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Dark Souls (yes, we’re talking games now) is a difficult game. It is as unforgiving as it is wretched. The world is dark and depressing, with characters you met and parted with, could have a possibility of meeting their darkest end. You will die, again and again, endlessly the world tries to put you down and you kept getting back up. It’s insane.

Even Sony president back then, when trying the newly developed Demon Souls, said the game was crap.* He said, “I spent close to two hours playing it and after two hours I was still standing at the beginning at the game.” 

*(2022). Sony admits “dropping the ball” with Demon’s Souls. https://www.eurogamer.net/. https://www.eurogamer.net/sony-admits-dropping-the-ball-with-demons-souls

That’s two hours of being punched down, humiliated, having seen little progress in your quest. That gotta feel so frustrating. No one likes being punched down. No one likes having hardship in life. So it is completely fair for him to loathe the game. (Or is it?)

Contrary to his outlook, Demon Souls achieved massive success in its first week, selling over 39,000 units, coming in behind only to the previous week’s top-seller Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2. It went even more insane when it touched the global market, recognized as one of the greatest and most influential games of all time. Critics loved it, calling it groundbreaking. Players enjoyed the loop, calling it addictive. The game was praised for its difficulty.

This is conflicting, isn’t it?

To further amass its success, not only as a source of entertainment, some players have found actual security in it. A game that is known to kick your ass repeatedly has been found to save people from their dark days of depression. To listen to just some of the stories is simply inspiring.

Those who never experienced it might gloss over it, but depression is such a strong negative feeling. It’ll drown you, if you’re not careful. No one likes it, ask anyone you know. Or maybe you did know. It felt like the world is against you. Like you’re alone, being left out while everyone around you moves forward. Not batting an eye at you, a broken cog in the machine that is society. It… changes a man, that thing.

But looking back at it, at those dark days, is it weird that what I felt is… comfort?

Another very fucked up story is about mass destruction. I’m just gonna go ahead and say this first, but it’s a sad thing whenever a disaster falls down on someone. I only pray that none of us experiences it, but the world isn’t exactly a bright place. Whether it’s man-made or natural, people lose their home, their belongings, their job, their lives, their families, it’s… terrifying to think about. We can only see, most of the time, from the sidelines, and pray for those who are affected, and pray more for ourselves and those around us.

This all changed so much two years ago. You know what I’m talking about. A disaster slow yet striking stopped all of us in our tracks. It does not discriminate in its path, the rich, the poor, the powerful, the commoner, everyone is affected. It even changes a concept, the world economy, into a halt. Ofcs, one can argue that it still affected different people differently (kids and old people moreso), but it’s still as thorough in its track.

I know such suffering is… abhorred. But it brought all of us down to the same level. It made us, all of us, to know of our place in nature. Not as a rich person nor a poor, not as influential nor a nobody, not as a you or me, but as a human. A creature in nature. Not free from the shackles of this world. It levelled us all the same, humbled us in its equity. We’re all the same in its eyes. Breaking us from the machine, turning us from cogs, into dust thrown in the same desert. Is it not comforting to know that we’re not alone in this disaster? That we can see someone, eye to eye, with those who we wouldn’t be able prior?

Let’s return back to Dark Souls before I turned into a mad priest of the abyss. There is no denying its hardship, depressing dark world, and unhinged insanity. At the same time, the players aren’t exactly a masochist who likes to be brought down and spitted at while the game steps on them. I certainly don’t.

Yet some people found solace in its grim world and strenuous gameplay. Not because of said elements, exactly, but they do play a vital role. The role of making a contrast between the dark and wretched game, with a hopeful triumphant sense that you get whenever you accomplish something, no matter how small it seems. It doesn’t put the artificial difficulty on top of everything you’ve seen, so it felt fair. It felt like the players, us, are the ones who actually achieved victory, not because it’s set on easy. That feeling of despite being in a sadistic world and system yet still claiming your victory on top of everything that tries to undermine you pushes us to feel like an unstoppable force, a hero in spite of adversity.

Would the feeling of euphoria is still as heightened if there is no challenge, set in a bright happy place, with cheerful characters? Would I still feel as hopeful if not for the dark days of old? I think not.

Again, I’m not a masochist, and I do not think even Ms want a begrudgingly depressing life as well. I would never want to experience those days anymore. The feeling I have is not for the woe I felt. The feeling I have is for the contrast it gives. It shows how much I’ve been through. How much I’ve changed. How much happier I am now.

Hence why, when I look back at those days, it’s not sadness that I found. The feelings of olde seem to stay in the olden times. What I found instead… is comfort in darkness. Don’t you dare go Hollow.

Do not fight it. Embrace the abyss. Let the dark empower you.

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