It’s been 18 grueling hours. I’ve stopped playing for six or more months….twice. And now, finally, I realize that this game is actually fun.

Dark Souls launched Sept. 22, 2011, a product of From Software. This is the third time I’ve tried playing this (often stupid) game, and I think it finally got its hooks in me.

My first attempt, I played through the tutorial and thought, ok, this might be awesome. Once it plops you into the world however, you are given no direction whatsoever. You’re in these ruins, and are on your own for figuring it out.

After mucking about for a bit, I finally found a path out of the ruins. Some skeletons popped up and killed me. I tried again, trying to run past them, and they followed me and killed me. I spent hours trying to take on these first enemies, and could not kill them. I just died over and over again. I decided it was time for a break. I didn’t touch the game again for about a year and a half.

Dark Souls 2.pngWhen I finally tried playing again, I explored a bit more and found another path. There were enemies here too, but I could take them. It led me to a new area, and I thought, ok, this game is awesome!

Exploring the new area brought my first bits of progress. I gained some levels, got a little better, bought some gear. Unfortunately there was one non-standard enemy in the area, and I could not beat him. After playing the same short loop and defeating the same enemies for a few hours, and getting massacred by the first Black Knight over and over again, it was time for another break.

Dark Souls.pngAnother six months or so went by, and I read a review for Nioh in Game Informer. It made me wonder again why these games are so popular, so I decided to give it another shot. After grinding out my loop a few more times, I was finally able to take down the knight, and I proceeded into a new area for the first time. For the record, I could have moved on much earlier, but the knight was standing over an item and I really, really wanted to find out what it was.

Moving on brought me face to face with a towering boss, who I took down on my very first try. My adrenaline was pumping, blood was flowing to my stuff, and I was ready for anything. My excitement diminished somewhat when I found a bridge where a dragon killed everything (myself included) in a river of fire over and over again. This time, I stuck with it and found a way through. I was rewarded with new enemy types and a handful of mini-bosses.

I got stuck again not long after with another tough boss (Bell Gargoyle for those of you who have played before). Now I had a bigger loop I could use to grind out souls (the currency for buying levels), and eventually I looked to see if there was anywhere else I could go. There was a side path, and it led me to a blacksmith. I could now upgrade my weapons and armor.

Cruising through my loop now, I single-hit kill most of my enemies, two-hitting the worst of them. It looks like I only have one place to go, and a big bad mini-boss between me and the door, but this time I am going to persevere. One of my favorite aspects of the game so far are the mini-bosses. Once you beat them, they are gone from the game forever. Regular enemies repopulate every time you stop to level up or rest.

Dark Souls is unabashedly challenging, but I recommend it if you are looking for some challenging fantasy fights. It’s probably a lot easier if you don’t quit for large chunks of time and forget basic mechanics, like clicking R3 to lock onto enemies (hey look, I can actually hit shit with my fireball!).

I’m going to dive back into it so I can play Dark Souls II, Dark Souls III, Bloodborne and Nioh.

Until next time, I leave you with these questions:

What is the hardest game you have ever played?

What is the hardest game you have ever beaten?

Share your thoughts by email, on facebook or twitter. Stay inside, folks!

If you want to buy any of the games mentioned in this article, here are links to them on Amazon: