The Dark Souls II Diaries: That Dark Souls Feeling

The Dark Souls II Diaries: That Dark Souls Feeling

I did it. I did it. I DID IT!

This week has been a slog. A real slog.

Last Saturday I had an eyeball that throbbed in pain to the point where I could barely open my eyes. On Sunday I was told I had a viral infection and I couldn’t wear my contacts any more.

I don’t have glasses, so I was essentially blind.

On Tuesday I was told I could have literally gone blind had I continued to wear my contact lenses. On Wednesday more bad news: the glasses I had ordered to replace my contact lenses had been delayed.

Today. Thursday. I have appointment with another specialist. The viral infection I have has spread to my cornea. I’ve been on a series of eyedrop medications that come with a risk. The doctors don’t think I have an infection to go with my virus but, if I do, the steroids I’m dropping into my eyeballs have the potential to strengthen it, which could result in an abscess appearing in my actual eyeball.

It’s been a difficult week.

And through it all, a boss battle. Kicking my arse. Brutal; without mercy. The Ruin Sentinels: three golden bastards tag-teaming the shit out of my flesh to the point where I couldn’t see a way past. I had died so consistently, so definitively to the point where the fight felt hopeless in the way that the most difficult boss battles in Dark Souls frequently do.

That feeling. That Dark Souls feeling. Despair.

For the past three days I had been sitting three feet away from a 46 inch plasma, wearing my wife’s prescription glasses. A prescription not even close to my own, but better than nothing. The light filters through the lens in strange ways and my brain took a while to adjust. And as I squint, all the while, the grim spectre of Dark Souls death. Over and over again.

My technique for the Sentinel boss battle was fairly refined. That might have been the most frustrating part. I knew what I needed to do, I understand how to do it, I was simply ill-equipped for the task at hand. My sword too weak, my health too low. It took me a long time to realise this; to realise that – physically – I just wasn’t up to the task.

A bitter pill to swallow. I began to backtrack, explore. I noticed brand new areas I had completely missed first time round, boss battles I had skipped. Hours later, with a newly upgraded sword, and a better set of stats, I returned to the Ruin Sentinels a brand new man. Ready to do battle on an even keel, ready to fight with the odds in my favour.

Then I died.

But of course I came back. And died again. And then I came back. But this time it felt easier, more achievable. The end was in sight and then, for a second, it was almost as if everything became crystal clear: the movesets, the techniques, the counters, the timing. It all clicked to point where the boss battle suddenly felt easy. It felt fluid. I was in a perfect flow. Eventually, with only one Sentinel left, my stomach tensed. I knew it was over. I knew I had it. The difficulty of the fight in particular was the problem of tackling more than one opponent at a time. When it was just me and one enemy in front of me, I knew I could tackle it easily.

The excitement began to build. I remained patient. I fought conservatively, only breaking my pattern to deliver the final blow. Victory achieved.

Relief. That zen feeling, the blood pumping from my heart to my veins. That injection of adrenaline, like a runner’s high. That Dark Souls feeling.

My brand new glasses, with the correct prescription, arrive tomorrow.


  • only breaking my pattern to deliver the final blow.

    I love that moment right near the end of a boss battle where you look at their health bar and go “I can kill them in three hits.” You bait out a move, and rather than the usual one-two, or even the one-gotta-keep-my-stamina-up, you go in and smash their stupid face. And it is good.

    Or you flub it and get killed by the friggin’ Sinner for the seventh time.

    • More likely fub it and run out of stamina as they have a bee’s dick worth of health left.

      • Oh man. And then you’re stuck in the awkward position of “do I try and back away, knowing that I can’t roll, or do I just mash an attack button and hope I connect first?”

        • In any case, I love the feeling of your heart racing as you attempt to make a quick decision on what to do next. That’s what Dark Souls is all about!

      • This happened to me a couple of days ago against Black Dragon Kalameet (DS1). I was up to attempt 15 or so. He had so little health that I couldn’t see it. I had a full bar and multiple estus. I’ve fucking got this bastard. He charged at me, I put up my shield… and he plowed straight through it until I ran out of stamina, and then health. Instadeath.

        It’s the closest I’ve come to throwing my controller while playing this game. I was shaking so much from adrenaline that I had to take a 10 minute rest.

        • HAH! God, I know that feeling. “I had that. I cannot believe I fucked up so bad. There is SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME.” Walk away.

          In my case, it’s been: Eat for energy, watch TV/youtube/whatever to brain-wipe, work out a bit to pump blood, take a nap to let adrenaline settle, then – when refreshed and rehydrated – come back to it. All up, a few hours.

    • Hah, I do this everytime! Reminds me of how a lot of bosses died when I raided in WoW, except this time I’m too scared to commit to more than a few seconds of it.

    • But sinner was one of the easiest bosses in the game, for some reason I struggled with chariot.

    • I was going to say – my stomach tightened reading that line. It works for me very rarely, and I get punished badly quite often T_T

    • Excitement takes over, you can feel yourself at the end, so you get reckless and take a wild last swing. And then you ususally get punished for such recklesness. Hard.

    • I’ve been playing on my 40″ Panasonic Plasma and I get a bit of ghosting from the UI. The TV is a few years old now and so far I’ve had no image retention problems. Longest play session was about 3 hours continuous.

    • Permanent burn in on modern plasmas is difficult to cause. Not impossible but incredibly unlikely under normal usage conditions… That being said playing Dark Souls 24/7 since release is probably going to give someone some grief. 🙂

    • I have been using a plasma to game on for the last 6 years and while it occasionally has temporary ghosting if I spend too long in a character creation screen it is only ever noticeable when the screen is black and never anything permanent.

  • My girlfriend really enjoyed watching my attempts at Ruin Sentinels – makes for great spectator sport when you’re constantly escape death by a fraction of a hair, dodging at just the right time or barely managing to sip my Estus as the remaining 2 are charging me from the other side of the room.

    • Tend to use Lifegems more than Estus if I can, much faster/easier to use in the heat of battle.

  • Good to hear things are looking generally up, both in real life and in Dark Souls. The game got me a good one last night. Earlier in the game I tried to do the DragonRider at a low level by cheesing it and making him fall off the ledge. After a lot of repeated failures, I decided to go get stronger and come back to do it legitimately. I came back last night, ready to do a legitimate attempt at defeating him. On my second attempt, 20 seconds in, he jumped off the ledge…

  • the steroids I’m dropping into my eyeballs have the potential to strengthen it, which could result in an abscess appearing in my actual eyeball


  • Geez note to self, if I ever have eyesight problems I’m going specs not lenses! Hope your eye gets better Mark

    Also damn all of you – this Dark Souls hype prompted me on the weekend to reinstall my copy of DS1 (I bought it last year in a sale then promptly deleted it in a fit of despair being stuck in the Undead Burg)

    Well I’m still in the undead burg but now I’m level 15, have a few more weapons and items, have a slightly better understanding of what I’m supposed to be doing with a million unanswered questions and 3 directions I can go with 3 bosses at each direction and NFI how to beat any of them!

    • TAYbies know Dark Souls back to front, you can always ask in there if you get stuck (or just curious about something). 🙂

    • What Transientmind said man; if you want any tips or just want to share an epic moment, drop into TAY. Many of us love the games and are always willing to help out.

  • I am on leave, woke up today ready to put in a days worth of exploration. My skills are up my character was plowing through enemies I was worried I had over leveled I was riding high then DS II brought me crashing down to earth. I encountered a boss quite a bit further along from Mark that tore me apart. Then I made a decision the sort of stupid decision that this series provokes. I decided I wasn’t going to move on until I beat this boss. It was a boss that wasn’t even necessary to defeat to progress the story.

    I knew I had the stats to do it so I decided it was time to level up my playing skills. It took me nine hours, I got so close so many times and a split second mistake would end it all. As I would get close to winning my heart would be pounding and my nerves singing. This state of high tension cannot be mantained and I would go from almost killing it to dieing in a few hits the next try. All that keep me going was that I could see I was slowly but surely getting better. It is truly one of the most strenuous games I have every played along with the other souls games. They are brilliant.

  • My first run through of the ruin sentienals – I almost had it – and I chuckled thinking, Mark was soft. His eye medication was clouding more than his vision.

    Then I was realy embarrased that I went through the enemies between the sentinels and the bonfire so often that they all disappeared. Furthermore I went to sleep at 3am…..

    Tough was an understatement – those stupid things had me more frustrated than anything else in the game so far. (till I realised that they are pretty easy to deal with at close range – with some luck)

    I felt like a real grade a moron for looking down on marks struggles.

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