Dark Souls: Bosses

Dark Souls is a longer game than I was anticipating, and I’ve been playing it for a while now. Given that this is me, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that I’m enjoying it, but in fact I am. It has a lot to do with the way it offers multiple parallel avenues for advancement at a time: driving ahead in the main quest vs exploring outlying areas vs trying to find a way onto a ledge where you can see a pickup, for example. Grinding for souls so you can level up vs grinding for items that let you upgrade your equipment. There are a couple of optional bosses that I keep going back to, just in case I meet muster by now.

I basically gauge my progress by bosses. There’s a large but finite number of them, and many of them are placed to gate access to new areas, so if I can keep crossing out at least one per session, I’ll eventually reach the finish line. There’s basically two grades of boss. There’s bosses proper, which have names and intro cinematics, and live in special areas, accessed by “walking through white light”, that you can’t leave while the boss is alive. And there’s minibosses, which live in the main world but, like bosses proper, die permanently. I don’t usually like the word “miniboss”, because it’s vague and only meaningful in certain specific game structures, but it’s an undeniable pattern here.

Generally speaking, I don’t defeat proper bosses on my first try, although often my first try is close enough to encourage further attempts. I did, however, manage a first-try kill last night against Ceaseless Discharge, a fire-based tentacle monster that keeps the lava pools in the Demon Ruins topped up and impassable until you kill it. There’s a lot that could be said on the theme of tidying up as a player goal in games, and beating this guy is a great example of it. At any rate, I didn’t do anything particularly fancy to defeat Ceaseless Discharge. I wasn’t even really able to dodge its attacks, due to the constraints of the area. I just found its rhythm, a rhythm of “Get knocked down, stand up, hit it a couple of times, and drink down an Estus Flask to heal before getting knocked down again”, and by luck, it died before I ran out of Estus Flasks.

Now, many boss fights offer clever tricks, ways to use the terrain to your advantage, like climbing up onto higher ground where you can safely fire arrows down and/or employ a devastating plunging attack. But there seems to be a general rule that a straightforward method of charging at it with a hand-to-hand weapon and dodge-rolling whenever it takes a swing at you should always be feasible, if you’re powerful enough. If it can fly, it’ll land occasionally just to put it in striking distance. In the Darkroot Basin, there’s a lake with an immense hydra in the middle, out of reach, thrashing its heads about very high in the air and emitting powerful long-range attacks. The targeting system lets you select it from an unusually large distance, which is only fair, but also really suggests that you’re supposed to fight it from a distance, with arrows or spells. And yet, the one time I tried taking a good run in its direction (motivated by pickups that I still haven’t obtained), I was amused to see its heads suddenly coming close to shore, as if magnetically attracted to my halberd.

1 Comment so far

  1. matt w on 30 Mar 2022

    he drinks an estus drink
    he drinks a lager drink
    he rings the bells that remind him of the good times

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