Underneath my yellow skin

Walking away from the First Flame

I heard The Pina Colada Song on my way home from Cubs today, and it put me in the mood…to play more Dark Souls! It’s my Dark Souls fight song, and I’ve heard it twice in the past week. That must mean something, right? I recently learned that there is a second ending to Dark Souls II. Rather, to Scholar of the First Sin, which is the remake/update of DS II because DS fans were so upset with the vanilla sequel. It’s pretty cool that there are still things I don’t know about the games even though I’ve played the hell out of them, much like when I found a mini-area I had never seen before in DS II, but I doubt there’s anything big I’ve missed. Then again, I missed the second ending, so who knows what else I’ve missed? I think it’s because DS II is the least-talked-about game in the series. I haven’t played the vanilla version of this game, so I can’t comment on that. I have let it be known that I think SotFS is a really good game, but it’s not a great DS game. Anyway, the biggest difference is


There is a character, Aldia, who is the brother of King Vendrick. He’s in the vanilla game, and you have to go to his keep for reasons. However, you never get to see him, and he’s more of an urban legend than anything else. FromSoft decided to change it up for SotFS. I mean, hell, even the name is in reference to Aldia, so it’s the first hint that he’s going to feature more prominently in the remake.

In the second half of the game, he shows up at bonfires to talk to you. He gets increasingly smaller every time he appears (which is three), and he’s not human. I can’t describe what he is, exactly, but he loves the sound of his own voice. Then, you have to do things in a certain order (and I will admit I knew this before going into the end game) in order to have a certain thing happen. Does that sound deliberately vague? Well, it is.

In the vanilla game, there is an area called the Throne of Want. You walk forever to get there, and it’s the boss arena for two different bosses. First, Throne Watcher and Throne Defender (a duo), and then the final boss, Nashandra–the queen. You can also kill King Vendrick at some point, but it’s optional (and a HUGE pain in the ass). In order to have Nashandra show up, though, you need something called the Giant’s Kinship, which you can only get from defeating the Giant Lord in a memory. You cannot access the memories without the Ashen Mist Heart, which you need from the Ancient Dragon in the Dragon Shrine–which you can only access after beating the Guardian Dragon in Aldia’s Keep. Yes, I am spoiling the whole end game, but it is under a spoiler tag, and the game is four years old, so I think I can get away with it.

In the vanilla version, there is one ending. You claim the throne, and that’s it. In SotFS, well, if you set everything up correctly, after you defeat Nashandra, Aldia pops up in the boss arena. He talks at you some more, and then you have to defeat him. You don’t get souls for it, but he gives you a choice of two endings. I’ve fought him before, but I never understood that you didn’t *have* to claim the throne–you can walk out the fog gate and renounce the First Flame, much as you could do in the original game. No one is there to bow to you, and it’s a lonely walk away from the Throne of Want. The torches that light the way to it go out as you walk by. It’s a really cool ending, and I’m glad I found out about it before I reached the end of the game.

Yes, I’ve beaten the main game (no DLC yet), and I did it as my favorite build–strength caster. Wearing Straid’s armor except for the the gauntlets because I wear the Penal Handcuffs to boost my pyromancies. Sporting the Sunset Staff +5 and the Greatsword +10. I love being able to cast and smack with equal impunity. The only problem came with Vendrick because my Adaptability is low (look, something had to give), and rolling is a key component to that fight. He got me more times than I care to admit because of bullshit i-frames, and when I finally beat him (hug that left leg and smack that ass), it was because I stripped naked and took off my shield, then alternated spells (including Great Combustion and Crystal Magic Weapon) and hitting him once with my Greatsword before continuing circling. If you’re close enough to him and stay just on his left buttock, the horizontal sweep that sometimes follows the two vertical chops will miss you. The one thing that messed me up was when he sometimes did a third vertical chop after the two.

if king vendrick is naked, i should be, too.
Naked, sores all over my body, but dat ass, though!

He’s really hard because he has super-hyper-armor, and if you fight him when you first see him–well, you can’t. Literally. See, he’s non-hostile as he wanders around a room in circles. He’s gone full-hollow, and you never want to go full-hollow. But, yeah, with his hyper-armor being something like 32 times normal armor, you won’t be able to get him to fight you–probably. I can’t say for sure because there might be someone with insane strength stats who managed to do it, but I haven’t. Instead, you have to get the Giant Souls (five of them can be had, but I do the fight with four because I usually skip the Ancient Dragon fight), and each one cuts his defense in half. So, with four Giant Souls, his defense is ‘only’ twice as much as it would be normally. Which is still absurdly high. My usual method for dealing with him is to just smack him once or twice as I’m circling him, but I was curious to see if I could use spells/pyromancies with him, and I could. Fire got him down pretty quickly for the first half, and by then, we were in a rhythm. For the second half, I just smacked away, occasionally rolling and dodging as needed, until he was dead. He’s not a hard fight in the normal sense of the word, but with the amount of health I had, if I wasn’t human, one hit from him would just about kill me if not outright kill me. Two hits? Hell, naw.

I’m not sure I’ve played NG+ all the way through with this game. It’s different than the others in that things change. New enemies appear, and certain bosses do different things. In addition, the four major boss souls change into the four biggies from the first game. I don’t think I’ve killed the NPCs in this game. I hate doing it, though I know it’s standard in the community to get their unique drops, so I may do that this time around. In addition, I want to do Navlaan’s quest* because I like the shit he sells, but I upgraded the Sunset Staff fully, which takes Twinkling Titanite (a rarer and more expensive upgrade material), and I really like it. Plus, I like having the Aged Feather to instantly transport to the last bonfire I rested at. I can get all the stuff again in NG+, but the Aged Feather doesn’t come until near the end. Still. Homeward Bones don’t cost that much, and I already have something like twenty.


I don’t think I can adequately explain why I love the Souls games so much. I have tried, lord knows I’ve tried, but words can’t capture exactly what draws me back to them time and time again. I’m still playing Monster Hunter: World, but my enthusiasm for it is waning. I have a hunch once I’ve done everything there is to do event-wise, I’ll put it away unless they come up with new content, and I don’t mean tempered shit. Honestly? I’m not into doing the same monsters again, but just harder and angrier. I still haven’t done the Tempered Kirin quest because fuck Kirin. Yeah, fuck him all day long.

The thing is, I don’t have to do it solo, but that’s how I roll. And I don’t have any anticipation in doing it. It’s more a ‘I have to do this’ than I want to do this. Lunastra was a want. The winterfest stuff is half want/half should. Like, I should get the tickets and the double vouchers and whatnot. I do like the winterfest fireworks, though. During the autumnfest, I had a multi teammate who set off an autumn firework after we beat a monster–probably an Elder Dragon–and I really liked that. I started doing it, and now have switched over to winterfest fireworks which are winter-themed. I’ve had teammates dance around it, and in one hilarious moment, three of the four of us huddled around the fireworks, standing as close to each other as possible.

Multi is where it’s at with this game now. I like doing event quests with others, and the few times I do something solo, it feels weird. Which is funny given that I’d played the entire storyline solo. I’m not saying MHW is a worse game than DS games. MHW is a great game, and I’ve had a ball playing it. It has a special place in my heart, and my beloved Switch Axe will live on forever. As will shadow, my stalwart Palico.

I went through my blog, looking to see which games I’d played this year so I can do my own version of a ‘game of the year’ post. I stumbled across my posts on Night in the Woods, which was released last year, but I didn’t play until this year. I was instantly transported back to how much I loved it and how I wanted to do one more playthrough because there was one storyline I hadn’t done. I was musing earlier what my game of the year was, and NitW is definitely at the top of that list. I will probably be doing that list next week or the week after, so keep an eye out for it.


*I forgot that you don’t lose the items when you do the quest. I guess you just show them to Navlaan. Now I have the Black Witch Set, which is my fave. I want the Black Witch Veil, but the way to get it is ridiculous, so we’ll see.


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