I don’t remember when Demon’s Souls came out and I have vague memories of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II came out. I only got into the bandwagon when Bloodborne was coming out. I went to London Comic Con with some friends and you could play the game there, but it would take me another year to actually watch Bloodborne come out actually play it and, finally, get into Soulsborne. Back then, me and my boyfriend struggled to get to Cleric Beast and then to Father Gascoigne. I remember that clearly. I got to cocky on that night and I failed to kill Gascoigne because of that. It was pretty stupid of me, but I risk too much in video games; that’s why I’m not very good at Soulsborne.
I have a bad memory in general, but I remember the feeling and the rush of Soulsborne very clearly. It is very intense, probably that’s why I remember it so well. I remember the rush the most, I don’t remember the difficultly of the games I’ve played of this particular series.
Don’t get me wrong, the games are hard, but they’re not just hard or that hard. Soulsborne is a learning method. The more you learn about your enemies and the mechanics the better you fight and, therefore the more accomplished you feel. The more you learn, the easier it becomes. It’s never a walk in the park, for the most part, but it does feel like it is easier and you’re doing better at the game.
I remember that when Dark Souls 3 came out, a lot of people started complaining that the game was too hard and needed an easy mode. After playing a few sections of the game, I understand even less this sentiment. The game is much easier than the others due to the mechanics lifted from Bloodborne and I do find it easier than Bloodborne. It’s still unforgiving if you do mistakes, but no longer I felt that I was being ganged up and unfairly beaten to death. Of course, I got too cocky as I always do and ended up dying sooner than I should, but I was lacking that feeling from the previous games that one step wrong was my ruin. In Dark Souls 3 felt as if it could be my ruin. Possibility because of the refined mechanics, which isn’t a bad thing, because Soulsborne are far more than just hard games.
There is something far more important that people often forget: the story.
Because we’re so focused about how hard the games are, we forget that the game has a story and lore. As vague as it may be it is there and it is well told, well written and interesting. It isn’t as expansive or expository as other JRPGs, but exists and it needs to be admired. The real discussion of Soulsborne lies in there, not in how hard the games need or don’t need to be. That will always remain the same (at least on the consoles) while our understanding of the lore and the story of Soulsborne changes with each new piece of information and when we talk to people who share new theories with us. Because so much is missing, there is always something to talk about.
Did the Healing Church poisoned the water in Old Yharman?
Is the Old One in Demon’s Souls the same kind of Old One from Bloodborne making the world connected?
Is the Age of Sea mentioned in Dark Souls III something that would give birth to a world like Bloodborne‘s?
Questions like these are things that keep Soulsborne alive, not how hard it is. Harder games will come along, Soulsborne games will even come along, but none will be Soulsborne, none will have its magic or sentiment because Soulsborne is unique because it makes us feel like a child with little understanding of what’s going on and as we learn more pieces we put them together like a puzzle.
Miyazaki said that, when he created the story of the games, he had in mind the days in which he tried to read books in English with little understanding of the language and had to fill in the details himself. English is not my first language, so I do understand that feeling and that makes Soulsborne very unique. Not everything is explain, you have to figure out things yourself. You have to think. And that works for the gameplay too, think before you act and, maybe, it will not be as hard as it seems. You’ll still have Blighttown flashbacks, don’t worry.
There much harder games out there if you want to complain about hard games. I can bring two the table: Pathologic and Void.
Both are mysterious and abstract Russian games by the game studio that are amazing experiences but tiresome and hard in a way Soulsborne could never be. These are games that require a guide to complete and where time itself is against you. Time will kill you and you’ll have to run from it.
They’re completely different from Soulsborne, yes, but they’re hard for everyone. They’re not just hard for people who don’t want to work for victory. No matter how experienced you’re in video games these two games will crush you.
(But yes, I do love them and recommend them)
For now, we should love Soulsborne for everything it bring us and if you don’t like it, it’s fine. If you think it’s too hard, that’s also fine. However, there is more than just hard games behind the covers. There are amazing stories to be enjoyed and I feel this is true for a lot of hard games nowadays. We’re turned off because we’re used to games that are not that hard and when Soulsborne comes along we think it’s the hardest thing since the NES and forget how beautiful the game is how wonderfully tragic the stories told in it are. I personally think we should pay more attention to that and make Soulsborne known for that and not for how hard it is.