We Needed Dark Souls For Its Design, Not Just Its Difficulty

Dark Souls And Difficulty ‘Dark Souls’ has become the poster child for challenging gameplay. Due to its well known difficulty, it easily has  became known as a game that...
Dark Souls Difficulty vs Design
Credit: nextgengamingblog.com

Dark Souls And Difficulty

‘Dark Souls’ has become the poster child for challenging gameplay. Due to its well known difficulty, it easily has  became known as a game that was unforgiving towards its players. The game grew popular mostly due to its difficulty, and this kinda sucks. There’s a reason as to why ‘Dark Souls’ has now become a buzzword to describe any difficult game that comes around. For the most part, ‘Dark Souls’ was well designed. It had interesting lore, great atmosphere and a more unique take on fantasy (at least not the traditional dwarves, elves, and humans). As well as this, it also managed to weave narrative and gameplay together. But still, to this day, lot of people still only seem to recognise it for its difficulty alone. 

This would be fine, after all a lot of people may only like games for certain reasons. Plus providing a challenge was definitely what made ‘Dark Souls’ so attractive to begin with. However, my problem is when things like ‘Dark Souls: Prepare to Die’ editions get marketed. As if game developers really believe if they say the game is difficult and that’s it then it’ll sell. Even worse are the people who rave on and on about the difficulty. Not for the opinion that the game is good, but as if the idea that they completed the game is such a masterful feat.

The Gaming Industry At The Time

But let’s be honest, ‘Dark Souls’ wasn’t good just because it was difficult. If that was the case, the game wouldn’t have been remembered for nearly as long as it has been. I doubt anyone would even pick up the sequels. ‘Dark Souls’ came a time where it was exactly what the industry needed. Released in 2011, we had some amazing games such as ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’, ‘Portal 2’, ‘Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception’, ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’. Alongside those, we had some awful games, ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’, ‘Assassin’s Creed: Revelations’ ‘Rage’ and so on.

Of course there are plenty more great and godawful games that came out of that year. But on top of them, other than that not many of them seem to be ones that are challenging. Many games weren’t focusing on a fantasy setting, other than Skyrim. 

Dark Souls Design Was Unique

Then came along ‘Dark Souls’, in a time when games are trying to appeal to the mass market through simpler and at times repetitive gameplay. ‘Dark Souls’ didn’t give you the option of difficulty. It was challenging, it was fun, and it gave you a great sense of accomplishment.

All whilst not being too frustrating (some of the time) through generally bad design. However, difficulty wasn’t the only part of ‘Dark Souls’ that a lot of people came to love (despite what publishers might want to make you believe). The game features great design, and an interesting open world. It had great environments (except Blighttown…We all hate Blighttown), and challenging but also Lovecraftian Esque monsters. Many of which truly felt imposing not only because of how challenging. But they could be but just how they looked, how they moved, what they were in this hellish world.

Dark Souls Difficulty vs Design

Credit: rpgsite.net

‘Dark Souls’ bordered the line of a survival horror game, in fact you could always make the argument that it was. However, a lot of people, including myself, understand that the trope of “Dark Souls difficulty” is getting old. Especially for a game of great craftsmanship. Besides, other than odd glitches and sometimes bad design. ‘Dark Souls’ isn’t nearly as difficult as a lot of people claim it to be.

All that it does is ask you, the player, to sometimes be patient. You need to understand your environment, to not rush through the game. ‘Dark Souls’ was breaking the norm imposed upon by other games. It reminds us that sometimes games can be just as successful and even fun as other games without feeling the need to guide the player along. It doesn’t treat you like a child in fear that they’ll reject the game without being guided by “cinematic experiences” and “QTE cutscenes”.

If more people were free to try different things then it could result in greater games. This is the reason a lot more gamers seem to be paying attention to the indie-gaming scene. This is why ‘Dark Souls’ was needed. It serves as a reminder that a game can be challenging, well designed, and just as fun and accomplished as other types of games.

Hi there! My name is Harjit Singh, I'm a British nineteen year old Creative Writing and Journalism student, with a love for all things fantasy. Whether it's from reading books to playing Dungeons and Dragons, something about getting immersed and exploring a different world is really cool to me. I'm an avid gamer, with a love to write and hope to one day become a novelist! Thanks for reading!
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