When I first started my journey through the realm of Dark Souls III, I thought it would be a fun experiment. A nice game to try and then give up on. I have always been drawn to the aesthetic of Bloodborne, but I do not currently own a PlayStation 4. The gothic architecture and the werewolf and vampire allure of the game really struck a chord with me. However, I was always too nervous to journey forth into a Soulslike game. Brian, Ian, and Chase will be the first to tell you that I really enjoy games on Easy mode. I like winning, I like playing against the predictable nature of computer controlled opponents and I tend to avoid challenge. This was all true until I played Dark Souls III.
The first boss of Dark Souls III took me about 15 frustrated attempts. I did not know how to handle Iudex Gundyr, especially when confronted with his second phase. My journey may have ended here, but I persevered. Eventually, I prevailed and made my way onto more challenging encounters. Each battle pushed me further into the depths of the game and forced me to learn the intricate nature of the battle system and the role playing leveling. I was also hunting for the coolest looking armor set.
Dark Souls III lured me into a trance. I would struggle against certain bosses and breeze past others. Each time I came to the boss’s lair a wave of apprehension washed over me. Forcing me to rethink my attack strategy and make sure I was well stocked with healing items for the upcoming battle. With each enemy that I defeated I gained confidence to face on a stronger foe and learn the convoluted lore of the game.
There aren’t many friends within the Dark Souls universe, almost everything you see will try to kill you. Emma is one of the first friendly characters you meet, she invites you to join the Way of Blue. This covenant protects you against enemy invaders and I have worn the colors of the Way of Blue for my entire playthrough, except for a brief tryst with the Warriors of Sunlight. Praise the Sun! You have the choice to kill Emma, but I did not want to lose one of my key allies so early in the game.
After defeating three Lords of Cinder you return to Emma seeking a way forward. Unfortunately she has been defeated and the player is left to face off against the Dancer of the Boreal Valley.
Before playing Dark Souls III, I scoured the internet for advice about the journey I was about to begin. I looked up information about the bosses, proper builds, and important items. I wanted to be prepared and knowledgeable about what I was getting myself into. One common thread was the intense difficulty of the Dancer of the Boreal Valley. Guides warned me not to fight the Dancer early, especially if I was a new player. I was nervous about my encounter with the beast, if I ever made it that far.
Many guides compared the Dancer of the Boreal valley to something that could be found in Bloodborne. The beast wields two swords and swings them wildly around the battlefield in a hypnotic dance of death. Lucky players may be able to land one or two strikes before retreating to safety or receiving the sweet kiss of defeat.
I hesitated before my battle with the Dancer. I knew that this would determine the outcome of my experience with Dark Souls III. I had already fought the painstakingly difficult Pontiff Sulyvahn and I did not want go through the pain again. I also knew that I still had a good amount of the game left, so if I could not defeat the Dancer of the Boreal Valley then I would likely give up on Dark Souls III and never return to its treacherous waters. If I emerged victorious, then I would push forward with confidence until the game was completed.
I entered the arena with a full host of items and a well upgraded arsenal. I had learned so much during my time with Dark Souls III, rather than keep my distance from the Dancer I remained close by her side. Like a twisted waltz we spun around and around the arena. Every time she raised her sword to strike I dodged behind her to get in a few quick blows. The arena contained some useful columns that concealed my retreats. With each roll and strike the Dancer’s health lowered. The music swelled as the climax of the battle fell upon us. I lunged at the boss and delivered the fatal blow amidst a cacophony of silent applause inside my head. Somehow I had defeated one of the toughest bosses in the game on my first try.
I then proceeded to roll off a ledge to my death. Ahhh Dark Souls.
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks