Ed. Note: More boss talk. More spoilers. All gold.
The last we met, I was dancing with the devil, otherwise known as the Guardian Ape, phase two. In this phase, it felt as if I were dancing with the boss rather than fighting him. In fact, he reminded me of a combination of the Dancer of the Boreal Valley from Dark Souls III and Mytha, the Baneful Queen from Dark Souls II. It didn’t make it easier for me to deal with him, but it was an interesting observation.
I will fully admit that I was not into this fight. At all. I was tired of the multiphase bosses, especially when the first phase took so much out of me. As I said, the first stage wasn’t hard, per se, but it was grueling. If I made any mistake, I’d have to waste one or two Healing Gourds. I would have loved to have five of my eight left for the second phase, but I usually went into the second phase with one or two Healing Gourds and my three Pellets. That was not nearly enough healing.
Side Note: I like the way the Pellets are meted out in this game. In Dark Souls II, the Life Cems were plentiful and cheap, and I could carry 99 on me at any given time. Therefore, my usual MO was to use the Life Gems to make my way through the level, saving my Estus for the bosses. Or, use the Estus and top off with Life Gems whenever necessary if I was just running through an environment with no boss in sight. If I got low on Life Gems, I just bought more from the hag and didn’t think about it. In this game, Pellets drop randomly from enemies, and you can buy a limited amount from vendors. There is no limitless supply, so it makes me have to be more careful about when I use them. What I usually do is use my Healing Gourds for the level (and eight is usually plenty for this purpose), and I save my Pellets for a boss fight.
Side Note II: This is a side note to the side note. I fucking love that accessing the inventory means pausing the gameplay in this game. It hasn’t in the past, and I was never good enough to add things to my quick item bar during combat. I’m sure there are some Souls fans who are bitching about this change, but I like it. It means if I realize I need a certain item in a boss fight, I can pause and add it to the quick select. Back to the first side note.
I abused the Life Gem system in Dark Souls II, but I never felt good about it. It took away the tension of running out of Estus during a level, and the sight of a bonfire wasn’t as much a relief as it is in the other games (plus, way too many bonfires in DS II). In this game, the fact that Pellets are not unlimited and that I can only carry three at a time means I still have to think about healing judiciously. I can hoard the Pellets (which I do) until I really need them, and then, I can use them, but only until they run out. I can’t replenish them without significant grinding, which, while frustrating, is fair. I think Miyazaki struck the perfect balance with the Pellets in this game.