First of all, Dark Souls is the kind of game that ruins lives. Imagine this, if you will: your partner leaves for work at, say, eight in the morning. You're still in bed, having a sick day. Only you're not sick, are you? You're just planning on trying to down the Four Kings, because you've tried nine times now, and you're on NG+++, so they're damned near immune to your pathetic little stabby-stabby stab stabbings. So you wait five minutes, crawl out of bed, and start playing.
Nine hours later, your partner staggers in from post-work drinks, to find you hunched over your controller like Gollum, your pale, unshowered body shaking because you literally haven't gotten up since that morning. You're now on NG++++, you're lobbing fireballs at Gravelord Nito, and your eyes look like fleshy, hateful little black holes. How long have you played the game since you bought it? Over five hundred hours.
That's what Dark Souls is: part Medieval horror, part Spirited Away, it's the ultimate game title. And part of the reason why it took off so much is because it's hard. Really, really hard. It's part of a prestigious family of games that pride themselves on their inaccessibility (Demon Souls and the Monster Hunter titles are close relatives), but it doesn't want you to give it. It challenges you to better yourself as a player. Which might be why people are so stressed about Dark Souls II.
Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Demon Souls and Dark Souls, has handed off directorial duties on Dark Souls II to Tomohiro Shibuya. From Software are assuring people that the move wasn't forced upon him, but Miyazaki has stated that he's saddened to have been moved from director to supervisor.
That's what Dark Souls is: part Medieval horror, part Spirited Away, it's the ultimate game title. Part of the reason why it took off so much is because it's hard. Really, really hard.
It's a move that has many worried, especially as Dark Souls was uniquely his vision. But what really concerns many die hard Dark Souls fans is Shibuya's assertion that he wants to make the game 'more accessible'.
More accessible? What does that even mean? Does it mean easier? Because unlike most games, the very core of Dark Souls is the challenge. It’s a key feature. If we end up with some loosely related title which feels and plays more like a button-mashing Devil My Cry style title, I for one will head to Japan, stand outside From Software and cry for days on end until they make a worthy sequel.
If, on the other hand, we’re all just scared about such a vague statement because we’re in love and we don’t want that love to get ruined, that’s fine. We all love Dark Souls. The sequel might be an absolute abomination, it might not. But I’m quietly confident Miyazaki would rather die than sit back and let that happen to his baby.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to set a Google alert for 'Hidetake Miyazaki + dead'. Can’t hurt to hedge your bets, right?
By Paul Verhoeven