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If I have been quiet lately, perhaps it is because I am content. Dark Souls is a lot more satisfying than anything else I have been playing lately.

What is so satisfying about this game?  Perhaps it's the intricate attention the developers have paid to the idea of medieval swordplay, where a wide slash in a narrow corridor does not work for obvious reasons, and an armored warrior has inertia enough that they control a bit like a tank on legs.  But if you drive this tank closer to hit an enemy with your sword, you had better be ready to block or dodge, because everyone in this dark world has forgotten how to pull punches.  Yes, I think it is the difficulty I enjoy most of all.
Even for a 2011 Playstation 3 title ported to PC, Dark Souls still has environments that make a strong impact.
Given that modern gaming has been inundated with casual friendliness, a truly challenging game feels like an impossibility.  Yet, here is a game that makes you walk everywhere across its tight, treacherous expanse.  Here is a game that not only has no quicksave, it spaces its save points like oases in a merciless desert.  Here is a game that rips your unspent currency/experience points ("souls") out of your hands upon death and keeps them for good if you die again before you recover them.

But I am no masochist, and so difficulty needs to be able to be overcome in order to provide an enjoyable experience.  Thus, while Dark Souls is tough, it is also fair.   Nearly every attack coming at you has a tremendous windup animation and, in time, you can learn what each animation means in terms of the attack you will soon be facing.  The initially ponderous control of your poise-challenged character can be mastered, ideally with a gamepad.  If even that proves not enough, there is no shame in knowing that discretion is the better part of valor and, by investing souls in equipment upgrades and core character attributes, it is possible to bolster your window of error significantly. 
Against foes at the edge of your character's progress, if you get sloppy in Dark Souls, even for a moment, you will be staring once again at those big red letters, "You died."  Mastering Dark Souls carries a genuine sense of accomplishment: your vigilance has paid off.  It is a good, needed lesson in a modern life full of aggressive conveniences: if you want to make progress in life, true vigilance in the face of adversity is key.

I am about halfway through Dark Souls now.  I plan to beat it, if not necessarily complete every little challenge.  Then I will move on to the sequel, and the sequel's sequel.  It would be nice if they ported Bloodborne to PC, as it is essentially a series reboot that removes blocking and has a more Lovecraftian treatment to its lore.  Oh well, I still have two complete games in front of me.


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