Release date: 2009
I don’t get on with the Souls games at all, but I really wish that I did. For me, the combat was just a little too clunky and, oh, you know, fucking difficult. (Come on, the PC version of Dark Souls is called the “Prepare to Die” edition.) I love that these games exist, it’s just they require a level of patience that I simply do not possess. Fortunately, my good friend and ex-housemate Robbie does. I watched him play through most of Dark Souls 2, all of its DLC, and then Dark Souls 3, quite content to sit back on the sofa and enjoy the gruelling, oppressive show. My favourite memory of these games started with the original on PS3, Demon’s Souls.
Robbie chose to play as a lightly armoured thief type adventurer, armed with swift daggers, or a short sword & shield combo. His tactics were to always have enough stamina and agility to dodge attacks and roll out of the way. (He sometimes liked to hide in a spot and fire 600 arrows at a boss that didn’t know where he was; Robbie’s not a man above exploiting enemy AI when you’re balls-deep in a terrifying Souls dungeon). About 5 hours into Demon’s Souls, he found himself exploring a vast, ruinous castle, a typically grim location, full of undead skeleton soldiers, a gigantic blob monster riddled with spears, and a couple of fire-breathing dragons.
We were both busy gawping at one of the dragons from what we thought a safe distance, as it lay on a mound, sleeping at the end of a long stone rampart. Between it and us was a small army of skeletons, but by this point Robbie had gotten the hang of dealing with them. So, he crept onto the rampart and began meticulously dispatching the skeletons one at a time, heading towards the sleeping dragon. Suddenly, its wings opened up and it took to the sky… ah, not asleep, then. Within seconds, it had swooped towards the rampart and rained hellish dragonfire down across the walkway burning every skeleton and us in the process. “YOU DIED” appeared in big red capital letters in the middle of the screen, not for the first or last time. “I guess you can’t go that way,” I said to Robbie when he respawned at the nearest bonfire. “Of course I can!” he declared. “I need my souls!”
He died on the second, third, fourth and fifth attempts to cross the rampart, before giving up and going to another area of the castle. But eventually, many days later, he came back and defeated that pesky dragon. How? He hid on the rampart and fired 600 arrows at it until it died.