The lights are on
When people bail on Dark Souls and its enthralling world, Lordran, they’re typically in one of two places: Anor Londo, the city of gods; or Blighttown, a deep, hostile cavern. The latter is commonly strung up on forums and message boards as a sacrificial lamb for all to point at and punish. The frustrated lambast its narrow walkways, powerful enemies, and stingy bonfire placement, which essentially serve as the game’s checkpoints. When you finally reach the bottom – and I assure you, there is one – you’re met with endlessly respawning enemies and filthy muck that clings to your heels, slowing your movement and poisoning you in the process. You’re not playing by the rules anymore, Dark Souls. I’m out!
The level and enemy designs are gross and unforgettable. Located beneath a sewer, Blighttown is commonly entered through a series of rickety wooden walkways. One unexpected ambush later and you’re falling, wasting your last words on crude profanities. The swamp at Blighttown’s feet is rife with leeches, giant mosquitoes, and boulder-tossing giants. Aside from making your way back to the top, the only other obvious path out of Blighttown is a mountain of white webbing with a small hole in its center. You can guess what’s in there.
All sections of Lordran have something to teach you, and Blighttown is perhaps the best instructor of them all. It has to be, because Blighttown is literally a road to hell. Past the boards, past the sewage, and past the witch, Quelaag, is a lake of lava leading to some of Dark Souls’ most tormenting areas. Do you really want to walk those paths while you’re still soft? Still untested?
In a typical game of Dark Souls, Blighttown is the first area encountered where the world itself is more deadly than the foes inhabiting it. Most of the earlier environments offer ample space for combat. Dodging, rolling, and strafing emerge as valuable tactics. When they don’t work as well in Blighttown, an area whose brand of combat is as claustrophobic as the setting itself, people lose hope. They don’t see that Dark Souls is fostering new skills, useful both later and in the present. Fighting on small, uneven ground forces you to mind your footing. Diving is risky, so blocking becomes more prominent. With blocking comes stamina management, crucial to mind as foes start hitting harder and more frequently.
On the surface, you can learn to toy with enemies and backstab with ease. In Blighttown, it’s kill fast or be killed faster. And in a world like Lordran, so sparsely populated yet so hostile, taking life efficiently soon becomes your most useful skill.
Blighttown even manages to distort the game’s purest image: the bonfire. At bonfires, you can rest, heal, repair weapons, and level up. Seeing one after a long stretch of difficult gameplay is often reason enough to leap and celebrate. When I spotted one at the base of Blighttown, still without flame, I wasn’t happy. Lighting that bonfire meant Blighttown was my home until I was skilled enough to claw my way back to the bonfire up top. You can take a rest if you wish, the game says, but the worst is yet to come.
In such a hazardous place, it’s easy to forget that you can look up every once in a while. I’d recommend doing so. With your head raised high, you can catch a glimpse of the sky above, and it’s always lit with sun.
You forgot to mention the most hated aspect of Blighttown: the dreaded frame rate drops. Funnily enough, I didn't have any of these problems with this area though. Going to the forest first meant I had plenty of anti-poison items. Going to back to the Undead Asylum first meant having the Rusted Iron Ring that let you maintain normal movement speed throughout the muck. Being an archer meant killing almost everything before it saw me. What killed me over and over and OVER was the **** water wheel ELEVATOR. I HATED that thing! *Headdesk* It's not trapped, spiked, or anything really... I just couldn't get on to the stupid thing for some reason and would fall to my death a few dozen times.
that spider boss was ridiculous i had to summon three people just to fight her and all i did was stay back and hit her a few times
Jesus... I'll pass, thank you. Great description though, I felt like I could see it for a second, but I'm glad it was only temporary.
Honestly, I completed Blighttown in one playthrough without dying and I didn't use the shortcut. I was just overly cautious with everything I did and summoned a phantom halfway. You just can't run in there like a medieval Rambo.
The New Londo Ruins stick in my mind as the most frustrating part with all the damn ghosts, floating through walls grabbing your character, ughhh. I actually liked Blighttown, as opposed to the poison swamp in the Valley of Defilement from Demon's Souls, oh how I hate Giant Depraved Ones when they catch you in the muck...
Dark Souls is an amazing game. Fav PS3 game. I'm on NG++ and going for plat. Blightown isn't as bad as Valley of Defilement. Beating Demons Souls does help. Love Both games!
Nice piece. I love how it ended with a reference to the Sun as well. I feel like we have a real Souls fan here!
This article reminded me what a unique experience Dark Souls was. It is still the only game that has ever made me throw my controller! I'm both excited and filled with anxiety to play Dark Souls II.
Reminds me that I need to finish my first playthrough. Got up to Ornstein and Smough and just stopped. Tried to go back to play it about a month ago to find out that my build didn't work anymore because of a stupid update. I swear if Dark Souls just had an offline mode without me disconnecting my internet or forcing me to stay undead to avoid unwanted invasions, then the game could have been in my top 10 favorites.
I just started playing this game again from the beginning for the first time since release. Coincidentally I just got to the beginning of Blighttown a few hours ago. This was easily my favorite game of 2011.