Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Dark Souls: Marble Madness

So I rang the two bells of awakening, and now some toothy serpent has given me a quest to get the Lordvessel from Anor Londo. Of course you can't just walk into Anor Londo...
Inside the entrance, after killing two snakemen
So here's the tale about Sen's fortress. It's a series of terrible traps, large lizardmen and dangerous drops. The enemies are tough, the ledges narrow and the only bonfire is hidden near the top. This was never going to be easy, and since I had based my character around being a walking tank, the nimbleness required for some of the sections was not good for me.
Swinging blades over every narrow walkway
I had a few runs at it blind, and managed to get about a third of the way through. I navigated past the first set of swinging blades, and got past the first rolling boulder section. After that things got a little dicey, and I ended up repeating this section a couple of times. This is one of the more annoying parts of the game. There's no real way to know where you're supposed to go, except trial and error. Unfortunately, such trial and error can lead to death very quickly.

The view after killing the portcullis giant, via secret ladder
I found myself resorting to a guide, to make sure I could find my way to the roof without dying yet again. This time my problem wasn't with navigating the boulders, but with the great swinging scythes that knock you off tiny ledges. Each time I would hesitate or make some small mistake and this would lead to a long drop and death.

narrow walkways above huge dark pits
One of my favourite things about Dark Souls though, is where your humanity and souls can be recovered from after death. Most of the time it's at the exact spot where you expired, but for events like falling it will often helpfully place your green glowing souls near to the ledge from which you fell. Crucially on one occasion, it didn't place it beneath the blades but before them, allowing me to recover before I tried to get past once more.

A Mimic, contained a Lightning Spear
Finally I made it to the roof, and after a little dodging of fireballs I made my way to the bonfire (you have to drop off the edge of the roof, which is a little scary). Secure in the knowledge that I could respawn at the top of the tower, I surveyed the area. There are three giants on the roof: The one that raised the portcullis I had despatched earlier (up a ladder via a hidden door), the one loading the boulders I killed with arrows from a place of safety, and finally the one throwing firebombs.

Targeting the Firebomb Giant with my bow
The firebomb one wasn't hard to kill, the tricky part was finding the best spot to fire my arrows. Once this was done I could freely wander about and pick up the various interesting items scattered around. This felt like a pretty easy bit to be honest, even the sniper in the tower was no match for my recently upgraded +10 longbow, and the other enemies felt like pushovers at this point.

Nice view from the top of the fortress, the first bell in the distance (seems like so long ago!)
The only thing left was to get to the boss, which went pretty smoothly. I summoned Iron Tarkus to help me out, then went and killed the Iron Golem. The only difficulty with this boss fight is the relatively small arena size, but the golem moves slowly and my Raw + 5 Gargoyle Halberd had enough reach to consistently hack at its legs. I stayed for a little while to help out a couple of others with the fight, and after getting those souls I levelled up a couple of times before heading out to face Anor Londo.
The Iron Golem ahead, entrance to Anor Londo caved in behind it.
The trip itself was a little freaky, after the boss fight there's a glowing circle in the middle of the area. Sometimes there's a glitch where the lock-on circle remains on the floor after killing an enemy, so initially I thought it was that. Then I noticed it was slightly golden rather than white, and when I moved closer I could press "A" to interact with it. Slightly hesitant, I pressed the button and waited.

The cutscene shows four winged demons land, and I thought this was going to be another fight, but one of them grabs you and takes you up to the city above. It's all a little Wizard of Oz, but the arrival in Anor Londo was an amazing sight.

The rather glorious sight of Anor Londo
After many hours spent in dark dungeons, sewers and suchlike, the huge bright grey-white buildings were awe-inspiring. The only eerie part was the apparent emptiness, and even on closer inspection the enemies are spread rather thinly. What they lack in numbers the make up for in ferocity, but that's a tale for next time.

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