I had a moderately– but only moderately– stressful day at work today, which made me think when I got home that a nice way to relax might be to spend some time playing the vidya gaemz. And did I play Spider-Man, with its soothing and fun web-slinging action? No. I played Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, which is a fucking bastard of a game.
I played Dark Souls II to relax.
Those of you who have played this game are laughing at me right now, and you are right to do so.
So here’s the deal with the Dark Souls series: first, it’s balls-hard even just in the basic gameplay. It doesn’t matter how big, rough and tough your character is; lose focus and even the lowliest scrub enemy is going to be able to kill you in a few hits. On top of that, you gain experience by killing bad guys like you do in a lot of games, but you actually spend that experience like currency to gain levels, and you can’t do that just anywhere; each game in the series has one place where you can gain those levels. And if you get killed, you drop all your experience points in the place where you died. Want those thousands of XP representing a few possible levels back? You gotta get back to where you just got killed without getting killed again and pick ’em back up, then escape to get where you can actually use them. Die again along the way? Too bad so sad, them shits are gone.
And DSII: SotFS is a special edition, one where they added a bunch of enemies, because apparently vanilla Dark Souls isn’t fucking hard enough.
Long story short; I got killed like three thousand times in a row, in a very enemy-heavy area, where none of the enemies are very tough but if you quit paying attention even for a couple seconds you’re dead, and the last time I left like four levels’ worth of XP on the table when some fucker I’d missed and walked right past stabbed me in the back, maybe three feet from my damn green blob of love.
And I did something I haven’t done in something like 35 years of gaming: I broke my fucking controller. I spiked the thing like a goddamn football and then watched as the PS4 helpfully told me that it had lost contact with the controller.
Fifteen minutes to dinner. Well, I can’t turn the damn game off without a controller, and the boy’s gonna want to play Spider-Man later, so… Target is pretty close. I can totally go to Target and get a new controller in fifteen minutes.
Off to Target. I’m on a mission and I know exactly where I’m going, so I don’t pay too much attention to the young lady who smiles at me and says hello as I’m walking past her, and I say hello back but I’m probably fifteen feet past her before I realize that I’m pretty sure she’s a former student, one who I haven’t seen since sixth grade (she moved) and who just graduated high school. But I don’t realize it until I’m well past the point where I can turn back around and say hi, plus I legitimately haven’t seen the kid in six years and I’m not 100% sure.
I find the video game section. I find PS4 controllers. They’re locked up. And someone else smiles at me and asks me where the Xbox controllers are.
And I realize I’m in Target in a red shirt. Sigh.
I know the answer, so fuck it, I answer her question.
A moment later, someone in a blue shirt asks me if I need any help, and I have a brief split-second of pure confusion– because I don’t work here, and someone just asked me for help, and you clearly don’t work here, so why are you asking me if you can help me?
And then I see the Target Security logo on his blue shirt. Oh, OK. Fine. Gimme this controller.
He goes and gets a guy. The guy is maybe 25. And by this point I’m sort of laughing at myself, so I tell the guy that I’ve been a gamer for something like 35 years and I just rage-smashed my first controller.
He laughs, and– I swear to God, and these games are old enough that it makes no sense that he said this– says “Dark Souls or Bloodborne?”
“Dark Souls II. The No-Man’s Wharf.”
And he knows exactly what I’m talking about, and we commiserate for a minute or two, and he offers me a protection plan on the new controller, which I decline and I probably should have bought.
And then I see a second former student, also looking for video game paraphernalia, although this one doesn’t immediately recognize me. And he’s got a bunch of friends with him so I don’t bother saying hi.
And then I leave. Or at least try to.
And then I see a third former student, this one also an employee, and we talk for a moment. And then I see the first former student again, and yes, it’s her, and she laughs and tells me she’d just sent a text message to someone else from her class who she knows I’m still in touch with to ask her to ask me if I’d just been to Target.
I, of course, had been thinking that I’d text that exact same person to see if the first girl worked at Target, so this plan makes perfect sense.
And then I went home, ate dinner, resolved to go directly to the boss of the stage without bothering to go get my souls along the way, because fuck them, died while doing that by falling off a Goddamned bridge, then finally made it to the boss and not only beat that bastard on the first try but I didn’t even get hit.
The moral of this story is that you shouldn’t break controllers, and if you do you shouldn’t leave your house afterwards.