Saturday, 25 July 2015

Dark Souls: The Gargoyle Situation

I have made such progress since last time I posted, and perhaps even have enough for two posts but I'll try and be concise and keep it short. Last time, I was suffering from the ill-effects of poisoning and a few cheap deaths. It can be easy to get frustrated in Dark Souls, but once you overcome that obstacle it is a relief bordering on elation.
Beneath Firelink Shrine lies this spooky old ruin
Before the infamous rats, there's a shortcut back to Undead Burg. From there, it's a trivial matter to reach the Firelink Shrine again (enemies that were once tough, are now walkovers). So I could stock up on 10 estus and use that as a launchpad back past those rats. That way, even if I got poisoned, I could heal myself enough to progress on and hopefully make it to the next bonfire.

Which contains this imprisoned blacksmith (he doesn't want to leave)
My plan worked very well, and I didn't even get poisoned this time (typical). After this point, I could deal with the next section (thankfully the iron bull was a mini-boss, so didn't respawn). After defeating a couple of spear-using hollow soldiers, and avoiding a lot of crossbow bolts, I was stuck in front of a gate. The church, and the first bell, were ahead. I had no choice but to turn back and take the stairs down, and see if there was another way through.

upgrading my weapon
This section was relatively easy, filled with barely armed and non-armoured hollows. Their only advantage was surprise, which is little bother to a heavily armed and armoured knight. After a small progress down, there were several ladders up, and I found myself above the previous open area. I do enjoy how the different areas link up around each other, and that future paths often cross older ones. It does give a real sense of progress and scale.

Ruins in the distance... and ghosts?
Here to greet me was a new type of enemy, the Balder Knight. These are quicker, better armed and better armoured than the Hollow Soldiers I'd faced previously. They have quite a few tricks up their sleeves, even if looking at them all I can think of is General Grevious from Star Wars Episode II. Thankfully, there's not too many of them, so I can deal with them one by one.

The grand church, front entrance
The narrow walkways don't work well for me, with my broadsword that has a big arc of a swing, but the area does open up after a precarious little walkway. Greeting me on the other side a three Hollows, but at this point they cause no fear. To the left lies the church, but handy writing tells me a bonfire and a blacksmith are near (and boy, how do I need them!).

Wonderful view outside the church side entrance
A narrow path leads to a crumbling old tower, and descending the stairway reveals a bonfire. The floor below contains the blacksmith, and I waste no time using the titanite shards I've collected to upgrade my weapon (over the course of this section and repeated visits, I upgrade my broadsword to +5 and get a few other upgrades). The blacksmith is a friendly chap, and I also buy a repair box.

A great blacksmith, who also sells Titanite shards
After resting at the bonfire (safety first!), I take a look around. Another character sits by a gate nearby, forlorn that it won't open. There are warnings about dangers written on the floor, but this fellow seems mellow enough to me. He is covered in rather a lot of armour though, and I doubt he is a slow as he looks. There's nothing I can do to help him now though, so I retreat back to the blacksmith where there's a passage leading further down.

A huge imposing gate, but where does it lead?
This was a mistake, and I lose almost half my health thanks to a lightning bolt. Some strange an huge creature is guarding this path, and I am in no condition to face it just yet! Instead, I head to the church. Inside are several challenges, firstly there's a huge armoured bloke who I have to get outside in order to dodge his blows. He goes down easily enough though, so I move onto the next. Up the stairs is a wizard of some sort, alongside a horde of hollow that quickly crowd and overpower me.

A fat-looking knight, with a helm that looks like an onion
After recovering at the bonfire, I venture forth again and this time snipe at the wizard with my crossbow (avoiding his shots as best I can), and then tackle the hollows separately. Further upstairs is a prisoner, who offers me a reward for helping him. I let him out (what else would I do?), and make my way downstairs to the helpfully signed shortcut to the Firelink Shrine.

The altar in the church
His reward is a sun medal, which is probably useful later but seems rather minor for rescuing him. Near where he sits is the firekeeper, and since I picked up a firekeepers soul at the church I can use this to reinforce my estus flask (it now heals me more per use). Further down beneath the firelink shrine is a lift to the Old Lordran Ruins, which is a very spooky place but also has a blacksmith. Less useful now I have the one near the church though.

The wizard. Much like Conan, I hate magic (unless I'm using it)
All that remains is to ring the bell, which means taking on two gargoyles. My first attempt resulted in a quick death thanks to my lack of dodging. My second attempt was better, since I buffed my weapon with lightning (found in Undead Burg). My third attempt went even better and I almost killed them both (and got the Gargoyle Axe). I ran out of the buff though, and knew it would be too hard to do it on my own.
Lautrec, he seems suspicious. But doesn't everyone here?

Thankfully I could try summoning help from Solaire and others, so I thought I'd give that a try. I used up some humanity reversing my hollow status, and made my way back to the church. All was going perfectly well until I noticed the fog over the doors. It felt a lot like that part in The Matrix, just after Neo has Deja Vu and the windows are blocked up. I knew I was about to be invaded.

I did it! Praise the sun!
This is absolutely my least favourite part of the game so far. I had got everything ready for a run at the boss, and now I was having to deal with some joker who wanted to kill me. Initially the fight went well, and I got in a solid hit. Unfortunately for me, his weapon was massively overpowered and in two hits I was dead. In frustration I gave up for a while.

The tower, and the bell ahead
The following day I tried again, hoping that this time I could get through without invasion. I managed it, and summoned both Solaire and Lautrec. This time it was a walk in the park, and the frustration of previous attempts was replaced with the joy that I could progress further in the game. After ringing the bell, I could also speak with a strange man called Oswald.

Half-way there now... right?
With my newfound souls, I upgraded a few stats and some armour, and then decided to visit a few places and see if I was powerful enough to proceed anywhere. In Undead Burg I killed an armoured knight and claimed a ring, but my other attempts in the graveyard and elsewhere were in vain. Instead I opened the door to the Lower Undead Burg, and had a wander through there (and found the shortcut back to Undead Burg).
Oswald the pardoner, another odd fellow
So I feel like I have accomplished much, and yet at the same time accomplished so little. I am still based around the same few bonfires that I was before, there are still enemies I've seen and have yet to be able to conquer. I feel like I am a world away from killing that Drake, for example. So I hope my progress through Lower Undead Burg (which looks terrible compared to previous areas, it really looks like shoddy work in terms of level design) will grant me a bit more progress and a lot more power.

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