Shameless Gaming: Soul Control

When I thought about Shameless Gaming month, and the games I truly wanted to catch up on? The only one that really mattered, the only game that started a wee fire in my belly. And now, a week later — as a man who enjoys the basic pleasure of having a game brutally punish me over and over — I'm having an absolute blast.

Many words have been written in praise of Dark Souls, so I'll try and keep mine concise. Much has been said about the difficulty level of the game, how unforgiving it is. But my favourite aspect of Dark Souls is the universe — how sparse the universe is, how little it gives you, but how powerful that is. That minimalism. I want to learn about the game — I want to learn its systems, how the combat works, what other areas of the world look like, I want to engross myself in this place because it's so mysterious.

Dark Souls often clicks into place like an intricate jigsaw puzzle, but leaves enough rough ends to lend itself a real feeling of authenticity. The world is seamlessly put together. Like the best games — like Metroid Prime, A Link To The Past — it interlocks. It makes sense, it feels beautiful. It's a space to play in, but it's also a place.

So Dark Souls is difficult. But that isn't what defines that game, it's just a small aspect of it. Dark Souls is difficult for a reason — it forces you to learn its intricacies. It would be a dull game if it was easier. In this case intense difficulty is simply a smart design decision, it forces you to plumb the depths and learn the game. Over the weekend I put about four hours into the game and made barely any progress in terms of checkpoints, but I feel like I've grown in my understanding of how the game works — and that in itself is enough reward.

So yeah, in terms of Shameless Gaming, my progress has been terrible, but I'm taking solace in the fact that this month has allowed me to invest time in a game I've always wanted to play, but avoided. Having the freedom to spend time with older games you've been longing to play is what Shameless Gaming is all about, and I've been having the time of my life!

What is Shameless Gaming? Well, I’m glad you asked! Shameless Gaming is Kotaku’s version of Dry July, a month where we ignore new releases and play through our video gaming pile of shame together. We take all those unfinished, ignored games, the ones we cast aside, and we give them the attention they deserve! Join in!


Comments

    My reaction to it was roughly "I fucking hate this game. I must keep playing."

      200+ hours of game play and i still have moments where i throw the control pad across the room and swear loud enough my neighbours can hear me..

    This weekend I almost finished Mirror's Edge and Spec Ops: The Line. Spec Ops is pretty great.

    Tonight my wife is going to make me finish Spec Ops (she hates when she finishes a good game and she can't talk about it with me because spoilers). After that, hopefully, I'll at least finish Mirror's Edge or Broken Sword. I feel given what I've bought in the Steam Sale and agaisnt what I've spent and how much I've been playing, I'm feeling pretty good about this year's Shameless Gaming, even though I haven't really finished anything.

      Mirror's Edge veered massively from 'THIS IS THE FUTURE OF GAMES' to 'I HATE THIS GAME AND WANT TO SET IT ON FIRE'. Sometime within seconds.

        Well I liked it, dammit!

          From what you said on Twitter the other day I thought the subway or the mall levels were going to make me rage quit, but I actually thought they were heaps of fun!

          I'm trying to remember where I left off - I know I wasn't mad at it when I quit last time, I think I had to stop and do something else. I think I had just infiltrated the security company or something? A couple of things are blending together.

            Those two levels were just the ones that came to mind as possibly frustrating if you took the wrong approach. It's not a game about combat and it's easy to forget that during those sections.

        Yeah... usually depending on if it was being an awesome first person platform game or a shithouse first person shooter.

        Overall I loved it, though - one of this generation's most underrated games, I reckon.

        It bounces back and forth. Sometimes you have a good run going then it's like, the level design takes a left turn and you stand there like a dummy while a helicopter tears you to pieces, asking yourself "where the hell am I supposed to be going?!".

        There was one bit where I was being chased by a helicopter on some scaffold and I literally circled the building on the scaffolding because the game kind of directed me to go one way, but when I did that I wound up back where I was. If I had just turned around, I could've jumped up and cut out a minute of being lost.

        Oddly, before I played Mirror's Edge it had been so long since I'd seen gameplay footage that I'd forgotten what the game was supposed to look like. I was a bit disappointed by the clean crisp graphics of the game after the cel-shaded style cutscenes.

        LOL @ Mark - that's as apt a description of Mirror's Edge as I've ever heard - it was the Trials HD of platformers - every move had to be timed perfectly.

      I'm about 3/4 through Spec Ops as well. I like the plot a lot. Gameplay feels a bit wonky in parts, but it's solid enough. Might help that I (terrible shameful secret) have never seen Apocalypse Now so the game doesn't come off as a low-fi clone of that to me.

        While I guess it's built on the same concepts as Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now, there's enough difference that I wouldn't really compare them. They've built on the idea and created some really engaging narrative. Walker really feels involved IN the plot, rather than an all-conquering hero who has swept in out of nowhere to solve everyone's problems for them.

    I like your choice of words, Mark.

    It certainly inspires me to get back into this game and give it a playthrough. After the cakewalk, which is Skyrim, I'm wanting something a little more challenging from my action-RPG.

    I couldn't agree with you more Mark. I'm glad to see you are really enjoying it. Perhaps I should start playing it again and get started on my 3rd Character.

    I've played 4 or 5 hours of Dark Souls and this screenshot is the exact bastard bit I'm stuck on!

      The first minotaur? He's not that hard. Just use what they taught you on the Asylum boss.

        Listen to this guy!

          It was just such a long trek from the bonfire to him that when he killed me I thought sod doing all that again and turned it off in a huff! Clearly I need to be in a different mind frame for this one.

      Stick to the left wall. If you've done it right, you'll know where to stand and what to do.

      Just kill the two archers up top, plummet on his head, roll through the Taurus' legs, climb the ladder and do it again. But this game still gives me so much pleasure, even on my 4th character. I still look forward to starting new classes I haven't touched, like the archer and thief. And the Artorias DLC soon!!!

      You can use the golden pine resin for the early parts too it makes the first bosses a cinch, I loved this game but I played Demon's Souls and found the later level of scaling made the game far too easy but that maybe the point?
      Pity the DLC isn't going too well; apparently it's the poor PC community of Japan that made it such a hassle. It's not a HR remake but it should open the floodgate to the modding community and also enlighten the fans on the wonderful lore of this monomyth.

    Next year can we do Shameless Gaming in a month where there aren't any huge Steam sales?
    February and May always feel like dry release months to me.

    finished lollipop chainsaw and super mario wii so far really happy with that starting skate 2 again has hindered my progress...........

    I really like this editorial, and it matches up with my feelings almost precisely. Last night I *almost* finished a section in Blightown, then went to bed and played the level, over and over, in my head, trying to crack the code. This is the true genius- it IS a puzzle game, it's just that the puzzles are disguised as combat. Once you crack the code of a particular enemy it's almost bizarre how you can just blitz through waves of enemies that previously even one of which would have given you a serious challenge. You learn the levels intricately- going back to a level that used to have you cursing and ragequitting feels like coming back to an old friend. It's truly stressful and, at times, upsetting, but it also feels wonderful when you get to the next bonfire, or take down a boss that's been giving you a hard time.

    One thing about the difficulty level, though- when you summon in experts in the game who just blitz a boss without a struggle- it's a bit weird. It's like the bosses are easier than the regular game, because you can call in a ringer. I like the coop in the game, it is just a bit unbalancing at times.

    I managed to plat Saints Row the Third on Saturday, so that's one of my shameless goals complete. Originally I was just going to pass it, but then I saw that I wouldn't need too much more to hit it.

    Given there's still 8 days left this month, I might aim to finish another game. I only need to level a character up 9 levels to get the Borderlands Platinum, and I'm up to the final boss on FFXIII, so those can be my short term goals.

    Man, these articles keep making me want to go back to Dark Souls and play it again. I'm starting to make some progress with my Pile O' Shame though so I can't stop now. Sooo close to finishing Agarest now. It's another of those games where one minute you think "Hey, this is quite cool and fun." and the next you think "This is so horrible, why am I even playing this?!". They made some really poor design decisions. I wonder if I can finish another game in 8 days. It'll have to be a non-RPG.

    got invaded down in the depths, havnt been back since... still a few days in July I guess

    Playing dark souls with a two handed claymore broad sword, damn its hard. But if it bleeds i can kill it. Eventually

    I'm stuck on Dark Souls at the Spider chick boss. I've tried a good 20 times. Thinking I need to go back and grind some more to up my resistances or find some more flame retardant gear. Either way - it's staying on the shelf until I get the guts to go back and try again.

      Arrows are your friend with this boss.

    I finished Halo 3 last week and tonight I got up to what has to be the final mission in GTA IV (which was the first game I bought for my xbox): you can chose money or the gun to put it succinctly - I chose the gun, then realised I didn't bring nearly enough guns or armour so I'll be attempting it again tomorrow night! If I knock those two games off - it's been a productive month - if I can somehow finish Ass Creed II into the bargain then I'm flying high by the end of July (and I can start Brotherhood which has only been pulled out for the rather excellent multiplayer mode)

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