Dark Souls: The Hard Bits

Well, the game is finally earning its reputation. Getting through Anor Londo is proving tricky, and it’s because this is where the game stops letting you overwhelm problems by upping your stats. There’s been the occasional bottomless precipice providing the possibility of instant death in most of the game’s zones, but they’re usually passive hazards, only really dangerous if you take stupid risks near them. But here, in the rooftops and ledges of the lost city, the game actively aims for death by cheap shot — specifically, shots from a pair of archers on ledges above you, out of reach of my own bow. My shield can block their arrows, but the impact still pushes me backward.

The worst part is the extent to which you’re locked in at this point. That is, there’s always a possibility of leaving Anor Londo and satisfying your desire for forward progress somewhere else, but the game discourages it: backtracking would involve going back through Sen’s Fortress, a place full of its own perilous pitfalls. Come to think of it, the game made attempts at pushing me off ledges there as well, using pendulums swinging across catwalks, but their regularity made them fairly easy to avoid and, in some cases, survivable, the fall being simply a setback. Still, it means there’s no “just give up for now and do easy stuff for a while” option. The nearest friendly bonfire is a long way off. I remember feeling similarly trapped in Blighttown, where the way back was confusing enough that I genuinely didn’t know how to navigate it, but I figured it out eventually. Here, though, there’s another factor: dialogue with the Anor Londo fire keeper suggests that I might be nearing the point where I get the fast-travel option, which would make backtracking the hard way particularly silly.

Checking out the web for tips, I find that this section is one of two points that people seem to find particularly sadistic. The other is the goat-skull-headed Capra Demon, which gates passage to the Depths. The Capra Demon comes at you fast and hard in an enclosed space, accompanied by a pair of attack dogs to keep the encounter from being too simple. I managed to beat the Capra Demon in something like three tries, but I have no idea how. It certainly wasn’t through any kind of clever strategy or planning. I think it was basically a fluke.

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