Last updated on August 10th, 2015
We return to the adventures of our “hero” following a (furniture) smashing night of cooperative online play. As opposed to chicken coop online play. Do I tantalize the readers by traveling to exotic new lands and facing the epic challenges that await? Or, will I just redo an area to make sure I didn’t miss any treasures to satisfy my own Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder tendencies?
Back for Lootz
I had an abbreviated session for Chapter 5. I started my free time by trying to give another player some rings(1). The interwebz didn’t play nice so the end result was a shortened night. It happens. Especially in cow country.
Rather than delve into a new area I decided to double back to The Shrine of Storms since Befowler and I had skipped most of the level. I recall having a LOT of trouble with this area before. Between the hard hitting skellies and the flying mantas(2) shooting spike at my face I approach this area with more than a little anxiety. Or at least I used to. I used my souls to level up after the cooperative online play night (aka “Chapter 4”). I’m at SL31 now. This will be important later. Maybe.
I get up the stairs with ease. Again I show the archers at the top how it’s done. It’s time to face ol’ GrayBottom(3). I’m pretty sure getting hit a lot is out of the question so I dart in and out to see his attacks. I do get hit once. But I’m more than fast enough to grass once I’m away from him. I get him half dead and realize that I don’t need my shield since I’m not actually even attempting to block. For one of the first times ever I two hand my weapon(4). Man that’s a lot faster. Shoulda thought of that before. As I’m picking up his soul I get nailed by one of the manta spikes. Without hesitation I switch to my bow, manually track him and shoot him down with one shot. “Like a boss”, as the kids say. Kids say that right?
POP QUIZ: Which Demon’s Souls player likely used bows WAAAAAAY too much the first time he played?
Trick question: You can’t use bows too much.
I wonder if I should go up to the skellie archer arch (say that last part out loud, it’s funny) or go down below. I double back to the archway. Side note, I used to live in a town with an Archway factory. They make cookies. The whole town used to smell like cookies. I wish skeletons smelled like cookies.
This area used to skare me. The skellies always found a way to hurt me and hurt me bad (this would make a good song title). SL 31 and I’m a bad*** somehow. It’s a yawn fest getting my long bow (HURRAY!) and other fun things like unlocking Mary J. “Graverobber” Blige(6) and giving a bird(7) an augite for some semi-exclusive arrows I’ll be too worried about “wasting” to use; unless I feel like being a prick to the False King later(8). I don’t know what level I was when I did this before but I don’t recall the Shrine going this way at all.
I leave the side area and head back to the main. More archers see what it means to be a marksman as I school them and it’s anxiety time again. Why? A red eye skellie is why. We trade nothings for a minute. I then decide on the brilliant strategy I’ve never done before of baiting his jump attack and rolling at him for a backstab. I might as well get out of my comfort zone a little.
JEBUS THAT WAS EASY! How come I never did that before?!?!?!? Stupid skellies.
I go up to the lookout tower and make some manta kebobs with my bow then circle around. These skellies speak softly and carry a big sword. Like “ridiculously” big. What do I do? I used to hate the ledge fights(9).
In Dark Souls I used to advocate to other players what I called the “Kiln Challenge” to learn weapon spacing.
The rules are:
- Go fight the Black Knight boy band in the Kiln
- No blocking
- No rolling/cartwheels/handsprings
- No backstab circling
Essentially, you have to learn to draw the attack of the Black Knights (who use common PvP weapons and have a long attack range) and casually step away leaving you with a full stamina bar to exploit their miss.
This translates well to the skellies here. Again….I wish I had something more interesting to share. I don’t. This was easy.
I get to the last red eye skellie and go for the befowler special just to mix things up. I throw some soul remains down and proceed to backstab THAT ****ING SKELLIE SO HARD HE’LL LIKELY DIE AGAIN THE NEXT TIME I LOAD THE GAME!!!!!
Sorry, there wasn’t much excitement here but I have an interlude coming up you might like. Same Bat Channel! Same Bat…right now actually…
Interlude to Chapter 6
As I mentioned (I think I did anyway) I was hoping to give a few rings away before adventuring into Chapter 5. I won’t bore you with the crappiness that is a cow-tastic internet infrastructure so let’s just say I’ll try the rings another time(10).
But while I was attempting I had a couple musings I thought I might share, both inspired by where we first attempted to connect. The Valley of Defilement (level 5-1).
I’ve been wondering a lot with this new playthrough. Specifically, nothing seems to hit as hard as I remember. The skellies at the shrine decimate health bars don’t they? The mindflayers are a terror that can take you out at any second right?
I know I’ve improved……but these guys are almost a joke now. What gives?
My impression of the game gets reinforced with my SL250 trying to drop rings for someone. I venture up the planks and come across the first enemy in 5-1. Having spent a few nights recently having little trouble with the former banes of my existence, I approach the fight quite casually.
I’m stunned when he hits me for half my life bar. Vitality, as my second highest stat at 50 means I shouldn’t have any shortage of life. The Dark Silver armor(11) is also far from being like getting hit while nekkid. Seriously, what the hell?
It finally hits me (after the enemy, you know, hits me). Almost all of my impressions of this game are actually from the second run through or higher. Until I started this diary of sorts, I’d only ever been through a true “new” game once(12). And then I was too busy peeking around corners to compare hit data. I don’t know what playthrough my 250 is on but I know I have four Baby Nails, seven Penetrating Swords, a couple Northern Regalias (and two Soulbrandts to boot) and four sets of Dull Gold Armor(13) that I’ll never get to use (since it’s female only). No wonder why I thought everything hits like a truck.
Especially since this character isn’t optimized. My 50 vitality is complemented by a 65 Endurance (I like to wear heavy armor). At 250 it’s assumed I’m good at everything. My 24 faith, 34 strength and 30 dex say otherwise (essentially he kinda sucks for his soul level). So where did all my points go?
When it was time to go for platinum for me it was when my daughter was just a few months old. One great thing about having a child is you can take a lot of time off of work without any real penalty. I had a lot of sick and vacation time I could use and therefore took a month off. Babies love to sleep. I had LOTS of time to get my platinum. Only one thing stood in my way. The mother****ing Pure Bladestone(14). I spent two weeks trying to get that stupid thing. Most of it was using Soul Sucker(17) to insta kill me a skellie. I almost didn’t believe it when it did drop. So in my madness I raised my Luck level to 46 in the hope that it would speed up the process (since luck is SUPPOSED to affect rare item drop rates).
So the current revelation for me is that my 250 has been operating under far worse conditions than my low level guy. Things do hit like a truck….just the second time around. The first time is more like a small car hitting you.
My second musing at the expense of 5-1 is this; it is arguably the WORST level design in the history of video games. Instead of “point A to point B with an optional point C” style I imagine the discussion to design this level went something like this….
Game Developer 1: “Hey, we need a level for this archstone.”
Game Developer 2: “We’ve done a lot of stone, carved tunnels, etc. Maybe we should make one where they use lumber.”
Game Developer 1: “I got it! Let’s just simulate a lumberyard after a tornado and call it a level. No one will ever know the difference!”
I mean come on. Barely existent “paths,” areas that look like a logical next step but can actually get you stuck and you need to suicide, treacherous fights on precarious ledges, scenery which blends into other scenery which of course the “paths” and “architecture” also blend into, small protrusions which can trip you up in the middle of a lethal battle. It’s difficult to see, predict and react. Awful! Bold prediction time. If this were the first level of the game very few people would ever get past it. They’d take one look at the mess called a level and say “Thanks, but no thanks.”
5-1….WE HATE YOU!
Except we don’t. This is another reason Demon’s Souls sticks out. There is a level tucked inside there somewhere. I haven’t tried in over three years but I bet I still know “the way.” But that’s just it. It’s not really “the” way. It’s just “a” way. And likely the safest one. I took a different route the first time though. In 5-1 you’re stuck on top of a pile of shoddy lumber and are basically told, “go figure it out.” Along the way we found genuine anxiety. The feeling of being lost was palpable for me. The idea of not having a map. Or markers. Or a “path.” Or “a clue” led to an emotive difference in the game. Exploration? You figure it out. Challenges? You figure it out. This is the beauty of the Souls series.
It’s all on you. It’s why the word “reward” is so often used right next to “hard”
(1) I still have my first Demon’s Souls character. He’s at soul level 250 and has everything in the game (more than one in most cases). He gets used to give items away to the needy. You read that right, my retired Demon’s Souls character is now employed by the Boletaria Social Services Department handing out welfare and free benefits. On a related note, his name is “Ded.” Why? Back in “the day” video games were mostly an arcade affair. After getting a high score you’d be asked for your initials. I chose to celebrate my recent “Game Over” status by using the initials “DED” as my character was now de(a)d. I like tradition
(2) Imagine a manta gently gliding in the ocean, serenely adding to the beauty of the pristine blue. Now imagine that ***hole flying around shooting large spikes at your neck
(3) The tutorial boss who crushes most of us like a slug is back! He escaped with you but this time, it’s personal!
(4) I mean my sword pervert. And by “sword” I don’t mean “penis”
(5) Two paths with the same outcome
(6) Graverobber Blige is found in a cell in the ruins of what may have been an impressive building. Once freed, he becomes a merchant who is indispensable for archers. I’m not sure how he finds the items he sells to you but my bet is that he takes advantage of Black Friday sales
(7) There’s a large birdlike creature you never get a great look at that will trade items with you
(8) These particular arrows are hard to come by and offer some extra oomph to your shots. They’re the best thing in the world if you don’t feel like fighting the False King (final true boss). It’s interesting that he won’t catch on that the arrows slowly turning him into a pincushion probably originate from a bow (which is likely held by an assailant of some kind)
(9) Yup, I made you come all the way down here just to confirm the allusion above that you fight these skellies on a narrow ledge. Thanks for coming!
(10) I know what you’re thinking. How will I ever go on with life not knowing if Skare was ever able to provide government assistance free rings to someone else. You can sleep tonight. We connected at another time and the ring giveaway went smoothly
(11) Dark Silver Armor is some classy ****
(12) You remember the story about Ded and being my first character? Yeah, well…he was also the ONLY character until I started this run. So the payoff from the intro to Part 3 is finally at hand! This character is named “Ded 2” because he’s only my second character. Complicated, I know
(13) These are all unique or rare items and decent indicators of a minimum number of runs through the game on that character. For example, Soulbrandt is only available one time per run and it’s used to make Norther Regalia. So for you math fans that means I’ve had (minimally) four Soulbrandts which means I’m on at least my fifth trip through the game with Ded
(14) I don’t wanna talk about it
(15) Soul Sucker is a spell that can kill many enemies with one hit. I think it’s named that due to the Player’s tendency to yell “Ha ha, I’ve got your soul, sucker!” after killing something with it