The resilience to take a right-proper beating can mean the difference between surviving harsh living conditions or succumbing to the elements. Most folks would rather avoid surly activities such as crucifixion and live skinning. Yet, there exists a subset of games enthusiasts among us who thrive on self-inflicted grief. Some would even go so far as to pay sixty dollars to be kicked in the crotch, have their flesh set ablaze, followed by impalement with a rusty implement and finished off with the twisting of the diseased blade buried in a fresh slit.
This generation has seen the divide between hardcore and casual become a blatant sight. Dark Souls and its predecessor Demons Souls have galavanted to the front of the crowded games market championing the notion that games should be a challenge. In doing so they’ve found an audience steadfast enough to surmount these gauntlets of masochistic euphoria. Players resilient enough hold on to their wits during the insane, sudden spikes in the challenge have recounted tales of bosses who dispense nothing but one hit kills and hours-upon-hours of progress lost to the ether of time. The Souls owe much of their design credo to the Rogue-like genre.
The corporate thinking behind modern video game design mandates that a complete product should ship in a state in which it can be feasibly and reasonably completed by the majority of its audience at the standard difficulty setting. An industry, currently in the midst of sequelitis and lead by sales figures must stand by the status quo. As it turns out, letting people play through a sixty dollar roller-coaster ride, then charging them another sixty the following year for another such jaunt is quite profitable.
The web URL for Dark Souls, “preparetodie.com,” reaffirms to fans of the masochistic romp that everything they loved about Demons Souls is intact.
To compound the difficulty both entries eschew another convention the difficulty setting. The Souls games’ use a single soul-crushing setting.
Dark Souls wears its predecessor’s infamy on its face much akin to the way it flaunts the soft skin torn from the tender hides of its victims. Terrorists and fictional home front wars are replaced by protagonists with charred epidermises and giant, fire-spewing monstrosities who kill you in half a heartbeat.
World myths are teeming with examples of heroes surmounting unspeakable pain and horror. Many such personae are exalted to unenviable state of martyrdom. One need only riffle through The Bible for the most famous of examples. Wording such as stout masochist, unwavering martyr and firm punching bag are selling points the likes of which may never find their way onto the resume of average employment seeker. Still, a person who can take a hefty, swift strike to the nether regions without so much as showing a crack in their composure. It is perhaps for the best that I leave the ordeal of delineating the line between torment and elation to a man with a higher testicular constitution for self-inflicted flailing.