It’s no lie that FromSoftware’s “Souls” titles has inspired a new age of ultra-hard Action RPG’s that have taken the gaming world by storm for the last decade – Starting off with Demon Souls on the PS3 before being slowly succeeded by the ever-famous Dark Souls and Bloodborne, before inspiring fresher, more unique takes on the ultra-hard formula with other developers creating titles like Nioh and The Surge – However, one negative aspect of the “Souls” sub-genre is the “git gud” culture that has swarmed the gaming scene; for some, it’s a challenge… For some, it’s an annoyance… And for some… It’s a warning.
In this interesting deep-dive we’ll be looking at three different perspectives on Souls games, their appeal, why we love (Or hate) them, and why we always find ourselves coming back to them (Or staying away)..!
Luke – The Veteran
Oh god why did I agree to write about the 4 greatest games ever created with these peasants…
Okay to start it has to be said that despite being the first entry on here, I am actually the last to write my piece so I had the opportunity to take a quick read through Joe and Ben’s pieces ahead of writing mine, with this in mind I would like to start by asking – why does nobody ever mention the sheer fun of these titles? I don’t see the stress of these games anymore I just see a bit of a challenge of learning the games mechanics and sheer fun of overcoming these challenges.
For me the stress just doesn’t exist with these games but the pure and perfect(ly flawed) action RPG is all I see and it has dragged me back time and again for a minimum of New Game+++ for each successive title and I HONESTLY cannot wait to be able to dive right back into the game that started the true popularity with the upcoming remaster of Dark Souls. Those people who get super stressed by these games need to take a serious look and realise that dying is just part of the game – It was part of the game in the 80’s and 90’s when the industry was first on the rise.
I know a lot of people aren’t really a big fan of the Git Gud community but to be honest those people need to go away and Git Gud, the games really aren’t that hard we are just mollycoddled far too often with our triple a releases these days and I am just happy to have something like the Soulsborne series’ and Soulslikes that take a stance against that and I hope to see more and more of it in the years to come.
As for when I first started my Soulsborne journey… I was a hipster OG and started with Demon’s Souls on PS3, In fact I loved the look of this game so much when it first came out I actually went out and bought a PS3 just so I could play it, neglecting my Xbox 360 for the next month.
I have also noted that many people ask me if they need to be super happy to play the Soulsborne games or to have a lot of time on their hands? Simply put no. Longer Answer is that you can pick up the Soulsborne games play for 20 minutes and make some headway for yourself and then put it down – I often play Bloodborne at the moment when I only have 15 minutes between breakfast and leaving for work and it doesn’t ever hinder my experience.
ANOTHER THING I fucking love about the Soulsborne games is the storytelling method, it doesn’t plonk you into a world and tell you everything about everyone and everything within it, instead you have to research the items and actually look into the storied world to find 5 of the best stories I have ever experienced in a video game.
I just like the world building and challenge of these games, however I will also happily run through the latest JRPG that holds my hand through it but within the Soulsborne series exists 4 of my top 10 video games of all time.
Joe – The Novice
For me, I had purchased my first Soulsborne title, Bloodborne, on release, thinking it was another standard-fare gothic Hack & Slash title; I had been aware of the Souls franchise for a few months, but actually didn’t know that it was tied to them in terms of gameplay – I popped it into my PS4 and lo’ and behold I got my arse kicked.
Bloodborne then sat on my little pile of games, buried underneath newer and newer titles for a grand total of 2 years before I finally decided to fell this great beast – I suppose, in a way, the game was taunting me (Luke here, It was me… I was taunting him, relentlessly, until he played the game) – “You can’t beat me… I’m too difficult! You SUCK!!” I could hear the box call as I popped it open, finally facing my fears in the world of Yarnham.
Regardless to say, my time in Yarnham was full of struggles, fear and stress, but, overall, I really, REALLY underestimated the pure amazingness of this title – Bloodborne just felt so fresh, so well crafted, so punishing that I went through with attempting a 100% Platinum run of the game – I got so far, only being stopped by the Watchdog of the Old Lords in the Chalice Dungeons, just before the Queen of Yarnham (Noob – Luke, Again).
For me, Soulsborne games represent something inherent within all of us gamers – A thirst for challenge and success; we like hitting the credits screen, the last cutscene, taking that last hit against the final boss, and Bloodborne is no different – My final clash against Gherman, the First Hunter, was one of absolute pain; it took me at least 15 attempts to defeat the old coot, after swapping out my Hunter’s Axe for Ludwig’s Holy Blade, but my god did that ending screen make me feel satisfied.
I suppose that’s what makes Souls games appealing for me as a newcomer; the satisfaction.
…So why haven’t I started playing Dark Souls? Or The Surge? Or Nioh? In all honesty, it’s because these games are hellishly stressful – If I want to be challenged, then I’ll certainly be up for another romp with a Souls-like title…But for now? For now I think I’ll just lay low and play something a little bit more accessible. (To be fair, Bloodborne is the most stressful of ALL Soulsbornioh games)
Ben – The Total Newbie
So, this is awkward. Here I am, a guy who’s never played a single souls game, talking about a soul’s games. Why would a newbie do that? Does he know DE WEY? Does he know the way through the barren temples of Harmagraph (No idea if that’s even a real thing)? The answer to all of that is no, and to explain why I have never played and have always been put off from playing the games.
First of all, I have seen countless examples of videos of YouTube and Twitch of people playing the games, and dying, starting again and trekking back through the world to get back to the same place, only to be killed by exactly the same thing (whether it’s from the same enemy, trap or simple hole on the floor), in exactly the same way, doing exactly the same thing. That alone is more than enough to put me off for starters.
Second is the source of word and mouth. Joe, in particular has been very good at telling stories of how difficult the game is, how has dies over and over but through sheer stubbornness, and determination, kept going and passed the boss, completed the area, etc. while I do admire his stubbornness, I would have the patience to be able to work out what I’m doing wrong. In the videos, I’ve seen people rolling to dodge around enemy’s over and over thinking, that play style just doesn’t suite me. I’m a very aggressive player, if I have the chance to be able to run into a room guns blazing and be fine on the other side that I will. My biggest problem in FFXV is that I don’t dodge enough, or maybe I just go fishing too much…
Anyway, back to the souls. The board game… even just being shown the box of the board game was enough for me to go, nope, nope, nope. I can understand how its easy to be able to take a computer game and make it as hard as possible. But why make a board game as hard as well. For me board game are a way to chill out with some mates and and combat some huge numbers in Outpost, or working the hardest to Terraform Mars the fastest, or to pull your family apart with Monopoly.
My final reason as to have never played anything in the souls style is because of one video from one of my favourite YouTubers. Nerd3. In this video he was playing Dark Souls 3. He created 2 different videos to make a joke out of the culture if the fans of the games. A video about for the non-fans that was talking about what the game is really like. And then a slightly differently cut video for the fans. The difference being that here, he was acting like he knew everything about the game, all the bosses and beat every enemy first time, every time. I don’t want to become part of a community that goes on about how much better they are at a game and don’t give much more help with passing the level than, Git Gud. Maybe that’s why I don’t really play online multiplayer games either.
So will I ever play a souls game? Maybe, I would need to be in a very good mood and have a lot of time on my hands… Right now, I just don’t have that so I probably won’t play them.