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What? Dark Souls is hard? No. It's the toughest game of this or last generation? Bah. Playing the game will make you want to snap your controller in half? Come on.

                The thing is, all those things are true. Dark Souls made me want to throw things and swear enough to make my mom blush. And I loved it.

                I didn't expect to love Dark Souls. I wanted to give the game a try in order to observe the degree of difficulty that everyone raved and cursed about. I never expected to play past a couple areas, let alone put ninety-two hours into the experience.

                But here I am.

                For any Dark Souls beginner, the first thing you must embrace is the learning curve. Every stage is damn difficult. Every single one. You pick your character from a stock of class options, and then you are thrown straight into the universe with only vague hints written on the floors as tutorials. Right off the bat, it's left to the gamer to sort through what to do.

                Getting familiar with the battle system and inventory will take time. The controls aren't intuitive, but you become accustomed to them through practice, as finding the balance between strikes and dodges is a vital labor of love. You will also want to try as many weapons and outfits as you can in order to find a fit that feels comfortable. For me, using an ax or a spear was awkward, but once I got my hands on a solid long sword, then I was moving. It just took a lot of switching back-and-forth to find that sweet spot.

                Souls are the only currency in the game. You obtain souls by defeating enemies, and then use them to level-up, upgrade equipment, and purchase items. But after every death, you lose all the souls you've collected up to that point. You can't cry over lost souls, however, as this will happen often. The easy come, easy go mentality steers the game away from grinding advantages. Trying to obtain enough souls to level-up will not get you far. Skill, along with trial-and-error, will trump over leveling almost anytime.

The total number of deaths you will endure is the hardest deterrent to get over. Most deaths will be your own fault, but that adds little consolation as you succumb to another obstacle. For every new stage or encounter, you can expect to die at least thirty times. A large amount of memorizing goes into areas. Dark Souls is much like a platformer in this way, as an insane amount of effort will be exhausted in order to get an inch further than the time you did before. But I promise, that inch will be incredibly satisfying.

Frustration doesn't just come from dying, either. Dark Souls is a large, open world that is vague and deserted and tough to navigate. You can travel through areas you've scoured every corner of, only to discover your route is a brutally ambiguous ledge you must drop down from. The directionless toppled with the difficulty level can feel like being hit when you're down. And though I wouldn't have minded these areas to have lessened its obscured nature, if only a smidge, I also understand this as part of the spirit of the game. It's not just blatant punishment, it's respect for all those who dare to enter.

                There is a region in the Dark Souls called Sen's Fortress, and it is one of my favorite portions of the game. The place is riddled with booby traps as well as sneaky, corner-loving enemies, and the only way to get through it is by repetition that will weaken most gamer's resolves. But when I made my way through the passageways of the Fortress and up to the top towers, the gratification I felt was one of the greatest gaming highs I've ever had.  

I cannot emphasize enough the number of times you will die in Dark Souls. You are going to die so much, you are going to start questioning a lot of things. Why am I doing this? Am I having fun? Do I just have a gluttony for pain? Who am I, as person? But if you can get through all those questions, Dark Souls is sure to give you a rewarding experience unlike any other.