- Fears realised: 1, Arachnophobia (see clip below)
- Giants slain from convenient doorways: 2
- Bonfires rested at: 1
- Bosses defeated: I’m not sure… Are the Deacons of the Deep one boss?
When I first rested at the bonfire at the Cleansing Chapel I took it’s name for granted. It was essentially a dead end as far as I was concerned, a checkpoint before the cemetery ahead. What I slowly came to realise though, was that however much I searched, I couldn’t find another bonfire to rest at! When I finally opened a set of hulking double doors, (typically the trademark of a boss battle), my Estus had run dry and things were looking bleak. But to my delight I found that I was back at the Cleansing Chapel, and my worries were literally cleansed! The bonfire was a hub; a focal point around which the whole area sprawled around – a testament to FromSoftware’s intricate level design.
The Cathedral of the Deep uses concepts I’ve seen before but immortalises them perfectly. The zombies which dig themselves out of the ground and refuse to stay buried remind me of the catacomb’s skeletons in DS1; the cathedral itself is a vaster, more beautifully bedecked version of the ‘Grand Cathedral’ from DS2; and the boss battle at the end is a harder, more hectic reimagining of the ‘Prowling Magus & Congregation’ boss fight in DS2.
The question on everyone’s lips should be; have they run out of ideas? To this I say no. Dark Souls games are heavily influenced by gothic horror, and a cathedral is a staple part of gothic imagery. What FromSoftware has done here is to provide a masterfully designed area, taking influences from aspects of their previous games and greatly improving upon them, with more experience and superior hardware.
The Deacons of the Deep boss fight was an inevitability; quite honestly I was expecting more than one boss in this gigantic area. Was I disappointed by the fact that it was essentially a mob boss? Not one bit. Prior to entering the battle I came across some creepy looking priests, who practiced fire magic. They weren’t fast or strong, and gave me very little trouble – so what was the purpose of such weak enemies? In order to make you arrogant, then set 20 of them on you at once.
The feel of this boss fight is very different to anything I’ve witnessed so far. It is strangely calm. The fireballs sent your way are almost afterthoughts as the group bunch together, moving sluggishly, almost like a viscous fluid, towards you. Then comes the intriguing part, because only by hitting the appointed ‘Deacon’ can you cause damage to the ill defined boss. The ‘Deaconship’ is switched between priests at time intervals or upon their death, so you can only cause small amounts of damage before the congregation overwhelms you.
The chamber where this mesmerising dance takes place is vast, with a huge ‘Kaaba’ (Hajj pilgrimage) looking alter dominating the centre. Hanging baskets adorn the chamber’s peripheries, making me suspect that all was not always so dark and foreboding. The lack of enthusiasm the congregation put into attacking at first is directly contrasted to the intensity of the fight after the main antagonist is revealed. Fireballs are hurled with increased aggression and the crowd bunch up around 4 dark magic users. Their influence on the battle is profound, their spells hit like battleships and curtains of dark magic shrink the combat zone so that you are forced into close quarters. Whilst I didn’t struggle too much, it took a couple of goes to suss out a tactic, and that was enough time to really appreciate the work put into this encounter.
Lastly I’d just like to leave you with this. A tip, if you will, to dispose of 2 particularly nasty enemies. Keep it on the down-low though, we don’t want it patched now do we? They are just like, “Hold my beer, the people need me”.
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