Last updated on August 10th, 2015
First, a short thanks to some guys in the chat for inspiring me to write about this today. It’s been a few months since I first started playing dark souls, and again a few months since I first beat the game. It took me only a few days to get through it, of which I’m not sure is the average or not. However, I feel it might be fun for some people to read my first time through dark souls and perhaps share their own experiences.
What class did I pick at the start? As I looked through the options, I had some knowledge beforehand and the advice of a friend to pick the Deprived class, for it would likely have the hardest time through the game. I chose to go with Deprive because I was a bad dude who could save the president. But this isn’t about Obama. I also decided the master key was just cheesing the game based on some former knowledge, so I picked the tiny being’s ring, determined to get the full difficulty out of dark souls.
The Undead Asylum
Checking messages along my way, I learned how to play the game. I tried fighting the Asylum Demon when I got to it to no avail, eventually noticing the open door in the corner while looking for a way to retreat. Dark Souls is difficult, but it wouldn’t be considered a good game if the first boss were this difficult, right? (Obviously I had never played Demon’s Souls before).
Getting past the Asylum Demon and noting it had dropped in from the roof I picked up a piece of wood I could use as a shield and another piece of wood I could use as a makeshift weapon. I beat an arrow-shooting undead to death with my club and wandered around past the fog door separating the first and second floors. Seeing a shiny object out of reach I tried to dodge onto it to no avail. I eventually tried to go up a flight of stairs after fully exploring the floor I was on, which is common practice in most games. I was crushed by a boulder. Taken by rage I rushed in and killed what I still believe to this day is part of Patches’ extended family. I tried to open the door past him but couldn’t. I turned around and immediately went down the flight of stairs, opened the door that lay there, and… sat down at the bonfire I had just come from.
Knowing the Asylum Demon was beyond the door, I chose to try and find if there were something I’d missed before. It jumped down, maybe I could too? Double-checking over the previous area, I eventually noticed the hole in the wall. The thought How did I miss that” quickly left my thoughts as I noticed a man in pain in front of me. I spoke with him and he gave me purpose. Oscar of Astora was the man in the cinematic who gave me that key, and now I was to succeed his will, or as he put it “Keep the torch lit”.
With ire I burst upstairs and… went back downstairs. And went upstairs and downstairs again. I grinded for a while to get used to the basic movements in dark souls. After I’d gotten used to the flow of battle and actually managed to pick up a hollow soldier’s leg piece from the one guarding the room I couldn’t open yet, (I had assumed I needed the master key for that so I put it out of my thoughts) I decided to drop-attack the asylum demon. I then proceeded to then beat it to death with a piece of wood. Naturally, after this, I laughed. Hard. “I’m sure at least a few people chose knight as their starting class and with that full suit of armor and real sword and shield lost to this thing that I just beat with two pieces of wood and a torn skirt.” This thought brings me joy to this day, and as I laughed and met snuggly without much to do with it, I made my way to the unnamed crow which may or may not represent Velka but I didn’t know that then.
Only in the ancient legends is it stated that one day an undead shall be chosen to leave the undead asylum, in pilgrimage, to the land of ancient lords, Lordran…
Just like before, I wasted a lot of time exploring the area and collecting every little thing I could, talking to everyone I could as well. Eventually I found my way to the skeletons. Oh yes, the skeletons; the first trap for new players. I started fighting them thinking that was the direction I needed to go. After a few hours, I’d learned how to parry every now and then properly. After I’d leveled up resistance once to buff defense a little, a friend told me not to level up resistance because vitality was better. It seemed like sound advice since at that point everyone I knew who played the game told me that, so I went with it. I eventually decided to go in a different direction, this time finding myself beset upon by ghosts I could do nothing to. I ran, naturally, and found a locked door in the new londo ruins. Again, I assumed I’d needed the master key for that and decided to put it out of my mind. Finally moving on hours later, I decided the only possible path left was up.
My time through the Undead Burg was fairly uneventful. You can see most enemies throughout the area and–HOLY CRAP IS THAT A DRAGON!? I THOUGHT GWYN KILLED THEM ALL!… oh. It’s just… leaving. Okay then. I guess it’ll be on a bridge later or something. Dragons like bridges, right? So I went through fairly slowly, trying to practice parrying the whole way through. Eventually I noticed the undead merchant and decided to grind for a while to buy chain armor. In that time a friend told me to get the residence key, so I did. Most likely he was warning me about that unimportant spell-caster student who’s completely overshadowed by Logan… anyway. I noticed a shiny on a ledge. It’s so shiny… and I can’t figure out how to get to it. Am I… supposed to roll there? Okay. I’ll roll there. And thus I rolled right next to a black knight…
I decided I’d not have a chance against it so I should go back to the bonfire to reset its position. So I went back to the bonfire, noting the right path to get to there for when I would try again shortly. The bonfire, however, was out. “Well. That isn’t good. I thought they said you could only be invaded when you’re hum– OH GOD IT FOLLOWED ME”! I couldn’t run anywhere and decided I was already right next to the bonfire so if I died I could just pick up my souls without any effort. So I confronted it. I parried… and parried… and parried more times than I cared to count, eventually killing it. I didn’t even know what it was, just that it was dead. A friend mistook my story and thought it was a Balder knight until I made it clear many days later that it was actually a black knight (The wiki was useful for that).
So moving on, I found the Taurus Demon. Honestly I got beat my first time because it jumped up and I tried to confront it directly. Not really a good idea. However, in my second attempt, I drop-attacked it several times and it died as it would normally die when confronting it. As I said, not very eventful.
WHY AM I ON FIRE!? UNAVOIDABLE! UNAVOI– oh, I guess that’s what those black marks were on the bridge… well, I made it through alive so I guess it’s not a big deal anyway. So I didn’t notice the bonfire… or Solaire… and naturally the rats poisoned me as I ran past them. With barely any health left I killed every hollow there except the boar. A friend told me to use the item on the small bridge above it to kill it. Only I’d already gotten it and didn’t remember its name. So I tried killing the boar. And died. And went all the way through the undead burg again, this time noticing the shortcut to the bonfire. I tried over and over to get past the rats and kept dying to them because their hitboxes were strange. Eventually, though, I killed the boar, not by leading it into fire or shoving a club up its backside, but rather getting it caught in some pillars and continually smacking it from behind over and over. After a few minutes of slowly bludgeoning its HP out of it, the boar fell. I asked my friend if there were a bonfire near to it, and he laughed at me and said “No, of course not.” I moved forward anyway.
Noticing the undead just… walking ahead, my trap radar was pointing straight ahead. So I moved forward and quickly dodged back. A fair few undead started attacking me. Naturally, I disposed of them all. After that I asked my friend “Does that boar respond?” Hearing “No”, I decided it was safe to go back and use the bonfire. So I made my way to that point again, and took a wrong turn and had to fight several Balder knights and the tower knight while getting sniped by a Channeler. Instead of going through a different way, I simply went through the same way again but more carefully. When I got to the tower knight, however, the pincer still killed me. Luckily, though, I’d noticed there was another entrance.
I went around a different way, this time setting my respawn point at the Undead Parish bonfire and lured the tower knight away, killing it in the process. I slowly made progress, gathering titanite shards along the way to upgrade my shield, which at this point was a knight shield, and weapon, which at this point was a Zweihander. I didn’t like its moveset necessarily, but it did do a great amount of damage. After a while, a friend told me about the drake on the bridge and shooting its tail. Since I didn’t like the Zweilhander’s moveset I wanted to try out a different weapon that was a bit faster. I went through the process of shooting its tail off and got the Drake Sword. I loved its moveset, and its damage was equal to the Zweihander’s at that point. I also was told about the “Best character in the game” and how he was on the bridge opposite to the dragon I’d just stolen the tail of.
I met Solaire and got the summoning item I’d elected not to use that playthrough. So I made my way back to the undead parish bonfire and after buying the Crest of Artorias, I opened the route to the number one grinding spot in the early-game…which I didn’t use yet because all I knew was it was a grinding place, not how to abuse their spotty AI like a pack of lemmings. Rather, I grinded drakes in the valley to upgrade my Drake Sword a bit. My friend eventually corrected my behavior, so I grinded in the unfair grinding spot, taking every advantage I could. Mainly focusing on strength, dexterity, and endurance, with an occasional point in vitality I’d accidentally built quite the glass cannon without much focus on what type of weapon I’d like to use. I felt fairly empty despite being such a fairly high level. So I started over, trying to build my character properly… I spent a day wasting time and realized my new character was looking a lot like my old character. I deleted her, and went back to my Deprived. In any case, I eventually killed the Belfry Gargoyles without much effort because I was overpowered and their AI isn’t the greatest.
Lower Undead Burg
Not much to say here. I killed everything in my way. That’s about it. You’re expecting some rant on the Capra Demon? Well, I only developed my hate of it quite a while after my first playthrough of the game. My first time, yeah I died, but then I died against a lot of things. I didn’t really care. I tried again and I won. Just like usual. It’s annoying, yes, but it was just par for the course my first time playing the game.
I got a sack. Also Where did that butcher come from? I thought I killed it…Now where to go… oh, this garbage chute must be the way forward. Well that’s a big rat, good thing I got this bow earlier. Now where to go… Well, I think I can make my way through this tight corridor. A hole blocks my way… well I learned how to jump and… made it! Great. Stupid Channeler… DIE! And another hole… is there any other way? Frogs… a status effect? I guess that’s poison… “Nearly killed all the frogs and– ah, darn, I died. Wait, this must be curse… why’s my health at half?” “Where do I get cured of this? Well… I think that merchant in the undead parish had a way to cure this… didn’t that female undead merchant also? Okay, so I need to try going down there again… though… wait, who’s this? That was when I met Laurentius of the Great Swamp and decided to try pyromancy. I mainly used Fire Orb and Combustion, but didn’t put much time into leveling it up yet. I needed those level ups to even out my vitality. So eventually I did find the right way through the sewers, and after a long, long time of getting used to the area for future playthroughs, I fought the Gaping Dragon… and died terribly. My second time, it was a lot easier because I’d changed to a light roll and thus could move significantly faster. Also I was less terrified by it. I finally got the key to Blighttown. And died more times than you could possibly imagine, yelling at my tv screen futilely over not knowing where the toxic darts came from.
I died a lot, and slowly made my way down. I kindled the bonfire at the bottom as I usually did and got invaded by Maneater Mildred, who I promptly killed. Really there’s not much to say about Blighttown. I moved slowly but I blocked most of it from my memory. I find Blighttown has that effect on people. Quelaag, as with most bosses, took me two tries. I realized you could just stick close to her and Quelaag could almost never hit you. So she fell like the rest before her, and I moved on.
Noticing a strange, almost unnatural opening in the wall, I’d attacked it. Oh look, a false wall… servant? Am I a servant? Uhh… sure dude, whatever… who’s this? I didn’t get a name so I tried looking her up online, being spoiled to some details about Solaire’s fate. I decided to join her covenant and fed her as much humanity as I could. I wasn’t going to use it much anyway. I didn’t know what this shortcut was, but I knew I wanted Solaire alive. All he wants is jolly cooperation. In any case, I prepared the trek back and–Oh crap I’m going to have to go through Blighttown backwards… I wonder how much I could get for selling a used copy of dark souls… My journey would have ended there if not for a friend of mine making me aware of the back entrance to Blighttown. I didn’t quite know which way it was though and got caught by several toxic darts, thinking I’d just gotten trolled. He told me I took a wrong turn and I didn’t fully believe him (at least I got a Firekeeper’s soul out of it). I started heading back up Blighttown until another friend told me the other friend actually wasn’t trolling me. So I tried again, and thoroughly enjoyed the infested barbarians continually falling off a cliff trying to chase me. And thus, it was time to tackle Sen’s Fortress.
This place is unsafe. This place is unsafe. This place is unsafe. This place is unsafe. This place is unsafe. This place is unsafe. You get the picture. I very very slowly moved through Sen’s Fortress, letting enemies fall into their own traps. When I got to the room with the boulder switch I got lost and didn’t know where to go. It took me quite a while to notice the path upwards, but notice it I did. I was told there would be a “hard to find bonfire” at the top of the fortress. I looked around for a while but finally noticed it, dropping down and sitting down and kindling it and being human… and being human. So yeah, I summoned Tarkus… and died because Tarkus didn’t move. Then I summoned Tarkus again… and Tarkus did roughly 70% of its health in damage, ultimately falling. I had to finish the job, and honestly it was rather difficult for me and my low level of skill and low damage output. However Tarkus proved victorious over the Iron Golem with my help… somehow that seems backwards.
Moving on, I killed a few sentinels, killed a gargoyle, killed a fair few roof ninjas, killed another gargoyle, killed a few more sentinels, killed a few bat demons, and made it through snipers run my first time. Yeah that’s right. I’m a bad dude who can save the President. Though those bat demons got me once before reaching that infamous point in the game. So maybe I just got lucky. Now I’ll never save George Bush… well back to the point. I found Havel’s armor and grinded for a while to be able to move in it, but O&S stomped me as I watched their movements. So I decided to go light armor, grinding to fully upgrade my crimson set, which served as my primary set for the rest of the game. I fought them again, this time killing off Ornstein and almost immediately dying to Smough. By my third attempt, I proved victorious over them. And thereupon I met a flurry of “Holding with both hands” and “Amazing chest ahead” which totally flew over my head because I was uncharacteristically innocent about the fertility goddess Gwynevere. She told me about stuff I didn’t fully understand and gave me an item I could warp with so I decided she was my best friend. I was about to make a covenant with her, but decided against it because I’d already made one with a giant sickly spider.
The Painted World of Ariamis
Did I mention I’d made Quelaag’s Furysword in Anor Londo? That’s kind of important. I made Quelaag’s Furysword in Anor Londo. And it served me well in the Painted World. Did I mention I also went to the Undead Asylum at some point? It didn’t seem important enough to mention before. Put bluntly, I can’t say there was any one time I went here. I came and went through this area so many times and never actually killed Priscilla to this day. I have assisted in killing her but never actually killed her on any of my files. It was kind of hard to see where to go, I remember, but then I was grind-happy so I didn’t really mind. Eventually I left, placed the lordvessel down, and made my way to…
The Demon Ruins
I ran over to Ceaseless Discharge. I ran past Ceaseless Discharge. I saw a shiny. I went “Oooh, shiny!” I picked up the shiny. The boss music started. I ran like heck, not really even knowing why. Maybe the back door would be open? No, that wasn’t it. Maybe it was instinct. I don’t know. All I knew was I didn’t feel ready and didn’t feel I could win at that location. So I guarded and waited for its attack. I attacked its arm and suddenly its health dropped down to nothing and it fell. I told my friend about how I did that totally on accident, wondering if it was some sort of glitch. He laughed hard and told me “No, that’s how you’re supposed to fight it!” I was confused at that and he told me about how our other friends had gotten stuck on that for quite a while because they kept trying to fight it directly. Totally on accident, I managed to kill that gimmick boss in the gimmick way it was meant to be gimmick’d.
I basically ignored the Minotaur Demons for a while and moved on to kill the Demon Firesage. I was disappointed at the palette-swap and annoyed by the tight corridors I fought this boss I’d already defeated twice before. Really, if there were any boss that really annoyed me, it was the Demon Firesage. It was just lazy.
I used the shortcut and immediately went to kill the Bed of Chaos without bothering with the Centipede Demon. I didn’t know what to do, but decided to attack the shiny. So I attacked the other shiny. And then I stood still for a half hour, truly unsure of what else I was meant to do. However, eventually I had to look up a playthrough on YouTube. I didn’t know where to go because the floor only collapses when you get near it and I simply didn’t get near the floor in front of the bed of chaos. How was I supposed to know that place would collapse? Of course, the bed of chaos fell rather simply. I died once near the middle but made it on my first time platforming onto the branch. Honestly I think I’ve only ever missed that branch once.
My first time fighting the Bed of Chaos, really, I didn’t feel it was that big a deal. My second time playing it was filled with about two hours of me being impatient and angrily running back to the boss fight while shouting the entire time. That might be more interesting, but that wasn’t my first time playing it, and my first time, I didn’t feel the Bed of Chaos was bad. I felt it was rather innovative, if poorly implemented.
New Londo Ruins
I skipped over Sif, but then there wasn’t much to say. I fought him, it was a standard fight, and it was easy getting through the area. I’d fought him much earlier while grinding. Really, not much to say. Anyway, I died in the ruins mostly while fighting ghosts and running out of transient curses. But I kept going back and slowly made my way through. The ruins have a lot of ambushes but after a while you start to expect them so they lose a lot of their bite. I tried fighting the Four Kings with a light armor set and couldn’t deal out enough damage before they swarmed me. I went back to Anor Londo, bought the Giant’s Set (okay, so I looked up it has the highest defense, I never claimed I didn’t receive outside help, I just didn’t summon any other players to help me) and fully upgraded it. Then I came back and beat the Four Kings by tanking their attacks. I decided to use a Lightning Ricard’s Rapier + 5 I’d made while grinding (yes, I grinded a lot, again, my only restriction was I wouldn’t summon other players to help me) and I won over them. Next, please…
Confusing is the only word I could use to describe here. Maybe a little annoying too. I died a lot trying to make that jump down to Vamos. Dozens of times actually. Then I went to the next area.
Tomb of the Giants
Of course I’d had a helmet with a flashlight at this point so the whole goal was slowly making my way through, mainly because I still couldn’t see anything. I saved Rhea, I told Patches to go blank himself, and I died a few times to the skeletons and their weird hitbox. I’d built a divine weapon for use in the catacombs… what’s that? The catacombs? What about Pinwheel, you ask?… why would I include every normal enemy I came across? I only mention ones that caught my interest. Anyway, my divine claymore helped me through the catacombs and my Furysword helped me find my way through the Tomb of the Giants. I noticed after switching from my low damage divine weapon to my Furysword that the enemies didn’t respawn. Helpful. Because I didn’t summon Leroy he didn’t invade, so I moved on and killed a bunch of pinwheels who were significantly harder than the fake pinwheel earlier in the Catacombs. I fought Nito and his skeletons with my divine claymore, and actually managed to win my first time while wearing my shiny helmet. Lucky.
The Duke’s Archives
I spent four hours getting lost in this Water Temple-esque labyrinth with its lever puzzle and… oh right. Logan. Yeah I skipped Logan. I didn’t even know he existed.
The Crystal Cave
Those invisible platforms infuriated me. No, I never fell from them, but it made no sense to me. The boss doesn’t use invisibility, so why are his platforms invisible? I told a friend about this and he talked about Priscilla’s invisibility and I asked “Well why not have invisible platforms there?” Now I think back and laugh at that because of their relation. She’s not a spellcaster but she’s related to Seath so of course she’d have some of his abilities, apparently specifically invisibility. I killed Seath by sitting back with my dragonslayer greatbow and firing away at him. Really, it was the easiest fight in the entire game, easier than even the Asylum Demon.
The Kiln of the First Flame
I fought Gwyn and lost, and fought him again and lost, and fought him again and warped back to the bonfire. I decided to read up on Solaire’s quest, went back and killed the Centipede Demon (it got caught in a loop and I took advantage of that), and progressed his plot so he’d help me kill Gwyn. Gwyn died without me parrying him because I didn’t know you could, and I got the ‘To Link The Fire’ ending, not aware that there was another…
It wasn’t the most impressive first run as I ended at level 102, nor was it the most complete, as I never discovered Logan, Sieglinde, the Stone Dragon, the Old Witch’s Ring, Gwyndolin, Kaathe, or even most of the covenants. I didn’t go totally without help on bosses since I summoned in-game npcs to help, and some friends gave me some hints along the way. But regardless of my first time’s inadequacies, this was my very first time playing dark souls.
How about you?