Friday, August 29, 2014

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition - 2/20 hours

I'm afraid I'm not a very good PC gamer. And by that, I do not mean that I lack skill (though I'm not, by any means, great), but that there are things you need to do when playing PC games - various maintenance tasks and general good practices - in order to keep your machine in good condition and your games running smoothly, that I simply am not aware of and thus have long neglected. For example, I learned, while trying to play Dark Souls, that it is necessary to periodically update your video card's drivers.

This may seem like a no-brainer to all the experienced PC gamers out there, but it's not something I've ever had to deal with before. In the past, I'd just put the disc in my console and go. And while, with the most recent console generation, I'd occasionally get something like "your console needs to install an update before you can play this game," it was still nonetheless automatic. I didn't need to remember to do it.

I'm not used to relating to technology in this way. DIY was never really my thing. I like it when things just work the way they're supposed to.

So, Dark Souls and I got off on the wrong foot, because my drivers were out of date, my system specs are pretty close to the minimum, and this particular game is somewhat notorious for being finicky. When I first began the game, it was abysmally slow. It was a little like the action was going on under water. It's probably a testament to my innate stubbornness that I managed to play it for an hour and a half like this before I got too frustrated to continue and started searching the internet for a solution.

And here's where I make an embarrassing confession - even at half speed, Dark Souls still managed to kick my ass. You might think that perhaps that was because the slow execution of my character's moves was throwing me off, but, well, when I finally got the issue fixed and started playing the game at normal speed, enemies that were killing me before suddenly started brutally tearing me apart. And I was still near the very beginning (I'd estimate that I was in an area people normally reach after about a half hour).

I decided to start over and try a new character class, in the hopes that playing the tutorial dungeon at normal speed would help ease me into the skills necessary for the larger game. The first time, I chose a warrior and the second time I chose a sorcerer. Once I found all the equipment, I did a little better with a sorcerer build, but I suspect in the long run it's an advanced option (spellcasting is pretty slow, and thus kind of risky when enemies are not moving as if they're suspended in molasses).

So far, I'm not really "into" Dark Souls. I can see the appeal, and if I ever get skilled enough that my advancement stops being so dependent on chance, I may well get addicted, but unlike certain other action games, it doesn't seem to have an early game "wow" moment. The giant bird that carried me to Undead Burg (a name I admire for its functionality, but doubt would be something people in the setting itself would use with a straight face) was pretty neat, but the plot, in so far as I've been able to follow it thus far, sounds like the sort of impenetrable "epic" fantasy that tends to put me to sleep. I think that in the beginning of time, dragons fought the undead and were wiped out, and in the course of the conflict, both sides used magic that broke the world, and your character is some kind of special undead that will do something or other to halt the world's slide into eternal night, but there was a lot of arbitrary capitalization and proper names to keep track of, so I'm sure I'm losing the nuance.

I will say that other games have taken longer than two hours to win me over, so I'm not dismissing Dark Souls just yet, but I am really hoping that I will soon see something that will make all the dying worth it.

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