Thursday, 27 August 2015

Dark Souls: Journey Into Darkness

Sometimes in Dark Souls, things just click into place. On this such occasion, I had vanquished two long-term foes. My progress, once stymied by demons and death, could proceed again. As usual, the game would put far darker foes in my future.

First to be swept aside was the Gaping Demon, the fang-mouthed abomination that lay at the base of the Depths. I sought others to defeat it, and helpful people who had passed this point before gave good advice. The pattern of its attacks are not so hard to predict, once you know what to look for, and so I was able to slowly chip at its health and finally triumph.

Being a phantom is rather fun
In celebration, I utilised the White Soapstone, and was summoned as a helpful phantom to assist others in defeating the beast. Helping others succeed where I had struggled was immensely satisfying. If this was not enough of a reward, I also received thousands of souls and some Humanity.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Swindle: Procedural Pilfering

The Swindle Title Screen
The Swindle is a steampunk sidescrolling steal-em-up, with the objective of hacking your way into the police computer system to destroy Basilisk, an AI that could prevent burglary forever! On your way to ridding the world of such a troublesome thief-catcher you'll need to amass enough cash to buy the required upgrades you'll need for your audacious attempt. Also, you have only got 100 days. Clock is ticking...
Your mission, if you want to accept it...
I'm glad I waited a while before writing this mini-review, because several changes have been made to the game since release. Originally, the game was super-hard, unbelievably so. Upgrades were expensive, cash was hard to come by, and the amount of security on each level increased rapidly. By comparison, the game today is still very challenging but feels far more fair. Now when I die I can blame the errors I've made rather than the harsh difficulty curve.

Dark Souls: Caught at a Crossroads

Once again, it is exploiting the game that brings reward rather than any feeling that I'm getting appreciably better at it. I really enjoy the fights against the lesser enemies, even some of the mini-bosses, but a lot of the more difficult mini-bosses and bosses seem to be beyond my skills.

Exploiting the Undead Dragon's lack of ranged attack
Sometimes, as I found with the Capra Demon and some others, the game makes things unfathomably difficult unless you're using some sort of cheap tactic or exploit to defeat them. Case in point, the Valley of Drakes was far beyond my ability as a melee character. Loaded up with poison arrows though, I could pick the Drakes off one at a time and clear the area.

Shortcut ahead, and not before time!
After that, the Undead Dragon mini-boss was easy prey as I could stay out of range of his attacks but slowly kill him with the bow. It was at this point that I really wished I'd made a dexterity focused character, as the damage scaling with the longbow is very impressive.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Dark Souls: A Dance With Drakes

Some of the locations in Dark Souls are full of wonderful architecture, huge sprawling ruins all interconnected and filled with nasty surprises. Undead Burg and Undead Parish are such locations, as is Firelink Shrine. These interlinking areas are full of twisty passages and interesting nooks and crannies, but they also have large, looming structures that seem almost within reach (and of course many of them do become reachable later in the game).

New Londo Ruins
That's why it's so disappointing to find those badly-made sections, such as Lower Undead Burg. It's almost like it's from a different game, or a bad fan-creation. A small, mostly linear section, few enemies and not much in the way of challenge. It contains a boss (Capra Demon), and scarce few other things. Thankfully after you've defeated the Capra Demon you only have to pass through it briefly to reach other areas.