Tough Love: On Dark Souls’ Difficulty

You Died: The Dark Souls Companion is one of the great gaming books of the last few years – it’s passionate, perceptive and wonderfully partisan. (We should also mention that it’s the work of two friends of Eurogamer, Keza MacDonald and Jason Killingsworth.)

Killingsworth is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to produce a beautiful hardback version of the book, which will include a new chapter. He’s kindly allowed us to publish this extract as a taster.

Dark Souls’ most obvious trait also happens to be its least interesting; fixating on ‘gosh, this game’s hard’ seems a bit obvious when we could be talking about its themes, its lore, its fascinating game design. Dark Souls is more than a Tough Mudder challenge for the couch-bound. But Dark Souls’ difficulty is also inescapable and, rightly or wrongly, it’s what the game is most famous for. Ask players for their recollections, and they will tell you the moments that made them cry, the moments when they felt physically and mentally broken by a boss fight, the moments when they nearly gave up. And if you dig a little deeper, examining Dark Souls’ difficulty yields a lot of insight into what makes it work.

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