55 hours. That’s how long it took me in the end. By some accounts, compared to most people I’ve spoken to, I breezed through Dark Souls II. It wasn’t easy but, in the end, it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Or as memorable.
I sit here at my desk, asking myself a single question: what was noteworthy about my experiences with Dark Souls II. How did I feel when I finished the game? What is worth writing about?
A blank page. A blank mind. I feel emotionally flat. In a weird way, I feel nothing. Stranger still, I remember little.
When I look back on my memories of the original Dark Souls, am I struck by how memorable they are — by how memorable that game is. I feel as though I can drag every square inch of that game’s landscape from my memory. Almost as though I could draw it. Replicate it on a blank piece of paper.
I remember every boss battle, I remember my favourite moments, I remember how I felt when I finished the game. I remember how I felt when I started the game.
Already, I can feel Dark Souls II fading from memory.
There are a few reasons for that, I think. The first is the game’s structure, which essentially eliminates backtracking. Some appreciate that kind of structure, it harks back to Demon’s Souls, so there’s that. Another is the sheer volume of content in the game: the endless boss fights, the endless areas and their multiple bonfires. I wonder if the original Dark Souls half as long, but twice as strong in that regard.
I’m not going to get into the multiple different areas in which Dark Souls excelled where its successor failed — jump in any gaming forum on any site and you’ll find a thread dedicated to that discussion — but I will say this: from now until the day I die I will hear the music from the Firelink Shrine in Dark Souls and I’ll feel a weird, warm nostalgia for the many deaths I died, for the souls I spent and the souls I lost. I will remember the battles I fought, the battles I lost. I’ll remember the moments of despair and those short bursts of joy. I’ll remember the people I met along the way.
Dark Souls II was,is and will always remain an incredible video game in its own right, but I don’t think I’ll remember any of that. I’m already beginning to forget.