In my ongoing replay of Demon’s Souls I’ve just boldly allowed a Pill Bug to explode all over Patches’ face and have a key decision on what to do next. Should I go here? What about there? Possibly this way is the answer. Well wherever I go, it’s time for someone else to do the work for me!
Bromancing the (Arch)Stone(1)
I’ve had an offer to do some cooperative play. There’s no good abbreviation for that word by the way. “Co-op” inaccurately portrays the root word by adding an “-.” However, maintaining true to it’s roots and using “coop” makes me think of a place you’d house chickens.
Anyway, nitpicky tangents aside, I never really got the chance to do much online with Demon’s Souls. So yeah, let’s do it. I’m pretty close to the level range of the person who extended the offer but I want to get slightly closer first.
Let’s gauge if I’ve actually gotten better at these games. I’m going to earn some souls in The Shrine of Storms quick(2). Old habits die hard. I’m still using my bow to lure enemies out but, hey….this is good news, I’m handling single enemies a lot easier. What do you know, practice does make perfect. By “perfect,” I mean “no longer crap.” I get to the top of the stairs and use my bow to have a shootout with the two archers looking down at me (literally, but also possibly figuratively). Sorry guys, but I’m pretty comfortable correcting the drift of my shots. I walk into the archway. Turning left I’m, uh…left with a small sinking feeling. I know that tile on the floor is a trap. But which way does it shoot from? I guess the logical answer and it pays off. Thanks again shield. I make a mental note (after I’ve stepped on it) to see if the tiles can be activated with an arrow (I checked later, they can’t). They can in Dark Souls and it’s fun to lure enemies in line with them and do this. I get my key then proceed back to see if I’ve really got it. There’s a red eye skellie(3) isn’t there?
I approach with some hesitation. Shield up of course. I remember all sorts of things in this game. Half a health bar gone and my entire stamina meter with it remind me that things like a jump attack show just how hard it is to memorize every trick this game has. I do the panic dance. Backpedaling while your finger twitches above the “block” button trying to anticipate an attack. An attack you’re unsure you can stop anyway. I find an opportunity to grass. I make some improvements in the “don’t let him hit you” category. I get the win.
Let’s get the hell out of here before I lose all these souls. I level up and send the message that I’m ready to rock (rolling comes later).
We take some time to decide where. A convincing message from my pal Befowler to “bring a bow if we want to shoot ol screechy down(4)” leads us to head toward the Tower Knight.
A little more history from when I played the first time. “Builds?” This current diary is about my second character. Ever. So the only time I ever fought Ol’ Screechy via the path to the Tower Knight was with either a barely upgraded bow the first time, or with drastically increased Screechy health forever after. I go buy more arrows. Gotta get over 200. I mean, I’ve got a compound bow +1. What’s that gonna do? I’m glad Befowler suggested this because I wouldn’t ever ask a phantom to brave the mind numbing tedium of this fight.
I have no idea what he was using (sidewinders?) but it only took a couple minutes. This might have foreshadowed some later events.
We make our way down the bridge. Befowler really likes using soul remains(5) against the gangs of enemies. It’s certainly faster than my methodical approach. Group ’em and slash ’em. You can’t ask for a better phantom. He even makes sure that the crystal lizard doesn’t get away. I’ve only ever fought the Tower Knight solo so I go in thinking I’ll fight like I normally would. We enter the fog and I run up to the first archer. As I’m quickly dispatching him I notice a HUUUUUUUUUGE chunk of health leave the boss. Some credit to me, I realize I’m at a significant risk of missing the fight completely while dealing with archers. I turn around to see one ankle of our foe spraying the magic equivalent of steam. I forget if it’s called “meam” or “stemgic.” Befowler deftly leaps and stabs and I see that the second ankle is also soon to an afterthought. Meanwhile, I’m still at the top of the stairs. I sprint to the bottom just in time to be flattened by the Knight falling. It’s ok, I can shake it off. Luckily Befowler also got knocked down. Why is that lucky? I don’t think I would have landed the one hit I did on the knight if that hadn’t made him pause a couple seconds. Not even Ostrava’s brass telescoping farseeing device could have killed me that time.
Next stop: Latria(6)!
If only my PS3 would cooperate from here on out. A little trouble getting connected the first try but after he gets summoned by someone else and then the monk treatment we’re ready to roll (told you rolling would come later).
And yes, I did take the time to message him asking for a pose. I stand by the decision.
Befowler and I have one thing in common that makes us a great team: We hate furniture. A lot. We trashed that joint on our way through like a couple rock stars in a hotel after a nightlong speedball binge(7). We’ve worked a decent way in without much effort. There’s a spot without a rail(8). I chuckle as I go by. My right foot has at least three toes hanging in the wind. That was a close one. Befowler has been stabbing prisoners through their cell doors. Mercy killings are fine by me. I see the message “The Phantom befowler has been slain.” Turns out that his beloved mailbreaker and one slight mistake in footing led to a backstep off the ledge I narrowly avoided. I have to say the risk of accidental plummeting is justified. The mailbreaker was also the thing that Achilles’d the hell out of the Tower Knight. I go add some ninja fresh gear to my mage/knight ensemble and head back down to summon again(9).
After some agonizing failed summons we change venue. Let’s go to the Shrine. To tell you how bad my internet connection can be I’d been standing around in human form(10) for probably near an hour now and we have yet to be invaded. This continues in 4-1 (Shrine of Storms). A restarted PS3 finally does the trick. We roll through 4-1 like a storm (get it?). The double backstab trick(11) people talk about in Dark Souls: We do that to the red eye skellie from earlier. It’s hard not to laugh. Befowler shows that he’s interested in doing the rolling trick over the wall on the archway(12). You know that switch I missed for weeks in Stonefang? I discovered the rolling trick my first time ever in that part of the Shrine. Figures.
We’re ready for the Adjudicator(13). Maybe a little too ready. I think I got hit once. Right after jumping in. He tried to give us the bird but we just stabbed it to death.
There’s a short delay before we start the next section. I go and clear the Grim Reaper guy (who has the only weapon in the game that I’m jealous I can’t get, Dark Souls fixed this for me). I work down for treasure. I “find” the secret tunnel again. There are probably still blood stains in that tunnel from me losing to this red eye skellie. Tonight, I lure him to the larger arena where the reaper was. This works in my favor and I now get to grab the white bow(14). I can’t use it yet, but just owning one of my favorite weapons from before is comforting. More so than the pendant (get it?).
The timing is perfect. Befowler is ready and all I have to do is jump down and summon him. And fail. Crap. He reminds me that restarting my PS3 worked once before and; what do you know? It does this time too. We meet Patches again. Don’t kid yourself Mr. “The Hyena.” We weren’t tricked. We were willing participants in your charade (15). We spare his life and move on. Befowler does some skellie melee while I do riot control with my compound bow. We’re in the heart of darkness (actual, literal darkness). His memory of the ghosts is superior to mine. He rushes to the side of one and attacks. He seems clear of any aggression. The ghost emits a blue beam of death right at me. This is a reminder of why I used to hate this section. At least Befowler should be alright. Except HE gets hit somehow, not me. And dies. I go a little further, and finish off an invisible ghostsassin after it appears behind me. I win but it has hurt me. And there are still Blue Lasers afoot (Cheat Commandos reference anyone?). I head back up and call it a night.
(1) If I have to explain this “clever” reference then the joke is ruined. Can’t hold your hand all the time
(2) Remember “Because Skeletons”
(3) Red eyes on an enemy should result in the reaction of “**** me”
(4) Ol’ Screechy is that dragon that toasted me earlier. He will repeatedly fly over the bridge to the Tower Knight and try to burn you. Except there’s lot of safe areas from which an archer can take advantage
(5) Soul remains are an intriguing consumable item. When thrown, various enemies will believe it to be something awesome and head there instead of at you. It probably looks like a box of free kittens or something to them
(6) Latria. I explained this last chapter (sorta) and this is my shameless plug for you to make sure you read that one too
(7) My apologies to River Phoenix. Except not really. If I was really apologetic I wouldn’t have typed the reference in the first place. Don’t do drugs though
(8) The prison section of Latria is a tower of prisony funy! Balconies abound with rails to stop you from falling. Sometimes
(9) I found some more new armor! Fashion time
(10) When in human form you are open to being invaded by other players. It’s pretty sad that this never happened the entire time I waited
(11) The “trick” is that both backstab the same enemy at the same time. It looks pretty painful, even to a skeleton
(12) There’s a spot (unintentional perhaps) in which you can roll over a broken wall and skip most of the level. It’s the Demon’s Souls equivalent of a pipe. Sadly the princess is not in another castle. I think she’s dead
(13) Adjudicator! A big fat boss with a tiny birdie on his head and a giant cleaver. I don’t know what he plans to adjudicate but my bet is a pie (or bird seed) eating contest
(14) For an archer the White Bow is the cat’s meow. Best range in the game and awesome damage. If you’re into cheese, this bow can actually be used to kill the final boss without him even attacking
(15) Patches V2.0, this time he’s near a pit. “Hey, look at that treasure down there” he says. I ask “what treasure?” Oh yeah, the boot to the backside to get me to fall in the pit treasure