeste had a good way of dealing with this. It had an “Assist” mode you could turn on and off at will if you were having problems with the difficulty(and it’s a very difficult game in some spots). Once on, the mode gave you a list of options you could adjust on the fly, ranging from Invincibility, adjusting the number of airdashes you got before having to reset them, or being able adjust the game speed to make some of the platforming/airdashes a bit easier by decreasing how fast your reaction time has to be.

                I used it without feeling shame because I only used it as much as I needed to(often by adjusting the game speed down to 80% or so for some of the really tricky/unforgiving segments.

                One could argue that souls could easily implement a similar system without compromising what makes the game work.

                1. Vinsomer says:

                  Dark Souls is, to paraphrase Miyazaki, meant to evoke a feeling of accomplishment that comes from overcoming challenge.

                  An assist mode, which really is just an ‘I win’ button goes completely against the core of the game’s philosophy. You cannot build a game around challenge and then make that challenge completely optional by giving players the option to completely circumvent it. It may work for Celeste and it may not, I haven’t played it. It may work for many games, but for a game explicitly meant to be challenging it’s completely contrary to the game’s vision.

                  I also remember something interesting that I think one of the XCOM: Enemy Unknown devs said, that it’s part of the job of the developer to prevent the player from ruining their own experience. And it’s easy to see how basically giving the player the ability to make gameplay completely trivial in terms of challenge could lead to them ruining their own experience.

  33. Kamica says:

    *Dark Souls Cultist shows up* “Let me tell you about our lord and saviour Dark Souls and why you’re wrong no matter what you…”
    *Interrupts* “Let me tell you about our lord and saviour Hello Kitty online, and why, if you’re not playing it, you’re missing out and are literally a terrible human being.

    Turn the tables on them with a game they’re unlikely to enjoy =P.

    1. Warlockofoz says:

      Sees Hello Kitty Online.
      Raises Star Fleet Battles Online.
      (no, not Star Trek Online. The boardgame online thingy. The basic rulebook is only 200 pages of A4 small type, scrub….)

      1. Cubic says:

        I did play the board game version of SFB for a while back in the day. It was … an experience, but after a while the rules made sense and fit together pretty well I thought. In spite of there being so many of them. I had a far worse time with Advanced Squad Leader.

        1. Warlockofoz says:

          Heh. Yes, ‘an experience’ is a good way to put it – trying to do with pen and paper in 1980 a lot of things that video games do naturally. I’m actually rather fond of it (and have even made a couple of small contributions to the mass), but I learnt each new bit as it expanded. Not the easiest game to come to cold. I bounced off ASL as well.

        2. Nimrandir says:

          Did you ever try Federation and Empire, the ‘grand strategy’ game based on the in-universe General War? Two friends and I needed roughly an hour to set up one front, after we decided to ignore the others in the interest of time.

          Even better, there’s a variant where each battle is played out as an SFB fleet action. I can only imagine the designers still engaged in their playtest session, decades later.

          1. Warlockofoz says:

            I think F&E has some good ideas but is ridiculously huge, poorly balanced and overall not very interesting. That’s in hindsight, I have several copies in the attic :)

      2. Nimrandir says:

        [suddenly perking up]

        I didn’t know this is a thing. How did I not know this is a thing? Do they have Hydrans? Can I fire hellbores at people again?

        1. Warlockofoz says:

          Yes, it’s a thing. Very definitely the boardgame, online. is the site; there’s a modest membership fee with a limited demo available.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Oh dear. I can’t start looking at this now; I’m up for tenure this year. Seriously, though, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  34. ccesarano says:

    I wonder if this is how some people felt back in ’97 when they said “I don’t really like Final Fantasy VII”. Or perhaps the early Internet days prevented the same degree of haranguing that is ever present today.

    I’ve been in conversation with folks about why, though I like the look of the combat, I’m just not at all excited about the narrative portion of the Final Fantasy VII remake. Final Fantasy is perhaps one of the most important franchises to me, and Final Fantasy VII hit me at the age of 13 and made an enormous impact. I am pretty sure it is my favorite of the series. I’ve played it more than any other entry in the franchise. Yet when I look at the remake, it’s like if George Lucas decided to remake the original Star Wars trilogy. They’re not just remaking the game, they’re trying to reinterpret and reinvigorate its legacy for a new generation, hoping to wow new players just as the original game wowed its old players.

    The problem is that Final Fantasy VII was a very specific game at a very specific time period, and you just cannot recreate that. Heck, it’s why no Star Wars sequel or prequel could have had the same impact as the original films. Something makes an impact because of the time and context in which it released.

    When Demon’s Souls first released, I and a lot of other players saw it and thought “Oh, sweet, games can be challenging again.” Or it was referred to as “old skool difficulty”, reminiscent of the constant repeated attempts demanded by NES games. But there’s a whole generation of players out there that never played anything as difficult as Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls, and therefore it was a revelation to them.

    For these players, it is now a permanent foundation for them of what makes games amazing. Some players, however, can sit there and point out all the disparate elements you can get in other games, even if you can’t get them all in this nice, neat package. But as you say, it’s easy to sit there and see the value in what it does even if you don’t particularly like it.

    But these Cultists aren’t able to see its influences. They’re not able to see alternative methods it could be put together. All they see is a game unlike anything they had played before, and so if you’re not enjoying it then maybe you’re not “getting it”.

    Just a bit of curiosity on my part. Personally, I tried Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Sekiro, with Sekiro being the closest to a From game I could have enjoyed. I’m going to try Bloodborne, and if I bounce off of that, then I’m just pretty sure that I prefer non-From interpretations of the style (like Darksiders 3) over From’s design. And y’know what? I’m okay with that.

    But I also don’t have to fend off cultists all the time, so…

    (Though it was frustrating airing out some gripes with the limitations of Sekiro in a separate forum and being told “It’s not bad design, the game is trying to teach you how to play“, and it’s just like… man, play Ninja Gaiden on the default difficulty and then we can talk.)

    1. Steve C says:

      I’m someone who didn’t like FFVII. 20yrs ago there was nowhere near the level of pushback just for not liking something. Not like there is today. My pet theory is the reason it is worse today is due to all the niche communities that support and feed on themselves. So nope, it is not how people felt back in ’97.

      Back in the 90s all the hate, haranguing and personal attacks was saved for liking something that other people did not like.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I liked FFVII alright, but I didn’t find it groundbreaking or anything like that, perhaps precisely because I didn’t play it at its launch time, but several years later, when the PS2 was already out. Then again, I like VI much better, still my favorite in the franchise. I find the story much more compelling and the characters much more interesting, even though I also played it several years after it came out.

  35. Cozzer says:

    The funny part is that for me, the cultists’ rabidness is a big part of what turns me off Dark Souls. (It’s probably not the game for me anyways, but seeing their attitude makes me even less interested in trying it).

    It’s like, the cultists give off this desperate vibe… not like someone genuinely enjoying something and wanting others to be part of it, more like someone who has sinked so many hours into something that now it HAS to mean something, because just enjoying the game now isn’t enough payback for all the effort it took to get to this point. It’s a really stupid comparison, but they do sound like someone insisting their new boyfriend is really the best person of the world when he’s not hitting them.

    (And I DO realize the game is probably really good, I just want to point out how the more effort that kind of fan makes to sell it, the worse the results are)

  36. Darren says:

    Dark Souls *is* hard, but I think a lot of the diehard fans willfully ignore the way From Software iterated on a number of designs to make sequels and sister titles (Bloodborne, Sekiro, and presumably the upcoming Eldin Ring) considerably less brutal. Bonfire placement, combat tweaks, stat and equipment management changes, all sorts of things that people hold up as essential which From have been quite happy to tweak and overhaul as they see fit.

    That’s not to say you would be happier with the later games–you almost certainly would have the same basic issues with them–just that the developers themselves are not quite as hung up on the most unforgiving aspects of Dark Souls as the fans sometimes claim.

    1. Duoae says:

      And also, many of those diehards dislike the direction of those changes. I’ve seen many people almost decrying Sekiro because of the focus (almost entirely) on reflex-based skill instead of knowledge and builds.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I’m still waiting for the day when the devs just leave in the god-mode they needed for testing / building the game. I really want to enjoy the game world, setting, characters, story, etc. Disable my cheevos, lock me out of online (I mean, these games are still pretty much just single-player…), whatever – I just want to not die horribly, constantly. Enter The Gungeon or Hollow Knight[1] are about the hardest games I’ve managed to beat, and they both took waaay too dang long. I aint got time for these time-sinks – let me flip the pages of this book at my own pace, please! :)

      [1] These both borrow at least a few mechanics from the SoulsBorneWhatever games.

    3. Rack says:

      The thing is that while Sekiro is a little less punishing than Dark Souls it’s also far more difficult. I played Sekiro for about 5 hours and died more times than I did playing all the soulsborne games put together. Like it’s not even close, not even within an order of magnitude.

      1. Darren says:

        Once you get over the (very steep) learning curve, it’s way easier. There’s a reason it’s the only From game I’ve platinumed, and it’s not because I’m some great player who can only satisfy myself with the hardest games.

        1. Rack says:

          It’s severely timing based though. If you don’t have the reactions of a teenager then you are hard locked out of the game. It’s not about learning the game, if you can’t respond to a 3 frame window you will never ever be able to play it.

  37. Scampi says:

    Am I the only one who while reading thought this sounds a lot like talking about politics or religion?
    Just wondering. Do online boards need a rule “no politics, no religion, no Dark Souls”?

    1. Duoae says:

      Well, sort of yes, no and not really. While i think that the human condition pressures people into adhering to ideals and ideas that are monolithic in their integration within society, the lack of actual impact on the real world and lives of real people denotes a huge difference in perspective on these sorts of arguments.

      I.e. it’s easier to convince people that you don’t agree with them and easier for those other people to ignore you and your “wrong” opinions…

      1. Scampi says:

        I realize I failed to include the clause “in the current social climate”, and maybe “especially online”. I don’t want to go too deep into (any) specifics, but I think Shamus’ 6 points happen to map pretty well to attitudes I think are pretty wide spread.
        To pay due respect to the “no politics”-rule (I neither want to bait anyone into it nor do I want to make any statements one way or another) I will refrain from making any more comments on the topic, so if you would like to reply to this I will not reply any further.

    2. kincajou says:

      well, i feel Shamus couldn’t make the the religion parallel any more on your nose if he tried (you know what with the repeated use of the term “cult”).

      But it is an interesting if, (imo) overly broad, statement. There has been a lot said about human tendency towards gregariousness and how this will result in small societies (on and off the internet), and i’m pretty sure there are anthropologists out there that are better suited than me to explain why and how this all happens. It’s also interesting (if probably not unexpected) that a lot of such societies develop a more extreme fringe hellbent on proselytising, i’m unsure as to why this occurs but maybe there is a necessity for humans to be confirmed in their choices (and there is no better confirmation of your choices than other members of your species adopting said choices).

      Nonetheless, as always, (and as we see from some commenters above) the fringe does not represent the body of these societies (be they religions, political ideologies, or videogame fans). It’s a pity it exists though and has such an important role in poisoning the discourse…. i wonder if one would realise if they are part of this problem… I’m not sure i’d always have the self-critical skills to notice it on myself

      1. Scampi says:

        there is no better confirmation of your choices than other members of your species adopting said choices).

        Interesting. I’m not entirely convinced of this, as having an opponent who you can claim is just wrong about something (especially something of utmost importance-like a video game) might have an equally powerful effect, as it allows you to feel superior, which is maybe even better, because, if your opponent can’t see the greatness of your ways, it must prove you’re obviously better than they are, while converting them to your side means they are capable of understanding and maybe even learning from their mistakes. An inferior outgroup might imho confirm one’s choices even more, even though their entire existence challenges any claims of truth.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, the “cultist” analogy is no accident. The combination of religious fervor and political import produces the same kind of unreasonable dogmatism in both cases.

    4. Asdasd says:

      I mean, reading the comment section hasn’t been an edifying experience. Were it not for the fact that everyone’s seemingly swept up in an ecstasy of blanket agreement and mutual self-congratulation, I think more might have noticed how ugly it’s gotten – lots of gleeful insults, sweeping generalisations, even a little casual racism and ableism. It’s all a bit ‘two minutes hate’ from where I’m sitting.

      If Shamus really needed to vent his spleen I’m glad on this topic then I’ll be glad if he’s gotten it out of his system, but I don’t think I could stomach too many more posts like these.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        even a little casual racism and ableism.

        What? What!? The closest anyone’s gotten to bringing up ethnicity is an analogy about Americans eating English muffins! What on Earth are you talking about?

        1. Joshua says:

          I was wondering about the ableism too. Paul talking about a person being a “dope”?

          I think he and I are the only ones that got slightly insulting, unless you count the general article of “I really don’t like when these proselytizers are annoying me” and a general agreement of “Yep, those people can be annoying” being insulting.

        2. Hector says:

          I would also be really curious as to where that thought came from.

          Also, English muffins are terrible and no amount of butter or jelly/jam can make them more than passable.

        3. BlueHorus says:

          CountAccountant’s reprisal of a previous post (linked in the article) but making it about baked beans time kind of fits the bill…I can see why it would be considered offensive. And why the posts congratulating it could be considered bad.

          Personally, I don’t care becase a) it’s funny b) I agree with it and C) I’m 45% certain that the post it’s lampooning was – itself – trolling, but yeah. Offense is at least 50% in the eye of the offended…

        4. Supah Ewok says:

          I’ve been called racist (well, an “ethnophobe” was the exact term that was used, I believe, but that’s playing word games) for a rant I made about bad anime tropes.

          Racism can be a remarkably loose label for some people.

  38. Hal says:

    I only played Bloodborne, but my experience was basically the same. I loved the aesthetic, but the gameplay was too much for me and the system rather inscrutable.

    I WANT to get it, I really do, but I just don’t have it in me to work at it as much as I would have to.

  39. Nixorbo says:

    Given that God is infinite, and that the universe is also infinite … would you like to play Dark Souls a toasted teacake?

  40. SpammyV says:

    I ended up bouncing off Dark Souls and at some point I just began to lean into and willingly kick the ant mound: I spent some 70 hours playing Dark Souls 1 and walked away feeling like the game was at best mediocre. I never found a reason to play 71 hours. And it’s not a specific game issue, I have have formulaic problems. The bonfire loop and world resetting bores me. The writing is not great, it’s nonexistent. The only character whose name I can remember is the meme- That’s how little impact the writing had on me.

    I spent longer playing Dark Souls 1 trying and failing to find what was good than I did on games where I’ll without hesitation windmill slam the 10/10 button on and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night asking why.

  41. RandomInternetGuy says:

    I made three attempts at Dark Souls, and bounced off it, every time. It probably is a great game, and I can tell it’s a game I’d love to play. But the problem is, time. I have a 40h job and I’m a dad now. I can’t suffer through a game that will murder me and all my progress and expect me to retry the same section for the n’th time until I finally solve the puzzle. If I had MUCH more time on my hands, I might actually play it for real, but as is stands, I have to choose my battles carefully.

  42. MelTorefas says:

    This article is awesome and the screenshots are completely hilarious. I love it! Not gonna lie, I thought the anecdotes were exaggerating for comic effect until I read the comments that were linked. >.> Crazy.

  43. Steve C says:

    Shamus your argument is flawed. You failed to mention the rabid toxicity of online forums. For example Stack Overflow. /sarcasm

  44. Ramsus says:

    A whole article about FromSoftware stuff and nobody mentioned their best game series, Armored Core!? For Shame! =P

  45. DaveMc says:

    I half-expected to see “Comments have been disabled on this post” down here.

  46. Weirdly, I never have problems with this, because I figured out the perfect solution to this kind of garbage:

    “What, Dark Souls? Pfft. I bet you haven’t played Gothic, you piker. If you want a REALLY hard game . . . oh, look, you’ve run off. Later.”

    Obscure eastern European RPG for the win.

    1. Decius says:


      Try playing a classic, common, well known RPG like The Bard’s Tale, without a walkthrough or the manual.

      Come back when you’ve found the first dungeon.

      1. Heh, I’m 40, I grew up on games like that.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Eastern European? I thought Gothic was German. (wikis it for confirmation)

      But yeah, Gothic can be tricky for new players, although it’s a different kind of difficulty.

      Also, the Gothic remake looks absolutely terrible and I hope they cut 90% of the MC’s monologue.

      1. RFS-81 says:

        Yes, it’s German. It’s been too long ago for me to remember how difficult it was, though. The only thing I remember was that it had *really* weird controls for combat. Hold down Ctrl and push a direction key to attack, and push it again in the right rhythm for combos.

        1. Oh, yeah, most of the people I’ve seen streaming it had a localization that was in Polish or something like that, so I guess it was in my brain that the game was from further east.

        2. Yeah, it was super-weird. It was put together like they kinda weren’t expecting you to actually have and use a mouse. You can modify it to make it more like most WASD games and it helps a lot, but it’s still extremely wonky.

    3. RandomInternetGuy says:

      Gothic is actually a German game. Not eastern European.

  47. Grimwear says:

    The one thing I will say about Sekiro is that FromSoftware somehow got worse at story. I mean it’s still vague but you can play Dark Souls and get which ever ending without really interacting with anyone. But Sekiro? If you want a certain ending then you literally need to stop playing the game and spend 45 minutes doing your ninja chores. Go to room, talk to Divine child, get rice, eat rice, rezone and repeat this twice more, give her a persimmon, don’t have a persimmon? go buy one, rest, get more rice and rice for Kuro, zone out and give rice to Kuro, rest, get rice ball, eat rice ball, go to Divine Child (DC), tell her Kuro ate rice and made a rice ball, rest, give DC infested book, if you don’t have it go get it from the lake, rest, go to Halls of Illusion, talk to DC, go get other book from cave, back to sanctum, talk to DC, give her serpent hearts, don’t have them? go get them (and getting them could take up two more paragraphs), rest, eavesdrop, rest, talk to DC, done. And if you want all bosses? Have fun doing the same with thing but with Emma instead. Literally spend 45 minutes doing nothing but teleporting around talking to people. Even if you mash A to skip the conversation bits you’re still wasting time with load screens and pointless busywork. Still love the game but doing ninja chores suckssss.

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      I think they expected the different endings to be the source of replayability for the game. It didn’t work for me at all. I beat it and have never returned to it, because you’ll just be redoing the same areas and same bosses with the same abilities.

      1. Grimwear says:

        Ya FromSoftware has always been crap at story. Gameplay (assuming it appeals to you) and atmosphere? Great. Story? Hot garbage. No one wants to stop and read item descriptions just to try and piece together a story. I believe it’s one of the reasons VaatiVidya got so popular on youtube. People liked playing the game but had no clue what the heck was going on with the story or characters so instead they just went to youtube and looked it up.

        Most people will play a game once, finish it, and move on. I randomly started watching people play Sekiro on twitch and one guy was super anal about no spoilers and blah blah blah (he actually got upset with me when I said just wait until you see phase 3 during a boss fight. Like dude the boss has 3 dots above his healthbar meaning he has 3 phases. It’s a late game boss you KNOW he has 3 phases by now. But I’m the bad guy because I referenced it and therefore ruined his expectations. Like really? I ruined your expectations by insinuating that phase 1 and 2 are easier than 3?) Anyway super anal guy but when I asked if he wanted me to tell him how to unlock the good endings which include a boss he was all for it. Because he openly admitted once he finished the game once he wasn’t going to replay it. I then had the “priviledge” of guiding him for an hour as he went on a scavenger hunt because it’s not gameplay it’s busywork.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          Story? Hot garbage. No one wants to stop and read item descriptions just to try and piece together a story.

          This is the thing I love most about Dark Souls’ story. Not that I like reading item descriptions, I never bothered with any of that. But I love that I can decide not to bother with it, and the game will just let me. If you walk into Dark Souls determined to be the story-ignoring, cutscene skipping jerk game designers hate, you will spend maybe three minutes of your life putting up with that stuff throughout an entire playthrough. That’s lower than any modern game I can think of. It’s an order of magnitude lower than Doom 2016, a game which had an entire running joke of the player character skipping expository bullshit!

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I have a complicated relationship with DS lore in that I love it to bits, but on the other hand I dislike obtaining it the way it is intended, but on the gripping hand I feel like just reading the lore without playing the game wouldn’t satisfy me. So I end up playing the game, possibly getting the gist of the narrative without all the details, then going down a wiki/reddit/forum hole reading on the bosses I fought and areas I went through. As a further datapoint the same thing happened when I was playing Hollow Knight.

        2. Dalisclock says:

          Hell, at this point the bosses that do have surprise health bars have mostly been spoiled. You’d be hard pressed to know anything about the game and not know about the Headless Ape.

          And it’s not like bosses with surprise 2nd/3rd phases are even new to the series. O+S in DS is a well known example and each game has just added more of them. It’s only a question if it’s locked behind depleting the healthbar or health percentage.

          But hell, even watching lore videos really doesn’t do much to change the overall experience because the plot tends to be a varient of “Go Here, Go here, collect mcguffins, KILL MORE BOSSES,” while the lore is mostly in the background.

  48. Rack says:

    Speaking as a Dark Souls cultist a lot of this is frustrating. We tend to talk about difficulty in games in a very simplistic way, is this game difficult or not difficult? But Dark Souls and nothing else as far as I’m aware pushed the concept of difficulty in a different direction to most games and after 9 years we’ve really only had surface level conversations about it.

    The other side is Dark Souls is one of the games I would say is important from a design standpoint so it’s frustrating when people don’t understand it. Understanding Dark Souls is something that’s going to take dozens of hours of play so it’s understandable when people don’t but it’s a piece of the puzzle that can be hard to articulate. I imagine it must have been similar talking to Bioshock fans about System Shock.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      Not sure if you were following the site at this point, but we did this very thing a while back.

      1. Rack says:

        I was, but that’s what I’d say is a very surface level conversation, it’s better than most but several of those dimensions have several dimensions themselves, whereas others are interconnected. Shamus himself brought this up in the conclusion. Dark Souls raises major questions about the role of punishment that is really only elsewise covered by Roguelikes. It also raises questions about mastery that even From software abandoned.

  49. dustDevil says:

    What’s a dark souls?

      1. Lino says:

        Such an awesome game! Thank you for reminding me of it!

  50. unit3000-21 says:

    Yeah, but are they as bad as people who inform you you can use a gamepad when you ask if a game plays good on a mouse and keyboard setup?

  51. paercebal says:

    Very funny article!
    That could become a series of “why I will never play that game so stop trying to get me to…”

  52. The Big Brzezinski says:

    I thought “You DO NOT TALK About Dark Souls” was the first two rules?

    I recently started playing Nioh. This is the first Souls-like I have ever played. I chose it over the Dark Souls franchise because the combat looks faster. So far I’m enjoying it, but I can’t say I’m impressed. Obvious ambushes, enemies that advance right onto your spear, grand charges that are so easy to dodge and punish. Non-boss enemies are little more than pointy meat. Weaker enemies don’t even get the spear, just a sword to the gut. Maybe it’s partly because I’m playing on PC, and mouse-looking is tantamount to spider-sense. Certainly makes ranged weapons OP.

    The two bosses I’ve fought so far seem like they came from a mobile game mindset. The main gameplay is observation and mapping out movements, but your survivability is so low you don’t actually get enough time to learn much before having to spend ten minutes fighting your way back. I want to actually try playing the game again, but instead I have to wait for no good reason. I’m sure some would tell me I’m making mistakes I should be learning from. My response is that I am not responsible for answers to uninformed questions. Do thing, observe result. This is the normal learning process. In Nioh (and reportedly other Souls-likes), the data stream is so infrequent it barely holds my attention. This is kind of thing other games would ask me to pay gems to skip.

    I would contrast my experience so far with two other games; Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen and Warframe. DD:DA has melee combat very similar to Nioh, just with more participants. The bosses become nightmarish the further you get into the game. The main differences are that items are more powerful and used from a paused menu, and you can save anywhere out of combat. Many times I would insist on overcoming some challenging encounter I didn’t really have the levels for, tossing myself at it repeatedly with different strategies for an hour until I finally succeeded for an underwhelming reward I never cared about anyway. I was permitted to eat my fill, and always came away satisfied. Warframe’s melee combat seems more like Dynasty Warriors than Nioh most of the time as you hew through common enemies. It’s when you got against heavies with powerful knockdowns and the like that it gets more interesting. You have to utilize movement techniques to harmlessly provoke radial slams and command grabs. A Kuva Lich is a nasty foe at long range, but they’re easy to tear apart with a big sword once you know their moves.

    I don’t know if I’ll finish Nioh before I get bored of it, but for now it’s enjoyable. I can’t say the Souls-like mystique of difficulty holds up as well to scrutiny, though. It’s more like a Nintendo Hard NES game you could speed run in twenty-five minutes if you didn’t keep dying. It’s not a question of skill. It’s a question of patience. I can’t say I ever expected to be on the Bored side of Csikszentmihaly’s Flow chart in a Souls-like.

    1. Rack says:

      One of the reasons souls fans get a bit “culty” about souls games is that the soulslikes are Demons Souls, Dark Souls 1-3 and Bloodborne. Nothing else. The games that try to be like Dark Souls aren’t like Dark Souls because they don’t ever seem to get what makes a soulslike a soulslike. Nioh isn’t a bad game exactly but it’s Galerians more than Resident Evil.

  53. Drathnoxis says:

    Yeah you should probably just give up on Dark Souls.

    Outer Wilds, though, I think you would love if you only gave it a proper chance. It was pretty clear you were just playing the game wrong the first time

  54. Raygereio says:

    It seems like some people here have a lot of problems that could be fixed if they just played a good game, like Dark Souls.

    Honestly, I love the Souls series. But I will admit that I jury-rigged a save system. I will never understand people that equate doing the same the same thing over and over again with “difficulty”.

    1. Kylroy says:

      So…you’re saying you don’t understand the vast majority of DS fans?

    2. Chad Miller says:

      I will never understand people that equate doing the same the same thing over and over again with “difficulty”.

      I think I can shed a bit of light on this one.

      I know Shamus has in the past compared mastering a game to mastering a musical instrument. The argument is that if he’s practicing a song, he’d rather be able to go back and retry the parts he flubbed without having to go through the tedium of having to play through the parts he’s already mastered.

      There is a downside to this, however: By playing this way, at no point are you required to play the entire song at once. Even worse than that, it often means that nobody (or hardly anybody) will ever play the song from beginning to end, so the game is now designed under the assumption that no one needs or wants to play the song.

      To me the purpose of more restricted saving isn’t to make you repeat the easy things. It’s to let you prove that you can play the whole song. And I say “let you” rather than “make you” because it’s my experience that games that let you save scum will generally force you to save scum.

      I never really got into Dark Souls, but this sort of thing does have a lot to do with why I don’t like modern 2D platformers, and why even in the games I do play I tend not to avail myself of save systems nearly as much as I could. I don’t want to hit keys until I happen to mash these few notes and then move on to mashing the next few notes. I want the whole song.

    3. Preciousgollum says:

      All games are is basically doing the same thing, while expecting different results. They are pressing buttons on the Controller that you have pressed thousands of times before to ‘make thing do happen’ – and then hoping it will ‘mean something’. They present the illusion of difficulty via repetition.

      You have to have at least heard some words in a sentence to understand whatever grandiose theme The Last of Us is praised for with its emotive acting. That is repetitive. Movies are inherently repetitive with themes, but somehow audiences
      expect them to ‘evolve’, ‘transform’ or ‘mutate’ into new (and perhaps better) themes. Ironically, audiences expect to be ‘enriched’ by an experience that costs money. How many times can you expect to watch a character (movie star/game character) pretend to punch a person for ‘reasons’, or try to ‘save the world’ and still have it mean something? How many times can people expect to witness ‘difficult choices’ before it dawns on them that perhaps that ‘difficulty’ is an act of repetition?

      Perhaps people could look at it from the a different angle. Video games are slot machines where you have usually paid a set amount money upfront and vaguely expect a particular result. They’re like a raffle that you have paid to rig in your favour. Whereas FIFA and loot boxes take the rigging off and turn the experience into ‘The Wild West’. Regulated vs unregulated gambling.

  55. Dreadjaws says:

    Dark Souls fanboy in the Arkham article: “Dark Souls is the better game because its gameplay is so versatile!”
    Dars Souls fanboy in the Dénouement article: “Dark Souls is the better game, but you have to play it in a specific way!”

    You know, I had at several points in my life considered to play the Dark Souls games, but I ended up making the decision never to play them just because I’m sick of the fanboys. Granted, there are irrational fanboys in every fanbase. I’m a Batman fan and I constantly have to roll my eyes to people who think Batman is invincible. I’m a Resident Evil fan and I constantly have to fend off people who think only certain games are good and if you like any of the other ones you’re not a real fan. I’m a Rick and Morty fan and, well… you’ve all seen the meme.

    But there’s something special about videogame fanboys, and even more particular about Dark Souls fanboys and their increasingly irritating refusal to understand that people don’t necessarily have to find fun in the same things.

    1. Christopher says:

      Dark Souls fanboy in the Arkham article: “Dark Souls is the better game because its gameplay is so versatile!”
      Dars Souls fanboy in the Dénouement article: “Dark Souls is the better game, but you have to play it in a specific way!”

      While I appreciate the frustration, being annoyed at thousands of fans for not being consistent as a whole is maybe a little misplaced.

      1. Daimbert says:

        While normally I would agree with you, I was once involved in a comment thread on the same post about Dark Souls (on this site) where one fan would say something was true about the game, I’d use that as an argument, and then a different fan, without arguing with the first fan, would say that I was just wrong about it and it was something else entirely (I think it was over what the point of the first hidden trap was). I think I eventually, in frustration, told the second fan to take it up with the first fan if they thought I was wrong.

        It’s okay for different fans to have different views, but when they use that to argue against someone addressing the previous argument at worst it creates a constantly shifting argument and at best it leaves the person confused over what the game is really supposed to be.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        Oh, I wasn’t annoyed at that. I just thought it was kinda funny. Not really related to the rest of my message.

  56. skellie10 says:

    I have a theory that Dark Souls, in particular, produces these kinds of evangelists because most of them bounced off it as well when they first tried it. I don’t think I know anyone who intuitively “got” Dark Souls right away. They had to stick with it until it “clicked” for them, and they think that if it happened for them then it can happen for anyone else.

  57. Collin Pearce says:

    “Everything good is ruined by its fans.”
    -Yahtzee Croshaw

    1. Decius says:

      Everything crap was ruined before the fans could.

  58. Decius says:

    The description of your last screenshot is wrong. You say “The Consumed King’s Garden, which can be accessed after defeating Dancer of the Boreal Valley and unlocking Lothric Castle.”, but there are four ways to get into the Consumed King’s garden without both defeating the dancer of the Boreal Valley and unlocking Lotrhic Castle.

    First, play as the dude who gets the key, and you can unlock Lothric Castle without attending the dance party. Easy.

    Second, beat the dancer normally, but do an easy dodge roll (three frame window) into the terrain during the interlude between phase 2a and phase 2a+, which occurs when the dancer is reduced to between 38 and 41 percent health during her gib lunge sweep aoe, but heals back up to between 64 and 64.3 percent health as a result of that attack. Anyway, while she’s doing the thing, do a FGT mid-speed roll into the odd-looking texture on the east wall, then finish the fight normally to ride the rock up and over the gate, entering Lothric Castle without unlocking it. Easy.

    The third method is so obvious I shouldn’t even need to point it out.

    And technically, you can combine the first and third method and it’s a different way.

    That’s not even counting using the hover glitch to pass over the gate, because the hover glitch requires that you hold left and right on the analog stick, and that’s impossible on a stock controller.

    1. Higher_Peanut says:

      I’ve been going through some of the AGQD runs I missed and this sounds exactly like the kind of crazy speed tech someone would pull off. Followed by “and that saved about 10 seconds.”

  59. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Not only late but at the end of 240+ comment page but what the heck.

    So I love DS. I’ve bounced off it the first time hard, then I got into it when I tried it way later and actually knew what I was playing. I find progressing through DS intensely satisfying, I really like its lore and atmosphere, I think it made me appreciate difficulty in other games more and made some of them a much better experience… but I think it’s a niche game and we should all learn to accept that.

    This, to me, drives the core problem with that vocal subset of DS fandom that Shamus is pointing at here. They enjoy the game but they don’t understand that it was not made to be universally appealing. And then by forcing it on everyone they’re undermining their own cause because they then backlash against people who say that they find the game unenjoyable and would like things like easier difficulty or time saving features.

    1. Kylroy says:

      Even worse are the ones who understand DS isn’t universally appealing, and decide that their enjoyment of it makes them special and better than other gamers.

      1. The Puzzler says:

        They might be worse people, but they’re generally less annoying. Sure, they’re holding onto a sense of smug superiority, but at least they’re not telling me how to spend my free time or denying the authenticity of my experience.

        1. Kylroy says:

          Oh, they’re denying the authenticity of your experience:

    2. Retsam says:

      I’ve bounced off it the first time hard, then I got into it when I tried it way later and actually knew what I was playing.

      I think this is a big part of the problem – almost all souls fans have a story like this. Basically nobody loves the game when they first pick it up.

      This is why they have such a hard time accepting that someone doesn’t like DS, because “not liking Dark Souls” is a normal step along the path to liking Dark Souls. It’s an acquired taste, and it’s hard to tell the difference between “has not yet acquired the taste”, and “will never acquire the taste, please stop asking”.

  60. Modran says:

    When you talk about the fan going “LISTEN TO MEEEEEE”, I can’t not think of Mr Meeseeks in Rick and Morty

    “Hey, I’m Mr MeeeSeeks, Look at MEEEEE!” (

  61. Zaxares says:

    For maximum entertainment value, add a post into such discussions about how “Dark Souls is SO much more fun once I just downloaded a trainer/used some cheats” and just watch the purists fly into apoplectic rages. ;)

    EDIT: By the way, the screenshots for this article appear to be a mish-mash of pictures from various games, including Leisure Suit Larry and Hunie-Pop. I’m not sure if this was a deliberate effort to lampoon the types of critics the article was talking about, or if something genuinely did break behind the scenes!

  62. Lars says:

    The main reason I don’t like the Dark Souls franchise are the Souls-like games. Much too often I hear about a game adapting Souls-mechanics for no good reason. Zelda: Breath of the Wild, SW:J:FO-EATM, Darksiders 3, even AssCreed: Origins have “adapted” Souls-like combat. Franchises where such a system doesn’t belong and/or make sense and partly abandoned their core gameplay. Developers, please stop copying stuff you barrely understand.
    Next Rocksteady-game: A Souls-like in Teen Titan Universe (Only a bad joke – I hope.)

    1. Syal says:

      I like the fatigue bar over traditional combo finishers. They do the same thing in forcing you to stop attacking for a second, but with combo finishers it always feels like a failure to not hit the full combo, and of course the way to make the late-game fights harder is to not give you enough time to land a full combo. But if it’s just fatigue, it feels like keeping something in reserve instead of bailing on an attack.

    2. Christopher says:

      What’s the Soulslike mechanic in Zelda? I didn’t really go through BOTW feeling they nicked any Souls mechanics. I guess if anything, I’d say Dark Souls is “based” on the Ocarina of Time stuff.

      1. Retsam says:

        I think the BoTW-souls comparisons just come from the beginning of the game when you have basically no armor and no health – it makes combat a bit like Dark Souls where enemies don’t have much health, but can also hit you for a lot of damage if you let them.

        I don’t think that really lasts; by mid-to-endgame, both you and the enemies you fight will be a lot tankier. It’s still pretty good combat (and I think a lot of people just associate “good combat” = “souls-like”…) but doesn’t feel particularly dark soulsy.

  63. Ira says:

    You know, I have never in my life encountered anyone who has this attitude to Dark Souls, so I find it a little difficult to understand where you’re coming from?

    That said, this article explains almost perfectly my opinion on Half-Life and Portal.

    In complete seriousness: I tried Half-Life once, got bored a mission or two in, never finished. It’s not for me and I just don’t like it very much. It’s not that I necessarily hate shooters – I liked Halo – though I admit that I vastly prefer console shooters to PC shooters. (Not exclusively – I really liked the 1999 AVP and 2001’s AVP2.) It’s just that I don’t like Half-Life, and I’ve got to admit that I roll my eyes whenever Shamus talks about Half-Life here.

    Similarly, Portal… just isn’t very funny, to me. Okay, I get it, the computer and the facility are recklessly indifferent to human life. Haha, I get it. Okay. You can’t string that one joke out for an entire game. Oh, wait, the Companion Cube, sorry, there are two jokes! Brilliant. Genius. Game of the year all years. Yawn.

    I have no problem with people loving Portal, or for that matter Half-Life. But I personally do not like them. Personal taste, perhaps, but my taste is valid for me, and I just didn’t like them. I’m not going to play them again, and I do not need to be told why they’re great. Sure, they were commercially successful, Half-Life was influential on the history of PC shooters, whatever. It’s fine if you like them.

    But I don’t.

    Please don’t try to change my mind.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      You mean you don’t laugh hysterically when you’re told that The Cake Is A Lie!?
      You don’t understand, man – it’s a LIE! It’s not real!


      (That one always pissed me off. While Portal does have humor and I did enjoy it, why did that one not-really-a-joke line become the defining meme?)

      1. Syal says:

        Allow me to explain.

        To understand why it became a meme, one must first understand why it was used in Portal to begin with. Why not pie? “The pie is a lie” has powerful alliterative qualities. So why cake?

        Cake is the traditional symbol of celebration. Birthdays have cakes, weddings have cakes, and most importantly, office parties have cakes. But more specifically, cakes are a celebration of small victories. Birthdays are a celebration of someone staying alive for a year. Weddings are a celebration of a choice to live with a person. And office parties are a celebration of working at a job that you may or may not enjoy.

        But more specifically, cake is an expected symbol of celebration. Are you truly impressed someone has survived for a year, or are you making them a cake because it’s the traditional thing to do? Likewise, is the person receiving the cake proud of their accomplishment, or is it just traditional to receive cake for doing this? Especially in a non-birthday office setting, where you’re especially likely to be going through the motions.

        Also, what is cake? If you take away the frosting, it’s pretty close to regular bread. A lot of what makes it special is the hype around it. But the hype around it is largely just going through the motions. It’s several disappointments leaning on each other for support.

        And that’s why it became a meme. The cake is always a lie.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          Point of clarification: “the pie is a lie” rhymes. The phrase has no alliteration, as no two words begin with the same consonant sound. I have no problem with the rest of this, though.

        2. RFS-81 says:

          Also, what is cake?

          A miserable little pile of calories. But enough talk… have at you!

          1. tmtvl says:

            Did Count Chocula just throw that mug on the ground after drinking the last bit of hot cocoa? Things are getting serious!

            1. Preciousgollum says:

              “I was Baked by huuumans who wish to pay meeee tribute”.

          2. Nimrandir says:

            Die, pastry. You don’t belong in this world!

      2. PhoenixUltima says:

        The whole “cake is a lie” bit was funny (to me, at least) because it’s a nice subversion of the usual “person learns some horrible revelation” trope. Like, typically when you read some message scrawled on a wall about The Horrible Truth, it’s about how some prominent good guy in the world is actually the main villain, or that the mcguffin everyone’s chasing after will end up destroying the world if activated, or some other grand, important reveal. And here, it’s… that the cake you were promised isn’t real. Some previous test candidate went through these tests, and the terrible secret they learned along the way wasn’t that GlaDOS was the one who killed everyone in the facility (uh, spoilers for a 13-year-old game, I guess), or that Aperture Science was up to some shady shit. It’s that they weren’t going to get any cake. Heh.

        Of course, this aspect gets lost when people are saying it online without any context, as a way of saying “hey i played the funny game everyone likes im one of the cool kids now” and nothing else.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Hearing it without context, I still figured it was something like this: it became a meme precisely BECAUSE it was so random and trivial that it came to signify that sort of thing.

        2. Retsam says:

          “The cake is a lie” is the “Why did the chicken cross the road? (To get to the other side.)” of video game jokes. The whole point of the joke is anti-climax, but the joke gets repeated so much that the humor – which is based on subverting expectations – is lost.

          1. Ira says:

            I’m pretty sure Syal’s comment was satire, not a serious attempt to explain the joke. I understand the joke – there’s honestly not very much to it.

            So I read Syal as making a joke about “the cake is a lie”. It’s funny in the same way that writing a four paragraph explanation of “why did the chicken cross the road” is funny – overcomplicating something simple for humorous effect.

            1. Syal says:

              Not particularly. I don’t think a meme gets big without hitting on something fundamental, though the average memer won’t be able to identify it.

        3. Dalisclock says:

          I thought the entire joke behind the Cake is that GlaDOS doesn’t really understand how humans operate so she offers them something she thinks they want as a reward. Thus the continued references to “Cake” when you finish the tests.

          There’s no evidence your character(Chell) actually cares about Cake at all, but GLaDOS apparently thinks that’s whats motivating you as opposed to, you know, escaping the test lab.

          I don’t think anyone who made the game really wanted or expected it to become a meme.

    2. Kylroy says:

      I’d say the difference in disliking Half-Life and Portal is that nobody’s devoted thousands of hours of their life to playing those games. They’re very popular and influential, but not anybody’s *life*; disliking them is more comparable to disliking a popular movie.

      1. Ira says:

        Are they? I mean, even on this very blog, I feel like HL2 is Shamus’ go-to example of a masterpiece, and after a while that gets a little grating. I know it’s his personal preference, and that’s fair enough, but after a while I grind my teeth a bit at the regular elevation of a game that I can only see as mediocre.

        1. Kylroy says:

          As much as Shamus likes Half Life, he’s capable of discussing other things. For a lot of DS fans, DS(/Bloodborne/Sekiro) is *the* game(s) they play, and talking about other games is just talking about things they don’t have opinions on.

          1. Ira says:

            *shrug* I guess? I can only take your word for it – I’ve never encountered an obnoxious Dark Souls fan in my life, either in real life or online.

      2. Preciousgollum says:

        What about speed-runners? They have probably dedicated an enormous amount of time to games like Half-Life and Portal.

        And also, what about Garry’s Mod, which is also Half-Life to some extent. People put thousands of hours into it, despite it being ‘just one type of game’.

        1. TemporalMagnanimity says:

          The reasons people like Garry’s Mod is divorced from the reasons people like Half-Life so that it’s almost irrelevant from the topic at hand.

  64. Tablis says:

    But Shamus, we now don’t want you to play Dark Souls. We want you to play Elden Ring! In all seriousness though, outside of cultists, many people think that would be very interesting to see Shamus’ analysis of this type of game. I personally have spend so many hours reading critiques of these games I do not care, still I would read it with interest. So, hopefully Elden Ring may be to Shamus’ liking, but if not, then not.

  65. Simplex says:

    The worst part of Dark Souls is having to run to the boss after being killed by this boss. It’s a counterproductive waste of time which is setting you up for a failure in the next fight – and then you have to run to the boss again.
    I think you already criticized this mechanic, but I can’t seem to remember in which blogpost.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      In fairness, a lot has changed over the way that Boss Runs work. Later games usually have a lot of shortcuts or even checkpoint bonfires that eventually add up to being close to a boss.

      There’s also the argument to be made that since having a tough Boss basically IS the content, that having ways to extend it means your content lasts longer. Especially when Souls game outside of Dark Souls 2 don’t have ways to replay the boss outside of NG+ or replay. If you beat that boss easily, it is not memorable, and takes like 30 hours to get back to a final boss IF you are somewhat competent.

      Some of the bosses took me a long time to beat, despite having already played these games, and I will say that it was in part due to my stubbornness in not learning to adapt. It is kind of like a Fighting Game where a player knows a single move that trounces you – it becomes up to you to work out how to deal with that move with the options that you have.

      The difference is that Dark Souls bosses, like any AI, work in predictable patterns and can be figured out easier than a human player. It is how I learned to beat seemingly unbeatable hard mode AI in fighting games, and I’m not exactly a master.

      1. Steve C says:

        This point has been belabored to death. It isn’t as good as people seem to think it is. It might not be one of the top 6 reasons why Shamus wrote this post, but it has got to be in the top 10. For more pointless discussion on shortcut/checkpoints check the links in the main post to the old DS blog posts rather than repeat them.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          … but for those who like that style, then Dark Souls is OK.

          We’re also looking at the other side of the equation – save scumming and hitting the F5 key whenever in order to save.

          At some point, you have to enjoy the activity of stuff like moving your character around or returning to a previous location, otherwise, the whole idea or what a game is seems to fall apart. We’re simply pressing the same buttons on our controllers/keyboards, and expecting different things to happen. People don’t complain about the need to setup a chess game before playing it.

          Do you provide checkpoints between phases of a boss fight? Does the checkpoint actually work and keep the player safe? These are all things to consider.

          Generally speaking, if you are watching a movie, you are going to watch the whole movie. Yes, people can watch scenes, but that is because we are talking about an entirely linear form of replicatable media. I can imagine that checkpoints as bonfires in Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls were there to alleviate some bug testing issues such as save game corruption or patches that could break a savestate – aka things that Bethesda RPGs are known for – and what also caused issues in games like STALKER Clear Sky.

          Hey, it is simply a practical solution to churn out video games that people buy and play.

          Personally, I think I would like Dark Souls to have some kind of Boss Rush mode, but again, Bosses aren’t everything. The act of playing the game can be its own reward. Minecraft is procedural, but still comprised of the same stuff you will see over and over as you have to walk there. Or die in a roguelike and start again. FTL is a game where perhaps I’d like to replay the final boss to beat it, but the game makes me play it flawlessly for 2 HOURS before I even get to the boss. Other games also make people replay checkpoint sections. Dark Souls is a continual grind that occasionally tries to elicit ‘roguelike’ elements. It is the same as older Resident Evil games and the decision to progress forward or save the game. Technically, you could stay in the save room of The Mansion, or Raccoon Police Station indefinitely, and say you had ‘beaten’ the game by not dying. But that drive to explore, coupled with the risk – teases continuation. Everybody who buys into an MMORPG or even regular RPG will experience all the content.

          There is a lot less actual penalty to dying in Dark Souls than people seem to think. Yea, you lose some Souls, but that is about it. You also lose a bit of progress but come back next time. It is not much different from any other game.

          Once you get into the idea that the bosses killing you in Dark Souls gives you more information with which to beat them, the deaths become a learning experience. They sting less. Same as any other game with these types of fights in them. If you wipe in an MMORPG, you expect to start the boss again, and have some time to prepare beforehand.

          The system works, and it gives you the chance to ignore the boss, or back out, or learn the area that you are in.

          If you don’t like it, then that is up to you. But it is like hating on cars by saying ‘they don’t work properly as a product of invention’. Yea, Cars might pollute as a by-product, and cause other issues, but they clearly drive.

          1. Preciousgollum says:

            Edit: That should say that NOT everybody who buys into an MMORPG will experience all the content. Not everybody will ride all the rides in a theme park. Not everybody will eat all they can eat.

            … and… for a relevant gaming point… not everybody will experience the same value for money by getting a monthly subscription to xbox game pass.

  66. Nimrandir says:

    I’ve generally found myself in a very weird place as far as these games are concerned: I like Dark Souls and its variants. I don’t love them — but I like them. I’ve put a good twenty hours each into multiple games in the genre, but I’ve never gotten anywhere near finishing any of them. On the other hand, I bought exactly two video games last year, and one of them was Code Vein, part of the genre. If someone starts talking about the games, I’m positive about my time with them.

    I’m not sure where this leaves me in the whole discussion. Fortunately, I feel no desire to make my voice heard one way or another.

  67. Preciousgollum says:

    On the flipside, maybe some people think that Dark Souls is ruining gaming as a result of its influence.

    Rest assured that gaming is quite capable of ruining itself without the influence of Dark Souls.

    Also, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss seems the most fitting fable for comparison.

    Red Dwarf’s Toaster had no purpose in life without toasting, and Lister was convinced that he should deny the toaster the opportunity to toast, because Lister believes in ‘being his own man’ (aka anarchic freedom), while also believing that this rule applies to toasters.

    We’re also living in a somewhat paradoxical situation where, the greater the bellyaching over Dark Souls and its influence, the greater the legacy of Dark Souls will exert its influence over the industry as a result of mentions. Aka it is as if the people complaining are the ones who will get it trending.

    1. Higher_Peanut says:

      I don’t think Green Eggs and Ham is the best example because it’s a short story with the moral of trying new things because you might enjoy them.

      This is more like an anti-Green Eggs where he tried it, didn’t like it and the other guy still won’t stop trying to get him to enjoy it.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        I always thought Green Eggs and Ham was about not eating green eggs and ham… because they are green. And having somebody try to push you into eating something that will probably be bad for you.

  68. Radahall says:

    One thing that sticks out to me is that you’ve made comparisons to Dark Souls that make it harder to digest the point of the text because I have to make a mental effort to silence the part of my mind that goes:

    “But that’s not what Dark Souls is like! In Dark Souls, there’s always a shortcut that opens that takes you to the boss, or a secret backdoor. Dark Souls has traps, but they’re always like a switch on the floor you can run to the side of. I hate being called a masochist for having a different experience!”

    When you talk about people that enjoy the game, you equate them to *more persistent versions of You*. Of course, you’re happy to say that Dark Souls, as it is, is not a game *You* enjoyed playing. On an individual level, people are responding, comprehending, and mentally mapping it differently from you. It’s not just about perseverance, or spent time.

    Some people can’t ignore that part of their mind. Personally, I get *spun* by these comparisons to “Dark Souls through the eyes of someone that didn’t enjoy it”. Imagining the hypothetical game that represents the differences between our experiences with Dark Souls is difficult in it’s own way, but rewarding.

    1. Higher_Peanut says:

      I think Shamus is making the comparisons this way because he’s at the end of his rope with the whole situation. He’s discussed the game much more cleanly and in depth before and it still resulted in people coming in telling him he was experiencing it wrong every time.

      This post is much more venting frustration than a proper analysis only to end up having the same conversations again.

    2. Preciousgollum says:

      People who play Bethesda RPGs are at times imagining a game that isn’t there, when they play it. Video game developers talk about that concept of the game being in the mind of the player rather than an actual piece of software. Aka the power of imagination etc. I know, because I’ve done it at times with these games – believing them to have ‘more going on’ than they actually do.

      What Dark Souls does well, is it provides a combat system with rules that have been given enough shape to become something of a sport. There is definitely ‘nothing more’ going on, and there are no illusions as such. There might be superstitions about some mechanics, but there is never this sense that the game is ‘alive’. Finding out that the worlds of Bethesda RPGs are actually for the most part dead, barren, lifeless entities with extremely ‘gamified’ mechanics that do not in any way fit into the concept of ‘verisimilitude’ or simulation… that actually have really boring forms of interactivity… is why these gamified Hard Games came about.

  69. Brisbe says:

    Hey, Shamus!

    You should really play Dark Souls…The Card Game.

  70. Lino says:

    On an unrelated note, I’ve heard several people talk about Red Dwarf recently, and the excerpt at the beginning makes it sound a lot like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which is one of my favourite books of all time. While I doubt the show’s special effects will have aged well, is the rest of its homour in the same vein?

    1. Higher_Peanut says:

      The rest of the humor is in a sort of similar kind of vein. A small crew of dysfunctional idiots stumble their way through whatever space problem is happening this week, from spacetime anomalies to running out of vindaloo. There isn’t really much of an overarching plot or story, but sometimes a season switch brings a sort of setting change. As for the effects, let’s just say it has that low budget TV show charm.

      If you ever wanted to see if it was for you it’s a pretty low investment. The early seasons’ opening speech explains the set-up so you can just pick an episode and see what it’s like.

      1. Lino says:

        Sounds like something I’d like. I’ll give it a try one of these days…

  71. General Karthos says:

    I read somewhere: “The first rule of fight club is don’t talk to me about fight club.” (I can’t remember the source.) But I remembered it because it was really true for me. I did not enjoy the movie, but any time I say that I didn’t enjoy the movie, someone will explain to me what the movie meant, why I’m wrong for not liking it, how I don’t know what I’m talking about, etc.

    I think that in every art form, there’s an example that has cultish fanboys who think that everyone should like this particular example of the art form, and that if someone doesn’t, it’s because they don’t understand it, are looking at it wrong, or just generally speaking, they are wrong.

    I don’t really know what to do about these people. I just don’t talk about Fight Club, and if someone tries to talk to me about it, I make vague noises with no meaning and change the subject at the first opportunity. It’s not legal to shove them in front of moving vehicles or I might try that.

    I’ve never tried Dark Souls. I don’t think it would be my cup of tea. I dislike difficult games, and from what I hear, Dark Souls is one of the more difficult games out there. Fortunately, nobody I know plays it either, so I’m immune to these sorts of things on the Dark Souls front at least.

    But Fight Club, man…. Can’t I just not like the movie in peace?

  72. The problem with Dark Souls’ fans, I think, has to do with capital-G “Gamers” (not to be confused with people who simply play games as a hobby).

    Capital-G “Gamers” make playing video games and being good at them a core aspect of their identity. If there’s a game or mechanic that allows them to prove their skill to others, then Gamers will be drawn to it like flies to manure.

    Dark Souls games are made for these sorts of people, hence the elitism, the “git gud” condescension, and the “Dark Souls isn’t ACTUALLY that hard” humblebragging. When you criticise the games, even in the mildest manner, you’re effectively suggesting that the means by which these people measure their skill is somehow illegitimate. “You’re playing the game wrong.” “You just don’t get it!” “Dark Souls isn’t THAT hard!” are all attempts to suggest that your criticism is invalid, because capital-G “Gamers” NEED these games to be free of criticism in order to prove that they’re as good as they desperately need to be. It’s a bit like how somehow who endlessly brags about his IQ score isn’t going to respond well to any suggestion that IQ tests aren’t valid measures of intelligence.

    This is, not coincidentally, why the mention of having an easy mode in Dark Souls sets these people off.

    Of course, people who aren’t “Gamers” don’t care about any of this, and just want to enjoy themselves without having to prove their skills to anyone. These two groups rarely see eye-to-eye and usually end up talking past each other.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      This is, not coincidentally, why the mention of having an easy mode in Dark Souls sets these people off.

      I don’t think so. The internet has a long tradition of bragging about beating it on ultra-hard mode and mocking the scrubs who play on easy, we don’t need one forced difficulty setting to maintain a sense of superiority.

      The thing that always comes up in these discussions is that Dark Souls is supposed to be hard. You can find a version of this sentiment in praise for permadeath roguelites (“You’re supposed to die and retry, learn to live in the moment!”) and even in cult classics like Pathologic or Silent Hill 2 (“You’re supposed to have a hard time fighting, it’s making a statement maaaan”). I’m pretty sure the Silent Hill fans are not being snobby elitists, some people really do feel that game design has artistic significance like that. If someone proposed a Silent Hill remake with God Of War style brawling, they’d be swarmed by people telling them that’s terrible, not because those fans want to deny anything to God of War players but because Silent Hill is special and changing it feels like drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

      That’s what’s happening with Dark Souls. The fans like it just the way it is and they’re reacting the way someone would if you proposed taking their favorite sad movie and adding an ending where suddenly everyone lives happily ever after. The Dark Souls fans see easy mode advocates as ruining art. Even if many of them wouldn’t use the word art, everything they say about authorial intent and evoking emotion perfectly matches the definition. There’s something special about Dark Souls’ difficulty the same way there’s something special about Silent Hill’s fog-imposed tiny draw distance and even though the medium generally regards those as problems to avoid, that specific work would be lesser if you took them away.

      1. Preciousgollum says:


        Silent Hill is special because of the fog, despite it being a technical limitation.

        It is Shakespeare’s ‘My Bed’ or whatever it was, where he describes his bed as being normal, but interesting because of how well he knows it.

        It is Yenefer in the Witcher being interesting to Geralt because she hides her disfigurements, and not simply because she is pretty. He knows what is underneath.

        And, with survival horror games – the content by definition is kind of supposed to be off-putting. Not everybody is going to want to play them, and so those that do notice a something that is je ne cest qois to the remaining audience. I’ve said how I don’t like horror movies but like survival horror games – because the latter is about resource management and overcoming obstacles.

        Skyrim was mostly quite an easy game, with a few ridiculous difficulty spikes, and potions that negated all difficulty – but were merely optional. The Witcher turned potions into a more integral part of the combat experience. Dark Souls turned potions into a survival horror mechanic, and made a game with a baseline difficulty that really gets easier the more you play it. Skyrim’s difficulty levels are very ‘unbalanced’ – equivalent level enemies are intrinsically weaker than the player at the start, and I have not found a difficulty level in Bethesda RPGs hat actually makes the rules of the game equal between player and enemy. I think I would probably play on Hard or Very Hard (and I did play Very Hard on Fallout 3 despite it being somewhat unbalanced) and this forced me to engage with all the mechanics. It makes me think more about ammo, health, items etc. It turns the game into an experience that cannot be had with mechanics – but it still isn’t very good.

        Games like Skyrim, Fallout and Bethesda RPGs etc are not very good templates for how difficult a game should be, because they don’t treat difficulty in terms of ‘balance’ but in terms of player satisfaction. Their difficulty is all over the place, even with the different levels. But their combat is very lackluster. Enemies don’t move in very interesting ways – whereas Boss movement in Dark Souls is all about how imposing the movement is.

        The discussion on difficulty is becoming like saying you like the taste of Coca-cola, without the sugar in it, when you know full well that the first drink of Cola you had was probably crammed with sugar in it.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          P.S I know ‘enaging with the mechanics’ and ‘an experience that cannot be had with the mechanics’ seems contradictory…

          … take Arkane’s Dishonored as an example. Clearly a mechanics focused game. Interact mechanically with enemies to deal with them. Clear enough rules on lethality and blocking.

          … whereas Fallout and Skyrim are these action hybrid RPGs that have claimed to improve their combat systems, but really have not. They want more satisfying gunplay… without the lethality of guns. They want the character to block, but it takes away health. The interaction does not seem to line up with the end result.

          The reason why some people might even prefer a game like Morrowind, was because its abstract mechanics were something to get better at – you were not in control of the hit percentages… so you had to improve them by leaning into the abstract. It is a unique puzzle to get better at. It was very ‘RPG’. Not exactly better than Oblivion, Fallout 3 or Skyrim. Unfortunately, the latter games encourage you to do things like shoot guns and hit things with swords… that most of us know how it should ‘feel’ in a game… and the end result of interaction is not what we expect. Dishonored has lots of difficulty modes, but it always has a combat system with lethality as a focus. The Bethesda RPGs do not – they have enemies that don’t interact well under the very tools and conditions we use. They don’t seem to react to gunfire much, nor do they react to being hit by a sword. Sneak attacks do damage, but might not kill, and therefore can reveal the player location to other enemies. There is no way to know, and no fun surprise to be had if plans go wrong. Very little improv.

          That’s kind of why Elder Scrolls works better as an MMORPG (aka ESO) these days, because at least we have given up with pretending towards meaningful interactivity. ESO simply has these ‘game’ mechanics… and it doesn’t have a difficulty option. The game leans into its abstract roots that is balanced around abstract hitting enemies until they get defeated and getting loot.

          So, I could see a situation where I could get into Bethesda style RPGs again. In fact I WANT to. If somebody can explain to me the best way to play them… best difficulty level etc… and a very good reason why, then I’m all ears for your suggestion.

          Playing STALKER on Master Difficulty was ‘fun’ in a masochist sense, but it wasn’t balanced. People who say that Master was the intended difficulty are wrong. I know because I tested it – enemies take more bullets to kill than you do, with equivalent gear, on higher levels. Rumours were abound on the internet that Master was the intended way to play, because it felt more desperate and therefore more authentic to the game atmospere – limiting player choice can itself be fun. Unfortunately, as is the case of Fallout 3, turning STALKER onto normal mode makes it ‘too easy’ in the sense that other things come into play – you can use lots of med kits whereas enemies seemingly do not – accuracy of enemies is poorer on normal mode. Half-Life 1, on Normal Mode, is harder than Half Life 2. Half-Life 1’s hard mode has enemies that become bullet sponges – whereas Half Life 2 does a better job of balancing its hard mode.

          Let’s face it: a balanced game is intrinsically hard. Wolfenstein’s Blaskowitz killing multiple enemies is a power fantasy, and is usually compensated by enemies that behave stupidly in a game. Flinching, hesitation, and stun locking etc etc. Bullets that are programmed to not hit the player when first shot at (see Bioshock). Rarely are these options affected by difficulty level (although it is becoming more common) and there are lots of cheats in games at play to make us feel more badass than we actually are – but once you make that decision to cheat for the player and not tell them about it, you cannot go back on that idea so easily.

          It seems silly. Yes, people who like hard games are probably still aware of all the concessions a game makes to ease the player through (aka things that are ‘not real’) – we rely on it. We seek out those advantages. The Plasma pistol seems like the weakest, most boring gun in Halo, but it is one of the most versatile weapons on Legendary difficulty, and carried by basic enemies.

  73. Preciousgollum says:

    There’s also the possibility that ‘cheats’ and other such easy mode features became less prevalent, not because of some niche Japanese Action-RPG, but because of Xbox and Achievements (which are now a part of Playstation, Steam etc). Achievements are the means by which developers measure their audience participation in their product, and they need to be legit or else they become pointless – as a result, this became ‘bragging rights’, that publishers have actually fostered in their playerbase. The problem can be with the industry as much as whatever the fans think.

    And, because bundling in any adjustable option brings with it the risk that some developer might have smuggled a message or feature that then, for whatever reason, necessitates product recall, which costs a lot of money.

    This shift in priorities over gaming has been going on for quite a long time.

    1. Higher_Peanut says:

      We already saw cheats start to disappear with achievements and now we’re seeing them really go because publishers have started to sell “boosts” to customers and the ability to cheat directly interferes with the income stream.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        Yes. The more that people ask for an ‘Easy Mode’ on a Souls game, the more likely it is that publishers will demand that FromSoftware make the basic game harder, and then either sell an easy mode, or simply find ways to add ‘booster’ items I.e pay to win that people will end up buying.

        Because… that is just as likely to happen.

  74. DewIvy says:

    >“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”, before launching into an incoherent side-discussion that has nothing to do with the topic at hand
    >Checks reply in curiosity since it’s linked
    >Actually genuine well constructed breakdown of the article thesis, calling out your examples and showing where they contradict with your other examples
    >Calls the reply incoherent side discussion yet your own article moves off from the fairness thesis to just talk about why you love the Arkham games, where as his continues the comparison of Arkham and Souls and establishes that counterresponse with his own examples and goes indepth on the nitty gritty.

    This article reads like petty ramblings after being called out and trying to use favor amongst peers that devotedly follow you against a series of strawmans. Suck it up, this is embarrassing.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Yep. That damn Shamus, liking different things in a game and having different priorities from a Dark Souls fan. What a douche.
      And the audacity of him being irritated by having the same arguments with people over and over about a game he’s tried before.

      Seriously, though: if you just wanted to irritate him, you could have said ‘Git Gud, scrub, Dark Souls is great!’.
      Or – more imaginatively – posted a massive wall of text about the nitty gritty of Dark Souls, going into a discussion of difficulty rife with inevitably subjective opinions about what makes a game good or constitutes ‘proper’ game balance.
      (Bonus points for mentioning paired animations and l-frames)

      But I guess that would have got you drowned in spam responses talking about English muffins…

      (Got to say, it took a fair while for the inevitable Dark Souls defender to turn up. Longer than I expected.)

      1. DewIvy says:

        See this is what I’m talking about, assuming my stance on the subject and assigning me and the person he’s responding to to one of the several strawmans. In your mind I’m already a dark souls defender and I’ve said nothing on my mind about the game or subject that pertains to my opinion, only pointing out how uncharitable Shamus is being to a response.
        But ok, you can keep sucking him off for bonus points among the crowd if that’s how you’re feeling about it, while being a self absorbed mind reader the whole time. Get some better use out of your time.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Were you not trying to irritate him? Because

          This article reads like petty ramblings after being called out and trying to use favor amongst peers that devotedly follow you against a series of strawmans. Suck it up, this is embarrassing.

          would irritate most people, as reply to something they posted on their blog. (No idea if he is actually irritated.)

          But you’re right. You didn’t express an opinion on Dark Souls. I assumed you were a fan because I’ve been expecting some kickback since the article went up, and am genuinely surprised that it took over 300 or so posts to properly arrive. But sure, that’s an assumption I made and may well be wrong.*

          I do think that accusations of strawmanning (yes, I know *I* was doing this) are somewhat pointless when it comes to something like game difficulty or what makes a game good. Different people just like different things.

          But ok, you can keep sucking him off for bonus points among the crowd if that’s how you’re feeling about it, while being a self absorbed mind reader the whole time.

          So, speaking of straw men and making offensive assumptions about people…

          *Related: Don’t drink and post, kids!

    2. Chad Miller says:

      Honestly, I’m on the comment RSS feed and I gave up less than halfway through reading that comment because so much of it was trivially false. I actually explicitly thought, “heh, too bad for the poor schmuck who has to moderate this.” I mean, my personal favorite:

      Your point about Lara Croft has no bearing on fairness. The cutscene where you get captured isn’t a part of the game.

      Literally arguing that something that’s in the game isn’t part of the game isn’t something that says “I want to have a semantic discussion with this person,” yet that’s what he opened with. Even if the rest of his comment is secretly brilliant his opening is so bad it undermines the whole thing.

  75. Nordheim says:

    Wow, as soon as I read the headline I couldn’t help but think that my comment could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I would have never expected the entire thing to pretty much be a direct response to it, with hotlinks even (real class act btw).

    There’s nothing much to say about it. Piles of strawmen on top of each other. Demonizing everyone who ever posts about Dark Souls in the comments that doesn’t share your opinion as one of those darn elitist Dark Souls fanboys trying to change my opinions, regardless of history and intent, which is an egregious case of the other side is just one person that would be embarassing in the most low-brow political debate. Disregarding entire arguments on the basis of using words you don’t understand or care about because god forbid people care about gameplay and mechanics just as much as you care about themes and tone, and god forbid interacting with people who specialize in something else outside your area of expertise could provide interesting and different perspectives on the very one thing they prioritize that you don’t – nay. they are just trying to pee in your cereals for no reason, clearly.

    I would have expected one of these “5000 words on how not mad I am and why I’m totally fine about criticism and opposing arguments as long as you sugarcoat them so much you are just agreeing with me anyway” from someone doing one of those “angry gamer” shticks, not by you. You lack humilty, you are incredibly condescending and, as the guy above me put it, you don’t care because your fanbase will lap it up. Clearly shown by both these and my comment’s article comment sections – strawman the f out of every dissenter as a Dark Souls fanboy who never acts in good faith and just wants you to change your mind so goddamn much (for reasons that elude me)

    Thank you for showing your true colors

    1. Chad Miller says:

      Unless you were more than one of the handles in that comment thread, it wasn’t your comment he was linking to.

  76. Chris Wagar says:

    Have you considered that you’re not that great at describing things? That’s what I focused on in my comment more than anything.

    You have the game in front of you. What decisions does it force you to make? What tradeoffs are there between different options, different timings, different spacings?

    You’re a game critic, right? You should be used to this. This should be a skill you have on tap. You should be able to pick up a completely new game and be able to make a laundry list of observations about the animations, about the states, about the different options, and so on and be able to explain how it gets you conflicted about what’s the best choice.

    Because I’m not a Dark Souls fan. I’m a dude who pays attention to shit. I’m a fighting game player. I’ve played God Hand, Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, and Nioh.

    You can wave off criticisms in some vague flowery way (and some of those excuses are legitimate), but you’re ostensibly a game critic, and that means you’re trying to describe shit so people can understand shit.

    If you don’t like Dark Souls, then either you need to describe how it’s not your type of game, in a way that is a matter of opinion rather than fact (I don’t like how slow the combat is, I don’t like RPG leveling/grinding, I don’t like 3d action games), or describe how it’s a bad game, in a way that’s a matter of fact rather than vague wishy-washy bullshit or a way that demonstrates incompetence on your part. If other people are consistently good at a game, you, being a game critic, someone who is ostensibly good at games through your experience at games, should also be competent, if not good, at that game.

    If you want to take down dark souls, there’s a million and a half criticisms that could stick. I listed like 5 in a reply to the comment you linked. You could also say that the dragon bridge is poorly signaled and by the time you get a hint you’re getting burninated, it’s too late to escape. You could say that parries are too easy and high reward and undermine the parry-able enemies. Or that it’s dumb you can only dodge in 4 directions. Or point out some legitimate issues with lock-on breaking under certain circumstances. Or how the game points you in the direction of the graveyard/new londo first instead of the undead burg, setting you up for failure if you don’t notice the correct way forward. The Resistance stat is a complete waste of space and trap for beginners.

    I want better game criticism on the internet, and this ain’t it.

    1. Chris Wagar says:

      Here’s some replies to specific remarks in the article.
      “Falling Into a Pit Every Ten Goddamn Steps.
      Valley of Skeleton Guys that Nearly One-Shot You With a Bullshit Lunge Attack.
      What Keeps Hitting Me FUCK FUCK FUCK SHIT
      Me: Dark Souls gave me eye cancer.”
      Get more specific than that. I called you out on describing Batman poorly in that old article too. If you’re having difficulties with things, you need to come up with an intelligible argument for WHY you’re having difficulties with things. Find out if you’re missing something, or if it’s legitimately hard to understand for a reasonable person. Dark Souls expects you to perform inductive reasoning to figure things out, and it usually gives you enough clues to do so. I’ve remarked that games are inconsistent messes before, like Witcher’s melee combat that chooses pseudorandom attacks, with vastly different properties that can be really good or bad depending on the circumstance. There’s no reliable way to control which attack you get (they’re supposedly distance based, but still really fiddly), so you can get fast multi-hitters, or slow low damage attacks that outright miss because the swing animation doesn’t sweep cleanly through the space in front of Geralt. And whether enemies block you has no connection to their animation at all and is literally random But this takes paying attention and asking, “Is there a way I could have done this consistently?” and then I reference better players than myself, and see that they have the same problems I do, but they get around them by rolling behind enemy’s backs, which is kind of sad, but better than if there were no solution at all. And this is the kind of analysis I want to see from you.

      “I finally realized that it has nothing to do with the gameplay. It was wrong because I said it, and I’m not one of the faithful.”
      No, it’s because you’re describing it in a way which isn’t objective. You’re describing it like it’s this horrible thing that happened to you, without any precision or details.

      “They’re sure that if they can just describe why they like the game in enough detail, then somehow that affinity will be transplanted into you.”
      No dude. I’m explaining it in detail because I’m trying to show you how to analyze games. How to pay attention to the details of systems, and flesh them out into an argument for whether a game creates depth or not. I want better, more detailed, more meaningful conversations about game design on the internet. I don’t want vagueness or people just giving up on games because they don’t get them. You can do better.

      1. Shamus says:

        “No dude. I’m explaining it in detail because I’m trying to show you how to analyze games.”

        No, you’re another crazy person demanding I play this videogame before I’m allowed to describe why I don’t want to play this videogame. You are beyond parody.

        I’m not joining your cult. Go away.

    2. Shamus says:

      “If you don’t like Dark Souls, then either you need to describe how it’s not your type of game, in a way that is a matter of opinion rather than fact”

      First: I’ve never said that Dark Souls is a bad game, and I NEVER EVER tried to do a “take down” of DS. It’s just a game I can’t enjoy due to its punishment cycle. I’ve described this many times in the past, because people keep demanding I explain why I don’t like Dark Souls. And then they refuse to accept my answer and demand that I play Dark Souls so that I know what I’m talking about.

      Me: I don’t like playing Dark Souls. Stop asking me to play it.

      Fan: How dare you criticize the game without knowing its systems. You should play the game more before you talk about it.

      Second: That article you originally commented on wasn’t even criticism of Dark Souls. I was just comparing it to Batman and contrasting their different approaches. (And if I didn’t bring up Dark Souls, then I’d get some OTHER person in here, taking offense that I talked about difficulty without bringing up Dark Souls.)

      No matter what I do, what argument I make, or how rude or polite I am, there’s always someone that will respond with “play Dark Souls”. That’s why this post exists. It’s my final “no”.

      1. Gorge says:

        The problem I see with this article is that you’re creating strawmen in order to demonize Souls fans. Speaking as someone who literally only played Demon’s Souls, the article you made regarding the comparison between the two games just struck me as badly written because you don’t seem to understand either game particularly well. You bring up Dark Souls being unfair but even I, who hasn’t even played the game, can tell your examples are faulty. People already explained why the boulder wasn’t unfair, but you’ve decided to put your fingers into your ears and ignore all this criticism as an excuse to strawman Dark Souls fans as being malicious and ignorant of the game they play, which is rather ironic given how you’ve presented yourself in this article. At this point, you’re saying nothing of substance and just throwing mud at people for daring to disagree with you.

        Reading this article makes me think you’re oblivious as to why people criticized you. Nobody claimed the intent of your article was to criticize Dark Souls, and even if it was, that’s not what people take issue with. People take issue with the fact that your comparison is faulty due to you not understanding what fairness means in the context of gaming and how bad of an example that Dark Souls was when trying to prove your point. I think you need reevaluate what you said about fairness and to understand why Dark Souls doesn’t fit your criteria and why your definition doesn’t work, because your framing came across as dishonest and objectively lacking.

        1. Shamus says:

          “Nobody claimed the intent of your article was to criticize Dark Souls”

          Chris Wagar literally did exactly that, suggesting that I was trying to “take down” Dark Souls.

          “People take issue with the fact that your comparison is faulty due to you not understanding what fairness means in the context of gaming and how bad of an example that Dark Souls was when trying to prove your point. ”

          I presented the boulder as two opposing viewpoints. As in, “Some people say X, some people say Y, this is why the conversation gets so confused”. I began with two different definitions of the word fair, and showed how the differing definitions would lead to confusion when people try to discuss the games. It’s fine if you agreed with one and disagreed with the other. Most people do! But you’re acting like I picked a side. I was very careful to not say that one game did it right and the other did it wrong, only that the games did it differently, and in turn you wind up with two different groups of people arguing with different definitions of the word “fair” and then coming to opposite conclusions about whether or not DS is fair.

          To make this even more clear:

          The Tomb Raider vs Dark souls argument I presented is literally something Dark Souls fans have said to me in the past. Getting ganked in a cutscene is unfair, but everything in DS is fair because you can avoid it. That’s a perfectly reasonable position I suppose. But I repeated that position, and now another DS fan jumps in to argue with me because I’m never allowed to describe Dark Souls. (See rule #2 of Dark Souls above.)

          People come to DS for a lot of different reasons and they engage with it in different ways and they all cite different things as the reason they love the game. And that’s fine. But you’re acting like your viewpoint is the one truth about Dark Souls and I’m crazy for listening to those other DS fans. (Rule #5.)

    3. Steve C says:

      I want better game criticism on the internet, and this ain’t it.

      The blog post is very clearly not about the game. In that context it makes no sense to critique the game. This is a blog post condemning the fans of that game because of the nonsense and vitriol they bring to to any discussion about the game. IE it is about people like you.

    4. Alex says:

      “You’re a game critic, right? You should be used to this. This should be a skill you have on tap. You should be able to pick up a completely new game and be able to make a laundry list of observations about the animations, about the states, about the different options, and so on and be able to explain how it gets you conflicted about what’s the best choice.”

      Huh? Isn’t it obvious that he is not that kind of game critic? What is the argument you are trying to make here? That he should not call himself a game critic if he doesn’t adhere to what you seem to perceive as the one true school of game criticism?

      “I want better game criticism on the internet, and this ain’t it.”

      I don’t know where you come from but around here the way to get better x for a subjective value of “better” is to pay for it, not to confront people for not giving you what you want.

    5. Moss says:

      I’m five days late but this comment is really inane.

      A video game critics job is not to know all the quirks with animations and game mechanics. A critic’s job is to build an understanding with their audience so that they may be better informed about their purchasing decisions.

      Shamus could know jack shit about computers, game design, history et c. and still be a valid critic in every sense of the word.

  77. Redrock says:

    Oh, late to the party, as always. And what a party it was. For what it’s worth, I’ve had a complicated relationship with Soulsborne games over the years. I even tried to play Demon’s Souls back in the day, y’know, before it was cool. Bounced off it hard, and then proceeded to buy Souls game after Souls game and bouncing off each time. I think I played Bloodborne for longer than most other Souls games, but still stopped about 10-15 hours in. But then two things happened. One, I got Hollow Knight on the Switch, and blasted through that game. Loved every minute. But Hollow Knight is a metroidvania as much as a Souls-like, so, well, it’s not really the same. The second thing was Sekiro, which, again, for some reason I never wanted to stop playing, unlike previous From titles.

    After Sekiro I just bit the bullet, got Dark Souls on the Switch and something finally clicked. Since then I’ve played through a number of Souls-likes, and enjoy them quite a lot. I’m making my way through Dark Souls III right now. The thing is, I firmly believe that the Dark Souls trilogy is quite possibly the worst introduction to the subgenre. Both Sekiro and Hollow Knight work that much better because the challenge in those games is carefully controlled by the developers, handcrafted even. The challenge in Dark Souls, on the other hand, varies wildly depending on your understanding of its unnecessarily complicated systems, and can be a source of constant, unending frustration. Also, Dark Souls 1 in particular is just too fond of its cheap ambushes.

    Here’s what it boils down to for me. It’s more than okay to not like Dark Souls, and more than okay to not play it all the way through. Just as it’s okay to not like, say, Baldur’s Gate (which I, a fan of isoetric RPGs, just can’t get into despite numerous attempts across numerous systems and re-releases). Well, no, I’m lying a bit, I actually feel terrible for not being able to get into BG, but what are you gonna do. What I’m getting at is, disliking Dark Souls doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy games described as Souls-like, or shouldn’t try them. And, who knows, it’s always possible that at some point you might come back to Dark Souls and actually find something to enjoy. For me, it took a decade, but I’m glad I finally got into Souls games, I actually play them for fun these days. Which is not a phrase I ever expected to write.

  78. RandomInternetCommenter says:

    From that second link, I see the last comment out of a long series in which all “Dark Souls fanboys” are ridiculed from the start and no attempt is made to hear the other person.

    Despite liking Dark Souls, I enjoy much of your writing on Dark Souls. When it’s actually about the game and not cherrypicked interactions with the Other Side, mind you.

    These comments weren’t out of nowhere either, but as an answer to an article in which you were complaining about Dark Souls. Or, as another commenter puts it (and is promptly ignored):

    “That being said, though, if you’re saying that a game isn’t for you because it has trait X and the fans of the game are noting that it doesn’t really have that trait and you only see that because you’re doing something you shouldn’t, then it’s not unreasonable for them to chime in with that in the hopes that you’ll actually get to experience the game properly and might find it fun.”

    At this point, this isn’t a Dark Souls problem. If we transposed the dynamic elsewhere, it’d look like this:

    [Shamus – Isn’t it annoying you have to ride a car to shop for groceries? I think it’s a mindnumbing level of effort for something that should be so simple, and while I’m not suggesting the people who designed the road or the people who enjoy shopping for groceries are dumb, I’m going to write again and again about grocery shopping being dumb because of the car situation. It’s not environmentally friendly and it makes me miserable. The worst part is all these car-loving grocery shoppers who keep telling me I’m doing it wrong, as if I didn’t have this discussion a dozen times before.

    Commenter – But Shamus, you can also ride your bike to the shop, or walk, or take the bus…

    Shamus – SEE! Exactly what I’m talking about! Those grocery-shopping fanboys keep popping up for no reason to hassle me with their inane rants. These guys are completely unhinged!!]

    Behaving like that, anyone would get the same reactions regardless of topic.

    It’s especially frustrating with you because you do smart analysis. You have great insights. You don’t like Dark Souls, which is fine; but then you’ve let some negative feedback crystallize your distaste for the game into a mix of defiance and purposeful obtuseness.

    At this point you are treating the Dark Souls issue like a political party thing, and lumping all dissenters into the Other Side; which inevitably replicates all the bad dynamics of politics.

    1. Shamus says:

      “but then you’ve let some negative feedback crystallize your distaste for the game into a mix of defiance and purposeful obtuseness.”

      No, my dislike for the game came from playing it. The defiance is because people won’t take no for an answer and keep telling me I’m wrong about system X or subject matter Y. (As if this would cause me to retroactively enjoy the time I spent with the game. Like, I tried it, and my response is a firm “no”. I tried it, and I was miserable. I’m not going to enjoy this game.) And yeah, after a few years of having the same argument again and again, where each person thinks that if they just explain the game to me properly that I’ll somehow enjoy it, I felt the need to create a final “NO THANKS” post that I can link back to.

      At any rate, this “You’re describing the game wrong” argument is a trap. There are a lot of viewpoints on the game and different people enjoy different things about it and cite different things as the reason why they love it. So no matter what I say, there will ALWAYS be someone claiming I’m wrong about the game. There will ALWAYS be people correcting me because I’m not describing the game the way they see it.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        That’s a part of people trying to describe games. If you asked somebody to describe an Elder Scrolls game, it would probably sound wildly different to anybody who has experience playing a Bethesda RPG.

        I suppose it irks people to hear about a mechanic being described by someone in an ‘incorrect’ way. For example, the STALKER Master difficulty debate and the rumours about disappearing bullets. I have seen numerous discussions on the Internet from people who claim to have played STALKER, and they also say that guns do more damage to enemies on harder difficulties. This is strictly not true. I’ve actually tested all the difficulty levels, and I know for a fact that it actually takes MORE shots to kill an enemy on the harder difficulty, not less. On the first game, at least. Damage to enemies is the same across the board on the later game(s).

        Yet, the rumour persists, despite the game series being playable since 2006, and it being really simple to test. People get told to play the hardest difficulty because of all these rumours, and they might struggle with it. I suppose that at least this issue does not occur so much when there is only one difficulty level in Dark Souls.

        So, of course there is always the temptation to describe a game ‘incorrectly’ when a person doesn’t like it, or even if they actually do enjoy it.

        I think my question would be: What is it about Dark Souls that you really do not like? Is it the bleak atmosphere? Is it the insistence on dodge-rolling? Is it the relative lack of potions? Is it because, unlike Skyrim, the way that the character interacts with the boss creatures is more of a hostile, (sometimes janky) experience? Is it the feeling that the game itself is trying to beat you? Like, when a dragon lands in Skyrim, the player gets the opportunity to hit them a lot. The player is supposed to feel grand, and the music swells. In Dark Souls, bosses don’t give much quarter and their movements feel dangerous – their attacks are programmed to feel very retaliatory. The player gets punished for not spotting small windows of opportunity. Weapons are slow and attacks are rarely cancellable.

        Is it that the way Japanese developers tell stories doesn’t fit with western expectations? It is difficult for me sometimes to separate out the ‘Japan-ness’ of these games because I played Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 when I was 7 years old. Around that time I thought that ‘action heroes’ like Schwartzenegger etc were stupid, and simply the idea of having a game that criticised this type of ‘action hero with a gun’ worship, by virtue of stealth, seemed of value, and all the weirdness of English/Japan story translation just kind of goes over the head.

        There are some silly design ideas in Skyrim. For example, dragons, the feature on the back of the box that people pay for, requires playing up till a main quest point to unlock them. Each new character must fulfil a part of that quest. That is highly repetitive and counter-intuitive. Enemy appearances are tied to the character level, meaning that the world literally revolves around the player. It is like playing dungeons and dragons where you are expected to fight all combat encounters without either fleeing, or thinking outside of the box.

        Bethesda has also, somehow, managed to ruin its own reputation as a result of being so consumed by Zenimax, its parent company.

        There is also the potentially very deep cultural clash. In Western medieval fantasy, Kings and castles are supposed to be grand and important, whereas in Dark Souls they are kind of dull and disinteresting – broken and beyond function. Remember when Neverwinter Nights 2’s big selling point was the ability to run a Castle (despite the end result being rather disappointing).

        There is also the Christian aspect of how western storytelling includes a lot of ‘Jesusy’ constructs, biases, references etc, and this can end up occurring even when people are not confirmed Christians – storytelling themes of death and sacrifice etc. There is a lot of Japan popular anime/games etc that basically treats ‘Christian’ style theology as being very weird and even portrayed as dangerous and cult-like.

        This is all very different to Tolkein, who’s Lord of The Rings mythology is based on Catholicism.

    2. Chad Miller says:

      Commenter – But Shamus, you can also ride your bike to the shop, or walk, or take the bus…

      Funnily enough, there are large swaths of the USA where this isn’t actually true.

    3. Syal says:

      From that second link, I see the last comment out of a long series in which all “Dark Souls fanboys” are ridiculed from the start and no attempt is made to hear the other person.

      I assume you’re talking about Nordheim’s post. The problem is that exact argument has been made many, many times already. Don’t know the exact post but I remember responding to it back when Final Fantasy X came out for Steam. It was mentioned in the body of the post that the argument has been made before, and it got made again anyway.

      At this point you are treating the Dark Souls issue like a political party thing, and lumping all dissenters into the Other Side; which inevitably replicates all the bad dynamics of politics.

      This dynamic develops when a group doesn’t criticize itself. The six strawmen above are the essentials of actual arguments that have been made countless times on this site, often in the same article. The Dark Souls fans don’t criticize them when they show up and then get angry when non-fans preemptively do, because “you’re lumping all Dark Souls fans together”. Well, yeah. They resist separating.

      Incidentally, what was your opinion of the first link?

  79. Dalisclock says:

    As someone who does likes Soulsborne(and is currently headbanging his way through Sekiro), I totally agree. If you don’t like something, you just don’t like it and no amount of forcing it will matter.

    I’m feel like I’m one of the few people who likes Western RPGs and has never been able to make it through Dragon Age: Origins. I like the idea but for whatever reason I keep getting bogged down each time I try to get through it. Maybe because it feels ballsbusting difficult or I’m haven’t figured out the trick to making it work yet but it just hasn’t grabbed me the way it grabbed so many others who do like Western RPGs.

    But back to the main point, I’ve recommended it to plenty of people but generally with the caveat of “If you decide to try it, Play the game until you ring the first bell in the church. If you got that far and aren’t feeling it, blighttown sure as hell ain’t gonna change your mind, so call it good and stop”. The game can be infuriating even to those who enjoy it(ask me my feelings about Dark Souls 2 if you really want to hear something) so trying to slog through it when you don’t like it can be pure misery and most of us have other things in their life besides video games.

    Though I’m sure I’ve already outed myself to some as a scrub who needs to Git Gud, or something.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I’m one of the few people who likes Western RPGs and has never been able to make it through Dragon Age: Origins

      Dude, that’s ‘cos you’re playing DA:O wrong. I used to play like you. What you need to do is get the two glyph spells that interact with each other and cause a Mass Paraylsis explosion. And if you cast all the elemental storm spells on each other, they combine into one massive AoE combo spell that just melts the enemy.
      It’s no wonder you’re not enjoying it if you’re just hitting the enemy with weapons.

      Sorry. Cheap, predictible joke. I completely sympathise with you on DA:O – I played it through once, and like a lot of what’s in it…but bloody hell, I just CANNOT make it through a second playthrough.
      I always get to a section like the Deep Roads and know there’s a good few hours of boring slog combat before I get to the interesting bits. I can’t force myself through it.

      You are NOT alone in not really liking DA:O even though you should ‘in theory’.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        Dragon Age: Origins, I’ve heard, is a tough game, even on normal.

        Now, I’ve also seen a chart which suguests that ‘Normal’ mode does things like reducing/elimitating friendly fire damage, and gives player characters slight intrinsic stat boosts. Also the Enemy AI is constrained.

        I’m of the opinion that in a lot of games you will only ever get as good as you have been challenged by it. It is really very boring to play well in a game that does not demand it of the player. It is also why I think a lot of people could enjoy their games more on harder difficulties. Normal modes create a lot of bad habits in players that we have internalised a belief that games should always feel on the easy side. Regenerating health, for example, can be a decent enough mechanic if there is not much health to regenerate. Call of Duty games are tough on Veteran difficulty, because you can take less hits before you need to regenerate, whereas on lower modes, especially ‘Normal’, the player is a walking bullet-sponge that rarely needs to think about positioning and taking cover.

        So, for DA:O, when you talk about boring combat, I wonder if it is because it is difficult… but not too difficult – with perhaps a few spikes in difficulty. I would quite possibly find it less boring if each encounter required more thought put into beating it.

        And that is why I am so torn between attempting to actually play through it again (I lost the save games but then somehow recovered them) because I don’t know if I would enjoy it in Hard (I don’t like it when games cheat too much in favour of the AI via stat boosts), or if I would be missing out on some more interesting combat, leaving only a grind experience, if I only played it on Normal.

        Quote from the Wiki – “The game is tuned to be played at the Hard setting from the view of a veteran player, meaning that at this setting neither the player’s party nor the enemies have special bonuses or limitations.”

        I don’t know if this is true or not.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          So, for DA:O, when you talk about boring combat, I wonder if it is because it is difficult… but not too difficult…I would quite possibly find it less boring if each encounter required more thought put into beating it.

          Exactly this. For me it wasn’t the difficulty of the combat; it’s the sheer amount of it. While there are interesting tactical decisions to be made, no tactical decision is engaging the 8th time over. Fights very quickly become rote and predictable, but just complicated enough for you to have to pay attention all the time.

          I’m not convinced that Hard mode would actually help the situation…

          1. Preciousgollum says:

            That is understandable. Strategy RPG games can have that issue. XCOM reboot has the problem of the Normal mode being too much in the favour of the player (because dice rolls for hit percentages are modified/increased to make the player more successful without them noticing…

            … XCOM literally encourages players to play it WRONG on normal difficulty (without your knowledge).

            … whereas Hard ‘Classic’ mode keeps all the game rules intact, but the sheer idea of having only 4-6 units against imposing alien odds, and a tight success/failure curve, doesn’t leave much leeway for creative comebacks etc etc. XCOM (2012) firmly plots the player on a course that it expects. This can make both Hard mode and Normal mode boring. The game also suffers from intense repetition. The reason why Classic feels hard is:

            1. Normal mode encourages bad habits.
            2. The game setup can be ‘unfair’ in the first place.

            On point 1, you can see that it is actually the Normal mode that makes Classic appear worse for players of XCOM looking to make the transition…

            … but point 2 stands on its own merits that XCOM classic is hard, even if you adjust. Definitely beatable, but still boring because of its tight difficulty constraints.

            Point 1 is like ‘Imagined’ difficulty. Train somebody incorrectly, and they will always get it wrong.
            Point 2 is actual material difficulty. In terms of talking about Dark Souls or any other difficult game, it can help to realise what the player has been conditioned to expect out of gaming, and separate it from what constitutes Hard in a material sense.

            If we compare this to something like Halo on Legendary, or any other mode, well the act of combat encounters against types of enemies has been mostly the same for nearly 20 years, yet the act of doing so, on nearly any difficulty level, doesn’t get boring if you enjoy the game. I think raising the stakes makes Halo more interesting for me – I would find it very dull if Halo only had a Normal mode that was the equivalent of current Normal – I simply wouldn’t play it, since I much prefer gameplay over story as of this point in my relationship to the Halo franchise.

            Strategy games can end up boring even the people who usually enjoy them, or play them a lot – perhaps this is due to a relative lack of player control.

            At some point, repetition will happen, and it either is fun, or dull.

  80. default_ex says:

    This exact same discussion applies to not having a taste for vegetables. Every day that I eat a meal around other people, I am accosted by the cult of veggies. It’s pretty much a 1:1 comparison in the fanaticism response and how wrong you are about everything. Even if your in excellent physical health right in front of them, your arm must be duct taped on to those cultist.

    1. Preciousgollum says:

      There are numerous species of vegetables and they can be interesting. It is literally the food people need to survive. If you did not eat those vegetables yourself, then you ate something else that did eat them at some point during the food chain. Presumably, there is no meat without vegetation to sustain it. It Is even weirder to think that fruit and vegetables aren’t even here for us to eat them – they just happen, and we get the chance to consume them en-masse without it feeling like butchery, nor do we get attached. Fruits and vegetables are like the ultimate food source. It just goes to show that even if God did create the universe and all the plant life within it, and in an ever-altering, evolving state of both taste and color, collectively as a species we’d still be bored and disatisfied somehow and at times prefer to slaughter something with a more discernable sense of feeling.

      Personally, I’ve often failed to understand why people are so avoidant over vegetables, but those same people will buy flowers for their loved ones. Or people who think of gardens and only think of flowers. Perhaps it is a marketing thing.

      FYI I say this as somebody who is quite an omnivore and has no qualms eating meat – we eat what we can get, and it makes you realise that a large part of the diet is actually due to availability, relevance and cost, much more than choice.

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Cult of vegetables =/= the healthiest kind of food you can eat. You’re sounding a bit childish honestly. You can of course dislike certain kinds of food but ALL vegetables, really? Prepared in every single way? That’s pretty silly.

      1. Steve C says:

        You and Preciousgollum just accosted him over eating his veggies. I’m unsure if you are being genuine or ironic for humor value. If being ironic, perhaps a “/s” to denote sarcasm? If not… then perhaps don’t post just to insult someone.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          There is actually a problem with the vegetable to meat ratio that people subscribe to. I know people who look at their dinner and judge it as if they happen to be a French Monarch, where copious amounts of daily meat-eating is seen as top-tier status. People who think simply NOT eating meat in every meal equals ‘the vegetarian option’.

          I like meat and processed foods as much as anybody, but we rely too much on it and people really sulk when meat isn’t constantly available… despite it needing to be the freshest ingredient, highly perishable, and with a low shelf life… that would actually make a person physically ill if undercooked or been left in the fridge for too long.

  81. Taxi says:

    Oh so you like comedy, sci-fi, easy, story driven games? Oh man you have to play this depressive medieval terror!

    Yea it gets annoying just seeing DS mentioned all the time, I can imagine what it’s like for someone like you who writes about games.

    I mean I sorta see where people are coming from. I for example love the first Mafia game which was hard even for its time, never mind today; at the same time the difficulty makes sense for realism sake and the game can actually be rather easy if you play it the right way.

    I can also confirm it’s somewhat heart breaking when people dismiss the game when I can see they aren’t playing it right.

    There are other examples like it. Spec Ops The Line is not difficult in a mechanical, but emotional sense. Or other games that mess with you like Undertale or that pony game I forgot the name of.

    Yea well. Point is there are games where we see the brilliance but other people either may not, or they do but it’s not worth the hassle.

    Basically subjectivity ftw.

  82. Ninety-Three says:

    The most interesting thing about this sort of Dark Souls poster is that every last one of them is terrible at gitting you gud. Like, I had the experience of helping a friend through her first playthrough of the game and most of what I told her was stuff like “Here’s where to get a good sword”, “There’s a ladder to let you kill the archers in the Taurus demon arena” or “If you take off just one pound of equipment you’ll get light roll which is way better” or “Jesus Christ you’re not supposed to be in that area yet, here’s the path you should follow”. All of my advice was specific and achievable to the point where even a six year old could do it.

    Your average cultist on the other hand engages in a rambling discussion of how you just don’t understand the game’s philosophy of healing, man. Conspicuously absent from every cultist I’ve ever seen is the question “What area are you stuck on?” Imagine if a doctor tried to help you without asking “Where does it hurt?” He’d basically be reduced to telling you to get some bed rest and drink lots of fluids: not useless, but close to it. As soon as I noticed this, I couldn’t help but think that the cultists weren’t actually trying to be helpful. If they wanted you to git gud, they’d be telling you how to do better. Instead they talk about why they love Dark Souls, because they want you to love the thing they love and surely if they just explain it you’ll see what’s so great.

  83. pseudonym says:

    Miracle of sound made a great song about Dark Souls called “you died!” which I just discovered . It complements the article perfectly. Unfortunately I did not get this in the first few posts so nobody will ever read this comment and visit the link, but I still feel obliged to point this out as the song is very fitting.

    I like miracle of sound because of the quality of the lyrics. They are very well written. His mojave song about Fallout New Vegas is very good, and I also recommend his Wheatley song for people who have played portal 2. He got famous with a song about a certain commander.

  84. Sylvia says:

    I don’t like Dark Souls. I played it and I think its difficulty comes from bad programming. Input lag programmed to artificially rise difficulty. Basically, I can see I react in the right time, I push the goddamn button in the right time. Yet the game records it and reacts with enough delay to make me get hit, die repeatedly and thus making very unforgiving environment. Lore, story, visual design, yes, all of it is good, it’s what made me pick up the game. But once I found out it’s just poorly designed, hyped product, I quit. Games are for fun, not to be punished by unfair base code. Besides, it has all signs of very lazy, plain poor console port. If they didn’t want people to play on k+m, why didn’t they leave it for consoles only, like Bloodborne. Yet another studio trying to get money for half-quality product, which is sadly a sign of our times. There is no quality anymore, only race to more money made.

    1. SG says:

      When I bought Dark Souls 2 I played it for 1 day with gamepad and didn’t like. Few years later, I installed it agian but played with KB+M instead. It was much better to play that way.

      Played Dark Souls 3 with kb+m too.

  85. SG says:

    It’s more fun to play it than to watch someone else play it.

  86. Jared says:

    The toxic fanbase of Dark Souls has basically precluded me from ever wanting to play or attempt to enjoy it. It is everything wrong with gatekeeping nerd culture and I find it abhorrent. Shame, really.

  87. Alan says:

    I read this more than a year ago. I think I enjoyed it. I then forgot about it.

    A month ago I ran into someone suggesting maybe Dark Souls needed some accessibility options. Someone who literally beat the game with a single button, so he had mastered it to a level few do. The replies were… what one would expect. No level of mastery is enough to be allowed to criticize the design.

    Now I’ve stumbled across this article again and… damn. It’s kinda eerie to see how painfully accurate your “parody” is. More than a year later the dialogue hasn’t moved on in the slightest. But, I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?


    I am glad I ended up back here though. It was fun to read again!

  88. Ericka says:

    I’ve just dumped out Dark Souls after 10 hours of playtime.
    The game wasn’t my thing,no matter how much my friends or these zealots tried to make my mind up.
    The game experience overall, made me feel like the game was lacking some kind of point on itself.I didn’t clicked with it within an hour.
    But I decided to give it a chance,since it was supposedly ” a great experience”, in the words of one my friends.
    I also was experiencing a lot of issues with my graphics,the screen glitched,and I spent half the amount of the experience solving shutdowns,lag and the full screen going on windowed mode.

    Not a fun thing when you’re crossing an already annoying amount of thrash running after you.

    So I had the brilliant idea to ask on the forums, if someone was experiencing similar issues on their PC’s.
    After a couple of hours,I realized I’d made a big mistake.

    Instead of getting advice,I got a very “enlightening” preaching about reaching out the wiki,because it was obvious I was a noob, without knowledge about the “Holy” lore of papa Gwyn…

    How I dared to write,to affirm, that the game was malfunctioning.

    Dark Souls on it’s greatness can’t be able to pull out in-game errors.
    This zealot thing was then echoed by other fellow zealots. And well I ended up reading a thread filled with nonsense.
    I had a lot of fun reading this column.
    You are hitting the nail on these guys, specially on the six rules.
    Made me feel better to find out an honest article about this game community.

  89. PPX14 says:

    Interesting reading this again after some time, it was funny then and takes on new meaning now… because it also describes so aptly D&D evangelism! …by the same friend who evangelised Dark Souls to me.

    Since this article I have revisited Dark Souls which I began in 2019, and have completed 1,2 and 3 (and just moved onto Demon’s Souls). And I appreciate all of the criticisms and (pretty much) all of the praise of the game that I’ve seen; it’s an unbelievably annoying and arduous game series that also seems to be quite addictive.

    I joined my first ever D&D game in Nov 2020, after an abortive one-shot session with my girlfriend, both run by my Dark Souls (evangelist) friend (who has now bought me Elden Ring).

    D&D seemed an even more unreasonable second-job’s worth of information to learn and process all because someone else is keen to have players or introduce people to it. My girlfriend didn’t click with it at all, too much to remember, too many numbers, too much downtime waiting for others to do things. And didn’t join the subsequent group. But the evangelism persists! In much the same way as the Dark Souls evangelism! “Maybe you’ll like this element of roleplaying.” “Ah we just need to find a class that you gel with.” “But you like X and Y themes of the game.” “It’s not that hard, Z picked it up fine, you’ll be fine.”

    After my friend ended up explaining a whole new campaign to my girlfriend recently over several days and weeks working together, and had ended up with the misapprehension that she wanted to play it because she likes pirates and it’s a nautical Lovecraftian affair (?!), and she hadn’t wanted to hurt his feelings so had not been forthright in saying no thanks enough times with enough exclamations points so as to get the message through the “but maybes”, I let him know comprehensively that no she wasn’t going to be in the campaign, and compared it (D&D mechanics) to someone asking someone else to learn tractor-driving or horse-riding.

    To which his response was kk I have some other more role-playing based rpgs that we could play some time.

    So perhaps there is a certain type of person out there who likes overly complex and potentially arduous games which often amount to processing more work and information than most jobs involve, and then evangelises in the (vain and sometimes fruitful) hope that they might convince others to join their cult of appreciation. I’m not sure anyone has ever badgered me to like tennis or follow football. Only just managed to get said evangelist to play tennis with me!

    I’m still in the D&D group… :D

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