|The game and fans love to talk about death, but death is not a permanent condition in Dark Souls|
|One of the guys from the intro, which no doubt will be a boss|
|The destruction of the fight from the intro, where stone dragons fought beings born of fire (Lord's souls?)|
First impressions: I'm actually surprised how well this runs on my laptop (it is a gaming laptop, but it's not got a great video card, I intended it more for strategy or RPG games rather than anything that would require any graphical prowess). Mind you, it is a port of an older xbox360 game, so perhaps I shouldn't be so suprised? Either way, it decided to start in a window so I had to sort that out to begin with.
|The Darksign, marking you as undead - not related to The Ring.|
|Chracter creation options, which alter your starting stats and equipment.|
The first sections are essentially a tutorial, you are guided through a series of corridors and experience a few enemies mostly in single encounters. There's a lengthy intro cinematic, and then you get your exposition fed to you in small batches when you meet NPCs. I won't go into too much detail here, but essentially you are marked as Undead, and sent to an asylum to wither away. As you wait in your cell, a knight drops a body down from an overhead opening, and after meeting your gaze, disappears.
|This church-like building is the boss area for the Undead Asylum.|
|The Asylum demon! At this stage (broken sword, no shield), you best run towards the door on the left (as highlighted by those torches on the wall).|
When the knight dies, you gain souls, and this is one of the many ways the game tells you that most (all?) of the characters you meet are just like you, undergoing the same changes and the same struggles. You get souls from the enemies you defeat, but you also drop your carried souls when you are defeated. You also notice that enemies will sometimes heal themselves using estus flasks, just as you might. The souls themselves act as the currency, both for levelling up and for item trading and so on.
Before that though, you must defeat the Asylum Demon, which I managed on my second proper attempt (after I got the hang of those estus flasks!). I used my sword two-handed (more power, can't use a shield), and dived onto the beast from a ledge above his head, doing a huge amount of damage. This made the ensuing fight very easy (I didn't manage it the first time, I waited too long and he knocked me off the ledge). After that, it's a brief walk up the hill to a rocky outcropping that looks like an abandoned graveyard.
|As a carrion bird, ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls.|
It seems you must ring two bells, one is found up above in a church, the other is far below in a charmingly-named place called Blight-town. A bit of classic RPG work here, where a simple-sounding quest quickly becomes more complex as you progress through the game. It gives you clear goals, but also lets you know that it's not going to be a cakewalk.
|The raven hangs around near the graveyard.|
|I would argue it's overconfidence that's the real killer in Dark Souls|
|Praise the sun!|
|The Zweihander, which I so desperately want to use|