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The Benefits of Playing Souls-like

Even if you don't like the games

By Samuel MoorePublished 2 months ago 7 min read

Dark Souls gave birth to the term, ‘Get Good.’ And thanks to this we have seen numerous debates about having an ‘easy mode’ to the game or if that would be a betrayal of the game or cheapen the accomplishments made by the player. Whether it’s the magnificent battle with Ornstein and Smough, or the dream (or perhaps nightmare) battle with the Knight Artorias. I’m pretty sure my neighbor's kids know how to swear purely due to the number of times I have died to that character.

And the cheering when I finally beat him - no, the celebration when I finally beat him was a moment I will always remember. It is right next to when I finally beat Isshin, in Sekiro; Shadows die twice. It was Christmas morning and I had been up since 5 am. I had been fighting that one boss for over two hours. The panic, the fear, the sweat as I saw both health bars going down… and then, victory! Two years of playing the game - yes it took me two years to finish a single playthrough of the game. But two years and then victory on Christmas morning.

Not for the first time, if the neighbor's kids were not awake beforehand, there were after that point.

I have been on both sides of the debate. I have passionately argued against and easy mode as it takes away from the storytelling of these games and how - particularly in Dark Souls, you start as nothing and build up to take down the gods of that world. How the combat is tough but fair and in the world, while you can raise yourself to be the Chosen Undead, the Bearer of the Curse that sits on the thrown of the unkindled, so too can anything else in the game and so, it is fair in its difficulty and how it tells the story.

Also, being able to ‘summon’ people to help with boss battles and in cases like BloodBorn and Elden Ring, you can have your friends jump in to help in areas is a kind of easy mode - right?

Well on the other side of this I want my friends to be able to enjoy these games that have taken up so much of my time- Dark Souls 3 so far has consumed 300 hours of my time and as I wright this, I am planning another play through with a weapon set that I’ve never tried before. Not everyone has the freedom to finish work and then play video games, order pizza, and play longer than an adult who’s income is not from the video game industry, has any freezable reason to play. So for most people, ‘Get good’ isn’t an option. Not because they lack the skill or even the mindset, but because they simply lack the time.

This being said I want to make a case for trying the Souls-Born or Souls-like games.

The Souls-like games that understand the formula of ‘tough but fair,’ isn’t inherent to the genre, so sure, pick the games wisely. While I want to play Lords of the Fallen 2 - I can’t recommend the first one. And while Mortal Shell isn’t necessarily a pretty game, it is one that I do recommend to everyone interested in these types of games. If you enjoyed any of the Dark Souls games, you will enjoy Mortal Shell.

So while I am about to make the case for you to play games that you will fail at- I’m also saying pick the games that are fair.

So, why as a gamer should you play a game that is going to demand significant chunks of your free time?

The accomplishment. We’ve all done things in video games just to say we’ve done it. We’ve all climbed to the tallest building in Spider-man just so we can dive off and have ‘that moment’ of being Spider-man. Being able to say that you have experienced the dread of the Nameless King, the excitement and triumph of conquering, Malenia, Blade of Miquella - and then the outright frustration of those two stupid overgrown apes in Sekiro! My point is, as gamers we can say, ‘Yes I’ve done that. And it was Epic!’ Having that experience allows you to appreciate other games and elements in that game. And for every boss, you fight and barely survive, you will find someone else who demolishes that boss without breaking a sweat. We can, as gamers, revel and enjoy the fact that others have succeeded and if they are so inclined, can join our game and help us. The community can be a truly wonderful thing.

But it’s not difficult to convince a gamer with time to try these games, so here is why you should try these difficult and time-consuming games if you do not have the luxury of time to spend freely.

The difficulty is what put people off these types of games, and that is why you should try them. It is much like basketball or combat sports. You are going to get hit, the other team is going to score. Accept this as part of the gameplay. Use this as a tool in your arsenal. When my mindset changed with these games, that is when I started to enjoy them and I wasn’t just playing out of spite. Sure you will get sent back to the spawning point, and maybe that was more than a little way back. But you get the opportunity to examine the enemies in the area, not just how they fight but where they hide. Where are the interesting things on the map? Are there shortcuts you can find or perhaps there is a weapon or item that you’ve missed because you were trying to get the area done instead of simply embracing the experience.

Now sure, this means it will take longer, but that is the point. It will take longer to appreciate the game/area, you are discovering the secrets and the story while you are there. And from publishers like From Software, nothing they do is by accident. There is a point to everything. Why is that one Silver Knight invading you in the Ring City- was he the one who locked away Havel the Rock?

Jimmy Carr answered the question of life with 5 simple words, and it applies to these games as well. Enjoying the passage of time. Enjoy the time you spend in these worlds, while they can be decrepit or awe-inspiring, enjoy the world, the moments of beauty, and even the moments of failure.

This leads into real-world benefits of playing games like this. Again with games of basketball or in combat sports, you are going to take that hit, you are going to fail. But failure isn’t losing, how we handle it is what makes the difference. A punishing game isn’t just a game. It’s a lesson in how to fail, and how to recover. If you are trying the same thing over and over and still getting the same negative result, you need to change something. What better way to try this than in a game? If you try to get through an area 12 times the same way, and then change the weapon from a sword to a scythe, maybe you will do worse- but that is fine because it’s a game. It’s the mentality that you are learning. The skill that the game gives you isn’t that you can now go through an area with weird bird-man creatures that throw knives, the skill is that you can adjust, and learn that one situation doesn’t only have one way to move forward. It took me two years to beat my first Dark Souls game - and I spent hours doing the exact same thing without adjusting anything. Without learning anything. But when I finally unlocked the skill to look at things differently, that is when change came.

This is the skill we carry into the real world. When you have tried the same thing over and over, and you still aren’t getting the result you want, then you can do what these games teach you to do, see things in a different light. Retry, continue with a different angle and most importantly, enjoy the passage of time.

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About the Creator

Samuel Moore

Love to write and have more than a few opinions

Social media handle; Bamgibson30

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