Aku Kotkavuo



I am a software generalist from Helsinki, Finland. I’ve been working with software for most of my life. I practise writing about related topics here.

My open source projects include mpyq and jisho.

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

6 November 2016

👍 Recommended (97.4 hrs on record)

Five years ago my colleagues were raving about this obscure PS3 game called Demon's Souls, mainly about how hard it was and how rewarding it was to overcome the challenges the game throws at you. I became interested and bought it. I played it for 30 minutes, died a few times and left it at that, woving to return to it to avenge myself.

That never happened. I started playing other games and soon forgot about my revenge. The game had defeated me.

Fast forward a few years to PS4 & Bloodborne release. I thought it would be a good time to get my revenge. Bought the game, played it for 30 minutes, died a few times, left it at that. History repeating itself. Maybe I no longer had patience for NES-hard games like this?

It took a good amount of convincing by one of my colleagues to give the series a third go. They suggested I start with Dark Souls: Prepare To Die edition. After overcoming some technical hurdles with mods, I crossed my fingers and embarked on my third journey. Turns out third time is the charm!

After dying a few more times, the game series and controls finally started to click. The game fully expects you to die often, it's right there in the name. Each death is more of a lesson learned than a sign of defeat. Get careless or complacent and you will die, even to regular mobs. Approach situations carefully, learn how the monsters move and exploit their weaknesses and you will start to prevail.

Slowly but surely gaining in confidence, I started exploring further and further in Lordran. Even to this date, years after the release the game is absolutely gorgeous. Despite the minimalistic approach to lore and story the world managed to convey a deep sense of melancholy, loss and sorrow; but also a flicker of hope. It has been years since a game in a fantasy setting spoke to me like this. The soundtrack is absolutely gorgeous and underlines the overall mood of the game beautifully.

The boss fights felt epic, but sadly here the game falters a little: too many bosses can be just circled around and stabbed in the ass at the right time, dodging an attack or two in the process. I managed to beat many bosses on my first try after learning this "formula" for defeating them, although a lucky drop of a Black Knight Sword early on in the game definitely skews my perception here.

The multiplayer aspect of the game is unique and so well realized. You can help and hinder others in their journeys. The PVP "scene" is still active, which speaks volumes about how varied the core gameplay becomes with different items and builds. It is highly skill-based, and each battle really got my heart racing. Each victory felt like a true achievement!

The only big flaw in the game is the quality of the port. We are so lucky DSfix exists! I consider it essential, it really should be prepackaged with the game. Consider also downloading Wulf's Dark Souls connectivity mod, as the Steamworks integration is not the best when it comes to multiplayer; you might not be connected to anyone without it.

All in all Dark Souls finally drew me into the series, now I can't wait for the other games to beat my ass before I beat them!