There is a concept in video gaming called comfort gaming. It’s pretty easy to figure out what it means–games that soothe you as you play. Well, not exactly. I mean, it can be that, but it could also just be a game that you can play without thinking. Johnny Chiodini mentions it in their series when they were with Eurogamer, Low Batteries. They call that game they play when feeling down a sadgame.
They emphasize that the game itself does not have to be sad. It’s just a game they gravitate towards when they feel sad. Yesterday, I stumbled over a much more recent video in which they participated with their old workplace (Eurogamer) about how video games helped with mental health issues. I have included that video below.
For me, it’s FromSoft games. For the longest time, it was Dark Souls III. It’s my favorite game of all time, though Elden Ring has essentially moved itself into a tie. Oftentimes, I flummoxe people by saying cheerfully that I know it’s not the best Dark Souls game, but it’s my favorite. By the way, I love being contrary like that. I mean it, though. And interestingly, I’ve had people say it actually is the best Dark Souls game overall.
I guess it’s depends on what you mean by ‘best’. I’m talking specifically of the three Dark Souls games. The first is considered a game-changer, the second is the ignored stepchild, and the third is the greatest hit album. In other words, the first was seen as a breath of fresh air and mind-bending (if you ignored Demon’s Souls) that ultimately ran out of time to be truly great.
The sequel was a disappointment to most people, but I have a fondness for it. It tried to do some things differently in order to differentiate it from the original. Did it work? Not completely. But it tried. And I have to give it credit for that. In addition, if it didn’t have ‘Dark Souls‘ in its name, I think it would have been much better received.
As for the third game, it was the most polished of the three. Plus, it took the best from the first two games and seamlessly blended it together. I’ve called it the ‘best of’ hits album by a group that has been together for twenty years. It has all the hits that the fans love and maybe one or two new originalsongs. Some people think it’s the hardest, which is probably true objectively. But because I had played both of the other games twice in the lead up to the release of this game, it felt like coming home.
I think that’s the reason it’s my favorite, by the way. That and because it’s the first From game I played in real time. Meaning as soon as it was released. Ian bought the season pass for me when it came out, and I got to be in on the discoveries this time around. I hadn’t played either of the previous games until years after they were released. Now, FromSoft games are one of the few I will buy as soon as I can. I know I will at least try to play a From game (I gave up fairly quickly on Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon).