Agony Diary – 5: From the Darkness, into the Light

Amount of:

  • Time played: 28.5 hours
  • Time spent suffering from poison in the Farron Keep: 80%
  • Foes underestimated: None, I’m a massive scaredy cat
  • Wikis consulted: 3
  • Photocopied areas: 2/3

Lets start with the photocopies comment, because it sounded a little harsh. After defeating the Deacons in the cathedral I was expecting a brand new area; something never seen before in a Souls game. Instead I was greeted with a dead end, and spent a couple of hours scouting around the Undead Settlement and the Road of Sacrifices, trying to find the fabled ‘Farron’s Keep’: which everyone and their mothers back in the Firelink Shrine were raving about. Eventually I found the route on my own from pure, late-night exploration…I hope you’re impressed; at my directional sense or my stubborn persistence, I don’t care which.

Farron Keep

When I saw the poison swamp my heart sank as I stood up solemnly to turn off the xbox. I hate poison areas. The only cure for poison is a purple moss clump; a finite, expensive resource, and having your life constantly drained without being able to prevent it just isn’t fun! The swamp LOOKED fantastic however. A misty haze above the grimy water and the densely packed trees make it seem both large and claustrophobic at the same time. The enemies are completely nuts.  This, along with the easy navigation, made the swamp a manageable affair.

The slime-like characters were as disgusting as they were generic, however the main dudes were crazy; they look like Sebulba – you know the Pod Racing asshole in ‘The Phantom Menace’? Well the unarmed ones actually jump 10ft in the air and wrap their legs around your head, just like Sebulba did to ol’ JarJar! I just wish Anakin was there to stop him when I got caught because they insta-kill low vigor characters like me. The other enemies are like demon trees, they’d be easy to defeat if the deeper water around them didn’t slow my rolling – I decided to leave them be after a couple of fruitless attempts. I did however find a Stray Demon mini-boss and messed him up using pure DS1 strats – roll under the enemy, hit twice then rinse and repeat… (Video below shows an area I’m not sure FromSoft spent much time on…)

The Abyss Watchers

These guys made me WANT to explore the swamp all over again. The fight is difficult, but its the route and the arduous first phase that frustrated me. It’s a waiting game. Hold your shield in place and walk backwards whilst 2 Abyss watchers take poorly aimed strikes at you, then when the third appears the others get super territorial and turn on it – cue: spam pyromancies at the jumble of bodies. This repeats itself until the correct amount of damage is done, then the real boss fight starts, the boss bar goes from 0% back up to 100% and you are pitted against the head honcho with a flaming sword and dagger combo. It took me something like 10 tries to work out he can be staggered. So multiply 10 by 10 minutes = 1 hr 40 minutes. So much of my life wasted!

The Catacombs of Carthus

Another set of catacombs?! More skeletons which refuse to stay down?! Yes, but this time there are some slightly more agile foes which all conveniently drop titanite shards (low level weapon upgrade material). The traps and engaging enemies kept the area from being dull, but the crypt/catacombs theme been heavily over done, sorry FromSoft! My favourite moment, (which was repeated multiple times due to it’s proximity to the boss) was the rickety bridge.

Going through a large cavern I noticed multiple piles of bones, just sitting there, not reanimating and attacking for once, ‘how refreshing’, I thought. I promptly turned my back on them and walked toward the rickety bridge, but as I got there I heard the characteristic sound of skeletons behind me. I ran, now with 10+ skeletons hot on my heels. As I reached the end of the bridge I took a slash at the pole, and what d’you know, the bridge with all the skeletons on collapsed sending them into the ravine – proper Indiana Jones moment that! What made it EVEN more genius though was the fact this bridge now worked as a ladder down to another area!

The High Lord Wilnor was, to understate it: scary. Upon touching a cursed goblet I was taken to a dark realm with this monstrosity. Wilnor is probably the biggest undead enemy I’ve ever seen. You only ever see his head, chest and arms (because walking past him into the darkness kills you in a split second), but even those take up more than the screen. Roll away from him and he crawls toward you menacingly. Do this too much and he backs you up against a wall and vomits dark magic into your face until you die, pleasant I know. Despite all this, I actually enjoyed this boss fight. Hitting him just anywhere doesn’t really work, so the tried and tested ‘hit them in the ankle til their health runs out’ trick doesn’t really apply here. Much like with the Curse-Rotted Greatwood there are specific weak spots to target, though these are significantly less gross!

The Beauty of the Boreal zone

boreal valley

The victory run past the cursed goblet in the dingey catacombs was probably my best experience to date, purely for the view I got at the end. The only thing I can compare it to is turning up at Hogsmeade on the Hogwarts Express, taking an enchanted carriage to the lake and seeing Hogwarts Castle for the first time (yes, I went to Hogwarts). The view was breathtaking, and more importantly, it was something new! A whole massive area of unknown origin, with unknown enemies and a gloriously difficult unknown boss. Of course, I couldn’t just leave it there but I’m going to have to finish the post there because it’s getting incredibly long!

Finally. I’d just like to thank the Dark Souls community for leaving courteous warning messages before traps and ambushes, you’re the best, even if I feel like I’m cheating!

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