Underneath my yellow skin

The end of Dark Souls Remastered…for now. What next?

So while I was romping through Dark Souls Remastered NG+, I decided to take a break and try a few games I purchased on gog.com. It was right after e3, and I had been catching up on the stuff I missed. I saw the trailer for Beyond Good & Evil 2, and I decided I wanted to try the first game (Beyond Good & Evil) because I’d heard such good things about it. I went to gog to check out how much it was there, and it was on steep sale. I also bought Chuchel because I had seen Ian play some of it, and it was really cute. I joked with Ian that my feeling about BG&E would probably be, “I wished I had played this game twenty years ago (even though it was released fifteen years ago) because while I like the concepts, I can’t deal with the jank.” I also liked that Jade, the protagonist, looks Asian. Hey,  I take my representation where I can find it. One of the reasons I got so into Torchlight as my first hardcore game was because the character I chose looked Asian, and she was fucking badass. By the way, there has been much made about why BG&E failed so spectacularly when it was released, and I really think the fact that the protagonist was female was part of it, but that’s another post for another day.

Anyway, I played about an hour of BG&E, and it was very much as I thought it would be. I really liked the idea, and I adored Jade with her bright green lipstick, but I couldn’t deal with the…not jank because it ran fairly well…but the controls (the camera, man. Oh, the camera) and the aged gameplay. No place to see what the controls were, no way to change the controls (that I could find), imprecise camera controls, etc. In addition, the combat was just bad and the tutorial was horrid. I couldn’t figure out what key I should use to eat the food, and I actually had to look it up on Google. Which, by the way, I couldn’t do while I was playing because I couldn’t Alt+Tab out of the game.

One of the first things I had to do was take pictures of the animals in my immediate area. Seriously, game? This is what you want me to do? The camera controls sucked, and they were very finicky about what constituted a good picture. In addition, they didn’t explain to me that my companion spiky fur polar bear (which is how I thought of him) was wildlife, so I wasted several minutes wandering around trying to find the last animal I needed to take a picture of before moving on. Once I finished that quest, I wandered around to find the next bit, and after several minutes of this, I was done.

I’ve written before how having not grown up gaming makes it difficult for me to go back to old games because I don’t have the nostalgia for them. I played Pitfall as a kid and Ms. Pac-Man as a teen, but that’s pretty much my experience with hardcore gaming in my youth. Wait. I played Time Crisis (the first, I think) in an arcade because I was with my then-boyfriend and bored out of my mind. I was pretty disdainful about vidya games, and he urged me to try one. I resisted for a bit, but then I gave in because we were already there. I put a quarter into the Time Crisis machine, and I was instantly hooked. I kept pumping quarters into the machine, hooked on the response-reward loop. My boyfriend wandered over after some time to ask how I was doing, and I told him to shut up and get me more quarters. I finished the game in one go, and then I didn’t touch another game again for decades.

Those instances notwithstanding, I didn’t play video games, so when all the reboots started happening, I didn’t have the same pull towards them as people who’ve played those games in their childhood probably had. It’s the same with all those retro-looking games–they just don’t have the same appeal to me as they do for people who were gaming back in the 80s. There was a time where everything was crunchy pixel art in a nod to early gaming, and I could not get into it at all. I didn’t get the appeal, and I just accepted it was yet another thing I would never be a part of.

I gave up on BG&E after an hour. While I could see why it was so revered, I couldn’t play it. I’ll wait for BG&E and hope it’s as good if not better than the first one.

The next day, I tried Chuchel. The basic gist is that you’re this fuzzy acorn-looking guy who wants his cherry. Some giant hand takes it, there’s a dog-like creature who steals it, and Chuchel (I’m assuming that’s its name) runs around trying to get it back. It’s adorable, but…how do I put this delicately…it gets old very quickly. First of all, the characters all make these indecipherable noises instead of talking, which got on my nerves within minutes. Then, some of the dialogue/action choices seemed more trial and error than something I could actually figure out. The controls for the mini-games were not great, and it lost its charm after roughly fifteen minutes. I played for a bit longer, but it never grew (back) on me, and I gave up after about forty-five minutes.

I went back to DSR, and I made short work of NG+. I’ve said before how much I like NG+ because I don’t hold myself to the same standards that I do during NG. I don’t care about exploring every little thing or doing the bosses solo. I was careful about when I went human, and I didn’t run into another hacker. Might I repeat that jolly co-op is the best? It’s so much fun to wreck a boss with a few friends by my side. During NG+, I was rocking the Black Knight Greataxe for a bit, and then I decided to try the Black Knight Halberd. Why? I don’t exactly know. It was partly because I don’t like polearms in general. I’ve tried spears and the partizan, and I’ve tried the regular halberd as well. I don’t like any of them, but the Black Knight weapons are special, and I’d already played quite a bit with the Black Knight Sword, Black Knight Greatsword, and the Black Knight Greataxe. The Black Knight Halberd (and the Black Knight Glaive in DS III) was the only one I hadn’t tried for any length of time. I upgraded it to +5 (the highest for Black Knight weapons, using Twinkling Titanite, which is rarer and more expensive than the regular Titanite Shards), and then I went to town with it. To my surprise, I had a blast with it, and I mained it throughout most of NG+. I swapped out for a few bosses, but in general, I stuck to the BKH.

One sucky thing about NG+ in DS is that…OK, see, it’s like this.  There’s a covenant called the Gravelord Covenant. It’s Nito’s covenant, and you can join it fairly early. One of the perks is that you can infect someone else’s world while staying in your own by putting down your sign. I saw the Gravelord signs throughout NG, but not the effects of it, which is your world is populated with black phantoms in addition to regular enemies. The thing I didn’t realize until I looked it up was that you don’t get the black phantoms until NG+. The way to get rid of it is to find the Gravelord servant’s sign, invade THEIR world, and kill them. Otherwise, you have to go ten minutes without getting killed or resetting by sitting at a bonfire, and the effects will be wiped out. If you sit down or die or unplug, you just reset the counter.

I still hate invasions. I still deal with it mostly by killing myself in order to just move on with my game. I have enough humanity that I don’t mind losing one in this manner, and the few times I’ve actually fought the invader, I’ve done fairly well, but still died in the end. I could not care any less about PvP, and it just pisses me off to have to deal with an invader. Especially given that one probably hacked my game the first time and killed Andre. I dealt with it by running around Hollowed most of the time, only using a Humanity right before a boss. Most of the time, I’d be invaded within seconds of using a Humanity, which means people are still playing the game. I want to clarify that most people who invade are cool, and I’m not mad at them individually–I just hate the whole system, but I accept it’s part of the Dark Souls experience.

take that, manus.
Arrow to the face!

I did the cheese on Manus this time around. I used the Composite Bow +14, the Hawk Ring, and I had 999 Feather Arrows. I cleared the area of Humanities, then I camped out in the sniper spot and settled in for a long fight. Well, I say fight, but I mean me sniping the hell out of Manus. It took nearly 200 arrows, but I did it in the end. It was funny as hell to watch the health bar go down from a distance and then see him explode into dust and get his soul without ever having met him. Afterwards, the boss fog disappeared, and I jumped into the boss arena to talk to Dusk and light the bonfire. I was feeling pretty smug and pleased with myself that the cheese actually worked. Yes, it took longer for me than it would have for someone with more dex, and I could have used the Red Tearstone ring (boosts damage by 50% when your health is below 20%), but then I would have to give up my Ring of Favor and Protection, which I was loath to do.

I took care of Gwyndolin in one try, and then I made my way to the Kiln of the First Flame to take on Gwyn. Of course, I got invaded the second I used my Humanity, and I killed myself before starting over. The only reason I wanted to be human for this fight was so I could summon Solaire for the fight, and we made short work of Gwyn. I mean, astoundingly short work of Gwyn. I threw three Great Chaos Fireballs in his face, hit him a few times, and watched as Solaire threw lightning at him. When I threw the third Great Chaos Fireball, which was maybe twenty seconds into the fight, I watched in astonishment as he crumbled into white dust.

I chose the Dark Lord ending this time because I had done the canonical ending the first time, and then I was into NG++. I killed the Asylum Demon, and I’m up to the Bell Gargoyles now, and I switched to the Dragon King Greataxe when I hit Firelink Shrine. You get it from cutting off the tail of the Gaping Dragon, and it’s fucking amazing. I have it +4, and I can’t fully upgrade it until I get more dragon scales. It takes 50 strength to wield one-handed, which I have. I have to wear the Mask of the Father for extra equip burden because the DKG is 24.0 pounds, but it’s worth it. Funny note: I can actually wield Havel’s Dragon Tooth one-handed and Havel’s full set and retain a mid-roll with Havel’s Ring (plus the Ring of Favor and Protection). I am a BEAST.

I love this character. It’s by far the best build I’ve had in a DS game ever. Saying all that, I have to add that I’ve uninstalled DSR because I want to take a break from it all. I’ve lived and breathed Dark Souls for the past three or four years, and it’s time for me to branch out. That’s not to say I won’t go back–I’m fairly sure I will–but I am done for now. What a wild and wonderful ride it’s been.

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